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Creative Costume and Uniform Ideas for Your Restaurant Bar or Resort Business

Aug 17, 2007
Everywhere we look, we see the businesses such as restaurants, bars, resorts and casinos, that theme their uniform style to match their business' atmosphere. That's all well and good, but sometimes you might think that the uniform styles out there are a little homogenized. Of course, it's understandable that you want to keep to a professional image at all times. But you might also be feeling more creative, like you want to break out of the mold and re-invent the restaurant uniform concept.

Example: If you've seen the movie "Pulp Fiction", there's a restaurant that Vincent and Mia go to early in the film which looks like a fun place to go. It's modeled after the 1950's "rockabilly" era, and if you watch this scene carefully, you'll see some incredible uniform "casting" in this fictional restaurant. Would you have thought of having Buddy Holly and Marilyn Monroe look-a-likes as waiters and waitresses? Or how about the midget in the red bellhop uniform who seats the couple? Hint: he's modeled on an old Phillip Morris commercial, as you can hear him shouting his line as he leaves the scene: "Call for Phillip Morris!" Now, that is creative theming!

For those who want to make an impression far deeper than the average fashion statement, let's try thinking experimentally. Here's a list of ideas that many will find bold, edgy, or even too daring. But they are very original. We're not recommending them too heavily, or you can take them and modify them; perhaps one of these will be inspirational!

So, some very off-the-wall ideas for a hospitality business uniform theme:

Gothic - Whether you like the style or not, the youth Goth movement is here to stay. It's actually a hand-me-down from the punk rock era, but in a style of Victorian era moodiness. Think lots of black, very edgy, and search the web to get an idea. The fact is, young people tend to go where they'll feel like they are understood and welcome. If that's the kind of target market you have in mind, dressing the staff a little Gothic themselves will help tie your brand identity to the culture which these people currently live in. Remember, they will be middle-aged grown-ups with a career and a house in the suburbs some day, and by then you'll have some serious customer loyalty!

Superheroes - OK, you cringed a little at first. But I'll bet a minute later, you saw what I'm getting at: now, what would you expect of a staff member who was a superhero? You'd expect excellent service, courteous behavior, perfect honor and trust... hey! We have such super employees, they're like superheroes already! This isn't as hard to do as you might think - take your standard uniform and add a short cape and a "utility belt" or a medallion or some other gimmick and you're there. Would work well for a family-themed place like a pizza parlor or someplace that catered especially to young kids.

Cosplays - "Cosplay" is a word which is a portmanteau (a word that combines two other words) of "costume" and "play". This is a Japanese subculture based on dressing up as characters from manga (Asian comics) and anime (Asian cartoons). Even less commonly, such subjects as Japanese live action television shows, fantasy movies, or Japanese pop music bands are also fair game.

The word has become popularly associated with dressing restaurant employees as French maids. This idea may sound goofy to you, but it's currently all the rage in China and Japan, as reported on culture-tracking sites like boingboing. Take a look in a search engine at some of the creative themes they've come up with to get some ideas. Oddly enough, these are not aimed at children but adults, in a culture where comics and cartoons are not seen as juvenile at all. This would be a big hit in a modern, up-to-the-minute environment such as a college town or a place with a lot of technology culture such as Silicon Valley, since its popularity is largely being spread by the Internet.

Science Fiction - If you've been to Las Vegas, one casino has a Star Trek theme ride and a restaurant attached to it called "Quark's Bar and Restaurant". Sure enough, the whole place makes you feel just like you're living in the Star Trek universe, right down to the staff uniforms! Gimmicky it may be, but a whole generation of Star Trek fans have grown up and even passed the culture on to their kids - this place makes a lot of money.

If you take a look at Star Trek uniforms, they are actually very serviceable. Now apply this idea to other fantasy and science fiction franchises with a huge following: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or anything with its own 'cult' following. Or just go with something futuristic, without nailing it down to any one particular work of fiction. This could work well in places like an espresso bar with Internet access, because computer buffs and science fiction fans tend to go well together.

Period Costumes - These are more in the range of "it's been done before". Pirates, cowboys, gypsies, ancient Egyptians, and so on. Surely you've stumbled upon a seafood restaurant with a pirate theme or a Western bar and grill in Texas with the staff dressed like they were living in the days of the wild frontier. Still, it's an idea to keep in mind - period costumes can add a fun theme to your atmosphere, but also be not too over-the-top so you can still keep a serious attitude.

That's all - maybe you can come up with different ideas of your own starting with these inspirations!
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Freelance writer for over eleven years.

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