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Manhattan Dress Codes

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Has anyone ever had any trouble with dress codes in different Manhattan restaurants? Any interesting stories or places I should watch out for?

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  1. Can you be more specific about which places you're interested in, or are you just looking for funny stories?

    1. I have an idea for a trip I would like to make.....a one-week trip to NYC eating at some or all of the restaurants run by folks who appear on the Food Network and other outlets.....Lydia, Battali, Flay, are all examples....this idea could be expanded to other locales as well......a gastronomical orgy......also re: dress codes....business casual is best.....who wants to eat wearing a suit?

      21 Replies
      1. re: LombardLee

        You can wear anything to pretty much any restuarant unless its jacket required. The ones you listed (and the path your going on) are not jacket required....I just wouldnt go all 'Summer of George" and wear sweats.

        1. re: LombardLee

          "I have an idea for a trip I would like to make.....a one-week trip to NYC eating at some or all of the restaurants run by folks who appear on the Food Network and other outlets.....Lydia, Battali, Flay, are all examples."

          You left out Sandra Lee.

          1. re: Bob Martinez

            if Sandra Lee did have a restaurant, you'd have to call before you went so they could update you on the color scheme of the day...you wouldn't want to clash with those tablescapes :)

            but seriously i agree with the other posters. though not quite as casual as places like Southern California, the dress code in NYC restaurants seems to have relaxed over the years...but you're still likely to get more respect - and better service - if you dress nicely.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I agree. It's not like the choice is between a tuxedo vs. jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers. By this point everybody is familiar with business casual. Wear a collared shirt and Dockers; you'll be perfectly comfortable and will fit in at virtually any restaurant.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                i get great service in the best NYC places, regardless of dress. in fact the better the place in NYC, for the most part, the less hung up they are - here the guy in teh ripped jeans might be the billionaire ceo, and the guy in tee nice suit might just be some schlub with a nice suit. its only in places with pretentions of greatness that they play it like that.

                1. re: thew

                  So using your logic........ Daniel,Le Bernadin,II Madison Park,Waverly Inn,Aquavit, Corton ,Adour and so many more are not "Great Restaurants" but merely "Pretentious Restaurants". Where do you dine again?

                  1. re: currymouth

                    that was a bit of hyperbole at the end - as you see earlier i said "for the most part"

            2. re: LombardLee

              I think it is great to wear a suit - good food should be respected. You do need to think more about New York and less about the food network though!!

              1. re: bronwen

                Yes, and the other diners should be, as well. If the diner, and their companion(s) doesn't appreciate the nice clothes, the others will likely do so.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Tish-tosh! How does wearing a suit equal respecting the food or diners? Being clean, polite, and modestly dressed should cover that issue of respect quite sufficiently.

                  Anyways, among my dozen or so friends who are all late 20-something professionals, I would be surprised if more than one of us owned either a suit or a jacket. None of us has ever felt under-dressed or been turned away and we've dined in rather a lot of fine establishments. The last jacket required restaurant I encountered was more than a decade ago. Mind you, none of us are in finance – my cousins in finance are always in suits.

                  1. re: Atahualpa

                    None of you own suits? What do you wear to job interviews, funerals, and weddings?

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      I've never worn a suit to a job interview or a funeral.

                      At the the last few funerals I've attended suits were certainly not the norm. People were in black shirts and pants.

                      I haven't applied for any job that would require a suit for the job and haven't though of dressing differently for the job interview (NB I have received every job I've interviewed for).

                      I haven't been to a formal wedding since I was a child. Although, I don't see anyone with whom I am friends getting married – they're not the type to do the whole marriage thing. If any ever did get married, it'd be a small signing at city hall and dinner out – definitely no big to-do.

                      If I'm wrong and someone I care for actually has a formal, traditional, wedding, there's always the rental option.

                      1. re: Atahualpa

                        Can I ask in what industry you work?

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          Most workplaces are much more casual these days. I can think of very few where I'm from (Florida) where you'd be expected to wear a suit to an interview or at all during the work experience. In Florida, business attire is typically a dress shirt, tie, and slacks for me, not a full suit. It's really not cold enough at any time of year to wear a full suit and except for attorneys in court, it doesn't seem like many people in Florida own suits.

                          1. re: queencru

                            Expectations for dress at work and at events such as weddings and funerals differs in different parts of the country and depending on profession. I saw many more suits when I lived in the northeast than I have when I've lived on the west coast, where they're largely confined to the legal and finance worlds. Stands to reason they'd be less common in the warmest climates. As for weddings and funerals, that's largely determined by families and social circles. And for dining out, as this thread makes clear, by environment and the standards of the individual restaurant.

                    2. re: Atahualpa

                      I think that your allusions refer more to you and your friends, than to anything that I wrote.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I am confused by this sentence. To what did I allude?


                        1. re: Atahualpa

                          "Anyways, among my dozen or so friends who are all late 20-something professionals, I would be surprised if more than one of us owned either a suit or a jacket."


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            1. I really do not think you are using the word allusion correctly here. As such I am still confused as to the point of your last comment.

                            Allusion (from the shorter OED):

                            A. A play on words.
                            B. A metaphor, parable, an allegory.
                            C. A covert, passing, or indirect reference (to).

                            I generally agree with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allusion

                            2. Were you suggesting that my circle of friends is unique? That would be a potentially valid point. I would dispute such a conclusion; but, it would be impossible (within our personal limits) to be sure either way.

                            3. Or, are you suggesting that I misunderstood what you wrote? Or that you failed to see the relevance of what I wrote?

                            My point was:

                            Wearing a suit to a restaurant does not equate with "respecting the food" (or other patrons) in my mind and I, personally, feel it should not do so for others either.

                            Plus, it would be an unreasonable expectation to wear suits given the absence of suits from the closets of a wide variety of younger individuals in our contemporary society. As an example of that lack of suit ownership I cited my own personal experience.

                            I will note that a number of other posters noted a similar lack of suit ownership in other circles further below in this discussion.

                            1. re: Atahualpa

                              Fine. Whatever you say. You alluded to certain aspects. Those are what I commented on.


                2. re: LombardLee

                  FN and classy are not really used together much. Any FN related establishment there is more than likely no dress code to worry about. Lydia’s , who is not on FN, places are a little more high end.

                  Why come all the way to NYC and focus on FN. There is so more more.

                3. So few restaurants in New York have set dress codes - even at very high-end restaurants, the worst that would likely happen if you wore (nice) jeans and a sweater (or jeans/t-shirt/jacket, in my case) would be another diner eying you suspiciously - that you can count on being okay unless NYMag.com or Citysearch specifically mentions that, e.g., jackets are required. So in terms of what to "watch out for", if in doubt, look online first.

                  Of course, as the comments below indicate, sweats or genuinely sloppy clothing generally won't be appreciated, and the nicer you look, the better your chances of snagging a difficult table.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: cjd260

                    Actually, my brother still jokes about the time we dined at Le Cirque and he was forced to wear "the ugliest tie ever". He showed up in a nice jacket and shirt- but no tie. The management handed him a really awful tie to wear, which kind of ruined his otherwise stylish outfit. He obliged politely, but we still talk about it!

                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                      Did they treat you two any differently throughout your time there because he walked in without a tie?

                      1. re: jn682

                        No- we were with a fairly large group celebrating an occasion. No collateral damage :)

                    2. re: cjd260

                      My husband got chastized by an rude attendant at Bouley for wearing nice jeans, leather shoes, a collared shirt and a sweater to Saturday brunch. The guy was so rude and told my husband, "we really prefer that gentlemen wear jackets". He reluctantly seated us, and over the course of our lunch, we saw a man with ripped jeans and sneakers get seated immediately at the best table in the place. I guess it pays to be a regular, but I'll never know because never return to another Bouley location no matter how good people say it is.

                      1. re: jenhen2

                        I understand your consternation. We attend a lot of events, that are stated as "black tie." OK, I push that envelope, as I collect cloth from around the Pacific and have it turned into ties, cumberbunds and braces. Still, it's NOT "black tie," and I admit it. When I feel that an event is really, really "black tie," I'll choose either a pattern with a black matrix, or maybe even one of my black ties with tiny white pin-dots. I comply about 95%.

                        At these same events, we have a lot of Hollywood types. They are guests at the event. The majority dress in torn jeans, a dress shirt with the tails pulled out, and a jacket. "Black tie?" Hardly. However, that is how they dress. Other than in the gossip magazines and on a few society blogs, no one seems to notice.

                        Heck, I came from a time and a place, where one always donned a tux for the opening night of an opera, or the theater. Since moving West, I see that things have changed. Opening Night for the theater means clean rag-wool socks with the Birkenstocks® and cargo pants without a crease.

                        Times are changing, in many parts of the globe. I'll still be the one dressed "to the nines," and not give it too much thought.

                        Back to your host. He (or she) should have either enforced a dress code completely, or not mentioned it to anyone. I understand dress codes, and comply with them. I appreciate when the reservations taker explains where one exists. Recently, even the followup confirmation call contained info that gentlemen MUST wear jackets.

                        However, at a wonderful country inn, that is jackets-required for the evening meal, a Hollywood celeb came in right from the golf course. No one said anything. Double-standard? Of course. Sign of the times? Possibly.


                        PS the Hollywood guy got two sommeliers and a dozen servers for his every whim - no jacket in sight. Stuff happens, and we move on.

                        1. re: jenhen2

                          Would you be able to elaborate on "chastized"? What did they say to you besides the preference if jackets weren't mandatory?

                          1. re: jn682

                            Basically, the guy grabbed my husband's arm, pulled him to the side and told him they really prefer gentlemen wear jackets in the dining room. My husband, who is meticulous about dressing appropriately, was mortified and said that he had no idea and apologized. The attendant then told him it was impossible that he had no idea because they always tell people. Well, no one told me when I made the reservation, or when I called to confirm. And the guy was still clutching my husband's arm when I walked over and said we were ready to be seated. After that, we had horrible service for the whole meal. It was, all told, a really annoying experience.

                            1. re: jenhen2

                              Wow that is really intense. Does it make you become more aware now when you go out to eat about the way that you dress at all?

                              1. re: jn682

                                it would make me less likely to return

                                1. re: jn682

                                  As I said, my husband (and I) are usually very careful about dress codes and would always rather be over dressed than under dressed. This experience didn't make me any more aware when we go out than I already was. It just made me really disappointed in Bouley. If a place is going to have a dress code, they should be sure they tell you in advance, and above all, they should be kind and understanding to their customers. This man was neither of those things.

                        2. we just got back from a week in NYC dining in various places, Lupa being one. Mind you no michellin starred places but nice places anyway. I was in either slacks or dark jeans with a button down dress shirt and nice shoes.

                          We felt right at home in everywhere we went, fit right into the crowd, never really too overdressed or underdressed.

                          1. Rule of thumb .for men, Black south of 14'th street. A well tailored black blazer or sports coat worn with just about anything will get you a good table.Get a classic white dress shirt with French cuffs and wear cuff links. Invest in a pocket square, linen not silk. Always wear your best watch and make sure your shoes are polished.Easy on the fragrances and hair products.If you are older than 25, dump the earrings. Don't try too hard.
                            Good luck.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: currymouth

                              Polished shoes and good cuff links go a long way, way too often over looked.

                              1. re: rednyellow

                                In not only my opinion, but also in the opinion of the people who decide if you sit in that nice, cozy corner table or the smaller table right by the kitchen door or even worse, the dreaded restroom doors. They all make snap decisions, and how you present your self will ultimately decide how you are treated. Fair? Not in the least. but no one ever set me aside and told me life was fair.I on the other hand like to hedge my bets.

                              2. re: currymouth

                                Well stated. Now, I am not a French-cuff sorta' guy, and do coordinate my pocket square with either my tie, or my shirt, but you make good points.

                                Now, one could wear ratty jeans, with an oxford shirt with the tails out, under their jacket, and give some Hollywood name for the reservtions. Other than the paparazzi and the autograph seekers, it might well fit in. We do a lot of events with the Hollywood set, and even at formal events, this is the dress code for them. Not my style, but it seems to get them by.

                                Enjoy, but dress well.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  We're talking about NYC here. I have to say, that in all the time I lived there, paparazzi and autograph seekers were not part of the scene. Photographers may be positioned outside special events, but there aren't the huddled groups waiting for a celebrity sighting, like one finds in LA.

                                2. re: currymouth

                                  How did you come to the general conclusions? Why 14th Street?

                                  1. re: jn682

                                    I assume 14th St because below 14th St is the Village, Soho, Nolita, etc., i.e. allegedly "hip" neighborhoods (allegedly as in, it is assumed).

                                    1. re: jn682

                                      Are you writing a book or blog post about this? You are asking questions like a journalist. If not, please don't be so nervous! It's just a meal. New York isnt' all that scary! ENjoy.

                                      1. re: chow_gal

                                        I'm actually doing sociological field work on this area and all of these replies have been extremely interesting.

                                  2. This reminds me of a line I loved from a sit-com. A guy comes to work in NY from the midwest and shows up at work in a brown suit. His imperious Wintour-like boss looks him up and down and asks him, "What is that color you're wearing?" He looks confused and says, "Brown?" She replies, "Well, in NY we wear black, that is, until they discover something darker."

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. OpenTable will tell you of any dress codes. Don't show up in a track suit, and you don't need to dress like you've just come from the Met. Find a place in the middle.

                                      I'll tell you as a bridge-and-tunnel kid gone to Orange County and visiting back to New York, in New York there's never a bad time to wear black. Even when it's a hundred degrees and ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine-nine-not-QUITE-raining percent humidity, New Yorkers will wear black.

                                      Some of the fancier places -- Daniel, for example -- require jackets. If you go without a jacket and tie you'll be loaned the house one and holy moley, how embarrassing. Also, that means you wear the things through dinner -- you don't get seated and then take off the jacket.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        "you don't need to dress like you've just come from the Met."

                                        I wear casual clothing to the Met. The folks onstage and in the pit are performing; I have a night off. AND I'm in the cheap seats.

                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          Though I have mentioned it in other threads, when I was much younger, I went to New Orleans, with only a jacket, but no tie. We dined at Antoine's (back in the '50s) and they made me, a six year old, wear a paper tie. Walking through that dining room with the paper tie made a lasting impression on me. That is why I always have a blazer and ties, even if we're going to a resort in the Deep South. When one has had to walk through a full diningroom with a paper tie, or a Goodwill jacket, they vow to NEVER let that happen again, no matter how many decades past that traumatic experience, they might be.


                                        2. For recommendations, always bring a blazer. Also, bring a few ties, for the "special" restaruants, that might require them. I always fly with at least the blazer, and often a suit, but that is usually optional. I feel that it is always better to be over-dressed, rather than under-dressed, but that is personal.

                                          I have no unique NYC stories on dress-codes, sorry.


                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            What is the motive to being "over-dressed"? Is it to get a nicer table or be treated better? Do you usually dress in a suit in your everyday life or is it to just go out to eat?

                                            1. re: jn682

                                              Given the option of being underdressed for a particular occasion vs being overdressed, I choose the latter. It's just my personal style.

                                              As to my everyday dress, I spend most of each day in shorts and a Reyn Spooner, or Tommy Bahama "aloha shirt," with flip flops, sitting by my pool with my laptop doing my work. Second most often donned attire is on the golf course. As I only "dress up" for client meetings away from the pool, or the golf course, I don't mind it when the situation dictates. I'll usually grab a blazer for any restaurant, except the most casual neighborhood establishment. Heck, it helps me hold my wallet and my reading glasses, without having to carry a briefcase, or a "man purse."

                                              From about October until April, every weekend finds me in a tux for Friday and Saturday and then occasionally in a dinner jacket on Sunday - otherwise, I'm wearing my "beach attire."

                                              Now, maybe if I were in a "dark suit" 12 hours per day, five days a week, it would be reversed. My wife spends her days in a St. Johns' suit, so she'd often rather grab an aloha shirt and sit around the pool, instead of finding a ball gown for the night's event. Don't blame her.

                                              It's about lifestyles and personal tastes, nothing more.


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                I thought of you a few weeks ago as I grabbed a blazer to throw on over a button-down and jeans, put my hair up in a fauxhawk, and walked into Eleven Madison Park... ;)

                                                Was I underdressed? Oh, I'm sure. EMP is full of suits. But I was comfortable and I had a GREAT meal.

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  So long as you, and the establishment were comfortable, AND the food was good, can't get much better than that.

                                                  Hope you had "nice" thoughs of me, as you grabbed the blazer... I can almost hear the inner dialog now, "that blankety blank Hunt and his blazer idea... !"


                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    No, honestly, I don't disparage your sartorial sense, really I don't. It isn't mine, and to me it seems just a tad snobbish and anachronistic.

                                                    Just as long as you don't give me the long-nosed Death Stare when I sit near you in a restaurant!

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      That is probably because I come from a different time and a different place. Whatever work for you.


                                          2. For many of the better NYC restaurants, diners will "dress up" to impress other diners and not necessarily to satisfy some restaurant imposed quotient.

                                            43 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              "For many of the better NYC restaurants, diners will "dress up" to impress other diners and not necessarily to satisfy some restaurant imposed quotient."

                                              And for others, a jacket is *definitely* required.

                                              A search on Google using "manhattan jacket required" produced this long list:

                                              I stopped counting at 28.

                                              If anyone is in doubt as to the dress policy of a particular restaurant i suggest they call first.

                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                Agreed, but I do think that the see-and-be-seen scene is not exactly the zenith of chowishness.

                                                1. re: Mawrter

                                                  The restaurants that *require* jackets are not see-and-be-seen restaurants, either, in my opinion. Whether they are chow-worthy depends, restaurant by restaurant. Jean Georges and Le Bernardin get near constant acclaim on the Manhattan Board. Daniel is currently the subject of a few debates on service issues and Bouley has both its supporters and its detractors. Le Cirque and a number of others aren't mentioned very often.

                                                  Very few new restaurants opening these days--that is, the ones that might qualify for "see-and-be-seen" status, which has a shelf life of no more than a year around here--require jackets. It tends to be the preserve of those shooting for four stars, and it's unsurprising to me that that has tapered off precipitously of late.

                                                  1. re: planetjess

                                                    It will be interesting to see how things shape up in the near future. New Orleans was once a "jacket & tie" required town for the high-end restaurants. Over the decades, that has changed, and is likely to change some more, with the economy.

                                                    Personally, I miss the dress-codes, but understand why a restauranteur would be temped to relax things a bit, especially where the "torusist" trade is concerned.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      You really miss the dress codes? Isn't it a bit much? You're basically dressing up for other people when you go out to eat then.

                                                      1. re: jn682

                                                        Couldn't you say that any public ritual is about sharing something with other people? Moreover, taken to an extreme, one could say that there's no practical necessity to wear clothing at all when temperatures are high enough. You know that there are standards of social acceptability in many different areas of life, and many people like or at least accept them. When people stop accepting them, they can disappear, and people who liked them can miss them. Pretty simple, no?

                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                          very simple. but it seems to me a worthy goal is to slowly drop away all the nonsense and detrius of the past, if no longer serves the social purpose, or fits contemporary attitudes and understandings

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            People have different opinions about rituals, cultural values, dress, class, etc. That's nothing new. What seems worthy to you is anathema to someone else. And I can't see where one form of dress is more nonsensical than another, on any kind of objective basis (unless it's non-functional for a specific purpose).

                                                            I'll bet you're not quite as much of a revolutionary as you sound in this post, either. I'll bet there are some traditions you prize and would hate to see disappear. Moreover, I'm pretty sure there are traditions Mr. Hunt would love to see disappear.

                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                              that is why my statement begins "it seems to me"

                                                              as to traditions i would hate to see disappear, the list is probably shorter than you imagine

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                I really don't assume anything about you, except that there is probably SOMETHING that you would prefer to continue to exist.

                                                                My remarks in this particular branch of the thread really are on a macroscopic level, and don't address my particular point of view on the particular issue of yea or nay on formal clothes in restaurants (which is pretty laissez-faire). My mother's an anthropologist, so I sometimes take a broad view of people's attitudes toward cultural issues.

                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                  My BA is in anthropology. but then i got a lot of grief then too, for this very same attitude - in the quest for "enlightenment" cultural reality is often the hardest to shake.

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    I hear you on that, and so did the socialist revolutionaries of yesteryear (like the Frenchman who wrote "L'Internationale").

                                                          2. re: Pan

                                                            Yeah, but high school teachers stopped wearing suits in the classroom (public, Toronto) 25 years ago. None of my university profs wears a jacket or a suit. Even at the annual symposium its less than 50%.

                                                            Also, I haven't, in my life, met a medical professional in a suit despite the fact that my parents can recall all consultations being with suit-clad docs. Plus, this weekend's real-estate flier featured some 40 head-shots of local agents. Of the men, only two were in jackets.

                                                            My only point is that times change and wearing a suit at dinner (heck, owning a suit) is becoming but a historical memory for many in a wider and wider array of fields.

                                                            1. re: Atahualpa

                                                              Would you wear a T-shirt and jeans to a wedding or a funeral? If not, why not?

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      You've actually done it then? Grandma died and you came in T-shirt and jeans?

                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                          Really, really? I swore I wouldn't get into this but, I'm a liar, even to myself, so here goes- Thew, you have worn objectively casual attire to a funeral? And if so, did you recognize that that could be viewed as a signal of disrespect to others that were grieving? Now, I think I can conclude from some of your previous posts that you don't agree that clothing should be equated with respect (but if I'm wrong about that, please correct me), but don't you see how others could view it that way? That going to Grandma Thew's funeral in flipflops could be upsetting to Grandpa Thew?

                                                                          1. re: mjhals

                                                                            i have worn jeans to a funeral. yes. of people in my own family who i loved deeply. anyone who thought i was being disrespectful wasn't close enough to me, or understanding enough of my relationship with the deceased, to have it worry me much.

                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                              I guess I was just thinking of it from the perspective of worrying them, not you.

                                                                        2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                          I don't own jeans and it was still winter so a tee-shirt would be out. I don't really like tee-shirts anyways. But, I attended my Grandmother's funeral in a black button down shirt and a black pair of pants.

                                                                          I was similarly attired for my great uncle's funeral.

                                                                          I don't own a suit.

                                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                            When I was about eleven months pregnant, I realized I didn't have a suit I could get into (duh, Mawrter) and panicked: what if I needed to go to something in a suit? I felt naked, I felt un-adult. I ran out and got a maternity suit. I wore it.... never. But I felt so much better knowing I had one if the occasion arose.

                                                                        3. re: thew

                                                                          Not necessarily. To you, maybe. To others, not so much.


                                                                    2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                      One of my friends is having a huge argument over this very thing. Certain people want to wear jeans to her wedding (the groomsmen are wearing tails!) and she's appalled. I'm from Florida where a lot of people don't own suits, but even so, I think jeans at most weddings would be unacceptable. I talked to another person who said he went to a wedding where he was overdressed in a tie and everyone else wore jeans, so it's not that uncommon.

                                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                                        Wow! I'm appalled by how some people are complaining that they can't wear jeans to somebody else's wedding. One can do whatever he or she wants for his or her own wedding. But it is nice to abide by the groom and bride's wishes. For my wedding I requested cocktail attire in the invitation. One of my friends (who is not a suit guy) asked me what cocktail attire meant. I told him either a suit or sportcoat. He was a bit surprised that people got that dressed up for weddings (and he was from Florida, btw). But he was a great sport and just said, "Well, why not! This isn't an everyday thing. I'll take my suit out from storage for you!" He was more concerned with my feelings than his own feelings of being uncomfortable in a suit.

                                                                        I think what I see here in some people who have issues with dress codes is self-centeredness. It's not always about you. You sometimes do things (including wearing things that you don't like) for other people, whether it's a wedding, funeral, job interview, etc. Clothing isn't purely functional. Otherwise, on a hot muggy day like yesterday in NYC, I would have seen more people just walk around in their underwear.

                                                                        And this goes for restaurants as well. If a restaurant has a dress code, abide by it instead of saying it's MY money and I will dress as I please. It may be your money, but it's not your restaurant. If you don't agree with the dress code, there are other restaurants out you can go to. Or just eat at home.

                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                          "One can do whatever he or she wants for his or her own wedding. But it is nice to abide by the groom and bride's wishes."

                                                                          I agree 100% with this. If someone I cared about was hosting an event. I would attend dressed however they wanted. If they wanted to get married and it was Black Tie, I'd rent a tux. If they got married by a shaman at a nudist colony I'd go naked. Its about them.

                                                                          But, I'm sorry, dining out at a nice restaurant is SO much more about me than about anyone else. I'm paying, I'm the host of my party, I'm choosing what I eat and how and so on.

                                                                          "If you don't agree with the dress code, there are other restaurants out you can go to."

                                                                          I agree with that too. I wouldn't try to force a place to change its rule just for me. The restaurant with the strict dress code will lose my business to elsewhere.

                                                                          Likewise, I don't insist on plates and cutlery at an Ethiopian place, I don't disassemble my sushi and eat it bit by bit, and so on. . .

                                                                          I'm just saying that there should be fewer places with a dress code and that the days of having a dress code at the vast majority of fine dining establishments is coming to an end (or the bar is being lower from "jackets required" down to – say – no exposed belly buttons or no hats, or whatever)

                                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                            You seem like a pretty reasonable person even though you don't own a suit! ; ) Seriously, I don't think your response of wearing a black button down shirt and slacks is really out of line at a funeral, but I think wearing a tie-dye shirt and blue jeans is. Then again, I went to a funeral a couple of years ago and many people showed up wearing shorts and Tevas -- but it was not a traditional funeral -- there was a modern dance number and a drum circle afterward. I wasn't dressed in a suit but was wearing black.

                                                                            Well, I think your wish for having fewer places with dress codes are coming true. A few months ago, 21 Club in NYC changed its dress policy from jackets and ties required to jackets required but tie optional. Aside from 21 Club in NYC, there are other restaurants here with fabulous food that have a jackets required policy. Too bad you won't be able to eat there. At least you still have a lot of other good restaurants to choose from.

                                                                          2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                            I'm a native Floridian myself. We are fairly casual and I'd say it's probably not the norm for people to own suits. I'd say that for a "cocktail attire" wedding in FL men would be fine wearing a dress shirt, tie, and dress slacks.

                                                                            The wedding at issue is in the Midwest and the guests claim they own nothing but jeans. My friend would be perfectly happy with the dress shirt/tie combo and I'm sure that's something you can buy for relatively cheap at Target or another discount retailer. I can understand not wanting to spend $500 on a suit you'll never wear, but you can probably go to a discount retailer and get a dressier outfit for well under $100.

                                                                            I tend to believe that a strict dress code at restaurants is a thing of the past though. If you're more of a destination restaurant that a lot of people from out of town come to visit, I think it can be difficult for people to pack light and bring along the clothes needed to visit a fancier restaurant. These days with the extra bag fees, a lot of people are trying to limit themselves to carry on suitcases.

                                                                            1. re: queencru

                                                                              somewhat different case but I agree, not owning something is no excuse. I don't buy "dressy" clothes for my 12 year old son because he'd outgrow it before needing to wear it. But for my MIL's funeral, you can bet we went out and bought appropriate attire (dark chinos and a dark button down shirt). I am actually astounded that people would not dress appropriately for a funeral. And I think a black shirt and slacks is perfectly appropriate. But not jeans.

                                                                          3. re: queencru

                                                                            I would think that the wishes of the host/hostess (bride & groom here) should be respected, but then I'm old-school and the "young'uns" probably just do not know any better.


                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              Give younger people more credit than that. It sounds like these jeans-wearing guests do know better; they are just cheap and refuse to go to a store and buy something appropriate. I just hope they don't use the same excuse for buying the wedding gift. After all, that's not something they have already either!

                                                                              1. re: queencru

                                                                                Hey, if they are guests of the bride, or the groom, then the host/hostess should know what they are getting into. It's between them and their guests.


                                                                          4. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                            No. I always wear a suit and tie to a wedding or funeral. Why? Because it's a mark of respect.

                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                              I brought up the wedding/funeral point because I think most people understand that there are in fact occasions when dressing more formally is appropriate. Now some people might think that a restaurant doesn't merit that type of of formality but I think it depends on the restaurant.

                                                                              Jeans would work at 85%% to 90% on NY restaurants but I think it's important to recognize that there are some where you need to dress it up a bit. Sometimes a business casual look will do the trick. A handful of places require jackets. If people have any doubts as to which places have these dress codes it's easy to ask when they're making reservations.

                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez


                                                                                It's becoming increasingly uncommon for suits to be required at restaurants in New York, but I don't mind wearing one when it's expected. But in that case, the food and service had better be really good! Otherwise, it's an empty gesture, as far as I'm concerned.

                                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                                  Absolutely. I make that point when I steer people to the River Cafe for drinks. They require men to wear a jacket but I think it's worth it for the view and the ambiance. (I usually recommend that people dine elsewhere - the food is fine but overpriced for what it is.)

                                                                          5. re: Atahualpa

                                                                            I actually wrote a post on how times change, that somewhere along the line was apparently excised from this thread.

                                                                        2. re: jn682

                                                                          No. I am dressing up for my guest(s) and myself. I do what I wish, and live with that. It gives me pleasure and amuses me.


                                                                      2. re: planetjess

                                                                        Why I don't mind jackets required restaurants:

                                                                        Because it's easier for me to dress for them (I have suits I sometimes have to wear for work) than it is for my husband to dress for them (he has one funeral and wedding suit, which he understandably associates with unpleasant family occasions, funerals having been far more numerous than weddings). It's rare enough for ladies to have an easier time dressing for the evening that I get a bit of a kick out of it. :)

                                                                        Another reason that I appreciate that the highest end restaurants tend not to be the "hottest", or at least not for very long--I don't go to restaurants to look at other people or have them look at me, so being in a place where the person paying the closest attention to my attire is the maitre d' works very well for me!

                                                                1. I have no unique stories for NYC ( I do for Paris but that's another thread altogether) but I do dress differently in New York than I do in LA.
                                                                  Although I respect the restaurants in LA and dress accordingly I find S Cal to be much more relaxed hence 'casual elegance' applies.
                                                                  New York and the museums and dinner before the theatre lends itself to a much more elegant experience when dining.

                                                                  1. El Quijote will not permit men to wear hats inside. I have seen this rule strictly-enforced.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                      I completely agree with that policy. Wearing a hat, cap,scully while eating is not only unsightly but in my opinion shows a lack of respect to not only other diners but more importantly to the food. An exception of course would be any head gear required by one's religion.

                                                                      1. re: currymouth

                                                                        a lack of respect for the food? really>?

                                                                        honestly, im pretty sure the food doesn't care.

                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                          You sound like a base ball cap man. Am I correct?

                                                                          1. re: currymouth

                                                                            regardless of hat type, the food doesn't care. personally i don't wear a hat while i eat. i don;t find it comfortable. i really couldn't care less if the guy at the next table wears one or not. and i'm damn sure my steak doesn't mind either way.

                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                              I was brought up to believe that when dining, one must show a certain respect not only to the Restaurant, fellow diners, but also to the very reason that you are there. The Food. Antiquated I know, But I can't begin to tell you how many times I have seen diners here and abroad wearing headgear displaying the stereotypical ugly American behavior. It has to start somewhere, I can give a rats ass if the steak cares or not ,but you should.

                                                                              1. re: currymouth

                                                                                why should i? why should i consider something as meaningless as a fashion choice as a gauge of the respect one is showing me, or the food?

                                                                                mores change. 100 years ago a woman showing her ankles would have been seen to be showing a lack of respect.

                                                                                what others wear really doesn't effect me that much. and honestly i have more important things to concern myself with than whether the guy across the room is wearing a hat or sneakers.

                                                                              2. re: thew

                                                                                I believe we are of the same age, I'm 48, but from two different worlds. You are of course entitled to your opinion as am I, but I regretfully don't foresee us bouncing into each other on our way to dinner. So be it.

                                                                            2. re: thew

                                                                              OK, maybe the food does not really care. However, it is not the same for the other diners.


                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                Best. Reply. Ever.

                                                                                Headcoverings are inappropriate indoors unless they are required by one's religions (a kippah for Jewish men, a turban for Sikh men, etc.) or medically (skull surgery, etc.).

                                                                                I don't know specifically why it's against etiquette -- perhaps because it's like wearing galoshes or a raincoat indoors.

                                                                                The food, however, is going to be ground up by your teeth and swallowed. Not exactly respectful.

                                                                                And before you make a value judgment, the only time I wear a baseball cap is at a baseball game.

                                                                            3. Well, make sure if there's a jackets only policy that you abide by it. I've seen numerous people wear the "house jacket" at times.

                                                                              And I agree with GHG that dressing up can sometimes get you better seating and service. Hey, it's not a perfect world and the reality is that some people do judge you by what you are wearing. To say otherwise is a bit naive.

                                                                              And when in doubt, wear black.

                                                                              1. In general, the kind of fancy restaurant where you feel bad if your'e not dressed well is on the way out. I remember years ago feeling underdressed at Lespinasse. It closed. The trend is away from formality. (And yes, you're always safe in black.)

                                                                                1. Maybe they are already on the way out, but I would recommend ditching the Blue Tooth if you are in a decent place. I don't understand why people (men) think they need to wear those all the time -- unless they are a member of a transplant team and need to be available 24/7. I ate at a nice Indian place last Friday near Rockefeller Center and the guy at the table next to me had one on...looked silly and really tacky.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: City Kid

                                                                                    I do agree. Wife is on call 24/7 and refuses to use one. Now, she does get called at dinner, but excuses herself to take those calls. We both wish that they did not come, but they do. Still, a quick "give me a moment, as I am hosting a dinner... " takes care of it. The calls are taken out in the bar, or even outside. Only complaint is that on her way outside, if the Governor, or the house staff didn't also find her, all would be fine.

                                                                                    Unless one is a Columbian drug dealer, there is no reason for using a bluetooth during dining.


                                                                                  2. Only time was at "21"...I was at a trade show at the Javits Center visiting my sometime employers, kind of as an afterthought. I was in fairly casual attire as per the dictates of the auditions I attended that day. I was invited to dinner with said employers and upon arrival was informed I was not properly attired. The restaurant was very accommodating however and provided me with a jacket and my choice of tie. I loved the tie so much, they even let me keep it!