HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Restaurant attire [split from UK/Ireland]

This was split from: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/734755 - The Chowhound Team
----

Your attire sounds good to me, too! I think you'll be surprised how less formally men dress in the UK vs the States. It really surprised me when I moved here. Many men don't even seem to own ties. :-)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I tend to agree with your philosphy of dressing up at least a bit for special occasions. The first time I saw people at an evening performance on Broadway (the NYC one), | really didn't like it. Of course, I am a fairly senior citizen and remember when ladies used to wear gloves to go out. :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: zuriga1

      Ah, I have been there, and in the US. I grew up influenced by New Orleans, and we always wore semi-formal attire (black tie tux) to any theater, or opera season opening. Moved to Denver, CO, USA, and did the same. Boy was I in for a surprise. The attire was cargo shorts and clean rag-wool socks with Birkenstocks.

      In Phoenix, AZ, USA, "formal" is considered a "collared shirt." Duh!

      Now, I am talking about a hot, resort area, but back to New Orleans, many want to wear cut-off levis, and a sleeveless t-shirt to enjoy fine dining.

      In the UK, we are always seated amongst ladies and gentlemen, dressed in what I would deem appropriate.

      Hunt

    2. I think it's good that we no longer feel it necessary to dress formally to go out for dinner.
      Having to dress for dinner can make people stiff and self conscious.
      It should all be about feeling relaxed and enjoying the food.
      The last few years have seen a trend of more casual dining and less formal service and long may it continue.

      23 Replies
      1. re: Paprikaboy

        And that's why there is more than one flavour of ice cream...

        1. re: Paprikaboy

          I don't mind casual dress if the restaurant isn't an upscale place. But if a place is a bit formal, then I think the least a guy can do is wear a jacket. I like casual dining most of the time.

          1. re: zuriga1

            In the UK restaurants and bars I find the dichotomy between ladies and men interesting. The ladies dress up in their finery whilst the men are often in their favourite jeans and best t-shirts. I always think that a man who does make an effort will have a competitive advantage.

            1. re: PhilD

              I see that in the UK in general - nicely-dressed young women arm in arm with utter slobs. Not sure I understand why but it does seem pervasive.

              1. re: BobB

                I know it's awful isn't it.
                The UK really has gone to the dogs.
                I say bring back public flogging and national service.

                1. re: Paprikaboy

                  No need for flogging, the stocks would suffice!

                  But seriously - there's a vast range of attire between t-shirts and tuxes, and you can put a little effort in without incurring any discomfort at all. The problem is that some people seem to have only one mode of dress whether they're sprawling on the sofa at home or heading out to a four-star restaurant. No sense of occasion whatsoever. I pity them, really.

                  1. re: BobB

                    BobB,

                    You are not alone here. On one particular CH board, we get a lot of comments like, "my husband refuses to dine in anything besides a sleeveless t-shirt, cut-off levis, and flip flops. Can he get into Galatorie's?" The answer is no, and if he could, he should feel so very shamed, that he'd head to the nearest sports bar, and hide his face in abject shame.

                    I get nailed by the MOD's, as I point out the differences between the enforced dress codes, and what one would be comfortable in. Yes, there is a difference, and it should be in the head of the diner.

                    Hunt

                2. re: BobB

                  Because like so many other things now-a-days it is the laszy way of doing things (and I'm not associating this trend to just the UK, I'm seeing it everywhere I go).

                  1. re: Spiritchaser

                    I agree that sartorial indolence is widespread - what's peculiar to the UK is the frequent pairing of smartly-dressed women with men in t-shirts and torn jeans. Most places they'd both be equally, er, informal.

                    1. re: Spiritchaser

                      While I have not noticed it yet in the UK, in the US, too many seem to have adopted the "Homer Simpson" attitude - "I want to slouch on the sofa in my "comfy clothes," belch and eat fast food."

                      If so, then do the McDonald's drive-thru, and return home. No one wants to dine next to a bloke with an undershirt, and flip-flops, unless they are at a picnic.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Please, please, can I add the ubiquitous baseball cap to your list? My husband and I were dining recently at a sort of upscale pub (is that an oxymoron?), and I was discussing how I had been working with my son to make sure he removes his hat when he goes inside. As we were discussing it, I realized that the two young men next to us were both in baseball caps, chomping away on their steaks, giving me the stink eye. I swear I didn't even notice them before I said it, but in retrospect, I'm kind of glad that they heard me!

                        Boys, men: remove your caps when you sit down to eat!

                        1. re: Cachetes

                          Boys, men: remove your caps when you sit down to eat!

                          change to...when you enter the restaurant

                          1. re: Cachetes

                            i don't wear hats while i eat, but i certainly do not care if someone next to me wears a hat, shorts, flip flops or anything else. They get to be comfortable, just as i do. Bill is comfortable in a blazer when he eats - more power to him - let him eat in a blazer. I wouldn't dream of telling him not to. I extend the same courtesy in not caring what bill wears while he eats, to the guy in the shorts and baseball cap.

                            1. re: Cachetes

                              "but in retrospect, I'm kind of glad that they heard me!"
                              ______

                              Something tells me that if a couple youngsters publicly humiliated you over some (in their minds) fashion faux-pas without immediately apologizing, you would view them in the worst possible light.

                              While I understand your aversion to wearing hats indoors, do you really think it was a good thing to have made them feel like crap? Maybe they didn't like your shoes or something.

                              1. re: Cachetes

                                It was a pub. I don't really see an issue with wearing a baseball hat in a pub. Even the gastropubs I've been to still don't seem to have fancier attire than regular pubs. I think they're places you can get good food without having to worry about looking fancy.

                                1. re: Cachetes

                                  I agree completely, and cited a recent experience in an up-scale San Francisco restaurant. A couple, with a young child entered. The father, wearing his Trilby, sat down, leaving his wife to tend to both the child and then seat herself. Instantly upon seating himself, he slouched low in the chair, pulled out his cell phone and began texting. He did not let up with this, and paused his order, while he returned other text messages. He did not utter one word to the lady, or to the child, during the entire meal, and only spoke, when ordering, or when a friend approached the table. At a point, he left to go outside to text some more (thankfully), and his wife paid the bill, and gathered up the child. She negotiated with the valet for the auto, while he continued to text.

                                  Maybe he was Sir Richard Branson, negotiating the formation of Virgin Space, and I just did not recognize him.

                                  Society has changed, and through my tired old eyes, not for the better.

                                  Yes, the baseball cap, or the Trilby, should be removed.

                                  Hunt, so "old fashioned" that it hurts.

                          2. re: PhilD

                            I guess that I need to get out of Kinghtsbridge and Mayfair more. I do not see that. Even in Soho, I find the patrons to be more "upscale," than their counterparts in the US.

                            Hunt

                        2. re: Paprikaboy

                          Maybe I am just an old-timer, but I disagree with every aspect of your comments. I think that people have lost all semblance of class, and it shows in how they conduct other aspects of their lives.

                          Just two, totally different views on an aspect of life.

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Ah Bill! My dear old friend (on Chowhound, anyway..we've never offically met even though I am "known" to be Your Father's Son)!

                            Glad to see you upholding standards here, as elsewhere. We are (not surprisingly) in accord on travel attire and I concur completely with all your views on raiment in restaurants. It is a joke amongst my friends and me that, should we live until our 80's, we'' be remarked upon as those "old bastards in the back in seersucker suits"

                            You know, quite well, that it is a matter respect, and of SELF respect....and, beside that point, it is a small burden to wear a tie if it will sooth others. Let us not always think of Ourself.

                            BYW--I agree with your points elsewhere about waiters intoductions. In my life..NOLA, NY, Boston...we have always known the waiter as a family friend. He "serves" but is never "servile." At Galatoire's,a s you know, the waiter is often party to the table. It's "jist plain fun" . In places foreign to me, I talk to the waiter and try to establish a "rapport." He wants his tip and I want a new friend..It always works because of the notion of respect.

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              the implication seems to be that if we do not share that opinion we lack both respect for others and for ourselves. which is ,frankly, a disrespectful point of you.

                              I, for example, respect you and have plenty of self respect; i do not think of you as fuddy duddies, overly stiff with a stickup your behind, because you choose to dress in a manner i would find less than comfortable, and maybe out of touch with the zeitgeist. but i didn't say such things, nor did i assume you lack respect, or self respect because we differ. it is easy to grant yourself such kudos. harder for ones actions to merit it

                              1. re: thew

                                No implication at all..but you are of course free to believe what you wish.

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  Your implication is clear from this paragraph, including the emphatic capitalization. Part of self-respect, of course, is integrity, and standing behind one's words and their obvious meaning. But you know that, quite well I'm sure.
                                  :
                                  >>You know, quite well, that it is a matter respect, and of SELF respect....and, >>beside that point, it is a small burden to wear a tie if it will sooth others. Let >>us not always think of Ourself.

                              2. re: hazelhurst

                                At my advanced age, I probably should direct my wife which of my seersucker, or white linen suits, I should be interred wearing.

                                Yes, some of us come from a more "familiar" society, even in the world-class restaurants, and probably from a different time - and probably from a different place. We are, who we are, and are most comfortable with ourselves.

                                I think that some of this might well be lower self-esteem, but am not a trained psychologist (though I play one on television).

                                Hunt

                          2. I was in San Antonio last week and decided against a restaurant after having checked their menu online. Sight unseen, it appeared far too upscale given what I had packed for the short trip. So, passing said restaurant (about 8p) while on the boat tour, the decor was indeed upscale; but I was surprised to see diners clad in shorts and similar apparel. Dang. Turns out, I could have gone and been one of the more "dressed-up" souls!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: blynk

                              SA falls into the same category as Phoenix - resort. Still, I manage to dress for the restaurants, and even fly to Hawai`i with a blazer. It is all about how one likes to dress, and how most diners are dressed.

                              In a recent thread elsewhere, the discussion was "can my husband dine there in cut-offs and a t-shirt?" The replies were along the lines of, "as far as published dress codes, probably. Now, most gentlemen will be wearing suits and ties, and the rest at least sports coats." Were I that husband, I would be horribly self-conscious, and not enjoy myself in the least.

                              Of course, I am always more comfortable being overdressed, than under-dressed.

                              Hunt

                            2. When I travel, I carry one skirt and coordinating top that are approrpriate for just about anywhere. Wrinkle free, roll up in the suitcase. Bob packs a pair of Dockers, a nice shirt and a pair of socks. Sometimes we never wear them but we have them when we want them. Not rocket surgery :)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: c oliver

                                Exactly! Dressing casually but well is not brain science. ;-)

                                1. re: BobB

                                  but defiinng "well" is beyond brain science. it is completely arbitrary

                                  1. re: thew

                                    Not completely - let's say it fits on a bell curve. Only a tiny minority would insist that setting foot in a fine dining restaurant requires a suit and tie, and a probably larger but still small minority would insist that the scuzziest of shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops are appropriate everywhere. Like most people, I fall somewhere in between, probably somewhat to the more formal side as far as my own taste in dress goes (I loves me a nice sport coat), but I have a pretty wide - albeit not infinite - range of tolerance for others' attire.

                                2. re: c oliver

                                  I'm similar. I always fly in a blazer. I might have a suit, or a tux in the suitcase, but I ALWAYS have at least a blazer. Wife usually has a suit, and if we think that we might need it, some "glitter top." Going back 20 years, I cannot recall either of us being under-dressed.

                                  When we were overdressed, it was usually because we had a second, or third event that night, or the two times that her assistant got the attire wrong. [I lied on both of those, and told the attendees that we had a semi-formal event following... '

                                  Hunt

                                3. I take a view about UK restaurants that, if they insist men wear jacket or tie, then it;s a place I can happily miss out on. Mercifully, there are now only a handful of places that stick to this outdated concept.

                                  I can think of Le Manoir, Le Gavroche, and Royal Hospital Road amongst the top flight Michelin starred places. But I reckon that's about it. Most everywhere else is happ;y to advertise their dress code as "smart casual" - for example at a recent dinner at Northcote, the only men wearing jackets were the two restaurant managers. Even amongst the old-fashioned places, like Sharrow Bay, that "suggest" men may wish to wear a jacket, I have never felt out of place wearing shirt and trousers.

                                  And, of course, there are those places that are more interested in the quality of the food than having silly pretensions. I'm thinking of places like the Fat Duck which has no dress code at all. We had dinner there recently - there were a couple of jacketed men, most were dressed as I was, a few just in jeans and polos. No-one looked "wrong".

                                  Just by the by (looking at zuriga's OP), when I retired nearly 8 years ago, the first thing I did on the first day was to throw out almost all the ties I had owned and been obliged to wear at work. I kept two - the black one for funerals and one other "just in case". It's not been round my neck since then.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Dang, you have mentioned some of my favorite places, around Mayfair!

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Throw out your ties! Haters, that breaks my daft Yank heart. I nearly always pick up a few ties in London, and I'll bet that I am older than you are.

                                      When I retired, I bought myself two more tuxes, as I knew that my wife would have even more events, and I do not like to wear the same tux with the same crowd, more than once per year. Each trip to the South Pacific, I bring back cloth to have new tie/cumberbund sets made, in time for the next year's "season." Here, "black tie" translates to me as a black matrix and then Hawaiian print flowers, or similar.

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        While we are probably fairly close in age, Bill, and I was raised old school (jacket and tie, if not suit, for any Manhattan restaurant not in Chinatown, and for all theatre, symphony, or similar performance), I'm far happier with today's sartorial world.

                                        I happily gave up my last suit when every client I work for went "business casual" (I do have a few blazer/slacks combos for occasional necessities), and have - like Harters - divested myself of most of my ties. I consider a tie the single stupidest article of clothing for men ever invented (well - maybe the codpiece should be in first place), and the suit jacket, that relic of class consciousness, runs it a close second in my estimation.

                                        That said, I do prefer to dine in the company of people who are neatly and cleanly garbed, but a decent set of khakis, shirt, and shoes (or sandals if you're in a shore town), is fine with me.

                                        As for theatre, etc., at some point in my youth it dawned on me that I was there to see the performers and not the opposite case. At that point - again, beyond neat and clean - it occurred to me that it really didn't matter what I wore, since no one was paying to see me.

                                        1. re: Striver

                                          Now, it's probably different for me. Being in the "arts," attire was always less formal, and I probably was most comfortable being "over-dressed" for the business meetings. Still, I spend almost every day in shorts, and Hawaiian print shirts, sitting on the pool deck at my laptop. I do not have to wear suits, or even jackets, and Phoenix is a rather laid-back environment, being so tourist oriented and also so warm. Still, when dining out, I still dress pretty much as I did in New Orleans (fewer ties nowadays), or when I am in London, Chicago, San Francisco, NYC, Paris, or elsewhere. I do not rebel against my clothing, but embrace it. Probably from wearing shorts and island print shirts all day, everyday. [Grin]

                                          Hunt

                                    2. Wow, being a daft Yank, I find just the opposite. While I always don a blazer, a suit, or a sports coat, I find that the diners in the UK are much more formal, than in similar restaurants in the US. I always travel with a few ties, even to tropical resort areas, but almost always have one in the UK. I envy the normal diners, as most are in pin-striped suits (maybe not my style), but much more formal, than in the US.

                                      Maybe we just travel to different neighborhoods?

                                      Hunt

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Bill

                                        It may be a neighbourhood thing. I know from your UK restaurant mentions, you tend to eat in upscale places in upscale areas. There will be a lot of corporate customers in those places and it wouldnt surprise me to learn that many are suited.

                                        I think it also goes with the restaurant's "culture". A place near me (north west England) has a very elderly clientele. And when I describe it as elderly, bear in mind I am 60. When we last ate there a couple of years back, most men were wearing jackets. The two of us who were "younger" were not. I suspect the restaurant will die out as its customer base does.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          We do tend to dine in what would be called "up-scale" on most boards, but that is a genre of food, that we enjoy. Also, we often are hosting, whether in the US, UK or Europe. I do not turn my back on more local cuisine, but seldom find myself there, except for breakfast, or lunch. Dinners are almost always more formal, with attire to match.

                                          Hunt

                                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                                          My experience in the UK was that people were not any more formal than they are here- jeans in nicer restaurants and whatnot. If I wanted to see a show, I felt much more comfortable wearing jeans in London than I did in my hometown where people at least tend to dress a little nicer than jeans. I did not live in a particularly upscale area or frequent those areas often, so as Harters pointed out, it is probably more dependent on the neighborhood than anything else.

                                        3. Granted, I grew up in the anarchistic '60s and '70s, but I don't think except for a formal wedding reception meal I'd personally ever demand that men wear ties at a meal. But I can't deny that a man in a tie looks pretty good, especially if he seems comfortable in it.

                                          1. Been resisting posting on this thread since it originated, but can't help myself...

                                            When deciding what attire is appropriate, there are three separate questions that need to be answered. The first and most obvious is what the restaurant will tolerate. The second is what the consensus of customers believes is appropriate. And the third is what the diner will wear.

                                            Restaurants' tolerance has grown dramatically in recent years. Gone is the "walk of shame" where an inappropriately-dressed customer is escorted to his table wearing a hideous house jacket and paper tie. As far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing.

                                            On the other hand, I believe that diners' sensibilities should be informed by the general atmosphere of the restaurant. I don't care how much your vintage football jersey and destroyed jeans cost; if all the people around you are wearing collared shirts and sport coats, you're underdressed.

                                            There are significant subtleties when it comes to deciding what the norm is in a given restaurant. Using Hunt's example of dining in Hawai'i, I haven't found a place where an Aloha shirt (which implicitly excludes jacket and tie) would be out of place. But locals make distinctions among Aloha shirts. Some are appropriate for fine-dining places while others aren't.

                                            Which brings it down to the diner's decisions. Sure, you can show up naked if nudity is tolerated, and if you don't care what anybody else thinks then that's okay. For you. But the fact of the matter is that most of us try to conform to the norms discussed above.

                                            Not to say that anybody has an obligation to conform to societal norms. There's nothing wrong with being a bomb-tossing anarchist. Matter of fact, I have a lot of respect for those who refuse to conform. But seriously, is dinner at a fine-dining restaurant - a place that the average American can't ever afford to set foot - the place to stake your claim as a representative of the underclass?

                                            61 Replies
                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              At burger joints I feel condemned to suffer the sight of flip-flops with toe cheese and nail fungus. At restaurants that don't have ketchup bottles on the table, people are more pleasant on the eye. Women, especially.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Last summer we were on Cape Cod and a couple we knew joined us for a few days. Most of our meals were casual lunches and cooking at the house we were staying in. But one night we made a point of going to a "nice" restaurant. Vintage home, higher end menu, etc. I'd planned on wearing a pair of linen slacks and a nice top. However, the male guest walked out in very wrinkled shirt (too unbuttoned) and matching shorts. Sandals with too long toenails. (Shudder) I hadn't changed clothes yet so I wore (pressed) shorts and shirt and closed toe shoes so he wouldn't feel embarassed. I thought all the food was very good but I honestly more remember what he wore and didn't wear.

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  how about flip flops with clean feet sans jam and fungus?

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    That's me in my Tevas. I have perpetual Teva tan lines and pedicured feet.

                                                    1. re: thew

                                                      Depends entirely on how the ketchup is presented.

                                                      Hunt

                                                    2. re: Veggo

                                                      Now, my determining factor, regarding sandals is - if the ketchup is in packets, then sandals are OK. It it's in a squeeze bottle on the table, better put on the boat shoes. If the ketchup is in tiny, sealed bottles, then I'd better go to the loafers. If it's in a silver serving device, with appropriate spoon, those loafers had better be polished. That is Hunt's Ketchup Theorem.

                                                      Hunt

                                                    3. re: alanbarnes

                                                      It's been tough to avoid the differing lines on this one, but it is time for jfood as well.

                                                      It totally blows jfood's mind that people still conform to the "I will do whatever I want, whereever I want and too f'ing bad if you do not like it."

                                                      We are all part of a society and there are certain norms one abides by. Going to a restaurant contains a social contract with the restaurant and the fellow diners. If you believe that you can wear rat-clothes, does that also allow you to go without bathing for 5 days, or does that mean you can scream for your entire meal, or can you spit on the ground around you table, or grabbing the food from another table and there are tons of examples. Dining entails many senses, including taste, hearing, sight, smell, etc. And the sight of a trashy dressed diner attacks one of those senses.

                                                      As AB so nicely states, there are three standards to address. Wearing acceptable clothing is one of them.

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        I concur. I live pretty much in Florida and the Caribbean, and I wear a lot of silk because it is comfortable, attractive, is practical for the climate and travels well.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            I'll wear Teva's with silk slacks if I am within 30 degrees of the equator, It's the Hunter S. Thompson in me.

                                                          2. re: Veggo

                                                            Well, you know how life is here in the High Sonoran Desert. One can be comfortable, and still be presentable. Now, for those late Summer black-tie events at the PHX Zoo, I have other feelings, but let's not go there, please.

                                                            Hunt

                                                          3. re: jfood

                                                            Counterpoint:

                                                            You show up at a hipster joint ('i dunno about that crowd, but I've heard they have the MOST DELICIOUS fried oysters there!') wearing a suit - classic cut, non-offensive, looking like you're going to your niece's wedding. At this hipster place, the food is fine-dining quality and pricing, but everyone is wearing jeans, ripped t-shirts, random facial piercings, etc. You are not violating the explicit dress code of the restaurant. Yet make no mistake, YOU are the eyesore in this crowd, out of touch and somehow making the atmosphere decidedly 'less cool.'

                                                            Are you...
                                                            A) a disrespectful, uncouth trash heap of a person, thinking only about yourself?
                                                            B) someone who doesn't have the required skinny jeans, didn't know any better, and just wanted to try some oysters?
                                                            C) the ONLY respectful, kind-hearted person in a room surrounded by hellspawn?

                                                            I vote option B. Your logic would indicate you prefer option A (god, I hope it's not option C).

                                                            The notion that you can judge the quality of a person by whether they wear a suit to a restaurant is laughable.
                                                            -

                                                            Quote: "If you believe that you can wear rat-clothes, does that also allow you to go without bathing for 5 days, or does that mean you can scream for your entire meal, or can you spit on the ground around you table, or grabbing the food from another table"
                                                            _______
                                                            Why stop there? What's to stop you from shooting other diners and then prank calling their grieving family members? Or ritual human sacrifice on the dining table? Bringing your pet bear? Bombs? Mustard gas?

                                                            At some point that analogy lost its validity. Personally, I think it did so before its first example. Being under-dressed is not the equivalent of any of those things.

                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                              None of the above; you're just dressed inappropriately for the venue. Why does that concept seem to be so hard to grasp?

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                How is that different from option B?

                                                                I'm willing to agree that people show up inappropriately dressed for dinner and that there are standards at play in some places that extend beyond the explicit dress code of the restaurant. What I don't buy is the notion, repeated often on this thread, that being underdressed is a symptom of a careless, inconsiderate, self-centered personality. Some people don't know any better, some don't have nice clothes and manage to get invited somewhere expensive, and some people are just stylistically clueless or careless but still absolute sweethearts.

                                                                The other, more subtle point was that many restaurants are no longer dominated by the suit-wearing crowd, and much of the bitching and moaning from the more formal crowd dominating here may in fact be people who are in the stylistic out-crowd (or maybe only one of several equally represented sub-crowds) at the very venues they're referencing.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  How it differs from B is that B is value-neutral, while my use of the word "inappropriately" is anything but. It is my firmly-held opinion that people should do their best to dress and act within social norms unless they have a good reason to do otherwise. Sitting at a lunch counter when your skin's the wrong color to get served is a brave and noble gesture. Wearing a tank top to a place where a jacket is reasonably expected because you can't be bothered to change? Not so much.

                                                                  That said, I have a high degree of tolerance for those who violate social norms because of inability to comply, bad information, or general cluelessness. Cleanliness, careful grooming, and a respectful demeanor go a long way. But those who arrogantly disregard the social contract on the grounds that no one can compel them to comply with it are boors, plain and simple.

                                                                  You're absolutely correct that standards are changing, but I'm not sure I agree with your implication that people here are bemoaning the change in the status quo or are ignorant of current expectations.

                                                                  FWIW, I fall right between the two camps you describe. On the one hand, I can't recall having worn a tie to dinner in more than a decade, and was one of those who forced the issue of "every day casual" in my city and profession. On the other hand, I have teenage daughters who say they'll gouge their eyes out if I wear skinny jeans.

                                                                  Frankly, it doesn't matter much whether you're younger or older or whether your inclination is to be overdressed or underdressed. Each of us should try to figure out what is expected and then make a reasonable effort to comply with that expectation. Yes, standards are changing, but by definition that means that there still **are** standards. To act as though there are not is the height of self-involvement.

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    "I'm not sure I agree with your implication that people here are bemoaning the change in the status quo or are ignorant of current expectations."
                                                                    _____

                                                                    Like any other situation where many people I don't personally know are stating their opinions, I assume that some are ignorant and some aren't. No offense to anyone. Just being honest.

                                                                    This thread started/splintered off because people were noting that MANY (or even most in some places) were forgoing formal wear. And those left wearing suits among a crowd of casual diners were bemoaning the changing standard.

                                                                    Somehow this debate got reframed as being about diners blatantly violating the norms in their restaurants of choice. Every fella wearing jeans in a fine dining restaurant that was already mainly casual became unwashed and smelly from 4 tables over for the sake of the argument.

                                                                    "Yes, standards are changing, but by definition that means that there still **are** standards. To act as though there are not is the height of self-involvement."
                                                                    ______
                                                                    This is exactly my point. Dressing in a manner not up to the standards of other paying customers (but still not deliberately distracting or offensive) is behavior I would characterize as aloof, perhaps stubborn or mildly arrogant.

                                                                    But 'the height of self-involvement"? Really? It's a mole hill on the valley floor of self-involvement. You can't think of any behavior more self-involved? I've read other posts of yours - your imagination is better than that statement would have me believe. Let's keep things in scale here.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      Okay, hyperbole got away with me there. But it's still self-involved behavior. I think we're in vehement agreement.

                                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      I will gouge YOUR eyes out if you wear skinny jeans!!! Listen to your children but don't emulate them :)

                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  Good counterpoints C,

                                                                  Good to see that you agree that someone wearing the odd-man out attire could change the vibe of the restaurant. But to your scenario, jfood has been that person and if it makes the room shudder then yes jfood has left. he is not here to make a point at the detriment of others. There is a new restaurant in his area that targets a younger demographics with very loud music. The food is getting some press. Jfood has no interest in going.

                                                                  A) If he stayed at the detriment of others enjoying the night then yes he was thinking only of himself
                                                                  B) jfood has jeans, skinny jeans are for people who read Vogue and Cosmo, neither are in his inbox; he may not have known better pre-arrival, but surely figured it out pretty quickly
                                                                  C) never would cross his mind; remember he has two 20-YO girls so he has a pretty good understanding

                                                                  "The notion that you can judge the quality of a person by whether they wear a suit to a restaurant is laughable"...not sure where this came from but jfood never stated here or on any other thread and totally agrees.

                                                                  Let jfood explain the difference between his other scenarios and your examples. Each of jfood's are absolutely within the law and only violate the social contract. They are absolutely the same thing as wearing rat-clothes, in Jfood's opinion. You and he will need to disagree on that point. To your examples, shooting other diners, human sacrifice, bombs, and mustard gas are felonies, prank calling is a misdemeanor, not sure where the bear fits in, but violates some law for sure.

                                                                  So unless you have another reason for the invalidity of the analogies, they stand up to your first counterpoint.

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    "If he stayed at the detriment of others enjoying the night then yes he was thinking only of himself"
                                                                    ______
                                                                    At least your argument is internally consistent. I think this is just where you and I differ. I don't like the thought of you leaving just because your attire, though well-meaning, doesn't quite fit in. The fried oysters are really good.

                                                                    "Each of jfood's [examples] are absolutely within the law and only violate the social contract. They are absolutely the same thing as wearing rat-clothes, in Jfood's opinion."
                                                                    ________
                                                                    I'm not convinced the law has any real bearing on this conversation. But were I to use examples of seducing other diners' spouses or loudly agitating in favor of the return of national socialism, would you be on-board?

                                                                    The point was that not all violations of social norms are equal. Some, like being slightly underdressed at a restaurant (still within the explicit dress code, no intent to shock or dismay others), should be considered so slight and harmless that the comfort and background and perhaps ignorance of the perpetrators should be enough to forgive it. None of your other examples fall into that same 'mostly harmless' category IMO.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      the law separates the social contract from the legalities of right and wrong.

                                                                      in your penultimate paragraph, each of these are violation of te social contract in a restaurant so if you are opposed to those then agreed.

                                                                      as to your last point, "slightly underdressed" is different from rat-dressed. slightly underdressedmay be nice jeans when others are wearing khackies, and if the standard of so slight and harmless, and it's cousin clueless are present.

                                                                      BTW - jfood is heading to the northwest where real oysters are the norm, no fried puppies for jfood this week, just raw and bursting with creaminess and oyster liquor.

                                                                      Ciao, and goodnight to Ackroyd and Curtin.

                                                                3. re: jfood

                                                                  cowboyardee has summed up my feeling about those "certain norms" - they vary depending on the venue. And one thing that hasn't been mentioned is that I can choose where to look, 'cause like most people, my eyes are in the front of my head. I cannot, however, choose what to hear, smell or feel. So if a fellow patron is screaming, stinking, or throwing ice cubes at me, I will notice whether I want to or not. If a fellow patron's outfit offends me, I can simply turn away. Problem solved.

                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                    "I cannot, however, choose what to hear, smell or feel. So if a fellow patron is screaming, stinking, or throwing ice cubes at me, I will notice whether I want to or not. If a fellow patron's outfit offends me, I can simply turn away. Problem solved.'
                                                                    ____
                                                                    Exactly. I would reconsider my 'it's all good' stance on any attire that flashes lights, makes noise, emits smells, or is otherwise exceptionally distracting.

                                                                    Strange how much attention some diners pay to other tables.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      It's sartorialism, is what it is, and I won't stand for it. But it's very sad that I can't go to restaurants wearing my pantsuit made of Glade Air Fresheners, and my musical spinning disco ball hat. Because that outfit really brings out my eyes.

                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                        But you can. By my Ketchup Guide, that attire would work fine, where the ketchup is served in little foil packs. Squeeze bottle? No, go and change.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                        Other than to compliment another diner's taste in clothing, there should NOT be attention called to it.

                                                                        Of course I have low expectations - I just anticipate that I will be surrounded by ladies and gentlemen, when dining. Beyond that, it's about personal sensibilities.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                      3. re: small h

                                                                        All true, but it does not change the correctness of this act.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          But what makes an act "correct"? It can't possibly be that you think it is, unless you're a lot more powerful than I think you are, in which case you should probably capitalize your screen name or something. I'm all for behaving in a manner that doesn't increase the discomfort of others - that's what I think is "correct." It is, in fact, the very definition of etiquette. And I have never been made uncomfortable by someone else's clothing.

                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                            No jfood does not think he has the right to decide what is Correct, but he can decide what he thinks is correct. And Correct and Etiquette overlap quite a bit. And wearing rat-clothes in a nice reastaurant is bot not correct and not within etiquette. And jfood has had the displeasure of sitting next to someone in rat-clothes and it did make him uncomfortable and he left. If it has not happened to you, you're lucky, but it is still not correct.

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              As I posted above, I had the displeasure of sitting across the table from that and couldn't even leave. I thought the displeasure of the toenails would be moot once we were seated. Until he started stretching his legs all the way out and kicking me. I finally kicked back --- accidentally, of course. And this was from a 62 y.o. man who put on airs. It's not "the younger generation."

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                slobs, direspect for the social contract and self importance is not age specific. jfood sat next to a >50 wearing a running suit with the last four nights' dinner on his chest, and he probably slept in the bottoms.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    Eweh... I think that I just lost my appetite. There are some things, that should not even be contemplated, much less witnessed. One's growth might well be stunted.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                    C Oliver,

                                                                                    Though the age fits, trust me, that was not me. I get pedicures!

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                  3. re: jfood

                                                                                    I've been seated next to people who were less well-dressed than I was any number of times. I was not uncomfortable in the least. If anything, it made me feel smug and superior - something that is not in short supply on this thread, so I guess I fit right in.

                                                                                  4. re: small h

                                                                                    But there are those - some of whom have posted here - who **are** made uncomfortable by the way others are dressed. So by your definition, etiquette requires that you dress in a manner that doesn't increase their discomfort. Surely you're not arguing that you are entitled to ignore to ignore the discomfort of others any time their sensibilities are different than your own?

                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                      An extreme example, but there are people who are made uncomfortable by those of another race. Should we not go out to eat around them so as to not offend their sensibilities?

                                                                                      Almost any action, way of dressing, way of speaking, way of acting is going to offend SOMEBODY. There is only so much we can do to prevent that. I think being a polite, friendly person when being out in public should be enough.

                                                                                      1. re: donovt

                                                                                        To quote myself (one of my favorite sources), "people should do their best to dress and act within social norms unless they have a good reason to do otherwise." There are very good reasons to deviate from social norms; one of the best is that those norms are morally reprehensible.

                                                                                        But just because some peoples' opinions are unreasonable doesn't mean that we should disregard everyone's expectations. In most situations reasonable people can reach something of a consensus as to what behavior is appropriate. And we should all do our best to comply with those expectations.

                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                          Very well put, and I see your point. I don't agree that it should matter to you or anyone else that someone dresses less "appropriately" than everyone else. But I'm glad you seem to agree that just because "some people" are uncomfortable with something doesn't make it wrong. Like you said, there are those whose opinions are unreasonable.

                                                                                        2. re: donovt

                                                                                          In a normal society, I do not think so. However, in the US, now, yes, almost everyone will be offended by something, and will sue.

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                        3. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                          I don't understand why the rat-clothed have so many defenders here, but then I never understood why Squeaky Fromme had a fan club either.

                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                            <But there are those - some of whom have posted here - who **are** made uncomfortable by the way others are dressed.>

                                                                                            Indeed. And yet I can't figure out why. There are certainly behaviors that disturb me: a parent loudly berating a child (it makes me feel pity for the child), someone who sneezes without covering her mouth (it makes me feel as if I might catch something). I can get exercised about any number of things. But dress affects no one but the dresser, as far as I can tell. So educate me: how does what the guy at the next table is wearing cause any detrimental changes to your mood?

                                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                                              How the guy at the next table is dressed doesn't particularly change my mood. But the way that people collectively dress does set a tone, and there are those whose experience is affected by a single individual who is dressed inappropriately. While that attitude may be old-fashioned, it's not patently unreasonable. And so long as the general expectation isn't unreasonable, I believe that each of us has an obligation to comply with it.

                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                So you find yourself in a restaurant where there are other patrons who are dressed uber-casually, and this makes you feel that the entire restaurant is somehow tainted, and hence, you are tainted because you are in the restaurant. Is that it? The birds-of-a-feather scenario? I can sort of understand that. Although I think it's nuts.

                                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                                  Uh, right. That's exactly what I said. Thanks for clarifying it. Nuts, indeed. I'm outta here.

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    Alan,

                                                                                                    With a very few minor quibbles (personal), I supported your contentions, and will.

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                  5. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    I cannot recall dining in Hawai`i, where jackets were required. Perhaps, La Mer does require them, but as I always have my blazer, I cannot honestly remember. In all the rest (let's just leave La Mer out), you are absolutely correct - a Reyn Spooner shirt is ideal. I still throw on the blazer, over said shirt, but many do not, and I have zero problems. That is just a personal choice, on my part.

                                                                                    Same for dining at slightly less-formal restaurants in Phoenix. Most of my "crowd" will have jackets, but many others will not. I would never think less of those, who chose to not don jackets. That is their decision.

                                                                                    Now, if one is dressed in soggy thong, with a sleeveless t-shirt, and tennis shoes, fit for the haz-mat bin, I might not be quite so accommodating. Still, it is more of a reflection of how they think of themselves, and next their fellow diners.

                                                                                    Just attended a late afternoon event and I had a blazer. There were 3 other sports coats, two suits, and then folk were in slacks, down to cargo shorts, with a couple pair of jeans in the mix. Was I put out? No. Did I wish that I'd worn a suit? No. Did I wish that I'd not changed from my cargo shorts? Yes. Observing the interaction, I did not notice anyone having any problem with another's attire.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      Back in the early '80's when I was married to a sailor, the military hotel on Oahu had a strict dress code and men had to wear a jacket. Even back then to the best of my knowledge no other restaurant required that. Never been back to Oahu since, but on Maui I never encountered that.

                                                                                      I'd always rather be over than underdressed. As a woman in TX I often have to figure out if Western or Non-Western attire is more appropriate. Once I was told that "boots and jeans" at a fundraiser were just fine, but thank goodness that I had brought a dropdead gorgeous black dress with real turquoise buttons and was able to change into that along with my boots and trophy buckle. The jeans and top I had initially worn were very nice, but not for that event.

                                                                                      1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                        Thinking back to my more recent trips to Maui, I cannot think of any restaurant, where a jacket would even be "recommended." Now, at many, I wear mine, but have never been stopped at the door, and defrocked. Most diners overlook my blazer, and all is fine.

                                                                                        O`ahu can be a tad more formal, but only at a few restaurants.

                                                                                        Still, I have the blazer, and most often wear it.

                                                                                        Now, I am one of those folk, who would always rather be over-dressed, than under-dressed, but that is just me.

                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                        1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                          I assume that "trophy buckle" was one that you actually won.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            Living in the Southwest, I often get caught up with "Western Formal," as it is a fairly common attire rec. Since I hail from the Deep South, I struggle with such, and will often go over the top.

                                                                                            As I have no buckles, that I have won, I might be a bit behind things. Still, I try. Not sure about Barbara.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                              After growing up in Atlanta, living 20 years in SF, we moved to a smallish town in So. Oregon. One of our neighbors bred and rode cutting horses. He said the ultimate in "badness" was to wear a big buckle that you hadn't one. I accepted Ben's statement. Made sense to me. I guess it would be like carrying around an Academy Award that wasn't yours. :)

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Now, being a very "traditional, classic conservative," my buckle is usually not something special. The belt might be, but never the buckle.

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                  For "Western Formal" a tasteful 3 piece buckle set is always nice. I am really fortunate that I have some very talented leather toolers and silversmiths.

                                                                                                  Don't even get me started on hats and boots......for men, "handmades" (custom boots) and a quality hat with the perfect crease. For women, "Western Formal" does NOT mean looking like a buckle bunny at Billy Bob's.

                                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  Yes, exactly. BTW, coliver, I also ride cutters, and I'm curious who your neighbor is. In fact, one of my horses is from White City, OR. He was bred by the Benson Ranch.

                                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Some day ask you should get Abby to show you her collection of trophy buckles. Emeralds, rubies, big-ass gold coins, you name it. But she keeps them in a drawer and refuses to wear them in public, so presumably they're not suitable attire for dinner at the Modern...

                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                  Hm-m, that is interesting. We have two friends, who have collections of Judith Leiber purses, and each has a climate controlled storage facility. One has glass doors, to display them.

                                                                                                  Had not thought about belt buckles, but then until my wife explained Judith Leiber purses, I had not thought about them either.

                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    Somehow I'm betting that those buckles wouldn't be considered cool in the 16 y.o. set.

                                                                                                    And, Hunt, Judith Leiber handbags are likely displayed in some museums as well as carried into restaurants.

                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    Yes Bill, it certainly was!!! I could never think of wearing one I didn't win.

                                                                                                    1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                      Ah, I see you live in Ft. Worth where that faux pas would really be frowned up :) Dallas, maybe; Ft. Worth, never.

                                                                                            2. this week i ate at the modern in NYC. i wore a nice jacket, a fine black armani shirt, jeans and chuck taylo'rs all stars (sneakers).

                                                                                              so where does that leave me? more importantly, how did you feel sitting 5 tables away from me?

                                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                Depending on time and which room. And jfood can only give input from photos on the website.

                                                                                                If the Bar area that would have been fine from other photos on their site.

                                                                                                If this was a Saturday night in the Dining Room, the sneakers and jeans were probably an underdressed input, but the jacket and shirt would have been fine (again fromthe photos on line).With the table cloths, jfood probably would not have seen the jeans/sneaks. Caveat - since you did not use adjectives to define the jeans and sneaks, these are assume to be inthe same category as "nice" and "fine." If they were rat-clothese level, then no, in the dining room with that attire (a) is not acceptable and (b) it would have bothered jfood, but 5 tables is probably a good enaough buffer for a "what a disrespectful slob" comment at the table versus a downgrade in the event..

                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                  it was the dining room. i was treated like the sort of customer i am. knowledgeable about food, friendly to the staff, well behaved, in style - in fact exactly the sort of customer a place like that is geared to. that's the thing, at least here in NYC. the guy with the jeans and sneakers may well be a billionaire ceo while the guy in the perfect suit may be the lowest level of boor. most of the best places understand this at this point in time, and treat people well by how they act, not just what clothing they have slapped on their asses

                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                    and you should have been treated as such by the staff. but this thread is about the other diners and you and jfood will have to agree to disagree on most of the points.

                                                                                                    BTW - a few months ago the jfoods arrived at a restaurant and about to be seated next to David Stockman and Richard Fuld (both dressed in sport coats). Jfood looked at the host and asked for another table telling him he had no intention of eating near two pirhanas (sic). So it is NOT the clothes in all instances that totaly determine the acceptability.

                                                                                                2. re: thew

                                                                                                  Haven't been to the Modern, but the fact that you wore a good shirt and a jacket says that you gave some thought to what constitutes appropriate dress for the venue and made an effort to present yourself accordingly. That's good enough for me.

                                                                                                  Sure, there's room for honest disagreement as to whether jeans and sneakers are acceptable at a particular restaurant. For that matter, you could quibble about whether the all-black Chuck Taylors are appropriate at a place where the bright red ones wouldn't be. What's important isn't so much **where** you decided to set the bar, but that you set it.

                                                                                                  What bothers me isn't the guy who fails to share my opinion as to what is expected, it's the guy who simply doesn't care. Someone who has no regard for the sensibilities of others is a jackass. So what if he's a billionaire CEO? That just makes him a rich jackass.

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    i dressed for the occasion not the restaurant

                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                      sounds like an 'occasion resto' - otherwise, you coulda gone to the shake shack. sans jacket et al.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                        the occasion was an anniversary dinner with a beautiful woman. who loves me, and is happy to sit at the same table sharing glances and tasty delights, regardless of anything as unimportant as what sort of shoes are on my feet.

                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                          I think your "outfit" sounds great and appropriate for much of NYC. We used to live and one of our daughters now lives in SF. Appropriate dress is quite different there than it is in much of the country. While jeans might be a stretch in alot of places, they're all but ubiquitous in NYC and SF. Maybe Chicago? Not sure about other places.

                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                            Sounds like a great night.

                                                                                                            Enjoy,

                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                              I'd say you were dressed appropriately enough to be the groom at a Williamsburg wedding. :)

                                                                                                              1. re: Striver

                                                                                                                I assume you mean NY and not VA :)

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  I definitely had BK in mind, but he might get by in VA if he added a periwig... :)

                                                                                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            Alan, I bow to your wisdom and I sometimes wonder whether silk above the waist and Tevas on the feet don't cut it. But I have nice feet and real Panama hats and cuban cigars.
                                                                                                            Sam always called me a cactus-eating jackass because I smile too frequently.

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                              Ah, that sounds familiar. We were at a great resort in the mountains, and my wife and I had "spa day." After a couple's massage, I had a pedicure. The young lady commented that I had the best looking feet of any man, that she'd ever worked on. "OK," I thought, "she's looking for a big tip." She then went around the spa, and gathered all of the clients, to look at my feet. Talk about being in the spotlight! There were young women exclaiming about my feet. Holy s__t. I have never had such. They gathered, and I felt rather strange. When we returned to PHX, I contacted a talent agency, and am now a "foot model." I cannot imagine much $ coming from this deal, but hey, 30 young ladies cannot be THAT wrong. I never really considered my feet, except how they felt after I played 36 in the AZ heat. Little did I know.

                                                                                                              When you look in Departures, or similar, and see some really sexy feet, guess who?

                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                          3. re: thew

                                                                                                            Were you comfortable?

                                                                                                            Did the other diners laugh and point in your general direction?

                                                                                                            If all was cool, then no harm, no foul.

                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                          4. I look at it this way: While few restaurants will turn away a paying customer simply because he's wearing a poorly-fitting "Where's the Beef?" T-shirt, dressing at a level appropriate for the restaurant will definitely do a lot to put you in the good graces of the host and server. The degree to which this matters is dependent on the restaurant, of course, but looking like a slob when everyone else is dressed smartly is never an ideal strategy. That standards of formal attire are relaxed relative to ye olden tymes is not the same thing as standards of attire going away entirely.