Can You Wear Leggings as a Waitress

woman with food on dishes servicing in restaurant during catering the event

In the food and beverage industry, it’s common to see waitresses wear formal black pants, a white button-down, and perhaps a waistcoat and apron. While this might be the typical ensemble, each establishment has its dress code in line with the type of eatery. But what about leggings — can you wear them when waitressing? 

You can wear leggings as a waitress as long as they’re allowed at your workplace. Casual restaurants may allow their waitresses to wear leggings at work. However, leggings are a definite no-no for waitresses who work at fine dining or upscale establishments.

Since leggings are stretchy, they allow you to move around easily, and they can be cooler than formal pants. Conversely, layering leggings under a dress or skirt in winter will keep you warm. Keep reading to find out when leggings are acceptable or unacceptable for waitresses and tips on how to style your leggings.

Casual Restaurants vs. Upscale Establishments

If you work at a fine dining or upscale restaurant, leggings are not an option. These establishments strive to maintain a formal atmosphere, so it’s best to stick to formal pants or skirts.

girl waitress serves glasses for win

However, most casual restaurants have a relaxed dress code. Servers who dress in casual leggings add to the chilled vibe that the restaurant has created, so it’s perfectly acceptable to wear leggings. 

How To Style Your Leggings To Look Professional for Your Shift

If you choose to wear leggings to work as a waitress, there are a few things to consider to ensure that you still look smart. The trick is to choose the right pair of leggings and style them to look like pants. 

Consider the following: 

  • Fabric 
  • Dark Colors 
  • Length 
  • Top or Shirt 
  • Dress or Skirt 
  • Accessories 
  • Hair and Makeup 
  • Shoes 

What makes leggings great is that they are stretchy, making them comfortable. Leggings are the ideal substitute for pants for a waitress who works long shifts and is constantly on the move. However, not all leggings are suitable for a shift, no matter how hard you try. 

Avoid Workout Leggings

Opt for thicker fabrics or leggings in a luxe-looking material like faux leather. While velvet looks smart, it is not the most appropriate choice since waitresses often have food or drinks spilled on them and fabrics like velvet are a mission to clean.

Avoid leggings that look like they are made for working out like those in ultra-stretch materials like Lycra. 

Opt for Dark Colors

The color of your leggings will make all the difference to how your outfit looks. Black and navy blue are the only colors that will look formal enough for work. If you’re looking for a pair of leggings for work, you can’t go wrong with this high-waisted style. These leggings, for example, are soft, easy to maintain, and comfortable.

Even if the restaurant you work at doesn’t have a specific color palette you need to conform to, it’s best to choose navy blue or black leggings if you want to wear leggings to your shift. Leggings in these colors can be styled to look professional. Stay away from any other colors and prints. 

Avoid Cropped Leggings

When choosing the length of your leggings, steer clear of anything cropped. Cropped or Capri styles look very casual and are best reserved for the gym. Ankle-length leggings look more like pants making them the ideal choice for waitressing. If your leggings are extra long, they can be ruched at the ankles. 

Choose the Correct Top or Shirt

When selecting a top, you want to wear something that balances your body-hugging leggings. Look for tops that are longer and cover your butt. Your top should be a little loose-fitting and slightly formal to offset the casual leggings. 

If you work at an upscale establishment, wear a blazer to take your outfit up a notch. For warmer weather, a white longer-length button-down works well. During cooler seasons, pair your leggings with smart-looking sweaters and cardigans. 

Make the Most of Dresses and Skirts by Layering

Layering leggings under a short dress is a great way to make that dress suitable for work. They also allow you to wear a dress in cooler months because they’ll keep you warm.

If you choose to wear leggings under a dress, you don’t need to worry about finding leggings in a thicker fabric. It’s still best to avoid bodycon styles. Loser fits are much more work-appropriate. 

Wear Simple Accessories

When it comes to accessories, you need to choose pieces that won’t get in the way but that’ll elevate your look. Stay away from long, chunky necklaces and dangly earrings, as these can be quite a hazard when rushing around a restaurant serving food and drinks. 

Choose elegant and unstated pieces, like a pair of gold or diamante studs and a simple, short gold necklace. Simple jewelry will make your outfit look more put together. 

Ensure Your Hair and Makeup Is on Point

We’ve all had those days where we oversleep and need to leave in a hurry or just couldn’t be bothered to put on makeup. You might be able to get away with a messy bun and no makeup if you’re wearing formal slacks, but if you choose to wear leggings, you have to put effort into your hair and makeup to look professional. 

waitress in the restaurant with the food tray

Don’t worry; you don’t need a full face of makeup. A bit of mascara, lipstick, and blush is enough to make you look put together. Put your hair up into a sleek ponytail if you don’t have time to style your hair. 

Consider What Shoes You’ll Wear

As a waitress, it is essential to wear comfortable shoes. The last thing you want is to be hobbling around mid-way into your shift because of uncomfortable shoes. For this reason, heels are not an option. 

While sneakers are also not an option, you can still be comfortable and look professional. Look for smart-looking flats that offer good support. Ballet flats or loafers are excellent choices because they’re both comfortable and look smart. If you need extra cushioning, buy some inner soles to put into your shoes. 

Final Thoughts

Wearing leggings as pants were considered a fashion faux pas but luckily, times have changed. It’s common to dress leggings up to fit any occasion, including work. If you’re a waitress, as long as you don’t have a uniform or work in a five-star establishment, it’s easy to wear leggings and still long professional if you style them correctly. 

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