The Uniform

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Secretary of State Colin Powell still remembers what went through his mind the first time he put on his R.O.T.C. uniform and looked in the mirror. “I liked what I saw,” he says. “The uniform gave me a sense of belonging.” But for everyone who likes putting on a uniform, there’s someone else who hates having to wear it, day after day. Americans don’t think of themselves as a conforming culture. We’re slipping into the multiple meanings of uniforms this hour, from FedEx blue and UPS brown, through doormen’s braids and soldiers’fatigues, to the habits of nuns. The uniform giveth prestige and power. And the uniform taketh away one’s sense of individuality. From fashion to function and fascination, we look at what’s different and what’s uniform.


Nancy Rexford, guest curator, “All for One & One for All! Uniforms in Fact and Fantasy,” The American Textile History Museum

Stan Herman, uniform designer, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America