Working as a bartender, you are on the front lines of customer interaction—you greet, serve, entertain, and talk to guests all day and night, so you’ve got to deliver a slick and interesting look that’s professional (and one that can hold up to the job’s demands, too). In terms of what to wear to a bartending interview, it’s no different—you’ve got to look the part!
No matter the occasion, bartenders should dress stylishly and professionally, balancing style, comfort, functionality, and appropriateness to the event. For bartending interviews, bartenders want to nail those first impressions—you want to exude professionalism, confidence, and personality (a little charisma won’t hurt either!).
Here at Broken Bartender, your supplier of conversation-starting bartender clothing and accessories, we’ve put together a handy outfit guide for the modern bartender, with special advice from bartending pros who know their way around.
We’ll go over the dos and don’ts of how to dress as a bartender—what to wear to a bartending interview and make the right impression and how to dress appropriately for different bartending venues and events, such as weddings, cocktail bars, and more.
Here, we’ll cover:
- What to wear to a bartending interview?
- What to wear to a formal bartending interview?
- What to wear to a more casual bartending interview?
- Can I show piercings and tattoos at a bartending interview and other events?
- Can I wear jewelry and pins to a bartending interview and other events?
- Can I wear makeup to a bartending interview and other events?
- How should bartenders generally dress?
- Bonus dressing tips for different bartending gigs and events
[Dress to impress for your bartender interview—stand out from other applicants and keep comfortable and stylish with Broken Bartender’s unique clothing and cheeky accessories.]
What to wear to a bartending interview?
For bartending newbies and those who’ve done it for a while but want some fresh advice, you might be wondering “What do you wear to a bartender interview?” Broken Bartender spoke to two head bartenders with loads of experience in both formal and casual bars, and they shared their expert advice on the basics of bartending outfits.
Jamie Rhind, the property beverage manager of Atlantis The Royal in Dubai, UAE dishes out some expert advice—“[For] most interviews, you have to be dressing to impress. It gives a great first impression that you care for the job.”
Kai Ng, bar manager of Quinary in Hong Kong (ranked #49 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars), shares some of his own pro feedback on what to wear to a bartender interview and how to present yourself professionally as a bartender. It all starts with meticulous hygiene, which is critical in the service industry—“First of all, you have to have proper hygiene and appearance, meaning odor, hair, fingernails, etc.” Keep it clean and presentable!
What to wear to a formal bartending interview?
What does dressing to impress for a formal bartending job interview look like? “Most of the time, this is a suit and tie job,” says Jamie, and Kai agrees. In terms of what to wear to a bartender interview in high-end, “higher tier restaurants or hotel bars, I would adapt [to] more of a more formal outfit…perhaps wearing a blazer,” Kai says.
To prepare for a high-end bartending job interview, don’t overlook the details—think crisp, ironed clothing, critically chosen accessories, and a freshly groomed face and hands.
What to wear to a more casual bartending interview?
What do you wear to bartender interviews at more casual bars, like sports bars and cocktail bars? Kai favors a clean, crisp look—“white [or] gray button shirt. Nothing too dark. Clean casual sneakers and jeans or chinos are fine, as long as it's matching with each other and looks natural. In general, [dress in] smart casual.”
Jamie weighs in with his two cents—”If [you’re] going to an interview for maybe a cocktail/dive bar, this [the suit and tie] could change.” But don’t get too casual and comfortable—“still wear your best jeans,” Jamie quips.
If you can, Kai advises that you “observe beforehand what the usual atmosphere [at the bar] feels like” to determine the dress code, which can help you prepare and plan for your interview attire.
Can I show piercings and tattoos at a bartending interview and other events?
For pierced bartenders who love their body jewelry, keeping piercings in depends on the venue and dress code of the event or bar you’ll be working at. While piercings are much more widely accepted these days, certain places may have stricter rules. When in doubt, stick to a minimal number of discrete piercings.
The same goes for showing tattoos at bartender interviews and at work—it all depends on the establishment’s dress code, so make sure you check first!
Can I wear jewelry and pins to a bartending interview and other events?
Source: Broken Bartender
As a general rule of thumb, bartenders should avoid wearing too much jewelry, especially dangling earrings and longer necklaces, which can be cumbersome and get in the way of drink preparation. Smaller earrings, shorter necklaces, and watches are fine—just avoid safety hazards and make sure that nothing falls in anyone’s drink!
When it comes to pins, however, bartenders can have a lot of fun expressing themselves—”Pins would be a nice little touch,” says Kai. “[They’re] a conversation opener and [they] ease the interview.” And who knows, perhaps they’ll even bring you good luck in acing your interview!
Jamie thinks so, too, adding that pins and shirts are a great way to show “off passion for the industry” and ”get your personality across to your new potential employer”.
Can I wear makeup to a bartending interview and other events?
Absolutely, but it’s best to make sure that the makeup you’ll be wearing is clean, professional-looking, and long-lasting—you don’t want to be melting over people’s drinks!
Also, while it’s fantastic to express creativity, you might want to make sure your makeup look is appropriate for the venue and event (maybe save the stronger looks for other occasions!). Again, don’t forget to check on the event’s dress code.
How should bartenders generally dress?
While different jobs call for different looks, the standard in the bar industry remains the same, as we’ve seen in some of the best movies about bartending—both male and female bartenders want to look clean, groomed, well-dressed and interesting.
But what exactly does that look like? We’ve got the juice on what to wear to a bartending interview and to different bartending venues and events. Let’s break down some general rules.
1. Wear comfortable clothing that fits well
Bartenders should ensure that their clothes fit them well—nothing too baggy that could look sloppy or get in the way of drink preparation and nothing too tight either. You want to be able to move with ease and confidence, and you want to make sure your clothes hold up for the entire shift, so take care when choosing fabrics (avoid anything wrinkly!).
Sticking to business casual is generally a good idea!
2. Wear clothing that’s appropriate to the occasion and to the climate
If you’re working at an outdoor bar, you’ll want to dress appropriately. It doesn’t make sense to be bundled up and to be sweaty while on shift—you’ve got to stay cool and professional, so you might want to put on a cool t-shirt and save that suit jacket for another time.
The opposite is true, too—if you’re serving drinks at a hotel bar with the air conditioning on full blast, you’ll not only want a vest and suit jacket for the formal dress code, you’ve got to stay warm and comfortable, too!
As always, it’s important to dress professionally—you might want to save the sexier stuff for when you’re not behind the bar.
3. Wear darker colors
As a general rule in the industry, bartenders tend to dress in darker colors, which hide drips and stains better than lighter colors and bright colors, though some prefer the look of a clean, white shirt. Black shirts, black shoes, and black pants are common, but you don’t need to limit yourself to black—other darker colors would work well, too!4. Wear a button-down shirt
In terms of what to wear to a bartending interview, a button-down shirt (short or long-sleeved) or a collared shirt is a good idea, but again, this all depends on the venue.5. Wear a statement top
For more casual bars, donning a statement top with a cool saying or interesting graphics is a fun way to invite customer interest and conversation. Plus, it’s normally the half of your body that customers do get to see, as you’re always behind the bar, so choose well.6. Wear the right bottoms
While bartenders wear dress pants to more formal events and venues, nice jeans, chinos, and khakis would work well, too. The important thing to remember is that they should fit well and be comfortable to work in for extended periods of time.7. Wear comfortable shoes that provide support
Speaking of working for extended periods of time—comfortable shoes that provide support are some of the most important clothing items in a bartender’s arsenal. You’ll be standing and moving for the entire shift, so your shoes better be comfortable!8. Wear closed-toe shoes
While we’re on the subject of shoes, expert bartenders agree that open-toed shoes, like sandals and flip flops, have no place behind the bar. You’ll be mixing drinks and there will be spills and drops and accidents, and you don’t want to get your feet wet and sticky during your shift, so it’s best to stick to closed-toe shoes, like dress shoes or cool kicks.9. Wear the right accessories
Wearing the right accessories is a fun way of expressing your personality—you can choose from ties, bowties, hats, suspenders, and pins. Don’t forget to check with the establishment as some places might not allow their bartenders to wear hats, as an example.10. Wear your hair up and back if you have long hair
Long-haired bartenders, listen up—while you love your locks, you work in the food and beverage industry, so it’s best to tie, braid, or keep your hair up and out of your face when at an interview and at work.
Bonus dressing tips for different bartending gigs and events
If you’ll be running the bar at a wedding, it’s important to discuss the dress code with the wedding planner in advance—the couple might have a theme, special requests, or specific colors they’d like staff and guests to wear, so check first before planning your outfit.2. Themed parties
As above, for parties with a specific theme, it’s best to get in touch with the event planner to find out all the details ahead of time so you can prepare your outfit.
Again, don’t forget that the outfit has to be something you can wear comfortably for long periods of time and can move around in with ease, so it doesn’t detract from your work.3. Cruise ships
For bartenders managing the bar on a cruise ship, shoes with good grip are your best friend—stay steady, upright, and topside with the help of a sturdy shoe and a grippy sole.4. Uniforms
Some establishments might have uniforms for their restaurant and bar staff to wear. While it can be boring to not choose your own clothing and wear the same thing over and over, some bartenders like that they don’t have to worry about what to wear everyday.
If your work requires you to wear a uniform, don’t worry—you can still express your personality and show off your unique bartender style with well-picked accessories, like these awesome hats and pins.
There you have it—a comprehensive guide on what to wear to a bartending interview and how to dress for different bartending situations. It’s all about showing your love for the bartending art, your dedication to the bar industry, and your charming personality.
To summarize, we leave you with some of Jamie’s best advice for your next bartending interview—”No one cares [about] how you make your old fashioned anymore. It’s all about employing people with passion and a good personality—you can’t teach that,” he says, though you can teach people how to make a daiquiri.
[Ace your bartender interview and dress with confidence with Broken Bartender’s clothing and accessories collection, which offers fun and witty designs for the modern bartender.]