According to the old admonishment, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and that’s sage advice in just about any situation; but when it comes to how your building and its on-site staff present themselves to residents, visitors, and prospective buyers, the ‘cover’ matters. You wouldn’t dream of using mismatched carpet samples and second-hand black-light posters to decorate your lobby, so it stands to reason that you wouldn’t be up for outfitting your front desk staff in jeans and ratty T-shirts.
Uniforms identify specific tasks and roles—a doorman, a super, a security guard, a concierge or a valet, and so on. Staff outfitted in clean, well-tailored uniforms project a professional image and can promote a sense of decorum and security that a non-uniformed staff may not. To the uninformed, outfitting the staff of a co-op or condo building may not seem like a large undertaking. Just order some pants, shirts, jackets and shiny shoes, right?
Not quite. Volume, storage, cleaning, maintenance and replacements are just the basic issues to be addressed when outfitting everyone from the doorman to porters, to maintenance and janitorial staff, and that’s before the questions of style, color and seasonal requirements even come into the picture.
Attract the Right Attention
Of course, what style of uniform you get depends a great deal not only on the amount of money your building has to spend on the project, but on the look or mood you’re trying to set for your building. A modest high-rise complex may be well-served by putting their doormen and security personnel in pressed trousers and crisp white shirts and ties with a basic navy blazer, while a historic or luxury building might go all-out, suiting their doorman in a wool greatcoat with gold buttons, braiding and epaulettes. Still other buildings might opt to put their front-of-house staff in smart black suits, to convey a mood of downtown hip and urbane suavity. In that regard, the uniformity of a building's staff is as subjective as buildings are unique.
No matter the style, when a doorman or porter’s uniform is clean, neat and well fitting, it is easy to walk past and not really notice—and that may not be a bad thing. Jennifer Busch of Manhattan-based I. Buss & Allan Uniform Company maintains it is better for uniformed staff to go unnoticed altogether than to be noticed for the wrong reasons.