Bar uniforms: The good, the bad and the classics

An intriguing guide to London’s themed bars and their most stylish uniforms.

A successful night out in London depends on the scenery just as much as on the company. The capital’s drinking scene is full of themed bars with dreamy atmospheres. Beside their surreal décor, some bars go the extra mile and dress their staff in unique and refined uniforms. Sassy, retro or traditional, some of their outfits can easily be part of a fashion show.

image by Victoire Bret

In a hidden alley in Soho, a 1940s gangster in a dark suit, a fedora hat, and white pocket square will welcome you to the underground bar, modelled after a vintage tube station. As you go down the stairs, the lights get dimmer, the swing music gets louder and by the time you reach the bar you will feel like a Londoner on a night out during the Blitz.

The hostesses and waitresses are wearing scarlet red pinup dresses with breathtakingly tight waists, and low-cut necklines. As a part of this retro landscape, the bartenders look like authentic gentlemen, dressed in blended wool trousers, waistcoats and silk ties.

The historical accuracy may not be the bar’s priority but the cocktails are delicious and the staff is friendly and efficient.

Image by designmynight (bottom left), Victoire Bret

Peony @ Opium
This cocktail bar and dim sum parlour concealed behind an ordinary black door is the place to go in Chinatown. Decorated in a traditional Chinese style, the bar looks like an old-school apothecary shop and its delicious cocktails are just what the doctor ordered.

For some events, the staff wears traditional Chinese jackets (tangzhuang) and silk dresses (cheongsam). But on ordinary nights, the bar opted for a more classic look with bartenders in black chino trousers and long-sleeved shirts. Some staff members add a chic touch to their uniform with a bowtie, braces or armbands.

This is the perfect place to enjoy heavenly food and cocktails in a stylish atmosphere.

The Bavarian Beerhouse
Or London’s ultimate German experience. As expected the waitresses are wearing Dirndl, the traditional Bavarian dress. The low-cut blouse and bodice highlight the waist and the cleavage, making this folkloric outfit quite flattering. The knee length skirt and apron are usually made in beautiful designs and colours with flowery patterns and delicate embroidery.

The waiters and bartenders also have their fair share of kitsch, walking around in their tight lederhosen – shorts or knee length leather breeches and braces, usually paired with plaid shirts.

True to the German tradition, the Beer is flowing and the staff is friendly making this place ideal for a fun time with friends.

Image by Victoire Bret

The Ned
The new addition to the Soho House Group counts nine restaurants and bars in its ultra chic hotel Banking Hall.

The magic starts at the door, opened for you by a doorman in full uniform: an anthracite long grey coat over a classic black suit. Inside the palace, an army of waiters in dark suits and black ties will cater for all your needs. The waitresses are wearing tastefully fitted black dresses with white aprons. In the middle of the room artists are playing on a grand piano creating a muted ambiance.

The classic and elegant atmosphere is optimal for a romantic evening or for a business meeting.

The Candlelight Club
Party like the Great Gatsby at London’s clandestine pop-up cocktails parties. It is a 1920s fantasy where guest and staff dress up like Fitzgerald’s characters in a decor of a prohibition speakeasy. The staff uniforms are never the same but always done in the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

This place offers the perfect excuse for women to dress like decadent aristocrats in shiny fringed flapper dresses. When it comes to the men, they have the opportunity to take out their best suits and channel their inner dandy, gangster or corrupt politician. Headwear is a must-have for this kind of events. Hats for the gentlemen and glittery turbans or headbands for the ladies. It is also the perfect occasion to go all out with vintage jewellery, pearls and diamonds.

The parties are hold in secrets location and a booking is required to attend.

Image by Victoire Bret

Tonight Josephine
This pinkest cocktail bar in London is perfect for a girl’s night out. The staff uniform is a black t-Shirt with the words “Bande de Filles” (Girl’s Squad) written in millenial pink. Their motto: well behaved women don’t make history. Their uniform may be simple but the story behind it is fascinating.

The bar is an homage to Josephine de Beauharnais, first empress of the French and the 18th century sassiest socialite. She was famous for throwing incredible parties while her husband, Napoleon, was busy at war. One time, on the night before one of her husband’s battle, she went to surprise him and ask him to come and party with her. However, Napoleon was not in a party mood and rebuffed her advances saying: “Not tonight Josephine”.

Well, unlike Napoleon, we are happy to join Tonight Josephine and party like some empresses.

Words: Victoire Bret | Subbing: Madalina Corjuc

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