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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. :-)

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  1. The original comment has been removed
    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. 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.


    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


                    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.


                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.


                      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.


                        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.


                          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).


                          2. The original comment has been removed
                            1. 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.


                              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... '