Fantasies, Kink & BDSM

Sexual Uniforms: The Costumes That Turn People On

November 8, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller

When you fantasize about sex, do you ever imagine your partner(s) wearing a specific uniform? If so, you’re not alone. In the survey of 4,175 Americans I conducted for my book Tell Me What You Want, one of the questions I asked was whether people had ever fantasized about having sex with someone in uniform—and, if so, what they were wearing.

What I found was that 48% of adults said this was something they had fantasized about before, with 6% (about 1 in 17) saying this is something they fantasize about often. I further asked them which specific uniforms they fantasize about most frequently, and these were the most popular uniforms on the list:

  • Military uniforms (18% reported this)
  • Police officers (14% reported this)
  • Student or teacher uniforms (11% reported this)
  • Firefighters (9% reported this)
  • Nurses (9% reported this)
  • Doctors (8% reported this)
  • Cheerleaders (7% reported this)
  • Athletic or sports uniforms (6% reported this)
  • Maids (4% reported this)

A lot of other uniforms showed up on the list (including pilots, sailors, flight attendants, clowns, cowboys/cowgirls, etc.), but everything else registered below 2%, and some were mentioned by just a handful of people. Interestingly, for all of the porn videos out there featuring someone delivering a pizza or coming to fix the pipes, delivery and repair uniform fantasies were pretty uncommon!

It’s interesting to look at the uniforms that topped the list because many (but not all) of them represent social roles that signal power or authority, which suggests that uniforms may appear in people’s fantasies as a way of establishing a dominant-submissive dynamic.

Consistent with this idea, I found that the more frequently people fantasized about sex with a partner in uniform, the more often they fantasized about BDSM scenarios of every type. However, the single biggest association that emerged was that uniform fantasies were linked to more frequent fantasies about taking on a subordinate role and having sex with an authority figure, suggesting that this is a key part of the appeal for many people.

Of course, there are other reasons uniforms and costumes might make an appearance in someone’s sexual fantasies. For example, uniform fantasies were also linked to having an overactive imagination in general, which suggests that sometimes these fantasies are just the product of a wandering mind. These fantasies were also more common among those with sensation-seeking tendencies, suggesting that the appeal for some is rooted in the excitement of doing something taboo.

It’s also important to note that uniform fantasies (and the specific uniforms people fantasize about) also vary across sexual orientation and gender:

  • 52% of heterosexual women reported having these fantasies, with military, police, and firefighter uniforms being the most popular
  • 40% of heterosexual men reported having these fantasies, with nurses, cheerleaders, and student/teacher uniforms being the most popular
  • 45% of lesbian and bisexual women reported having these fantasies, with the most popular uniforms being the same as those of heterosexual women
  • 46% of gay and bisexual men reported having these fantasies, with student/teacher, nurse, and military uniforms being the most popular
  • 47% of trans and nonbinary persons reported having these fantasies, with military, doctor, and police uniforms being the most popular

Across all genders and sexualities, having uniform fantasies was linked to having more BDSM fantasies, suggesting a pretty consistent underlying theme.

I should note that one limitation of the questions I asked was that I focused on fantasies about a partner wearing a uniform, as opposed to you yourself wearing a uniform. It would be interesting in a future study to look at self vs. partner uniforms in fantasies to better understand the dynamics at play here.

That said, these findings tell us that it’s not uncommon for someone in uniform to appear in our sexual fantasies. And while the specific uniforms people are turned on by vary, there does seem to be a common thread running through many of them, which is that they’re often about establishing a power dynamic that people find to be arousing.

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Image Source: Photo by Chris Zhang on Unsplash

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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