How To Dress For Success In the Kitchen

It is hard to think of a chef and not envision them in the stereotypical uniform. The white double-breasted jacket, the black pants, and of course the chef’s hat. But behind this classic look is the need to be healthy, safe, and versatile when cooking in any kitchen.

This is why it is important as a chef working in a fast-paced kitchen to pick not only the correct uniform but make sure that it provides the correct safety features for you and your fellow chefs. After all, safety should be the most important consideration when dressing for the kitchen, from the top of your head to the bottom of your shoes.

While most won't be able to select what they wear as far as design and color, as the standard is usually the all white uniform, If you do have the chance to select your wardrobe in the kitchen here are some of the best options for you.

Hats On In the Kitchen

While we consider a hat the classic headwear for a chef, depending on the kitchen you are working in you could also be required to wear any number of alternatives. The style of headwear can also change depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Health and safety regulations will require that you keep your hair tied back regardless of what you decide to use.

Simply meaning “white hat” in French, this is the idolized vision of a chef hat in the kitchen. It is a popular favorite amongst chefs, not just for fulfilling your dreams of looking like a professional chef but it is also an excellent choice for keeping your hair out of your eyes.

A skull cap is similar to a beanie, though it will usually be made of thinner, more breathable material. They are ideal for the chef with shorter hair that might be harder to pull all the way back. The skull cap will cover your entire head all the way to your ears, ensuring that your hair can be completely covered. Most skull caps will probably be reusable so it is also important to ensure that you wash yours regularly.

Mob caps are similar in appearance to skull caps with only slight differences. Mob caps are looser than skull caps, thus allowing more space for longer and/or thicker hair. They are also made with an elastic band that will fit comfortably around your hairline. An added benefit is that you have the option of buying disposable versions of a mob cap meaning you won’t have to take the time to clean it after each use.

A headscarf is similar to a neckerchief and is really only used in food trucks versus a professional kitchen. However, if that is where you work it can be a great option. A headscarf will pull back either long or short hair. It wraps around your forehead and ties at the back of your head. It definitely allows more breathability in hot stuffy kitchens and will be one of the easier hats to clean as it will usually be just a single piece of fabric.

If you are looking for something quick and simple to cover your head with, you can’t go wrong with a hairnet as your go-to. Though not as flashy as some of the other options it is a reliable choice and will get the job done. In fact, even if you own a hat it is always good to carry some spare hairnets with you. Just in case you ever forget your hat, your head and hair will always be covered while in the kitchen.

A Chef’s Jacket

Many know the classic design of the chef’s jacket; the double-breasted, long-sleeved, and white or black in color. It is the symbol that you are in fact a chef in a kitchen. However, before you settle on purchasing a jacket you should know what to look for.

First, depending on where you are working you might want to consult with your boss on what they deem is appropriate for a chef to wear in the kitchen. Once you get that out of the way you can start looking at the different options available to you.

You will want to find a chef jacket made of light material such as cotton. A breathable material will help when moving and working in a hot steamy kitchen. You will also want a jacket with a quarter or full-length sleeves to protect your arms from the likelihood of spills or other injuries.

Likewise, finding a double-breasted chef jacket is important to also prevent harmful spills to your chest and torso. Even with a lighter material, a double-breasted jacket ensures that you will be protected from any injuries. For these reasons, when selecting a chef jacket it is best to look for one that has enough fabric covering your entire front.

Another feature that you should consider when looking for the right chef jacket is having a pocket either on the sleeve or chest. In the hustle of working in a kitchen, the last thing you want is to waste time looking for a pen to write down any changes. Having a pen pocket on your chef jacket will eliminate the need for that headache.

In addition to carrying a pen, you might also find your pen pocket useful in carrying a handkerchief. Though it is not really a dress requirement for the kitchen it can be a handy accessory in a hot kitchen where breaks are few and far between. Having a small piece of fabric at the ready to wipe away sweat while you are working can make a world of difference.

Pants For the Kitchen

There is no denying that a busy kitchen is going to be a hot environment, as we have already mentioned. Even still, it is best to avoid wearing shorts of any kind no matter how tempting it may be. To avoid being uncomfortable try to find a pair of pants that are loose and even perhaps a little baggy. This will not only allow easy mobility in the kitchen it will also provide you with much-needed ventilation when the heat is on.

The best material is again something lightweight and without cuffs in order to protect your legs. And while we do suggest the loose and baggy pants, be sure that they fit well around the waist without needing a belt. It’s better to keep your belt loops open for towels and other accessories you may need to have on hand.

Even if you have purchased the best chef jacket and pants sometimes you still want that extra coverage that an apron can give you in the kitchen. Not to mention an apron can also provide more pockets to carry those essential items with you as you move around the kitchen.

Dependable Shoes

 

When it comes to wearing the right clothes in the kitchen none is more important than a reliable and comfortable pair of shoes. Picking the wrong kind of shoe can most certainly be a recipe for disaster so you will want to be sure you have the right pair before even stepping foot inside the kitchen.

The material of your shoes is important as you will want something that is comfortable and can protect you. Leather is a great option as it is a thick stiff material that will protect your toes from any debris in the kitchen. Try to avoid wearing athletic shoes that you may find more comfortable. More often than not they end up being a safety hazard.

You will also want to be sure that the soles are non-slick. Working in a kitchen where grease and other liquids can easily end up on various surfaces your shoes should be able to withstand any mess that could potentially make you slip or trip.

Finally, any shoes you purchase to wear in the kitchen should also consider a chef’s long hours. Make sure the shoes you select are right for your posture as they will need to last as long as your shift and not leave you in pain afterward.

As long as you ensure the safety of yourself and those working in the kitchen alongside you, you should be able to find the perfect chef’s outfit. You can also find some fun styling options including different colors and patterns. Though I would suggest checking with your boss before getting an outfit outside the standard whites that are standard in the industry.

Other than that, this is the best way to dress for success in a kitchen.

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