A mix and match uniform could be the uniform solution you didn’t even know you needed. Read on to find out more.
If there is one thing for sure that we know about uniforms, it’s that they need to be versatile. Something that your staff will be wearing for most of their week needs to be ready to handle whatever the day will throw at them, including the unexpected, no matter what industry you work in.
On top of all that, no one size fits all. So how can one uniform possibly fulfill the needs of your staff and your brand? You can curate a range that perfectly represents your brand and keeps your team as comfortable and happy by offering a variety of options in what we call a “mix and match range”.
What is a mix and match uniform range?
A mix and match range is exactly what it sounds like. It is a range that offers multiple top, bottom, and outerwear options that all form a cohesive look, no matter what combination they’re worn in.
So, you might offer five different feminine top options. For example: a long sleeve button up shirt, a short sleeve button up shirt, a polo, a 3/4 sleeve blouse, and a short sleeve blouse. Each of these items can be paired with four different bottom options. These might be: a fitted skirt, a straight-leg trouser, a chino and tailored shorts. In addition, you offer a cropped cardigan, a long cardigan, a softshell jacket, a knit jumper, and a blazer. Perhaps you also offer a tie, a silk scarf, a belt, or a hat.
With this range, your staff can choose multiple styles that best suit them. Perhaps they love the look of a fitted skirt but are less comfortable in a chino; they can then pair that skirt with any of the available top options and know that it will be complementary. Your brand will also be correctly represented without clashing colours or messy styling.
Basically: everything goes with everything and still looks good.
Why create a Mix and Match Uniform Range?
It might seem much simpler to offer a straightforward uniform that every staff member wears without alteration. However, there are several long-term benefits to offering a more thoughtfully curated range.
You Offer Your Staff Trust and Freedom
With a mix and match range, you give your staff more freedom. They can choose the style and functionality that best suits their personality, preference, and day to day needs, without compromising on brand image. It also gives them more flexibility to dress according to what their day requires, and the option for more variety during their work week. Ultimately, your staff know best what will suit them, and by acknowledging that, you’re strengthening a positive company culture.
A Mix and Match Range Caters to All Needs
With a well-designed mix and match uniform, you’re covering every dress-related requirement that your staff may have. Not only does this demonstrate that you’ve listened to and considered their needs, but also prevents staff from using non-uniform items to supplement garments that aren’t offered in the range.
For example, there’s not much point in investing time, money, and creative energy in a custom-designed polo if it is going to be covered by a non-uniform hoodie as soon as the cool weather hits. Adding in branded outerwear to your range means that your staff have an on-brand option to wear year-round.
Another consideration is that your staff don’t necessarily have the same requirements out of their uniform every day – maybe some days are professional client-facing days, whilst other days require more physical activity. Giving them the ability to match their uniform to their daily needs helps them perform their job better.
It’s also good practice to provide options for staff of all cultural backgrounds, religions, sizes and genders. Including items like headscarves, year-round options for full-coverage dress and a comprehensive range of sizes means that everyone will feel included.
A uniform that is more appealing to your staff will ultimately make them happier, so you can guarantee that they’re always wearing their uniform and representing your brand with a smile.
Your Staff and Your Brand Look More Appealing
It might seem counterintuitive to have a uniform that isn’t the same for every one of your staff. However, so long as your whole range is cohesive, it will still look on-brand. More to the point, an identically-dressed team that look or feel unhappy definitely doesn’t exude a positive brand message, no matter how polished the uniform is.
One size never fits all. No matter how fantastic you think your design looks, there will always be someone that it just doesn’t work for. Their discomfort can be obvious, which is not a good way to boost morale or a positive message to communicate to clients.
With a variety of options, your staff can find their own unique way of wearing their uniform. That means that they’re dressed in a way that makes them look their very best. By extension, your brand also looks its best.
How To Create a Mix and Match Range
We’ve covered the basics and benefits of a mix and match uniform Now, let’s get into how to design the perfect range for your team.
- Finding Your Colours
- Thinking Practically
- Find Your Budget
- Speak to Your Team
- Trial & Test
Your Colour Palette
The best place to start when creating your range is your colour palette. Identify your brand colours and then consider how they would best be integrated into an appealing range.
If your logo and branding is primarily a bold red, then that’s a great place to start. How would you like that colour to appear in your range? As the primary colour? Or in small, eye-catching details against a more neutral tone?
Think Outside the Box
Even if you decide to feature that bold red prominently in your range, not every garment will be in your brand colour (but hey, if your heart is set on a top-to-toe bright red look, we won’t judge, but we may try to sway you with some tried and tested recommendations). Some garments, like bottoms or outerwear, will look best in a neutral colour like black, navy or beige. Take the time to think about what will best complement your palette and suit your current business needs, and don’t feel restricted by any pre-existing branding that you may have. For instance, a red and black logo is striking! However, an all-red and black uniform can appear a little too severe for some work environments or industries. Instead, adding in white to offset the red, and replacing the black with a dark navy, can soften the look and still allow your branding to shine.
Perhaps your branding features an array of colours. However, whilst a rainbow looks beautiful in the sky, it can get a little messy on a polo. Consider having the same style of garment in a few different block colours that align with your branding. This is also beneficial if each colour represents a different role in the business. It’s a cleaner look that still conveys your company identity, especially when you have staff wearing the full range in the same room!
Another option is to inject your brand colours in small ways across the range. This ties the range together whilst maintaining a neutral overall image. Think contrast jacket linings, colour piping or plackets, patterned tee pockets and other accessories.
Telling your brand story needs to incorporate all aspects of your business personality, function and future. Playing with colours can help you find the perfect balance of on-brand and aesthetic appeal.
So you’ve got your colours organised, and you’re ready to create a stunning range for your team. Now let’s talk logistics.
No one runs a marathon in heels or mows the lawn in a Burberry coat. No matter how good you look, if the outfit doesn’t fulfil the function, then you’re not dressed well. The same goes doubly for uniforms. Your staff are there to do their jobs. Give them the range they need to help them perform at their very best.
What their role requires, where they work and who they work with all factor into creating a good uniform range.
Consider the following:
- Potential Hazards
What’s the weather like out there??
It seems like a no-brainer but thinking about the climate your staff work in should be a major consideration. If you’ve created the perfect mix and match range, but neglected to provide cold-weather outerwear, then your stunning polo or blouse is going to get covered up by personal jackets and jumpers when the weather gets icy. Likewise, offering insulated jackets or fleeces is a waste for those working in the sunny Northern Territory or humid Far North Queensland. Create the range that will work the best for your team no matter the location.
Role & Environment
Where does your team work? In the warehouse, in the office, on a worksite? Are they mostly seated, standing, or driving? All of these things will influence what kinds of garments and materials will work best for your team. For example, a stretch waistband will ensure all-day comfort for staff who spend a lot of their day seated, like drivers or customer service staff. A moisture-wicking polo with extra pockets is a practical choice for construction or warehouse employees.
If everyday looks a little different for your team or specific members of staff, a mix and match range will be perfect. Provided your range offers the right mix of garments, you’re giving your staff the opportunity to dress according to their day, which will maximise their confidence and comfort.
Safety first! If your team works in any potential hazardous environment, it’s important to follow all legal requirements regarding hi-visibility, head protection and element resistant materials. The specifics of Hi-Vis can get complicated – check out our blog on Australian Hi Vis standards for more information, or ask one of our experts for their product recommendations to fulfill your workplace requirements.
Find Your Budget
You know what you need, and you know what you want it to look like, now it’s time to crunch the numbers! Having a clear understanding of your price range will make the uniform design process much more straightforward. We can streamline our recommendations based on your budget and find the right compromise between price and quality.
However, it is important to note that compromises made on price will also often compromise on the quality and longevity of the garments. It may seem tempting to only seek out the lowest prices, but that approach likely won’t help to deliver the ideal uniform range that you have in mind. Investment in the short-term will often pay dividends in the long run, delivering long-lasting, comfortable and quality uniforms that you’ll be proud to have your logo on.
Speak to Your Team
This is the step that is too often skipped over. At Total Image Group, we have always advocated for including staff in the uniform design process. Having their voice and opinions heard not only makes your team feel more valued by their employer, and also avoids dissatisfaction, complaints and discomfort in the future.
We can help by organising staff surveys and fit-outs to help figure out exactly what your team likes and doesn’t like. Just like any clothes that you buy in a store, sometimes trying it on is the best way to understand fit, sizing, colour and how it all comes together. If you give staff the chance to try potential items from their new mix and match uniform range, we can collect their thoughts and use them to help guide the final stages of polishing and perfecting your final look.
Branding and Final Touches
The finishing touch on any uniform is one of the most important – your branding. Logos, taglines, sponsors and more are the final embellishments to communicate your brand identity to your customers, clients and staff.
Your branding needs to be high-quality and suit the garments in your range. There are multiple options when it comes to branding methods, each with different benefits depending on the size, colour and intricacy of your logo, as well as the fabric and style of the garment. Read our blog about Uniform Branding and Logos to find out more about embroidery, screen printing and heat transfer.
Are you ready to create your Mix and Match uniform range? Browse our full range of uniforms or speak to one of our resident workwear experts to help you curate the range for your business or trade.
Book in a consultation call
Do you need help working out the best uniform range for you and your business? We can help! To ensure we direct you to the best person in our team to discuss your requirements – whether your uniform and promotional needs are now or in the future – let’s learn a bit more about you. We look forward to speaking soon!