Culture

Bartender Style: Seamstress New York

A man and a woman standing with jean aprons on in front of the bar.

While New York Fashion Week was in full motion, we headed over to Seamstress NY to talk a different kind of fashion. We know what you’re thinking. The two worlds — bartending and the catwalk — couldn’t seem further apart, but as is the case in any field, what you wear matters.

Customers do take note of what bartenders wear, and it ultimately serves as a reflection of the establishment itself. Knowing that, and in an attempt to create a linear, cohesive sense of style, many bars enforce some form of a dress code. At Seamstress NY, though, style is unhindered and all are free to wear what they want. To unify staff style, everyone tops off their outfit with a custom-made denim apron loaded with enough pockets to keep any bartender happy.

Lana Gailani and Anthony Bohlinger, who both bartend at Seamstress NY, agree that comfort and the ability to move freely is key. We asked what they think about when getting dressed for the job.

Man standing with his hands in his pockets, wearing suspenders.

Man's hand tucked into his pocket.

Man's pocket untucked from his pants.

“I shop anywhere from the dollar store on the corner to Brooks Brothers,” says Bohlinger. And he isn’t afraid to DIY and customize, either. For example, the suspenders he’s wearing above were picked up at Burlington Coat Factory for an easy $20, and the pants are from Brooks Brothers. He sewed them together and added the buttons himself.

Bohlinger ultimately takes an “in the army” approach to his style. The goal is comfort and cleanliness: comfortable shoes, clean and comfortable socks, clothes that provide warmth when it’s particularly cold, or clothes that breathe when it’s warm.

Over the years, he’s learned that the pants he wears matters, too. After several uh-oh moments involving ripped pants behind the bar (fixed with strategically placed linens or an apron), he always makes sure he can bend and stretch freely in whatever he’s wearing.

A woman sitting in a booth at a bar.

A woman's hands with rings on it.

A woman with an undercut haircut smiling and looking up at the camera.

Functional, dark and edgy are three words you could use to describe Gailani’s bartending style.

“In my head, I like to think that I dress as though the apocalypse is coming, and I always wish I could sort of assume I’m Mad Max,” she says. “I tend to wear cheeky shirts that you can’t see when I’m wearing the apron, which is my way of being myself and yet professional enough for display.”

Gailani says she hates wearing sleeves and that it’s even “become a running joke” that she doesn’t bartend in anything that covers her arms. You’re constantly shaking and need to be able to move, she explains, and sans-sleeves — even in the dead of winter — is how she gets the job done.

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t keep warm.

“I’m doing a no-pants winter and it’s going very well,” she notes. That means lots of shorts paired with tights. “I’ve discovered that fleece-lined tights are warmer than jeans and they’re more comfortable. You can move easily in them.”

When it comes to shoes, Gailani opts for boots. She says they’re practical behind the bar and they keep her feet protected from sharp objects and inevitable splashes and spills.

As for Seamstress NY’s overall ambiance and sense of style, Bohlinger describes it as comfortable — much like the bartenders’ clothing — and aesthetically soothing.

“It puts you at ease when you walk in here,” he says. “I hate walking into a restaurant or a bar where you feel awkward and you don’t want to touch anything or you don’t know where to sit. Here you can sit anywhere, you can do whatever you want and you don’t feel like you’re in the way.”

Tales of the Cocktail 2017
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