When you’re serving a sophisticated drink, you’ll want to look the part. As a bartender, it’s important to exude an air of professionalism and expertise to customers. This starts from the moment you meet them, all the way through to their first sip.
If first impressions count, then a bartender outfit needs to be carefully considered to give off the right vibe. There are five types of bartender outfits which should be considered for any aspiring or experienced bartender.
And here they are, along with our expert outfit considerations to help you make this important decision!
The bartender apron is a very versatile solution for stylish and modern bartending.
Take a look to the Dandelyan Bar in London, that's a stylish destination, catering to a glamorous well-heeled crowd. Their bar staff wear muted grey shirts with dark green bib aprons with a leather trim. This style of bartender uniform goes hand-in-hand with their classy and sophisticated environment, making it a great fit!
These aprons can be easily sourced online for around £110 upwards for a bespoke canvas apron with adjustable straps.
Leather aprons options are available too, which can give off a nice vintage and premium feel. Bartender aprons can easily fit into either a men's or women's bartender outfit, meaning that there's a bartending apron out there for everyone.
2. Shirt combinations
A contemporary look with a nod to times gone by, the shirt and braces combination offers a barrow boy bartender feel that is distinguishable and smart. This bartender uniform can be pulled off by most establishments, but best suits those with retro menus or a vintage feel. Add a bow tie for a completely dapper look.
Although belt and braces can have unisex appeal, you can also sport shirts with bar aprons as your bartender outfit. For an extra touch, you can even get your bar logo etched on the side, which costs as little as £16 from professional uniform suppliers.
And finally, be mindful that while white shirts look smart, they are not the most practical for mixing drinks! All we'll say is make sure that seal is tight on the cocktail shaker when making a whiskey-based cocktail!
3. Waistcoats and jackets
Keep it old school and stick with a bartender's waistcoat or jacket! This dapper look always suggests expertise and knowledge, which for bartending clothes makes it great for hotel bars. Well-cut jackets don’t necessarily need waistcoats, as the bar staff at The American Bar at The Savoy show-off in their well-tailored bartending outfits.
4. Chef's whites
Great for bars that are experimental or high-end hotel bars, these kitchen-inspired white jackets give an air of seriousness, often associated with the medical profession. If your bar is known for its avant-garde molecular concoctions, or offers adventurous experimental drinks with a scientific feel to them, this 'bartender costume' perfectly aligns with that vision.
Mixologists at New York’s upmarket Employees Only bar bring this look to life with minimum effort and maximum impact. However, make sure you opt for a gastronomic rather than clinical look - you don't want customers thinking they'll be a kidney down after their evening out...
5. Solid colour outfits
Classy bartender outfits using solid black or white are a tried and tested approach within the world of bartending. It gives off a sense of style, elegance and sophistication to the customers.
This monochrome approach often associated with business and allows the bartender to show off their skills without a loud outfit distracting from their expertise (great for the flair bartending). The House of Machines in Los Angeles is one such venue that does this to a high standard.
If you prefer a colour-coded outfit, rather than a bartender uniform, make sure you offer examples to your staff about what clothes you would prefer – for instance, jeans, trousers, shirts or vests.
Some important considerations
It can be an exciting exercise designing or choosing bartender uniforms but there are some important considerations to make before.
It's all about getting the outfit right with the style and vibe of the bar. Get this wrong and everything will look out of place, so take on board these seven considerationswhen choosing your bartender outfit...
1. Type of establishment
For bar owners unsure where to start, first of all think about your establishment and what it stands for. Is it trendy and modern, or classic and refined? Does it have a theme or heritage that runs through it? Some bartender uniforms are quite formal, so if it's a young, chill bar, then this may not be the right route to go down.
Your bar staff are an extension of your business, and their bartending outfits should be a reflection of what you stand for.
First and foremost, a bartending outfit needs to be practical enough to soak up the spills. This means sourcing professional outfits made from resilient fabrics and that won’t let marks show up noticeably.
Also think about what you'll be doing as a bartender. Is the uniform going to be practical to work in? Shifts last a long time, so that's many hours of discomfort.
And don't forget the shoes! Make sure you put the effort into finding the best shoes for bartenders, so you can bartender in comfort. The last thing you need are hours of resenting your shoes, mood-killer!
3. All seasons
More than one bartending outfit may need to be considered for the changing seasons. Think about how styles can vary to reflect the changes in weather. Also, if there are any special occasions or celebrations you wish to partake in. Maybe, there's room for a special bartender outfit for this?
You’ll want to consider a style or outfit that is timeless and stylish that the staff will want to wear. If you're choosing the outfits for the bartenders, chances are that you also hired them (or had some part to play). Therefore, you know their personality and that's why you hired them. Try choosing something that reflects who they are and also the bar.
Some establishments just have a colour theme, giving staff the flexibility to wear bartender clothes of their choosing. These colours need to reflect the overall business, and worn together form some kind of uniform that will allow customers to tell who the bartenders are.
This can allow your bartenders to have a more creative feeling, which will be reflect in their work. This can be one of those decisions that really pays off for everyone involved!
6. No uniform
Some bars, particularly low-key neighbourhood bars pride themselves on having no uniform.
Whilst this invokes a casual, chilled vibe, it’s always useful to offer your staff a guide as to what’s appropriate to wear, since some establishments are smarter than others. Setting some basic rules is an easy way to avoid any disagreements and confrontations based on appropriate bartender clothing.
What kind of message do you want your staff to convey? Experts, relaxed, connoisseurs, experimentalist or mad professors? Think about the image you want your staff to portray and how their outfit can play into this. This may just be the most important consideration that you'll have to think about, so don't rush it!
Looking to get into bartending or want to improve your bartending skills? Learn all about our bartending courses here at European Bartender School...