Anna Nickless of Lavender & Stone explains what professional beauty therapists are looking for in a work uniform

Lavender & Stone is a group of four beauty salons in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire that is currently celebrating ten years since the opening of its first salon in Harpenden. The business offers a wide range of treatments, from massages and facials to semi-permanent make-up and pedicures, and a good selection of prestigious brands such as Caci, Elemis, Decléor and Jessica.

The therapists and receptionists wear a simple uniform comprising the Simon Jersey Square Neckline Tunic in grey, bought by the salon, and smart black trousers, that the staff buy themselves, explains managing director Anna Nickless. The managers at each salon wear the semi-fitted dresses from Simon Jersey, in black or grey or whatever colour they choose, just to make them look a little different from the rest of the staff.

The square neckline styles were introduced a year ago, although the company has been using Simon Jersey garments for a number of years. “We’ve tried Florence Roby, we’ve tried brands that we’ve seen at Professional Beauty [Show], and Simon Jersey are actually a little bit cheaper, but that wasn’t the reason we chose them: the quality is good, they wash well and they don’t wear. We’ve always been really pleased with them,” explains Anna.

Before settling on the current tunic, the team ordered a few different styles to trial first. “It’s quite difficult to get a uniform that’s going to suit everyone. The style is really important. Those ones that have the buttons that do up on one side, or down the side? Such a terrible design: If you’ve got bigger girls, the buttons pop off and they look terrible.

“Length, I think that’s important too. We trialled a few and they were just too short. The girls felt uncomfortable in them, because as you move around doing massage and other treatments, you show your tummy. Also the length of the arms, some girls don’t like showing their arms so there needs to be a nice length on the arms.”

Herock Dagan trousers

The tunics are fashionable and crease-resistant

Square neckline styles were introduced a year ago

Anna says the crease factor of the different tunics also had to be considered. “Once it’s ironed, does it crease easily, because that can make it look really scruffy? We’ve had ones before that creased terribly. They looked beautiful and had this big cummerbund round them, but they were so impractical.”

Another downfall was that when they got spots of oil on them – and beauty salons use numerous oil-based products every day – they left a mark. “Even though the uniforms we have now aren’t 100% cotton, which is obviously nicer for the girls, these ones don’t get marks on them and they don’t crease, so they’re better for every day use in the salon.

The previous tunics before the current styles were a deep purple shade, chosen to tie in with the ‘lavender’ part of the salon group’s name, but the colour didn’t suit all the therapists. Grey, which matches the ‘stone’ part of the name and hence the branding, was a popular choice with all the staff and so each member of the 42 staff received two tunics in grey last year. When new staff arrive they are bought new tunics as needed, and old tunics are replaced when they start to look tired.

Beauty salons are where people go to look and feel good – aesthetics are important, and there is an expectation that staff will also look fashionable. “The tunics we’ve got this year are a lot more fashionable. I think that’s another important thing: that the girls feel comfortable in them. There is nothing worse that going to work every day if you don’t feel good.”