Posties get a new look: How Royal Mail uniforms have changed through the ages
Styles have come a long way since the formal suits of the 1960s
We’re not the only ones switching up our looks this summer: postal workers are set to get new uniforms.
It’s the first sartorial change in over a decade for Royal Mail staff, and the new uniforms will include walking trousers, shorts, tops, jackets, gilets and headwear.
The designs have been based on feedback from postmen and women, taking into account the changing nature of the job.
The work of a postie in 2021 is significantly different to when Royal Mail first launched in 1516 (back then, the service was only available for the King and his court). Today, the job is more physical – there’s been a big shift away from letters towards bulkier parcel deliveries – and the new uniform hopes to better reflect that.
According to the Postal Museum, the Royal Mail’s first official uniform came in 1784: a red coat with gold braid and navy accents. A far cry from the new update – although the colour scheme is still broadly the same.
The early 20th century saw huge innovations as women’s uniforms were introduced, and there have been continuous changes from the 1960s to today…
Uniforms in the 1960s hardly looked the picture of comfort. Posties wore full suits – either double or single-breasted – with ties, dress shoes and hats. The signature colour of Royal Mail is red (perhaps because of its royal connotations) – but you wouldn’t see that in the muted greys and blues of these uniforms.
Royal Mail also tried out a new design for post boxes at this time (as you can see above) – but much like the uniforms, the mini-Tardis style didn’t last long.
New lightweight materials were trialled in the summer of 1978. At this time, postwomen had a choice: they could wear trousers or two types of skirt – one slim fitting, and the other more flared.
By the 1980s, it looks like shoes were becoming more comfortable – better suited to the miles a postal worker has to walk every day.
Styles were still relatively formal, but posties started wearing more practical, heavy-duty winter coats to ward off the cold. While it might not have been much protection against the winter chill, we can’t help but love the chic beret this postwoman is modelling.
One of the biggest and best innovations of the Nineties were breezy culottes for women – they had the smartness of a skirt, but the wearability of shorts.
Speaking of shorts, today, we rarely see postal workers out of shorts, but it was only in 1992 that they were first allowed to wear dark styles in hot weather.
Things really started to change in the Noughties: uniforms were noticeably more relaxed, and there were lots of thoughtful touches – such as specific pockets to help store electronic scanning devices. While some employees still wore shirts, there was also more options for comfortable dressing – from T-shirts to shorts and cagoules for wet weather.
The Press Association
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