What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Get up and stretch? Brush your teeth? Look outside to see what the weather’s like in the world around you?

You probably check the weather outside, so you’ll need to know what to wear that day. Of course, if you have a certain set of clothes you always have to wear, then you don’t have to worry about what to wear. What are we talking about? Uniforms, of course!

Uniforms are sets of clothing worn by all the members of a particular organization. Uniforms come in all sorts of different sizes, shapes, designs and types. Can you think of some of the types of jobs or other activities that require uniforms?

For example, certain jobs require uniforms. Police personnel and firefighters wear special uniforms that help identify them with their profession. Their uniforms can also help them do their jobs better. Firemen, for example, wear suits that help protect them from the heat of fires.

Doctors and nurses also often wear uniforms. Their uniforms can help them stay clean in an environment where they frequently encounter germs. Uniforms can also help people feel more comfortable. Would you feel more comfortable if a doctor was wearing a white coat or shorts and sandals?

Uniforms are also an important part of military service. Soldiers wear uniforms to increase identification with their fellow soldiers and their mission. Their uniforms also provide important protection and, sometimes, camouflage to help them do their jobs.

Some companies require all of their workers to wear uniforms to help customers identify workers. For example, you may have noticed that package delivery personnel for UPS all wear similar brown uniforms.

Students in many schools are also required to wear uniforms. Many parents like school uniforms, because they prevent repeated hassles with trying to figure out what to wear for school. Required uniforms can also cut down on clothing expenses, since they’re usually less expensive than other popular styles.

Students, on the other hand, don’t always like uniforms. Some students may not think their uniforms are as “cool” as other modern fashions. Other students might feel like uniforms hinder their ability to express themselves through their clothing choices.

School uniforms can have other benefits that not quite so easy to spot, though. For some kids, having the latest fashions is not an option because they’re too expensive. Uniforms allow these students to fit in without worrying about whether they have the latest fashions.

Another area where uniforms are important is in the world of sports. If you’ve ever played sports, you know that each sport tends to have a particular set of requirements in terms of dress. Soccer players need shorts, cleats and shin guards. Football players need helmets and pads. Uniforms in sports help athletes stay safe and perform their best.

Chances are that, if you haven’t already, you will wear a uniform one day. Whether it’s a sports uniform or a uniform you need for work or an organization of some type, most people wear some type of uniform at some time in their lives.

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    • How great, Betsy, we’re glad you could Wonder all about uniforms with us today! Thank you for sharing your comment, Betsy, we’re glad you’re back! We Wonder if you wear a uniform… perhaps you wear one for your sports events? We hope you have a SUPER day, Betsy, and you’ll join us for Camp What-A-Wonder this summer! http://wonderopolis.org/camp/ :-)

  1. My mom, too, is part of the uniform organization group (U.O.G). She thinks it’s a great idea for the uniforms, but for me I don’t think so, kids should wear whatever they want because, imagine when you are stuck wearing the same thing for like, the rest of your school years. So, I was thinking that maybe you can chose a clothes you like to wear for once. :D :P

    • Hi Carlos, it sounds like you know a lot about uniforms! We bet uniforms would be great– they’re easy to wear, you don’t have to pick out something new to wear each day, and everyone is on the same level when it comes to clothes. However, clothes are a way to express ourselves, aren’t they? Perhaps a compromise, like wearing your own clothes once a month, will help get kids excited about uniforms. What do you think, Carlos? :)

  2. I think it’s good to wear uniforms but then I think it’s not because when you get older you will never know what’s out there because you never got to wear the fashionable things in life and when parents don’t want to pick out your clothes well they’re lazy. :)

    • Thanks for sharing your awesome comment, Chynnah! We are so glad you’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of uniforms with us today! We know that many people wear uniforms for their professions, such as those who work in a hospital. However, on the weekends, or on their days off, they can wear whatever they’d like! The same is true for students, you can wear your favorite clothes on the weekends or during the summer while you’re not in school! :)

  3. As a student at a school in the Uk, I have found that some of my friends find it difficult being positive about school because they can’t identify themselves as an individual because everybody else is wearing the same clothes.

    • That’s a great point, Teddy Bear! Sometimes wearing a uniform can make it difficult for a person to express his or her individuality. We WONDER what other ways people can express themselves besides clothing? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do some people wear uniforms?
  • What are the pros and cons of school uniforms?
  • Can you design a school uniform?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Time to get dressed up! Find a few friends or family members to help you check out one or more of the following activities:

  • How many uniforms do you see on a daily basis? You’ve probably never thought to count, have you? That’s going to change today! Grab a notebook and a pencil and start counting. Keep your eyes open and count all the uniforms you see today. Whether it’s a policeman, a firefighter, a chef, or a delivery specialist, write down all the uniforms that you see. If you want to keep track of the different types of uniforms, you can do that, too!
  • What purposes do uniforms serve? Go back over your list of uniforms you saw today and write some adjectives that describe the purposes those uniforms serve. Some particular types of common purposes are identification, safety, and protection. What other purposes can you identify?
  • Do you wear a uniform to school? If so, do you like it? Why or why not? If you’ve never worn a uniform to school…or if you’re not happy with the uniform you’re currently wearing…why not design your own? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to design a school uniform for the Wonderopolis School of Who, What, Where, When and Why. Our mascot is the Purple Platypus, so please plan purposefully! Should boys and girls wear the same uniform? If not, make sure you design uniforms for both boys and girls. Will the uniforms be the same in the summer and winter? If not, what different types of clothing can be worn in each season? When you’re finished with your design, please share it by posting a picture on Facebook for all your Wonder Friends to see. We can’t wait to see what our students will be wearing!

Still Wondering

Check out Smithsonian’s History Explorer to see the Uniform Coat Worn by Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815; it was also worn by Jackson when he sat for his portrait by artist Ralph E. W. Early around 1815.

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