The variety of waiter uniforms reflects the diversity of dining experiences available. Restaurateurs seeking a formal atmosphere will insist on more formal dress for the wait staff, while informal restaurants will implement a simpler dress code. Ultimately, it is up to the restaurateur to determine what kind of atmosphere is desired and how best to reflect this in the dress code.
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Fine-dining restaurants have traditionally attempted to reflect the high-end nature of the food in the apparel of the waitstaff. Servers at high-end, European-influenced dining establishments will often don tuxedos or similar variations on black-tie fashion. There are many variations on the black-tie look. Many restaurants, for instance, will substitute blazers for vests in order to expand the range of movement.
Many restaurants still seeking a professional, high-end look from their wait staff, but a more relaxed atmosphere will opt for a simplified slacks-and-dress-shirt/blouse combination, with or without a necktie. Black is typically the go-to colour for server outfits, as it resists stains and draws minimal attention to the presence of the waitstaff. Restaurateurs will sometimes match the outfits of their waiters to the colour palette of the restaurant's interior design.
Since the emergence of New American cuisine in the United States in the 1980s, there has been a movement away from formal dress among wait-staff, even in upscale establishments. Restaurants trying to impart an unpretentious atmosphere and appeal to young, hip patrons will even dress their servers in jeans and T-shirts and allow them to wear piercings and show exposed tattoos.
Many restaurants will bypass the issue of dress code entirely and simply make their employees wear a uniform. This practice is most common among chain restaurants and franchises, as they attempt to standardise the dining experience across their various restaurants.
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