Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Australia/New Zealand >
Dec 26, 2009 10:42 PM

Dress Code for Sydney Restaurants (Pier, Quay)

Hi everyone, sorry if this seems like a bit of a silly question, but i am going to be heading down to Sydney this week and some friends have told me that even the 'nicer' restaurants in the city don't have a particularly strict dress code.

The Quay and the Pier Restaurants both have "smart casual', but would shoes, trousers and a t-shirt for dinner be stretching it too much?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. t-shirt could be on the edge, collared t-shirt (polo shirt) is definitely fine - but I would be extremely surprised if either restaurant took any action

    1 Reply
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      I agree Sydney is very casual. I personally tend to dress in a way that I feel comfortable, so in a good restaurant I would put on a decent shirt as I wouldn't want to stand out as the "one with the t-shirt". Both Quay and Pier are very smart "big night out" spaces so you may stand out; less so at lunch, more so at dinner.

      My pet theory is that you get a level of service/treatment that reflects how much you respect a restaurant. Staff are going to be better disposed to you if you have made an effort than if you are in your daggy old clothes, I have never done a controlled experiment though...!

    2. You probably should wear at least a collared shirt, though jeans to go with it are fine in my opinion. I wore a tshirt once to Tetsuya's on a night when I really just wanted to be in the clothes I like to wear and have a great meal. I didn't feel that I drew stares and whispers. Nor did I feel staff were less disposed towards me (with all due respect to PhilD's opinion). In any case there was a large crowd of young twenties in tshirts at the next table so I wasn't the only one.

      I went to Rockpool back in it's three-hat glory days and there was a guy next to us in a wifebeater and shorts. That might be taking it a bit too far, but the point I guess is that really it's up to you. If you don't feel uncomfortable being a bit underdressed, go for it. Noone will say anything. That's one of the great things about dining in this city.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Tsar_Pushka

        Tsar, I am certain staff are not going to be "less disposed" to you, especially here as we are a pretty laid back country, so no matter how you dress it is going to be fine.

        My theory is more about getting the very best out of a restaurant; that little bit of extra attention; maybe some extras from the kitchen; lots of help from the sommelier; the bigger more frequent pours of wine during a degustation meal , etc. I feel that if the servers dress to impress they are going to give more to you if you do as well.

        1. re: PhilD

          Fair enough Phil. Not sure I completely agree with you still, but your theory is sound. Maybe as you suggested it needs an objective test : )

          While we're on topic, here's an interesting read -- particularly the variety of views expressed in the responses.

          1. re: Tsar_Pushka

            Thanks - it is an interesting post and thread. I think it illustrates an interesting point: different countries have different norms. From a lot of posts about dress codes my sense is that the US tends to have a binary norm i.e. smart equals jacket and tie the rest is casual. So the sentiment about "not dressing up" is often code for I don't want to wear a tie and jacket.

            In other countries the norms are very different, from my experience of living in Europe there seems to be a middle ground with variations of style. So many people dress very well without being in the US uniform of jacket and tie or the preppy chinos and sports coats (sorry for the broad generalisation).

            I see Australian dress sense to be more like the European model, when people dress up to go out they aren't confined to a rigid model (although I do understand the tribal model - good friends in fashion design). Over the summer we ate in a 3* restaurant in Europe packed with many nationalities dressed to the nines, it ranged from the preppy Americans in their Ralph Lauren, thru cool Japanese in minimalist black suits, to the cool French with perma-tans, head to toe in their white linen; yes a whole table of six who actually looked like some kind of cult (I was assured it was the height of resort Fashion). These may sound like stereotypes but it was as described.

            My observation in Sydney is that it helps to understand the style of the restaurant so that you in turn can fit in with he style. Compare and contrast the "mad men" style of Rockpool Bar & Grill to the "beach princess" look of North Bondi Italian Food.

            Of course there are no real rules in Sydney (which makes it a great place to live), but understanding the style of the restaurant can help make the meal better; think how strange you would feel in a suit at NBIF or boardies at RB&G.

            1. re: PhilD

              This is a country obsessed with "flip flops" or locally called "thongs". Australia is a pretty casual place and only once was I denied entry in a bar for wearing sandals instead of closed toe footwear. As central Sydney(called CBD-Central Business District)isn't that large, if you're so concerned, take a peek at the restaurant the day before.

      2. PhilD has it spot on - people are drawn to restaurants that suit their style and taste.

        Sydney people choose restaurants also based on "its the scene". that said we are very relaxed and no one will say anything unless you really go out of your way to dress down.

        1. Agree with PhilD about a level of service/treatment reflects how much you respect a restaurant.
          Had dinner at Quay last weekend. Albeit smart - a t-shirt is a bit too casual.