‘We looked smart in those days’: what did you used to wear to work?

Norwich Union staff back in the 1960's (Image: Archant Library)

Norwich Union staff back in the 1960's (Image: Archant Library)


It is safe to say that work uniforms have changed dramatically over the past fifty years.

Norwich Union staff back in the 1960's (Image: Archant Library)Norwich Union staff back in the 1960's (Image: Archant Library)

What did you used to wear to work? Were there any rules that you had to follow?

We asked our community on Norwich Remembers just that and here is what some of them had to say.

Lynn Preston wrote that she “worked at UEA in the 1960’s and we were all addressed very formally as ‘Miss this’ and ‘Mr that’ etc. In the winter of 1966 it was very cold and I wore trousers to walk to work. I never got round to changing them for a skirt and the next day another girl wore trousers and no one said anything! After that I wore them most of the time, except in summer when I blush to think how short my dresses were.”

Karen Nichols revealed that when she worked at Norwich Union in 1966, when her “pay rise was reviewed appearance was one of the factors taken into account.” She then added, “I also remember that the men had to put on a jacket if they went to another desk and women weren’t allowed sleeveless tops.”

Linda Johnson worked at Norwich Union from 1966. She wrote “there was a ‘no trousers’ rule. I got hauled before the Lady Superintendent (think strict Headmistress) because my culottes were deemed to breach the rule. They looked like a skirt, but unfortunately I made the mistake of running down the corridor and skidded on the floor just as she came out of the loo.”

Karen Lynch said she wasn’t allowed to wear stiletto heels “because they damaged the parquet floors. Also, you could wear trousers but only as part of a suit! One girl was also told her earrings were not suitable as they were something you could wear to the opera!”

Jacqueline Welham wrote “When I started work in Garlands after leaving school we had to wear a grey dress that was made from a really itchy fabric. We had to pay a shilling a week towards the cost of it.”

Aside from the uniform, John Dye also remembered how “smoking was allowed at desks during specific periods. We only had about 2 or 3 phones per floor and had to book overseas calls.”

Finally, Brian Howes noted how there was “not a screen in sight” in the photos we shared.

How different the workplace was back then!

Do you have any other memories of the things you used to wear to work?


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