In a club, pub, or restaurant, one spot’s always the most popular—the bar. Wherever the bartender is, there’ll be some action, and as one of the most prominent faces in the establishment, bartenders need to be (and look!) ready. So exactly what do bartenders wear to handle a night of busy and look fly at the same time?
Wanna-be-bartenders to time-tested veterans will have seen some of the best movies about bartending and films featuring iconic bartenders (like Cocktail, Trees Lounge, and Passengers). While the impeccable suit-and-tie combo will live on and never die, modern day bartenders have shaken things up quite a bit (pun absolutely intended!) with outfits for bartenders that are cool, casual, and cheeky at the same time.
But not all clubs, pubs, and restaurants are created equal, and bartenders will have to deal with ever-changing locations, themes, dress codes, and fashion trends.
Confused about what to wear bartending? What does a bartender wear on their first day? Is there such a thing as a bartender uniform? What about female bartender outfits? We at Broken Bartender are here to sort you out, one bartender outfit question at a time. We’ve given you expert tips on what to wear to a bartending interview, and now we’ll really get into the details of bartender swag—what bartenders wear, broken down from head to toe.
[Want to make a statement at the bar and stay stylish while pouring drinks? Shake things up with Broken Bartender’s awesome clothing and accessories collection, which offers fun and witty designs for the modern bartender.]
What do bartenders wear?
In order to answer that all-important question, we need to build the foundation of all good bartender outfits (and no, it isn’t a super stylish pair of shoes, though as long as they’re slip-proof and comfortable, they may just pass the footwear test).
When picking out what to wear bartending, Broken Bartender suggests you start by considering the following points: ambiance, style, and dress code of the establishment; comfort, functionality, and durability of the outfit; personal grooming and hygiene; and the bartender personality you want to showcase (first impressions matter and all that!).
Without further ado, here’s our handy list of expert tips for putting together the best bartending outfit:
Follow the ambiance, style, and dress code of the establishment
While we completely support going full-on with your bartender swag, we do think that checking on the establishment’s specific dress code, style, and ambiance first is a good idea. After all, it might be a tad awkward to rock pirate chic in a Hawaiian-style tiki cocktail bar!
As a bartender, you do want to stand out, but not for the wrong reasons, so leave your flowery shirts at home when serving drinks at a high-end bar where a button-down shirt or a collared shirt might be the wiser choice.
Get familiar with the rules at work so you don’t get called aside for that annoying and embarrassing “you’re breaking the dress code” talk.
Not a fan of the pub’s theme or the bartender uniform you have to wear? While you have to get with the program and dress according to code, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep things individual with a fun little accessory, like our Smallest Cocktail Shaker Ever (Necklace) ($69.95)—it actually opens, and we’re pretty sure it’ll pass any dress rules out there!
Your bartender outfit should be comfortable, functional, and durable
If you love being a bartender, you’ll know that staying comfortable is just as important as looking good; in fact, it’s even more of a consideration. After all, you can’t effortlessly serve gorgeous drinks and slay the crowd with your cheeky bartender jokes if your shirt’s riding up whenever you reach up to grab bottles or glasses, if you’re sweating too much, or if your feet are killing you and you have to remove your shoes and go barefoot halfway through the shift.
You’ve gotta ask yourself the trifecta of questions: is my outfit comfortable, functional, and durable? In other words: Can I move freely in this outfit? Can I do my job with ease while wearing this? Will I be able to maintain a presentable, professional look for the entire shift in these clothes?
Your bartender outfit has to make you feel good and boost your confidence. It’s got to make moving around the bar easy (and safe!), and it’s got to last and look good for the entire shift (those long hours!). That rules out anything restrictive, overly loose, and anything made of materials that wrinkle, don’t breathe, and show stains easily.
If your bar is a bit more on the casual side and you’re looking to restock your bartender wardrobe, you might want to add our Chit Division T-Shirt ($30) to your shopping cart. It’s made for bartenders; it’s very comfortable, it’s a conversation art piece on its own, and it will go with many different bottoms, like smart black trousers, khakis, jeans, and skirts.
Don’t neglect personal grooming and hygiene
Nobody quite enjoys talking about hygiene, but alas, it must be discussed. I think we can all agree that these three rules apply when it comes to how to turn up for any job—you’ve got to be clean, you’ve got to practice good hygiene, and you’ve got to look professional.
As a bartender (and for anyone in the hospitality industry), you’ll be dealing with food, drinks, and customers all day (or night) long. Personal hygiene and a clean appearance are paramount—we’re talking clean hair, teeth, skin, and groomed nails. Clothes should be fresh and ironed, and the body should be clean (not a whiff of bad breath or body odor, please!).
Need to keep your hair out of your eyes? Slap on our favorite Old Fashioned Trucker Hat ($30) and serve up some seriously clean style from behind the bar.
Showcase your personal bartending style
Being a bartender means being in a position of prominence (there’s always a crowd around the bartender!), making it the perfect opportunity to showcase some of your personal swag.
The bowtie is a favored accessory when it comes to what bartenders wear to express some individual style, and many bartenders have been known to sport smart vests, bartender jackets, and ties, and suspenders.
You can bring a little personality to the table with a statement t-shirt, live dangerously with a cheeky pin, and set it all off with a jaunty little bartender hat. It’s all about representing your personal bartender style.
A little accessory can speak volumes of who you really are—like our Bitter & Dark Inside Pin ($12).
Dress to impress on your first day of bartending
What does a bartender wear on their first day of bartending? Their bartender’s best, of course! As we mentioned before, pay attention to the theme of the establishment when deciding on your first day outfit. Dressing to a theme can be fun, but do remember that it isn’t a costume party, so focus on keeping things professional.
If you’re given a bartender uniform to wear, then you don’t have to worry about picking a good bartender outfit with which to impress. If there isn’t a set outfit and you’re left to your own devices, you can’t go wrong with the following reliable clothing items professional bartenders swear by: a black dress shirt, black dress pants, and non-slip black shoes.
More importantly, get a sharp, new hair cut, groom your face well, and if wearing makeup, keep it professional and to a minimum.
Need a lucky charm on your first day? One of our sassy pins will do the trick, like this fun little green number, the Cucumber & Roses Pin ($12). Pin it to your outfit and feel your confidence soar!
Bartender rules of dressing apply to both male and female bartenders
When it comes to bartender outfits for female bartenders, they’re no different from what male bartenders will be wearing—comfortable, professional clothing that’s easy to move in and that will look good for the entire shift. Pants are a great choice, but if going with a skirt or a dress, it’d be a good idea to choose something that’s not too short or tight (pro tip: do the reach up, bend down, and lean over the bar test in the outfit first to see if it holds up to the rigors of bartending work).
If you’re looking for a statement top to add to your bartender-approved wardrobe, consider our Once Upon a Hangover T-Shirt ($30)—it’s comfy, cute, and it fits like a dream. At Broken Bartender, all our clothing is strictly bartender-tested and tried.
Steer clear of shorts and sleeveless shirts
If there’s any specific clothing bartenders should avoid, it would be shorts and sleeveless shirts. Unless prescribed as part of the uniform in tropical, sunny places, wearing shorts and sleeveless tops as a bartender is usually considered a no-no—shorts are too casual for most places, and sleeveless tops? Well, let’s just say that people generally don’t like staring at bartenders’ armpits (no matter how nice they are!) while they get their drink on.
Make a statement and keep your armpits comfortably out of sight with our Barback Forever T-Shirt ($30).
If wearing jeans, choose a dark-colored and well-fitted pair
While jeans are every man and woman’s favorite article of clothing, the jury’s still out on whether they’re acceptable as proper bartender clothing. Often perceived as too casual, most establishments prefer their bartenders to be dressed in a more polished, formal manner that doesn’t involve any sort of denim.
If you’ve just got to have your jeans, check with your workplace first to see if they’re allowed in the dress code. If they are, choose a dark-colored and well-fitted pair, which will keep you looking well-dressed and professional.
You know what goes well with jeans? Our bright red Negroni Trucker Hat ($30), which will keep you looking and feeling fly both behind and away from the bar.
Opt for darker colors when choosing your bartender outfit
What do bartenders wear often when it comes to color? Bartenders tend to go for darker colors, which mask spills and drips of any kind and stay fresher-looking for longer.
While white and lighter colors aren’t strictly off-limits, they’re a pretty big risk to take if you want to make it through an entire shift unscathed!
Keep it dark (and fun) with our popular 1 More Shot T-Shirt ($30), which will catch and hide any sprays, drips, or spills—your secret’s safe with us.
Footwear should be non-slip and comfortable
What do bartenders wear on their feet? Bartending isn’t a sit-down job; it’s an on-your-feet, back-and-forth kind of gig, so you’ve got to choose ultra comfy, slip-resistant shoes. With all the possible spillage going on behind the bar (hopefully not too much!), you’ve got to have a strong, non-slip base.
Veteran bartenders prefer comfortable shoes that aren’t complicated and that will stay on during the entire shift—boots seem to be a favored choice. Tripping over and trying to tie shoelaces in the middle of serving drinks isn’t ideal. Other styles of footwear to avoid are open-toed shoes and high heels—you want your toes protected in case bottles come crashing down, and high heels just aren’t practical (plus, they hurt like nobody’s business!).
Keep accessories to a minimum and avoid anything dangling
Do accessories have any place in outfits for bartenders? Absolutely, but be smart about the type of jewelry or accessories you choose to use. It’s best to avoid anything dangling, which can snag on things and accidentally dip into drinks.
As we mentioned before, pins are a simple and fun way for bartenders to accessorize, and the right pin can also serve as a conversation-starter, like our Spank Me Pin ($12), which will keep everyone on their toes.
What do bartenders wear at a club?
Do bartenders dress up when they work at a club? Yes, but they still keep things professional. You can have some fun with funky shirts and cool designs, or you can keep things classic with a button-down shirt and a vest (always a stylish combo!).
Whatever outfit you decide on, you’ll want to make sure you can still move with ease and serve customers (plus dance!) all night long.
For bartenders shaking things up at the club, we recommend this club-worthy accessory, the What to Drink (Spinner) Pin ($14), which will no doubt provide endless entertainment (and decision-making help!) for drunken club-goers.
[Get your bartender outfit on point with Broken Bartender’s stylish clothing and cheeky accessories for bartenders who want to look, feel, and exude cool.]