HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


What to wear for eating out in NY [moved from Manhattan board]

May sound a stupid question, but whats the general dress code around the city for eating at night? Sorta place we plan to eat is probably around $10-$30 for a main course so not up market. Any advice on this and some good restaurants to try for pre theatre would be great.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. that is quite a range. a $10 entree would mean one thing, while a $30 is another category entirely.

    1. You're in New York City...wear BLACK no matter what the price of the meal.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lettucepray

        Yep. Wear black. That's all you need to know.

        Seriously, business casual. In black.

        1. re: Steady Habits

          what a cliche that is. not everyone in ny wears black all the time!

      2. Just don't wear t-shirts or anything athletic-y like track pants or team logo sweats that make it look like you just came from the gym (unless you're at a bar I guess). no one will not let you in, epecially in times sq, but you'll just look like a tourist.

        1. You can wear anything..you're not going to a jacket required restaurant for 10-30 bucks....

          1. Agreed. Jeans are accepted at most places in the city. On an average day (granted, an average day here does not equal an average day elsewhere in the US - haha), I wear jeans, a sweater and boots don't have a problem.

            For the price range you mention, you will generally be let in anywhere without much fuss.

            Then again...going to a $30 entree place can easily translate to a $200 bill if you also get apps and drinks and dessert. Though, jacket-only places will alwasy tell you so when you make the reservation, so please don't stress! Enjoy!

            1. Business casual for the $30 entree places.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob Martinez

                Based on a post in another thread I believe the original poster is from Scotland. If so this definition of business casual might be helpful - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business...

                "for men, a combination of collared shirt (such as a dress shirt), cotton trousers (such as khakis), or tennis shirt with a belt, and shoes (such as loafers) with socks is generally acceptable"

              2. Things to remember about dress in NY: We don't wear sneakers except to the gym. Most often we go out straight from work, so business casual works for most places. We might pay attention to fashion a bit more since the industry is based here. If you keep it simple but neat clean and looking like you put in the time to look like you cared you can get away with alot. Clean neat good jeans with real shoes and a dressy top for a women and a button down shirt and jacket or good sweater will take to all but the top places. We are more like to err on the dressier side so go out as if you are going out,. but it is okay to wear the same thing every night. One of the reasons for all the black is that can make something look a little dressier than it might, and no one notices if you wear the same thing.

                1. $10 - $30 for main course is kind of a big range. At the lower end, whatever you want is fine. Nobody is going to kick you out for wearing a track suit. But you probably would fit in better with the locals if you dress up a bit. About the sneakers thing -- it really depends. I wear sneakers quite often (well, with my bum ankle, more often than I used to), but they are not of the white tennis shoe variety. I think I look perfectly fine with my sneakers and jeans at a lot of restaurants I go to.

                  On the higher end of your scale, I agree with Bob Martinez about the business casual. I find you can get away with jeans if it's of the darker denim variety. Hey, I even saw a guy with khaki shorts, golf shirt, white calf gym socks and white tennis shoes at Eleven Madison Park (fancy place) back a few months ago. But I don't recommend doing that. And I also agree with the other posters that black is a good thing. Makes one look dressier, even if the item isn't super dressy. And doubles as hiding lots of food stains. The problem lies in the crumbs.

                  1. As long as you bring money, restaurants don't care what you wear. You're going to eat, not for a fashion show.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: beevod

                      Tell that to David Bouley who turned away Lou Reed the other day for wearing jeans and sneakers.

                    2. Unless you're going to really upscale places (and for those prices, you're not), you'll be fine whatever you wear. Like everyone else in this economy, restaurants are suffering, and I'm sure they'll be happy to have you whatever you wear.