A Proper Butler Uniform

Butler uniform in the media and real life

In the media you often see a butler dressed very conservatively and formally; usually consisting of a waistcoat, grey or grey striped trousers, a white shirt with a «Windsor» cut, and a black or grey tie. The point is to be formal but to still separate themselves from the guests, even if the guests are wearing waistcoats.

Clothing for a Butler is varied. A typical Black suit is preferred; consisting of a jacket and tie. A blazer and a pair of trousers are mostly used.

Some private Butlers use all private, casual clothing. It is a combination of tradition and what the principal wants. Clothing is also varied in where you are at the time, Butlers in hotels, private clubs or other facilities use a uniform based on the company policy and rules.

Is clothing important for a Butler?

The answer is simple and clear: Certainly.

Being classy and stylish is one essential point. Having clean and looked after clothing is also a basic prerequisite, it has to do with hygiene and is, of course, important at all times.

One important factor is also to separate the Butler from guests or principal. If there is a gala night, it is important that the Butler and staff have a waistcoat and bowtie with a slightly different colour setting. Being discretely separated from guests. Nothing is more embarrassing than a guest asking another guest for a drink or food, so clothing is important.

A uniform is the first impression a guest or the principal gets from the Butler. A correct uniform is therefore important. It shows knowledge and expertise and says a lot about the Butlers honour and respect.

Details are shown in a person’s outfit, so also for a Butler: Clean – pressed – shiny. Three words of honour for the professional, without bling-bling, and with correct and discreet colours.

Black shoes are basic, newly polished at all times and with clean, neat laces. The shoes of a Butler should reflect on the shoes he or she is polishing for guests or the principal – It is all about a quality impression.

Except inside hotels or similar hospitality operations, a name tag is not to be worn. The role of the Butler is a discreet one, and showing your name is therefore inappropriate. In hotels, clubs and other hospitality facilities, it is common with nametags. Then it is important to remember that the tag goes on the left side. Avoid the collar, and put the tag inside and as close to the heart as possible.

Butler uniform dressing tip

  • A Butler dresses accordingly to the facility or principal’s rules.
  • A suit with tie and suit-vest is most common garment to be used. Remember the difference details, separating the Butler discreetly from others.
  • The British Butler style is a white shirt with «Windsor-cut» collar. The tie should be black or grey and with a «Windsor-knot» or a classic simple-knot.
  • A tie should always be tied and re-tied every day. Smooth top, no wrinkles, the tip should just reach the top of your belt. The Butler mostly use a tie, the bow-tie is mostly for a gala or special occasions. Be aware that this is also of course entirely up to the principal or the estate/household management team.
  • Think of all details when it comes to being dressed properly: Cuff links are recommended; discreet ones of course. The sleeve of the shirt is the transition from jacket to hands and should be visible two centimetres out of the jacket.
  • When wearing a jacket, it is appropriate to leave the last button open.
  • Trousers should always be as long as two centimetres above the heel of the back of your shoe.
  • Black shoes with laces, and a neat surface. Polish every day, use wet cotton with a drop of shoe-polish. Polish smoothly the whole of the shoe, «spit-shine» shoe tip is for the army, not the Butler.
  • Accessories: A watch, pen and notebook are compulsory Butler tools. Discretion is still a keyword, avoid big watches and colours, it does not have to be expensive, but stylish is a good choice.
  • Jewellery and glasses is also a factor for the Butler. Wedding ring and discreetly glasses without «bling» is preferred.
  • Tattoos and piercings. Tattoos are common these days, still, hide tattoos and forget visible piercings.
  • When wearing a waistcoat, use a vest-watch and not a wristwatch.
  • Hair and perfume: A clean and neat haircut is preferable, avoid coloured hair and remember that strong perfume smell can be similar as poor personal hygiene. If wearing a beard or moustache; again neat and clean.
  • Hygiene is important for a Butler working so close to other people. Oral care, washing and showers, nice clean nails and taking care of nose hair and all body parts are of course essential. A Butler is after all a role model.

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A butlers uniform doesn’t make him or her a snob

A Butler is not a snob, but hygiene and appearance are of the utmost importance. It is all about making a good example in a stylish and discreet way. Plastic pen and a notebook in orange are not very professional. A good pen is not expensive, and a moleskin notebook is both practical and discreet.

It is all about small things, visual discretion in whole. Check your uniform and personal appearance before starting your day’s work: Nose hair, buttons, shoes, hair, jacket etc. Make a checklist for Yourself and use it every day – After all, a Butler should at least be proud of seeing him or herself in the mirror!

«Life isn’t perfect, but your outfit can be!»

Written by Tore Berger, British Butler Institute Butler and F&B Consultant in Norway. Connect with Tore on LinkedIn

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