Blog | Sexy uniforms | Sexism in the restaurant trade
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Sexy restaurant uniforms are great – but where do you put your spoon?

This week there has been much debate about whether The Sun has decided, that it was time to bring an end to what is delicately referred to as Page 3. Basically this means that people who have been spending 40p per day to look at a pair of boobs will have to track them down elsewhere.

In any case only time will tell what the commercial impact of this will be – whether the circulation of the country’s biggest selling newspaper will suffer as a result of the decision.

But is there a potential knock-on effect that extends to other businesses and how they choose to dress – or indeed undress – women, particularly those in service-based industries? Wednesday’s Women’s Hour on Radio 4 debated whether a London restaurant that required its female staff to wear t-shirts that include the words ‘crack whore’ was either being exploitative and humiliating or merely fun-loving, ironic and, significantly, in line with its target market. We have also blogged in the past about the Australian hotel that decided that an eye-popping burlesque Basque-wearing look was the way to go – for female staff only, naturally. But is that sexy?

What does or does not constitute an appropriate sexy look is something that often forms part of early discussions we have with some of our new clients. Does sexy automatically mean revealing? And is ‘sexy’ in a uniform necessarily the right thing to do? Hang it, what does sexy even mean? In reality, it probably means something different to everyone, but it’s true that today sexy just means hot, or possibly cool.

In most of the environments we work in we believe it’s far better for any sexiness in a uniform to be implied, rather than overt. Our start point for any hotel, bar or restaurant uniform is that it has to be attractive and stylish. Then there are the practicalities: too-short skirts and too-low tops don’t work in ‘real’ environments and can suggest the, ahem, wrong type of service. Imagine the flexibility and training needed to pick up a dropped spoon without showing your pants? And when you have picked it up, where the hell do you put it? Then there is the matter of dealing with diverse body shapes: a cleavage-exposing top might not look so good on the less well endowed, while buttock-skimming skirts are not a great idea for anyone without a model’s legs.

One of the vital elements for us is that good staff are a valuable commodity and ensuring that female workers don’t feel exposed, vulnerable or uncomfortable in what they are wearing seems to make good business sense. Achieving that balance between style, functionality and comfort came into play during our recent uniform programme at the Four Seasons at Jumeirah beach in Dubai, as our pictures show. Dare we say it – they’re damned sexy… but definitely not in a Spearmint Rhino kind of way.

Check out our sexy uniform pinterest board