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Dress for Success


Techniques > Tipping > Articles > Dress for Success

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To get a great tip and keep customers happy, make sure your appearance is what customers will respect and admire.

Personal hygiene

First of all, make sure you are clean, with well groomed hair and clean, trim nails. Washing when you get to work and even now and again during the work period is often a good idea, and if you get any food on you during serving, clean it off immediately.

Use an antiperspirant. If you do use a scent of some kind, keep it low key and use one with a 'clean, fresh' smell.


You may be provided with some clothing but ensure whatever you wear is appropriate. Typically, it is normal to wear something like a white shirt and plain dark jacket or dress. You should appear neat and tidy.

Keep your clothes spotlessly clean and get practiced at dabbing off any food splashes during your shift.

Wear plain and comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet often for hours on end, so make this a priority. Go to a good shoe shop that will measure how your stand and move, and help you with shoes and, if needed orthotic insoles that will help to correct things like spine curvature. Athletic shoe shops can be helpful here.

Something that can help a lot is a 'stand-out item'. This is something that makes you look different from other serving staff, for example a red rose, brooch or bright tie. You should look good in it, of course, not silly.


The biggest issue in how you dress is to avoid those things that will lead to customer disgust, in particular lack of personal hygiene that may include dirty nails, unkempt hair and any personal body smells.

A particular problem is that it is easy to get food on you in a restaurant setting and, curiously, whilst people like food on their plate and food in their mouths, food elsewhere, from on the table to on the serving staff will be more likely to make them unhappy.

Stand-out items make you more distinct. It also is helpful to prompt conversation as customers comment on it, which allows you to show yourself as human (and worthy of a nice tip, of course).

See also

Using Body Language


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