They can be found in high class restaurants, organic vegan cafes, greasy diners and every kind of establishment in between; today’s post is a shout-out to all my waitressin’ sistas out there. Often underpaid and undervalued, I would argue that waitresses (and waiters, but this post is about the laydeez in particular) play an important role in society. Social interaction and, in particular, celebration have been conducted around food for millennia, and a good server can make that experience all the more enjoyable.
That said, waitresses are a varied as the menu. Some are attentive, pleasant and helpful, others rude, obnoxious or vacant. Some are professional multi-tasking divas while others are, umm, basically useless. Yet it could be hard to deny that the Waitress, at least in the West, is something of a cultural icon. Just think how many films there are featuring a waitress.
My first stint as a waitress was in a horrendously busy fish and chip restaurant at the seaside when I was sixteen which I had nightmares about for years later. Despite that, waitressing is a role I’ve come back to time and time again throughout my subsequent working life. My most recent waitressing position ended today (LONG story, but basically I quit due to issues I had with the management. Again.). My next job may be sewing related (I don’t want to say too much in case it doesn’t come to pass), but if not it may indeed be another waiting stint. I would be lying if I said the second outcome fills me with excitement, but it certainly doesn’t fill me with fear because #1) there are elements of waitressing I really like, and #2) if I say so myself, I’m really good at it.
Being a waitress gives you the opportunity to observe up close and converse with a wider variety of people than your normal day-to-day life usually permits. There’s also the feeling that you are directly contributing to someone’s enjoyment of one of the best bits of their day. Oh, and there’s the free food.
Probably the most iconic variety of waitress in Western visual culture is the US diner waitress. Their distinctive uniform styles, most notably from the 1950’s, have become synonymous with mid-century American popular culture. Key stylistic features often include contrast colour blocks, gingham, piping, wide collars, turned up short sleeves, aprons, accessible pockets and centre-front button or zip closures. As a fan of mid-century retro flavoured style, I have harboured a mild obsession for these uniforms and design elements for years. I know I’m not alone in this passion (hello frk.bustad?), many designers have used these visual cues for fashion rather than workwear intended garments in the past.
I plan to make a diner waitress inspired dress in the future, and by doing so I will be honouring the fact that, by serving coffee and witty banter in equal quantities, your waitress basically has the power to make your day better.