Has anyone heard of a company requiring employees to purchase their own uniforms?

Companies can require uniforms and have employees pay for them as long as the pay is above the minimum.

Only in the US. I’ve seen other nationalities else where wear their company provided coveralls/boots to rags & even share work cloths before buying their own.

One of the most stupid things I saw was when the company provided us with logo uniforms at no cost and some( Very few) idiots said “They won’t be controlled”. A rather controlled exit followed. All over free clothes and a paycheck. Brain surgeons for sure. Most mariners I sailed with were prettuy sharp, those few weren’t. I still have a few of the overalls that fit and good quality. The Khaki shirts , shorts, and pants were good quality. My victory garden lives to this day wearing a few well made clothes with logo’s from my former employers. I have no shame. And a damn nice pair of work boots months just before I retired.


I have some bits of uniform laying around, good quality and perfectly fitted. Used to love hitting the town, the whole crew suited up and paramilitary looking. I still wear it with pride on occasion.

One year, the port captain at one company I worked for had a “Special Edition” cap made for the masters. The scrambled eggs were backwards. Didn’t like scrambled eggs to begin with. I may mention although an Academy grad, (Won’t say which one but wasn’t KP)) he never sailed a day in his life. I feigned having to take an emergency crap and left him on the wheel during a sea trial in a narrow channel after a shipyard stint. Guy wigged out in front of the other “Officials” on board. Wasn’t quite the category of the revenge posts on here, but great satisfaction to prove a point as the whole crew was in on it. One of the “Officials” actually laughed at what occured and thanked me for my ruse…Guy never fucked with me after that, but I know he is still pissed to this day. Never wore the hat more than once or twice. They did have nice uniforms that I and crew wore with pride around the customers. Other than the gaudy egg hat. Smiling as I type, it was a good day.


You don’t have to pay for uniforms if you are represented by a union.

Never had to pay for uniforms. Was union, then “management” then union again. Wacky story but that’s my experience. Funny how my old ass jeans with the holes in them are a fashion item now.


When I was at Chouest I was greeted in my stateroom by a pair or orange coveralls with the Chouset patches on them. I wore it once for the group photo with Robert Ballard and the entire crew.

At Bouchard I was issued red Bouchard coveralls and Bouchard hard hat the first day.

That’s about as close as I ever got to an actual uniform.

Where have you got that idea from???

Which nationalities may that be??

You’re right, I haven’t worked in every country in the world so I can’t say for certain. But I have worked on 6 continents & with more nationalities than I have time to remember, count & type down but in those experiences it was only Americans mariners who were ever charged for company provided uniforms. Why the cat & mouse game though? If you know of a country or company that charges mariners for company required uniforms just say it.

Also, it was 2 Brasilians who I worked with who shared the same work clothes. And it wasn’t just those 2 Brasilians who refused to spend a signal centavo on work cloths. The Brasilian government/union required their company to provide work cloths to their employees but didn’t say how comfortable or correctly fitting they should be. The Brasilians would complain about their shitty union/company provided boots constantly, be jealous of foreigners who had to buy their own comfortable boots then act like you insulted them when you suggest perhaps they should buy their own too.

I worked with too many nationalities (including Americans & myself) who would wear coveralls to rags.


I haven’t worn a uniform in years, but when I did I had to buy my own formal uniform. We got a monthly allowance to cover the expenses, though. (Norwegian ships, 1960s)

PS> In Singapore the company supplied tailor made uniforms in the form of white shirt and shorts.

On the rigs construction barges and OSVs I have been involved with over the years no uniform was required, but work boots and coveralls for work was issued. That incl. those that was US flag, owned and operated, at least the last couple of decades or more

On Keydrill rigs even visitors were issued parrot green coveralls and tennis shoes to wear indoors and dark blue coveralls and Redwing boots for working. (That was in the 1970s and 80s)

AFAIK most unions has “free work cloths” as part of their demand these days. Incl. ITF, I believe (??)

PS> I don’t doubt that there are people who prefer to buy their own work cloths, even if they can have them supplied for free.

I remember an episode on a R&B tender in Indonesia where the Drilling Superintendent told an Assistant Driller that his aluminum hardhat had been tampered with and was not approved to wear on the rig.
Shortly after the AD showed up in this best, with his bag packed and the hardhat hanging on the outside, demanding a helicopter to take him ashore, saying; “where my hardhat can’t be I ain’t gona be either”.

The hardhat looked something like this:

Maybe I misinterpreted what the OP meant by uniforms? I wasn’t thinking slacks & shirts with aiguillettes hanging from the shoulders. If figured he meant coveralls, white galley uniforms & company logoed shirts for bridge team. I’ve only seen US outfits charge their employees for those.

This is the type of uniform I’m talking about:

I had one made when first serving as 3rd Officer, but it didn’t get used much.

In the tropics this was the uniform:

On a drillship the Dutch Ch.Officer showed up on the bridge in Kaki uniform. I sent him down to change into coveralls before anybody saw him.
PS> His first time on a Drillship.


That’s quite a get-up. Last twenty years or so worked for a USA company, union, then non-union, then union again. They provided decent (Dickies brand) khaki pants , shirts, and overalls. Also a decent brand steel toe work boot yearly. All at no cost. No epulets or stripes! Just company logo thank goodness.Wore my ragged ass jeans in between ports.

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Many American workers will literally fight for their right to dress like absolute slobs. Not sure why but American workers seem to despise uniforms of any kind and view it as impingement of their rights.

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Worked for the Orange and Black supply boat company during the 2012 Boom. They got all ate up about tucking in our shirts even though it’s a 100 degrees. They weren’t aware that the original shirts were made for hot weather thus they had a short straight waist line Like the army shirts. And you couldn’t tuck them in. So they came out with longer shirts you could tuck in and collapse on the deck from heat exhaustion. But at least you looked professional

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I don’t mind wearing company provided shirts or boots, but they rarely have any to fit me, so always carry my own work clothes, I can pretty much guarantee there is not a ship in the world i could walk onto and get issued a pair of size 15 boots that fit.

someone earlier posted about Brazil, when we were down there we had to wear their coveralls, inside and out of the house, was dreading it, but they actually fit and were super lightweight was like wearing pajamas. also required to wear their boots on deck, except me and the other guy who wore 15s they had nothing in the country to fit us.

I get it with the footwear problem. Rarely does the big box stores carry anything larger than a size 13. There was a specialty shoe/boot company in the home port where you would be fitted. I know how hard it is to find large shoes. Size 14 here . Got the “Lehigh” brand, last pair shortly before I retired. Still have them. All my shit is ordered through Amazon last decade or so.