How to Create a Unified Look in Restaurant Uniforms

Alsco is a nationally known provider of uniform services and linens. In fact, they were the first company in the U.S. to offer uniform services way back in the late 1800s. They know a thing or two about what it takes to come up with a great uniform program, especially in a restaurant setting.

Restaurant uniforms come in two categories: back-of-house and front-of-house. Within those two categories are different kinds of uniforms designed for various positions. All uniforms should be functional, but they should also be unified in their look. A unified look goes a long way toward giving guests a memorable experience.

So, how do you create a unified look in restaurant uniforms? You start by assessing your needs based on staffing.


Back-of-house staff are so named because they work out back, out of the view of the dining public. This includes your chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, and so forth. Alsco says the most common uniform elements for back-of-house staff are as follows:

  • Chef Coats – There are different kinds of chef coats for differentiating between a variety of chefs. There are also different styles, from the ultra-formal to the laid-back and casual.
  • Cook Shirts – These are shirts for line cooks, prep cooks, etc.
  • Pants – It is typical for restaurants to order the same pants for all back-of-house employees. There is no need to vary styles for functional purposes.


Front-of-house staff consists of those team members with direct customer contact. You are talking servers, bartenders, and hosts and hostesses. Their uniform needs tend to be less intense. Alsco says most restaurants focus on uniform pants and shirts, along with either a server vest or apron.

Function and Look

Once restaurant management understands its needs in terms of staffing, it is time to look at function. This is something a lot of restaurant owners overlook. And many of those who do attempt to address function fail to realize that needs are different from one position to the next. For example, servers find it helpful if their pants and vests have plenty of pockets. On the other hand, pockets are not much of a concern for sous chefs.

After function comes the overall look of the uniforms. Uniform style should reflect the desired atmosphere of the establishment. Fortunately, modern restaurant uniforms come in a rather extensive variety of styles.

Finally, restaurant management looks at color schemes. There are several different ways to approach color. Some restaurants choose a strict uniform color scheme that applies to all positions. For example, black pants and white shirts and jackets.

Other restaurants adopt a more general color scheme and then design uniforms through which colors indicate position. For example, the head chef may wear a white jacket with black and white checkered pants well sous chefs wears the same pants with a solid black jacket. Out front, bartenders may wear all black while servers wear black pants with white shirts.

Bringing It All Together

Bringing everything together to create a unified look creates a certain image that projects a sense of professionalism and pride. Uniforms look natural and organic while at the same time enhancing the restaurant brand in the eyes of guests.

Do you own or manage a restaurant? If so, does your staff wear uniforms? Know that uniforms send a message to your guests one way or another. If you want that message to be a positive one, step back and take an honest look at your uniforms’ cohesiveness. Hopefully they project a unified image of class, professionalism, and quality service.