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What Do Waiters/Waitresses Wear?

what do waitresses wear

If you’re getting ready for a Waiter/Waitress job, you might be wondering what type of clothes you’ll be wearing at work. While dress codes often vary by establishment, there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind.

Once you’re aware of these rules, picking the right attire for work will be easy. This will simplify your morning routine and ensure you start each shift with confidence.

So what do Waiters wear? And what do Waitresses wear? Let’s examine these more thoroughly.

Selecting the Right Uniform Style

When working as a Waiter or Waitress, you’re always supposed to wear a uniform style that matches the overall ambiance of your workplace. The choice is up to the management, as they have to ensure all employees’ attire matches the establishment’s identity.

Most of them aim for either a more modern, classic or casual look. Below you can see how these uniform styles differ:

Modern Uniforms

Establishments that go for modern Waiter or Waitress uniforms embrace contemporary trends while aiming for extra functionality.

Places that fall under this category often opt for polos, stylish t-shirts or button-up shirts and pair them with trousers or pencil skirts. For footwear they prioritize comfort and functionality, often going for stylish sneakers or loafers.

Modern uniforms are also all about modern fabrics with stain-resistant properties that can withstand the demands of working on a busy day.

Classic Uniforms

Upscale restaurants and similar establishments often opt for a more traditional look that gives off refinement and goes well with the formal dining experience. This uniform style reflects the timeless elegance and professionalism the place wants to showcase.

Both Waiters and Waitresses at such places wear crisp white shirts and black waistcoats or aprons. When it comes to bottoms, the choice is between black trousers and dress pants. Blouses and skirts are also a common option for Waitresses.

The look is completed with polished black shoes, bow ties and in some cases, even gloves.

formal waiter attire

Casual Uniforms

Establishments sometimes go with casual uniforms to reflect a more laid-back dining experience. This usually includes clothes that balance out style and comfort.

Polo shirts and t-shirts work well with this uniform style and are usually complemented by jeans or khakis. The footwear includes comfortable yet stylish sneakers or more casual loafers.

It’s common for casual uniforms to incorporate the establishment’s logo for a touch of branding.

Key Components of a Waitress Uniform

Whether the management has left the choice up to you or you’re a part of the decision-making team, it’s important to get all individual components of a Waiter or Waitress uniform right. So let’s take a closer look at each of them:

Tops: Blouses, Shirts, Polos

It’s important to pay a lot of attention when choosing tops for the Waiter or Waitress role. Your top is one of the key details when it comes to matching the establishment’s vibe and it has a huge impact on comfort and functionality.

Blouses are a common option, especially when the establishment wants to create a more formal dining experience.

However, the most versatile choice is collared shirts, which work in almost any type of bar or restaurant. Usually, they should be long enough so that a few inches of cuff is visible.

When going for a casual look, the choice often falls down to polos. In cafes and bistros, t-shirts with a relaxed fit can also work.

Be careful about the fabrics you choose as you want something breathable and stretchy enough. Cotton and polyester blends will always get the job done. You should also go for fabrics that are less prone to wrinkling to maintain a presentable look.

Bottoms: Pants, Skirts

The choice of bottoms is always influenced by the style the establishment is going for.

Pants and skirts are common options across all establishments, but their length should align with the place’s overall atmosphere and dress code. It’s also important to consider the top you chose and find bottoms that match the style.

Footwear: Comfortable and Safe Shoes

Shoes you wear as a Waiter or Waitress need to be both comfortable and safe. Additionally, they need to offer enough functionality during long hours of service.

Look for something that provides ample cushioning and extra support as you’ll spend almost the entirety of the shift on your feet. Since bars and restaurants are prone to spills, it’s also important to choose something with non-slip soles.

As a Waiter or Waitress, you should wear shoes that fit well and allow for natural movement of the feet. This is especially because your feet may start swelling by the end of your shift.

Accessories: Name Tags, Aprons, Ties, Scarves

Bars and restaurants often pay attention to the finishing touches and small details in their staff’s uniforms. Getting these accessories right helps create a more cohesive and complete look.

Name tags have become an important part of the Waiter or Waitress uniform as these help in customer interaction.

Aprons are there to complete the look and add more functionality. They allow you to store small items such as pads, pens and similar tools. Usually, they’re made from materials that are easy to clean and move around in.

Ties and scarves are usually part of the uniform in more upscale places. While they also aid in the overall visual appeal, they shouldn’t get in your way while working.

waitress apron

How Cuisine and Ambiance Affect Waiter/Waitress Uniforms

While your final attire choices should depend on the exact look the establishment you work at is going for, your uniform may often be influenced by its cuisine and ambiance.

Let’s look at how exactly these may affect the clothes you wear on your shifts:

Casual Restaurants

In casual restaurants, dress codes aren’t that strict so Waiters and Waitresses can often choose the clothes themselves.

A standard t-shirt is always a good choice, just keep the design simple.

For bottoms choose jeans and khakis and complete the look with an apron to protect your clothes.

The freedom of choosing the attire yourself leaves you more room to find something that’s breathable and easy to work in. Still, your goal should be to choose something that gives both a professional and relaxed look.

Fine Dining Establishments

Fine dining establishments are all about giving a sense of refinement and professionalism. When working in a place like this, you’ll usually be provided a formal uniform. They do this to ensure all staff members wear the clothes that match their high standards. If there’s anything the management leaves up to you, aim at emphasizing elegance and pay close attention to details.

Cafes and Bistros

In cafes and bistros, you’ll usually encounter a more casual and relaxed atmosphere and your uniform will reflect this.

T-shirts are a common option and it’s all about looking more approachable to customers. Also, in these types of establishments, aprons are regularly a part of the uniform.

Sometimes, they allow staff members to express their personal style, as long as it aligns with the overall ambiance of the place.

waiter in a t-shirt

Bars and Pubs

The uniform choice in bars always depends on the overall ambiance. In some of these, Bartenders and waiters or waitresses have to wear more formal clothes. This is usually the case in bars that offer more refined drinks and want to create a sense of elegance.

Pubs usually aim at a more relaxed vibe, so you’ll encounter less formal dress codes. T-shirts with the pub’s logo and other themed designs are a common option.

While not always an acceptable choice for Waiters and Waitresses, plaid shirts and sweaters can work in both these types of establishments.

Final Thoughts

When working as a Waiter or Waitress, it’s important to wear something that matches the overall tone of the place and allows you to move around freely. If the choice is up to you, follow the tips from this article to ensure you feel comfortable during your shift.

Lastly, if you’re searching for a job in this role, always check if the Waiter/Waitress job description mentions something about the dress code. That way, you’ll know what clothes to look for when choosing your attire for work.

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