Why do painters wear white clothing? That's a question we have perhaps all asked at some point. It doesn't appear to make sense to wear white when you are working with colorful paints. The history of wearing white to paint goes back to the 18th century and it is still a painter´s preferred choice, for quite a few reasons.
Sign of Professionalism
Certain professions are associated with specific uniforms and colors. For example, the housekeeping profession is often associated with blue and white pin-striped dresses with large white lapels and a tea apron for women. What sets painters apart is all-white clothing. Painters wear white dungarees, overalls or tee shirts and trousers to distinguish themselves from other tradesmen. In his white clothing, a painter is more likely to be recognized and perhaps approached with an offer of work. In all white, he is an advertisement of his profession.
White Makes Practical Sense
The color that a painter most often works with is white, and the best way to hide white paint splatters is to wear white clothing. Some of the other substances that a painter works with, like plaster, lime and chalk are also white. Moreover, when a painter engages in the task of sanding a wall before he paints it, he generates a fine powder that is also white. His white uniform hides any stains and gives the impression of cleanliness.
Convenience of Maintenance
Even when a painter works with colors apart from white, he can always bleach his clothes and restore them to their former unstained appearance. If his clothing was any color other than white, the bleach would cause it to fade. White clothing is thus easier to maintain.
In 18th-century England, buildings were routinely whitewashed. It is believed that painters took to wearing white clothes at this time so that the whitewash would not show on their garments.
In the 20th century, union painters adopted white clothing as a sign of solidarity to set themselves apart from the non-union painters who tended to wear blue and white.
Often a painter´s job involves working outdoors in the strong sun for long periods of time. The color white reflects light instead of absorbing it and tends to keep the body cooler. This is also why people switch to wearing white clothes in the hot summer months.
White fabric is also cheaper than its dyed counterpart. White clothing thus makes economic sense.