The iconic orange quick shorts and low-cut tank can be the difficulty — yet not because diners dislike sexy outfits.

Hooters employees attend Hooters Manhattan VIP press Party top top January 15, 2015, in brand-new York City. Give Lamos IV/Getty photos

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Hooters employees at Hooters Manhattan VIP press Party ~ above January 15, 2015, in brand-new York City. Bennett Raglin/WireImage exactly how much is the uniform — an ’80s throwback, right down come the “suntan” pantyhose — come blame? walk the top “Hooters girl” look at embody a concept that no longer has a place in the modern-day marketplace? could Hooters save its brand with an aesthetic overhaul?

Hooters itself is how amazing hush-hush around the uniform in ~ the center of its company plan. The just company-sanctioned description easily accessible dates back to 2005, once the smoking cigarettes Gun website released an official Hooters employee manual. Its materials ruffled part feathers; employees had actually to authorize a declare in it that they “hereby recognize ... The work environment is one in i m sorry joking and innuendo based upon female sex appeal is commonplace.” It might have gained a rewrite in the intervening years, yet the Hooters public connections department did not respond to a inquiry for an to update copy that the employee manual, or to questions around the origin of the Hooters aesthetic.

It’s challenging to verify the uniform’s specific requirements since women who work at Hooters space either really reluctant or unable to provide a copy the the dress code. Marisa, a previous Hooters employee, never ever had access an up-to-date copy that the employee hand-operated because, follow to her, it didn’t exist.

The dress password “was verbally communicated,” Marisa (who asked come be identified by first name only) composed in an email. She described that “there were photos of exactly how a ‘model Hooters girl’ was an alleged to look” posted in a staff-only area, “and over there were posts on a bulletin plank reminding us the lot of assembly we had actually to wear and how our hair could be done.” (It must be listed that different locations have slight sport in their dress codes.)

Marisa added, “The dress password was very strict. Our supervisors would accomplish with all the girls who were about to start their transition and check that ours hair to be done, makeup was done (at the very least mascara and also lipstick), shirt and also shorts had no stains, tights had no rips in them, and shoes to be clean and white.”

“Our supervisors would fulfill with every the girls that were around to begin their change and check that ours hair was done, makeup was done”

The chain has actually made a few tweaks in recent years, opting to eliminate the white slouch socks that were a hot athleisure tendency in the ’80s. According to an Orange county news story indigenous 2009, the original high-waisted orange shorts were designed by the well-known swimwear brand Dolfin, yet today females who work at Hooters have the right to wear an to update dance-style quick that sits lower on the hips. The pantyhose space still component of the requirements.

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How does the modern-day Hooters employee feel about wearing hose? another Hooters server, Samantha (who also asked to be figured out by very first name), said this part of the uniform didn’t give her any kind of pause: “I’m likewise a ballerina, so i’ve worn pantyhose many of my life. I’m glad it’s component of the uniform due to the fact that it holds every little thing in place and also makes the shorts fit much more flattering.”

Marisa has a various perspective top top the tights: “I no a pan of those since they would certainly rip so easily and also we had actually to buy those almost every two days at $5 a pair.” yet she also sees why Hooters wants to save this part of the look at — “I know the aesthetic … they do you look tan and cover up any marks on her legs.”

The 2005 guidelines define the nuances behind the “Hooters girl” aesthetic. “Hooters provides its client the look at of the ‘All American Cheerleader, Surfer, Girl following Door.’” Why a “surfer?” maybe this harks earlier to the surf shops the line the beaches that Clearwater, Florida, where the restaurant an initial opened in 1983.

Back then, Hooters didn’t have to resolve a slew of mediocre digital reviews, piled on optimal of viral Twitter tirades about how Hooters must staff women that could double as therapists. Top top Yelp, the complaints typically ignore the cleavage and instead focus on cold food, watered-down drinks, and also unsatisfactorily small chicken wings.

When reviewers do point out the servers’ looks, they regularly complain the Hooters isn’t providing its customers the level that titillation the customers expect. One reviewer in Towson, Maryland, said, “If girlfriend go due to the fact that the girls space scantily clad, you would be far better off going come the Tilted Kilt” (one that Hooters’ newer competitors in the breastaurant scene).

John M. Was similarly frustrated: “Is this a Hooters? I assumed it said so on the door, however when ns walked in, i didn’t see any type of Hooters. These are few of the least endowed and also ‘heavier roughly the waist’ Hooters girl I’ve ever before seen.”

Even unhappier is Michael P., who reports, “Girls space overweight, bitter and also ugly. Yup it’s superficial yet why the heck else carry out you walk there??? Boobies and also butts!!! Duh!!!!”

So it no seem the customers are clamoring for much less sexualized uniforms.

Joseph Szala, a restaurant branding professional for Vigor marketing, has actually helped restaurants overhaul their look come appeal come younger, hipper audiences. Because that Hooters come revitalize the flagging appeal, he describes that the chain would need a radical overhaul. “It’s a scenario where you have to rethink the whole thing,” the says, starting with the name. Hooters “isn’t even a nickname because that breasts anymore.”

But again, it’s not the revealing nature the the uniform that’s the issue. Szala points to Tilted Kilt, which opened up in 2003. There, the waitresses dress choose school girls, à la Britney Spears in the “Baby One more Time” music video.

“If you look in ~ Tilted Kilt, it’s a rather modern interpretation that a sexualized woman, conversely, Hooters maintains a 1990s Florida coast look,” the said. The more recent chain additionally capitalizes on innuendo and scantily clad servers but has (until really recently) delighted in steady growth.

Another racy fast-casual chain, pair Peaks, has actually a similar story — that is outfits can be the many suggestive of every the breastaurants, i m sorry Szala explains as “an outdoorsy girl ... Gone sexy.” regardless of the current Equal Employment opportunity Commission complaints filed by previous servers, the chain took pleasure in healthy development in 2017.

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Szala points to Hooters’ food selection as an issue. Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks market menus that are much more in song with casual restaurant trends. Tilted Kilt has actually vaguely Irish-themed “pub fare,” consisting of items choose “pub nachos”; pair Peaks boasts a fresh prepared, “from scratch” menu. “Hooters was developed for one purpose: to acquire dangerously close to showing world naughty places,” Szala says. That’s a business we can gain elsewhere, and at restaurants the serve an ext interesting food.

A Hooters restaurant sign over patrons eat in downtown Santa Monica. Getty photos Szala has actually a few other concepts for how Hooters can refresh that is look. Because that one, it might come up v a format that’s “a bit an ext aligned v what is important the girl following door.” and also that method playing down the uniformity of the uniform. “Let women have the alternative of size of shorts, as well as style of tops,” he says. “As a brand in general, if they permit the women that they rental express themselves in a way that’s an ext comfortable, the suffer feels much less forced.”

It’s not unusual for enterprise to upgrade their uniforms — Szala points the end that airlines change their uniforms every couple of years in order to store up with an altering fashions.

Interesting he should point out airlines. Hooters had actually its very own airline from 2003 come 2006, which ended up shedding the agency $40 million. What taken place to Hooters’ willingness to take it risks?

Hooters has experimented through revising its organization model, however with no one of the boldness that carried us Hooters Air. 2017 experienced the opened of Hoots, a pared-down version of Hooters that uses only the most well-known menu items. Sex appeal isn’t part of the package; male and also female employees wear traditional fast-food uniforms that khakis and orange polos.

Jean S. Claimed in a Yelp review of the brand-new Hoots in Cicero, Illinois, “the young women acquire to save their dignity and aren’t revealing any kind of skin.” Matthew Torres X has actually a more ambiguous take: “It’s favor you obtain to gain your wings without the inconvenience the beautiful women anywhere the place.”

Hoots’ dull technique to uniforms underlines what the chain has in common with so numerous from the baby boomer era: favor a dad who trades in his zany ’80s sweaters because that a North challenge jacket, Hooters’ an answer to adjust has so far been to come to be a blander variation of itself. If its “1980s Florida girl following door” look doesn’t fly anymore, it seems Hooters would fairly not have a look at all.

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