Wearing Whites as a Professional Decorator

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted May 14, 2019 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

Ask almost any Tradesperson, and they will tell you that wearing whites as a Professional Decorator is important. It’s our uniform, and the tradition goes back to 1887. It’s what sets us apart from lesser trades like Electricians and Joiners.

But why do Painters and Decorators wear white, and why is it important that we wear a uniform at all? Keep reading and we’ll explain.


Why do Painters Wear White?


Traditionally, white was chosen because it portrays cleanliness. The most common colour used on decorating jobs is white, filler is white, caulk is white, some paint is white, so a white uniform shows less splatter.

A Painter and Decorator should be proud of his or her appearance and looking ‘clean’ is an important part of that.


How a Decorator’s Uniform Has Changed Over the Last Few Decades

I’ve been a Painter and Decorator since 2002 and I’ve seen a Painter’s uniform change somewhat in that time. When I started, every Decorator wore a white ‘bib n brace’. These were basically dungarees with a big kangaroo style pouch on the front to hold hand tools like a scraper, sandpaper, a dust brush, etc.

Go back to the 1980’s, and a Decorator would wear the bib n brace, but he (there were very few female Decorators back then), would also wear a shirt and tie! This seems alien to me now, but thinking about it, it does show a certain level of respect for the industry.

prodec white overalls for which all painters and decorators should wear

Now it has changed dramatically. I still see some of the older boys wearing bib n braces, but most Professional Decorators opt for Painters’ Trousers with sharp black trim. These are normally partnered with a branded t-shirt or polo-shirt.

Some Decorators mix things up further and avoid wearing white at all. Instead opting for black trousers and a smart polo shirt.


That do Other Decorators Think


The above blog was written by Mike Cupit, a Professional Decorator since 2002 and owner of The Decorators Forum UK. However, we thought it would be good to see what other Decorators think.

Mike Cupit asks how a Decorator should turn up to work.

Should a Decorator wear whites?

1 Yes! Not only Important as PPE as Paints Can be Toxic/Corrosive. It also Distinguishes him/her from all the Other Tradesman on site. Plus, if you Ask me Personally it looks more Professional
2 Yes, it’s important to wear whites. It gives the tradespersons a more professional look. It is a uniform at the end of the day.
3 I’m a believer that wearing whites shows professionalism

They are a uniform for decorators. It makes you look professional and reassures a customer that you’re not some jobsworth and you’re going to do a good job. The downside for me is there far too hot to wear in the summer.

I don’t mind switching to decorators’ shorts, or trousers when traditional bib and braces become uncomfortable.

5 Decorators’ whites gives an identity to decorators. Looks professional and the pouch is very handy.
6 I think it is important to wear whites as it is a sign of professionalism, however it’s fair to say that for some, they could become irritable. Therefore some decorators may not want to wear them.
For – Whites keep your clothes clean. Extra storage. You can leave and contamination from your work environment in your van.

Against – They can get heavy and pull your shoulders.

8 Absolutely, it’s the mark/uniform of a professional. Everyone recognises a painter when they wear whites. Without whites you look like an average DIYer that has had a go at painting their own house. Wearing whites can also get you work through recognition. I.e. a member of the public will recognise a painter and ask for a quote etc, which is handy if you’re setting up a decorating business.
9 Yes, whites look more professional
10 Whites look far more professional than turning up in a pair of Adidas popper pants and your dads old jumper! People can identify you as a decorator rather than just a scruffy looking sod.
11 It is important. You have to look the part and be professional. Those that don’t just look like handymen
12 I think it is important to wear whites, and clean whites at that. I think it makes you instantly recognisable on site and in the street. Every trade has their own colours to wear and should do so in my view.
13 YES! also its practical and useful. White represents clean and a clean decorator is seen as a good decorator.
14 It is definitely important as it makes a decorator look professional and you should change the whites often as you don’t want to look scruffy. Cleanliness is paramount.
15 Yes, I think so as it shows what profession you’re are working in.
No arguments always have always will
16 Yes. Gives a more professional appearance. Also don’t like decorators wearing their overalls to travel and site in!!
17 I feel it is important to wear whites as a decorator, this defines the difference between a DIYer and a professional. It is always about appearance when working in a domestic setting and clients do not like you coming in to a house in scruffy jog bottoms. Also, as we do a lot of outside work the white repels the sun meaning we don’t overheat this is important for our health.
18 100% not important to be white.
100% needs to be comfy and look respectable.
19 I think so, looks more professional
20 Yes.  Makes you look and feel more professional.  Customers and public then can see you are a decorator. Public image.
21 Yes, it’s what separates us from bob a job cowboys. I always were whites in work.
22 I’m defiantly for. Whites are synonymous with decorating and you want to look smart as your look represents your company
23 I think so, I feel it gives the customer confidence in your ability

I’m against wearing whites: In the summer working inside I find them horrible to wear. thin cotton joggers are what I wear and have never had any one comment on why I’m not wearing whites. I think a company logo t-shirt or trade t-shirt is more important. I always look professional without whites.

25 Looks professional, it isn’t hard is it??
26 Of course! Professionalism is important. Also, why wouldn’t you? Many pockets to use etc
27 Yes, would you trust somebody who turned up to decorate your house looking scruffy or in joggers? We’re professionals, we should look like it!!

It’s the uniform of decorators! You don’t see a fireman turning up in jogging bottoms and a hoodie. A decorator should look clean and neat so our clients can see how we present ourselves.


importance of wearing whites as a professional decorator.

This blog was written by Mike Cupit, a Professional Decorator of over 20 years and owner of Decorators Forum UK.

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted May 14, 2019 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


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