Wait Staff Uniforms & Dress Code

The wait staff often has the first interaction with customers. This can influence the positivity of the interaction and therefore the odds that the customer will have a good experience, speak highly of the place and want to come back. 

Much of wait staff appearance is focused on personal hygiene and what they are wearing. In the past, wait staff traditionally wore black pants, a white shirt and a bow tie; however, this look is evolving.

The wait staff dress code has relaxed from strictly black and white in most establishments. Many older restaurants, large corporations or hotels still expect wait staff to wear uniforms or specific clothing items, whereas bars and more casual establishments often have more relaxed dress codes. 

It is important to decide what type of look and atmosphere you are trying to create with wait staff dress codes or uniforms. Setting clear expectations can ensure consistency in your establishment.

Importance of Appearance for Wait Staff

Appearance dictates a person’s first impression of you. Often a person has already decided a lot about you based on your visible appearance before you even open your mouth to speak. This is especially important in a business like a restaurant that thrives on word of mouth and people having positive experiences. Way before they get to try the food or drinks, a customer walking into a restaurant or bar will interact with the wait staff. 

Well-dressed and groomed wait staff who are upbeat and attentive can make all the difference in how a customer initially feels about an establishment. First impressions are important and can be directly influenced by the wait staff dress code or uniform choices.

High-End Restaurants & Strict Wait Staff Dress Codes

Large corporations, hotels and high-end restaurants often rely on strict uniforms or dress codes. This often includes black, close-toed shoes that are clean and often of a specific style. Socks must be worn regardless of the season and will need to be in a neutral color. 

Dress slacks or skirts for women are often required, as is a specific colored, often button-down, shirt that must be changed daily. Sweaters or vests cannot be worn over the uniform, and neckties or bow ties may also be required. 

Wait staff in these establishments are expected to be well groomed, and unusual haircuts or colors are often not acceptable. Tattoos cannot be visible, piercings are often restricted to one set in the ears, makeup must be subdued and jewelry must be discreet. 

Each establishment will have its own set of policies regarding wait staff dress codes or uniforms. Management should be explicit about what should be worn and what is not tolerated.

Casual Wait Staff Appearance in Bars & Cafés

Nightclubs, bars, cafés and casual restaurants often take a different stance on wait staff dress codes or uniforms. Commonly, wait staff appearance is designed to match the aesthetics of the environment, often matching colors or styles with the interior design. 

Most of the time, the look of the wait staff is relaxed and casual. Men may wear regular ties instead of bow ties, or they may wear no tie at all. Dress pants are replaced with classic pants, such as khakis or even jeans, and a T-shirt or logo shirt. 

Often these establishments will use shirts from a sponsor or with the logo of the business as uniforms for the wait staff. In more casual environments, the wait staff will often wear a hat or long apron over their clothes with a sponsor’s logo or the logo of the business itself. 

In these locations, it is still important to be able to discern the wait staff and employees from the customers. Because of this, wait staff usually wear a uniform or logoed item of clothing (such as a shirt, hat, or apron). 

Outsourcing Uniform Needs

With Alsco, you can ensure that your wait staff looks clean, stylish and professional with a line of brand-name restaurant uniforms that are customizable, durable, wrinkle free and stain resistant. The sharp-looking logo and embroidery can enhance the overall appearance of your wait staff uniforms. 

You can rent uniforms from Alsco and have them replaced as needed. This can provide you a cost-effective and simple alternative to continually buying uniforms for your wait staff on your own. With employee turnover, the uniforms are retained and repurposed, which can save your business money overall. 

At Alsco, we simplify the whole process for you, making it easy to ensure your wait staff is always dressed according to requirements and looking good. Contact us today to get started with our uniform services.


Science Says People Decide These 12 Things Within Seconds of Meeting You. (April 2019). Business Insider. 

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