Fancy Pants
June 28, 2011 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I got a job at a fancy-pants bar. Now I need fancy pants.

I'm leaving my coffee shop job (uniform: jeans and t-shirt) for a new gig at an upscale cocktail bar in Washington, D.C. and need to stock up on clothes. The dress code is dark pants, shirt and tie, and a vest.

So how do I put this together? I got a pair of black wool dress pants and a white dress shirt from Banana Republic, but the vest thing is flummoxing me. Where do I buy vests? I'm not wearing a suit, so is it ok for the vest to not match the pants? I've heard vintage stores will have vests from three-piece suits for sale on their own, is that appropriate? How are they supposed to fit?

I also need ties that look nice, but wouldn't kill me to replace if I spill something on them.

I've never had a job where I had to get dressed up (I'm 26, with a series of cafe and warehouse jobs behind me), so this process is all a bit new to me. Any advice is appreciated.
posted by ficke to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
Find a uniform store.
posted by Max Power at 4:30 PM on June 28, 2011

Can you go to the bar and see what the current bartenders are wearing? Or is this bar not yet open?
posted by cooker girl at 4:35 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've gotten vests from Express and Target. (Latter is if course cheaper.) Thrift stores are likely to have them in spades.

You don't have to match (speaking fashion-wise, not as your boss), as long as you don't do something horrible like two different "shades" of black, or mix black and blue. A mix that comes to mind, and one I wear sometimes, is black pants with a charcoal houdstooth vest (impulse buy at Target).
posted by supercres at 4:37 PM on June 28, 2011

Vest certainly doesn't need to match, unless that is the look (is it supposed to look like a tux?). For well-made inexpensive ties ($15 - $30 on sale) I like Lands End - they have a "slim" tie that is a little more fashionable without looking like you're going for a hardcore J. Crew look. You can also try The Tie Bar for cheap ties - quality is not as good, but you can't beat it for the price.

Also, I know that it's a bit different in foodservice (especially if it's a uniform situation!) but you can stay away from black dress pants. Go for something in a dark charcoal or lighter when it comes time to purchase pants #2. These are great - I recommend the Tailored Fit unless you're going for the Presidential dad jeans look.
posted by rossination at 4:46 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Poke around this site. Second the recommendation to see what other staff are wearing. Remember, comfort is key, especially if you'll be starting off with barback duties.
posted by trip and a half at 4:56 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is really something you should check with your new employer about. It would be a shame for you to drop a bundle on even low-end or second-hand dress clothes, only to discover they had something very specific in mind.
posted by Pomo at 5:13 PM on June 28, 2011

Thrift the ties. You can almost certainly find name brand, all silk, snazzy lookin' ties for no more than $5 a pop. Or, as mentioned above, go with Land's End - but only when on sale!
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:19 PM on June 28, 2011

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