“When I think about crew uniform for yachts I experience two feelings. One is that it is mostly boring, unexciting and generally does not fit well across the board. The other is how overwhelming it is to try and find something stylish and appropriate for your specific yachting programme. Uniform companies have tried to update their styles over the last few years, but are stilling falling short in many areas,” explains Manwaring.
One of the problems Manwaring highlights is the overabundance of options that make the decision process difficult and lengthy. “I could not believe the endless possibilities of polos available. However, when finding one that fit appropriately, especially for ladies, and something made in a fabric that suited the temperatures and working conditions of crew, I was required to try on what seemed like a hundred different styles, to find only a few that satisfied me with their style, fit, comfort and affordability. And when searching for ladies’ bottoms, many items – and I see it everyday walking the docks – are extremely short and inappropriate looking.”
However this could be down to sizing problems – another issue Manwaring has experienced as a chief stewardess. “It is very frustrating when a crewmember wears as many as three different ladies’ sizes in [shorts] because of the style or fabric used. When a new crewmember is hired and I ask for their uniform size, I almost always know that they will have to try on every single article before I order or determine if I have enough stock.”
But the problems lie equally with style, as well as sizing, with Manwaring explaining that it is almost impossible to keep polos tucked in because they are not made long enough, while other womens’ items are difficult to serve in because the shoulders and arms can often be cut too tight. Mens’ sizing and style, on the other hand, causes far fewer problems, says the chief stewardess.
“I think the uniform companies will continue to try and make the necessary changes if we require them to and demand more." - Chief Stewardess Theresa Manwaring
However, while it is easy to look solely at the uniform companies when highlighting problems with a crew’s uniform, there is a responsibility to be found with the chief stewardess and the yacht’s crewmembers themselves. “If the goal is a professional looking crew in standard uniform, you must think bigger than just having everyone in the same clothing. For example, the interior staff needs to know the rules for jewelry, hair and make up. If one individual decides to have a personal style, she can stand out tremendously and sometimes not in a good way.”
There is room to be creative when it comes to uniforms, however, and this is one aspect of uniform Manwaring enjoys. “I really enjoy seeing those yachts who have tried to put a personal touch; a new and vibrant colour other than white, a clever place for the boat monogram such as on the sleeve, or even a unique ladies’ scarf tied around the neck. It shows a bit of character for the yacht and when most are looking to stand out from the crowd, uniform is one way to achieve this. On our particular boat we have done a lot of mixing and matching, where some days the boys and girls wear the opposite colour on the top or bottom.”
However, the uniform companies cannot adapt if they don’t know how. “I think the uniform companies will continue to try and make the necessary changes if we require them to and demand more. I look forward to the future of yachting uniforms because I think it will continue to change and improve, but it requires those of us in the industry to influence what becomes available.”