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restaurant attire


there seem to be people on this board who like formal attire at restaurants. Here is an article from the WSJ about this issue. Personally, I tend to dress up if the occasion requires though i am happy to stop in at a 3 star Michellin restaurant in NYC wearning (nice) jeans.


  1. Getting the popcorn out for this one. Got my folks a gift certificate for L'Espalier, and I need to advise them on whether the current standard has been downgraded from sweats and mud-crusted Timberlands.

    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    1. It is not a question of all as to "the occasion." How you dress is how you define yourself; how you choose to present yourself to the public; how you want people to think of you when they look at you and what you are wearing. That's it.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I'm of the opinion that if your server wears a tie, so should you. Admittedly my self censure keeps me to more casual restaurants than I would sometimes like; when Sunday at 6 pm comes around, I really don't want to get too gussied up.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Agreed. I love places like The Balsams and the Mount Washington Hotel, which still have a jacket-required rule. Of course, at those places, you'll see teen boys with blue blazers over their American Eagle plaid shorts (that would be my son), and women in just about anything, but at least the places are trying......

            2. As someone who could not imagine going to a high end restaurant without dressing up to some degree (Wore a suit to Le Bernadin, L'Espalier, No 9, even to Troquet where I was stared at as the weirdo who wore a suit) I enjoy dressing up for a nice meal. Besides the main reason of personal enjoyment, I feel that dressing up makes an ocassion feel that much more special because people don't dress up much in general today. I was also taught that dressing up shows respect to the restaurant and other patrons. (I know this contradicts the common attitude, "I am the customer, the restaurant should bow to me and I should be able to show up in my gym clothes and they should worship me because I am the always right customer.") Sadly in recent memory in Boston when I've worn a suit to some high end restaurants I've been asked on several occasions if I work there or are the sommelier. Yes, of course, because why would any self-respecting customer ever wear a suit?

              This also reminds me of a Yelp review for a high end restaurant that required jackets and the reviewer complained that despite his $3000 watch, $500 armani jeans, and $200 t-shirt, the restaurant wouldn't let him in and how dare they judge him and ask him if he wants to borrow a jacket so he gave the restaurant 1 star.

              What I'd really like to know is what people's objections are to dressing up for very high end restaurants (I'm talking the top 1% of restaurants) and why they refuse to do it?

              55 Replies
              1. re: Klunco

                This is a subject that just baffles me. I love getting dressed up for a night out, even if it's on the casual side, and I'd never think of wearing jeans and a t-shirt to a "jackets required" or even "jackets recommended" restaurant. I feel sloppy if I'm wearing jeans to someplace like Posto or Toro for that matter. But I know folks who refuse to wear anything but jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers to the nicest places, with the attitude of "I'm paying them, I can do what I want!"

                1. re: Klunco

                  I know I'm in the minority here but I'm just going to go ahead and give the alternate view. I've never enjoyed dressing up and it's not just for restaurants but for any occasion. My preference is casual. That said obviously there are times when you should. So, you'll probably never see me at any of the real high-end restaurants here. I did, however, just get back from Aruba where we did a chef's whim and wine pairing at a new restaurant that is getting all the raves. Just 14 seats and 1 seating. We arrived in nice shorts and pullovers and it was about 50/50, some dressed to the nines and some like us. At the end of the evening we had made a lot of friends, enjoyed a wonderful dinner and service and no one cared who was dressed up or not. If people want to get dressed up, go for it, but why should what other people wear have any impact on your evening?

                  1. re: Pegmeister

                    The reason some people object to the new, ubiquitous casualness is that it represents a relatively new cultural norm. It wasn't that long ago that varying levels of formality in dress according to the occasion were a given, an ongoing series of adjustments that every individual made in daily life.

                    We've moved (some might say devolved) to a new norm where people don't differentiate between going to church, meeting with a government official, doing yard work, dining in a nice restaurant, changing their oil, and so on. If you grew up with the new normal, you may not understand and probably don't care about the change. Only some of the folks who grew up with the old normal remember it fondly and think something has been lost.

                    We're only a couple of generations removed from that very different sensibility. I think part of the fascination with and popularity of TV series like Mad Men is the sense of wonder they inspire at what was arguably the last high point of dress standards in the US. Watch a show like that, and you realize we have made laudable progress on many fronts (cuisine is a good one to mention here), but clearly have lost something on the style front. But the word style is misleading: it's not simply a question of mere fashion, rather one of social awareness, a sense of decorum, the recognition that one tracksuit doesn't fit all.

                    I don't see the toothpaste going back in that tube, but count me among those that thinks that part of the cost of the new carelessness in attire is that we've become a less graceful, polite, mutually respectful society. It's not the only factor in the general downward spiral of civility, but it's of a piece with many other things, and perhaps the most obvious symbol of our decline on that front.


                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      There was also a time when people not only differentiated among the occasions that you list, but also differentiated among people based on class, education, race and gender. People were expected to dress not only according the occasion but according their role in society.

                      1. re: paulj

                        That was also a time when you only earned high marks in school if you learned the material and showed quality work. I'm so glad we got past that arbitrary standard too.

                        1. re: paulj

                          You make it sound as though our society was somehow rigidly codified by standards of dress, as though a farmer or laborer couldn't own a set of clothes suitable for church on Sunday. That's nonsense, of course.

                          The difference is that most people used to bother dressing up for certain occasions, and nothing in their class, education, race or gender prevented them from doing so, just as now. It's just that now, people don't bother.


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            I agree that "a farmer or laborer couldn't own a set of clothes suitable for church on Sunday" is nonsense. But that is not what i wrote or implied.

                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                          Given the comments of the Locke-Ober owner in the news last week about declining traffic etc. and this news article, it sounds as though L-O may have to back off its policy. You are right about teh rapid change. When I returned to town a few years ago I met a friend at the Ritz and we walked to Locke-Ober. In our youth the Common would have been a sea of suits...we were the only ones.

                          I was pleased to see some defiance from my favorite New Orleans restaurant in that article, though. who knows how long that will last?

                        3. re: Pegmeister

                          You ask "why should what other people wear have any impact on your evening?"

                          I once sat next to a guy wearing a T-shirt that said, in very foul language, if you read this T-shirt you are an idiot.....since he was facing me at the next table with a smirk it was unpleasant.

                          Guy next to me wearing a low cut tank top and very high cut nylon jogging shorts, along with dirty feet with hideous toenails. Being that close to his armpit hair was disgusting.

                          Young woman in a skirt so tight and top so low everyone in the room was waiting to see which part of her she would expose first.

                          All three of those people definitely had an impact on me and other diners. Those were meals I couldn't wait to be done with...and they weren't cheap.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            Are you sure the toenails and armpit stench weren't part of some super-jaded and decadent new food trend, planted there by the chef?

                            1. re: nsenada

                              My wife thinks cumin smells exactly like that.

                            2. re: escondido123

                              Definitely sounds like we DO NOT dine in the same type of places, and that your examples are extreme. My point is, if you want to dress up "go for it". I just don't care to dress up, so you would never see me at Lespalier. Those places are reserved for people who do want to dress up and that's okay. Would love to hear about the places you frequent as I've never been exposed to what you have.

                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                No more extreme than people saying they don't want to have to put on a suit or high heels and a cocktail dress just to eat dinner. Believe me, I don't '"dress up" to go out to dinner, but I do try to be non-offensive. Maybe that's what I'm asking for--non-offensive. T-shirt and jeans? Fine. Just don't show me your thong and I won't show you mine. Of course, if I could I would love to have dinner without seeing tattoos of naked ladies, cartoon characters or knives dripping with blood, but I live in So Cal and gave up on that long ago. Oh well, with my bad vision in a couple of years I'll just be asking whether my spaghetti is at 10 o'clock or 2 and others people will be asking for a table away for the woman covered in tomato sauce!

                                1. re: escondido123

                                  Now I get it, please understand where I'm coming from. When I say I don't want to dress up, I'm saying I prefer dress jeans and a nice top which really wouldn't be acceptable in a number of high-end restaurants, so I respect that and don't dine there. I would be absolutely horrified to see people dining in a restaurant the way that you describe. Never been to So Cal; is that how it is there? I'm from Boston.

                                  1. re: Pegmeister

                                    Often times yes, but not in most high end places. I'm from Providence by the way.

                                    1. re: escondido123

                                      I think we are on the same page. Can't imagine dining with people as you describe. There is a place for those who like to dress up and those that don't, Everyone should respect that. Have a great evening!

                                    2. re: Pegmeister

                                      I googled "dress jeans," but couldn't get an idea what they are.

                                      I can't resist, so I'll ask: do you mean ones that the belt is at the waistline -- I don't think they make them anymore, though; not even in elastic granny type -- but I could be mistaken.

                                      1. re: Rella

                                        ask someone from texas what "dress jeans" are and they will set you straight.

                                        1. re: Rella

                                          Dress jeans are very dark wash, more trouser styled than riveted, contrast stitched, etc.

                                              1. re: Rella

                                                Oh, geez, is that style never going away? I find it so unattractive on most people, even young girls, and sometimes bordering on obscene! Thank God I have a low waist, and can wear the highest-cut of those.

                                    3. re: escondido123

                                      And I've had well dressed women dining in the booth next to us wearing (along with their very nice frocks) what I can only surmise is a full bottle of perfume. I have had well dressed men in thousand dollar suits get drunk and bray like donkeys with high amperage public address systems. I'll take a well mannered poorly dressed diner any day of the week over either of those examples. Dressing up a (lipstick anyone) pig doesn't make him or her into a fine dinner companion. Nor does wearing less than beautiful clothes make one a horror show.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Less than beautiful clothes I'd be happy with. Look, my husband hates to get dressed up, but he puts on a clean shirt and decent jeans if we're going out to a nice place. It is just common courtesy. And if you think that people who dress as slobs are somehow paragons of virtue, that has not been my experience. Jerks come in all shapes, sizes and wardrobes.

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          "Jerks come in all shapes, sizes and wardrobes."

                                          Exactly my point. When you gave your examples it was to make the point that you were offended by people dressing like slobs. But what you were really offended by were jerks. Clothes don't make the man (or woman). That's why I take issue when folks start castigating others over the way they dress. I'll keep my eyes on my dining companions and my plate. But when sounds or smells (perfume or body odor) intrude then I'll take exception. But the way someone else is dressed? It doesn't even rise to the level of being noticed.

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            If I could block out everything in my field of vision but my dining companions and my plate, just focusing on them might work. I lack this special skill.

                                            I agree that obnoxious drunks are obnoxious, however they are dressed, and that too much scent is also offensive. Not sure what bearing either has on a discussion of propriety in public dress standards.


                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              The "outraging of America" seems to be a new game everyone wants to get in on playing. I'll just sit this one out as we've got more than enough players.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I have no idea what this statement means, but you appear to be ducking the point.


                                            2. re: Servorg

                                              And I will always be offended by people who dress like slobs when they go to a nice restaurant and I have to sit by them. That is all.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                And I'll always be offended by people who take offense at things that have no effect on their lives or well being. Silly me.

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  I avoid going to places that require jackets and ties, it's just not my thing. There are very few here, though, and even in nice places, you see anything from shorts and golf shirts to khakis, oxford shirts and sweaters. Unless I know it's a jeans okay place, we wear what's referred to as "dressy casual." That means chinos, a nice sweater, button down shirt for him, and nice slacks and flats for me, sweater or blouse. Comfortable, unstuffy, not overdressed. Most places are more casual than that, and I prefer casual. I do believe it's respectful not to walk in slobbishly, but I don't let anyone else's choices offend me or affect my enjoyment of my meal, the way, say, the loud drunks in suits do.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    I'm with mcf on this - I dont go to places that require a jacket. Mercifully, in the UK, this is literally only a handful of restaurants in the whole country that I'm missing out on......although I dont regard it as "missing out". Dressed "smart casual", I'm going to be welcomed in the most high-end of Michelin starred places.

                                            3. re: Servorg

                                              >>>>And I've had well dressed women dining in the booth next to us wearing (along with their very nice frocks) what I can only surmise is a full bottle of perfume.

                                              This is what's really annoying in a restaurant (or a theatre, or the subway, or at work), people who are compelled to make everyone smell them. I could literally not care less, i.e., not one scintilla of an iota, about what people *wear* to a restaurant because other people aren't what I come to a restaurant to look at. But make me smell you, and you deserve to be served in the back alley. Or have your ass kicked back to the Parisian whore house from which you issued forth.

                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                That last line brought to mind The Gimp reference, for some reason...

                                                1. re: nsenada

                                                  Looks like the second to last line actually.

                                            4. re: escondido123

                                              Esc, if it was a high end restaurant, I'd have asked to be moved...and my wife would have insisted...::)

                                            5. re: Pegmeister

                                              You make a good argument and obviously the goal of dining out is enjoyment. I have to nicely but strongly disagree with your opinion. I find it sad that this generation has set such a low bar for culture and the arts today. It's not just dining out. I've seen causal attire at Broadway Shows, the ballet and even the opera! To me it shows disrespect. It may not be intentional but that's what it is. It shows a lack of distinction between the low brow (light comedy film in a movie theatre with screaming kids) and the high brow (opera, ballet). Eh, a Jim Carrey movie, a live ballet performance, Fridays or Le Cirque, what's the difference? There IS a difference. I'm about to go to a funeral. I would not even contemplate wearing jeans. I think the reason why is obvious. What you wear DOES make a difference because it shows effort or a lack of effort. When my students come to school with their pants falling off, it conveys a certain message. When they come properly dressed, it conveys a very different message. Guess which group tends to take education more seriously? Of course there are exceptions but those are exceptions.

                                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                The only time I attended an opera in a European country, (In the 1970's) I had to make sure I had a "dress." However, behind me were a group of English speaking women who talked outloud all during the performance. I could have told them to be quiet, but who knows with what consequences. I had to stand their loud comments. Yes, they were loud! talking across a row to their friends.

                                                Reading your posting, I'm wondering if these same women would practice this same decorum at a funeral.

                                                My point: Not even people of the older generation give a hoot! I don't believe you can expect any decorum from any type of activity. Their dressing up made no difference.

                                                I don't have jeans, nor a proper dress, but I do wonder what I should wear to a funeral. I often think when I go to TJMax that I should store something away for such an occasion, but it's just too difficult.

                                                1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                  I can't believe people don't dress up to go on planes any more. It's sad.

                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                    >>>>I can't believe people don't dress up to go on planes any more. It's sad.

                                                    You're joking, right?

                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                      I don't know if Tommy is joking or not but in the early days of air travel, dressing up was the norm.

                                                      20 ish years ago,I was married to an AA employee and had superb flight benefits; basically free. 1 of the rules were if you were flying as an an employee and you wanted to sit in first class, jacket and tie were required. This is only 20 years ago, but the idea was to not cheapen the experience for the paying customer..upgrades were not as common and most of the folk in 1st class had either actually paid for it with big $ or were employees of the airline..:) A 50 ish yo bizman in his suit who paid full boat didn't want to sit next to a 20something in a torn T shirt and jeans..or so mgmt thought.

                                                      Today, with upgrades, mileage, etc, anyone can sit in 1st class and it's not unusual to see a guy in sweats sitting there. Better or worse? I don't know but I do know that employee dress requirements havealso been relaxed.

                                                  2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                    'm 50. i prefer to be casual. it is not out of disrespect, as i also do not care what you are wearing at the next table. i respect your choice too much to be offended by it.

                                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                      I'm more upset that opera is considered "high brow" than by what anybody wears there.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        LOL, my first thought, too. What's with the need to stratify by cultural choices?

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          The kids with the loose jeans don't grow up to appreciate fine arts like opera. They are doomed to a life filled with The Beatles and The Big Lewboski.

                                                          1. re: tommy


                                                            Enjoying popular music and culture is no bar to appreciating fine arts. Do I really have to forfeit my museum memberships and give up my recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos (on original instruments) just because I went to a punk show this weekend?

                                                            Anyway, the idea that operas and plays are "high brow" is a recent fallacy. Just like Beatles songs and The Big Lebowski, they were written to appeal to people of all tastes and social classes. Opera was the popular music of its day. Shakespeare wrote plays that appealed to the masses. The gentry and nobility paid extra for seats **behind** the stage at the Globe Theater; they couldn't see the show very well, but it was worth the price because they couldn't smell the rabble (aka "stinkards") in the pit.

                                                            Trying to enforce a uniform dress code at the Globe wouldn't just have decimated the audience, it would have violated the Sumptuary Laws that were in force during the Elizabethan period. Which illustrates my underlying point: How people dress - in restaurants, at plays, for concerts, or to work - is a completely arbitrary social construct. A dinner jacket and a pair of jeans are each just a piece of cloth; the contents label may list things like wool, silk, or cotton, but you'll be hard-pressed to find moral or cultural superiority anywhere on the tag.

                                                            PS - The Beatles? Seriously? Those "kids" have their AARP cards now. And outside of hip-hop culture, nobody under 30 wears loose jeans.

                                                            ETA: my irony detector is in the shop.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              It's good to see that the cultural omnivores are alive and well on Chowhound:


                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    I'm glad you saw the satire. I'm unsure how anyone could miss it, but these things happen.

                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                      Better late than never. Ever heard of Poe's law?

                                                            2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                              when i went to the opera recently i wore plain black sneakers, so as not to slip on the ice, and a knit hoodie with a long plain black skirt. so i was pretty dressed down. many folks around me were dressed up to the nines, and sure enough they hit the lobby bar heavily before the show, waved their cellphones on "torch" function to get their friends' attention across the theater after the lights were dimmed, talked during the solos. . . and left after the first act, after they were sure they'd been *seen.* considering it was verdi's "la traviata" i thought it was pretty ironic.

                                                              i too think it's a far greater shame that opera or ballet performances should be considered off-limits to folks from the lower/working classes, women without "male escorts," impoverished music students who don't own prada, etc. the focus should be on an individual's behavior, and too often, imo, are "high brow" duds, cars, lifestyles, etc used as a social carte blanche to excuse very bad, even obnoxious public behavior. the armani-wearing boor who is making a whole dining room miserable will always point out his/her expensive clothing and mention that they make more in a week than you, in your rubber shoes and head-bandana, do in a year-- it must be very embarrassing for them to be shown the door by a woman in dickies chef pants and a dishwasher they pretend not to even see.

                                                              some folks of course dress very well *and* behave very well, even being courteous to folks from other social classes-- but as you point out, these are exceptions.

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                ". the armani-wearing boor who is making a whole dining room miserable will always point out his/her expensive clothing and mention that they make more in a week than you, in your rubber shoes and head-bandana, do in a year-- it must be very embarrassing for them to be shown the door by a woman in dickies chef pants and a dishwasher they pretend not to even see."

                                                                My goodness. How many times have you witnessed something like this?

                                                              2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                And 120 years ago, everyone would have been absolutely scandalized by a man who wore a standard two button, two piece suit with a necktie. A man would have been refused entry to the New York Metropolitan Opera or any high end restaurant in an outfit so casual as that same suit. Go back a little further to the Antebellum Era, and even a three piece suit was only good enough for activities like farm work. It was the jeans and t-shirt of its day. Times change.

                                                                I'm far more bothered by the fact that the suit has become so ubiquitous around the world. When I first started traveling around the world in 1960, most of the world still maintained its indigenous formalwear. The modern suit is more drab and less comfortable than any other formalwear I've ever come across. Even the Edwardian dress that was still hanging on when I was a kid was far more interesting and of much greater utility.

                                                          2. I think one of the main concerns that restaurant managers want to keep is the atmosphere of the place. If it is a high end restaurant serving high end food, it entails for a nice long sleeve shirt or maybe a jacket. If say 99% of the diners were in jackets and dresses, and one person shows up wearing jeans with holes, It kind kills the romantic / high end feel that people go to experience at that restaurant. As the majority of the people will be wearing jackets and what not, dressing up for a special night out and for someone to ruin it destroys the ambiance. Same reason why I would have to agree that some restaurants don't allow people under the age of 18 in their establishments. Those pesky teenagers are almost twice as loud and fooling around on the table. Totally kills the mood.

                                                            You're not going to show up at a wedding in board shorts are you? I think the same applies here.

                                                            1. I go to a restaurant to eat, not participate in a fashion show. My wallet, however, is extremely high end.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: beevod

                                                                Its not about participating in a fashion show. Its how others have dressed that ruin the mood, and therefore the meal. No restaurant is going to spend millions on decor to have the ambience ruined by some kids in T-shirts, just as escondido123 has pointed out.

                                                                1. re: Roarasaur

                                                                  Most of the loud, raucous and meal spoiling loud drunks I've seen in restaurants have been dressed up.

                                                                  I don't love to see flip flops and ratty clothes in a high end place, but it doesn't bear on my enjoyment in the same way.

                                                                2. re: beevod

                                                                  The fact that many diners falsely conflate a sense of decorum and respect for other diners with the concept of a fashion show is exactly the problem I was talking about above. Old-school restaurant dress codes are about modesty and good manners, the very opposite of the kind of vanity implied by "fashion show".


                                                                3. This is well-worn topic on Chowhound (pun-intended), so it might get locked at some point.

                                                                  That said, here are my thoughts in no particular coherent order.

                                                                  * Unless a restaurant has a dress code, I personally have no qualms with diners dressing as they wish. After all, a major part of dining out is to enjoy yourself, and if you feel stiff and uncomfortable in a shirt and tie or full-length evening gown, then why bother? Life's too short.

                                                                  * I disagree with those that say that diners who "dress-down" somehow ruin the decorum or ambiance of the room. Dress does not dictate decorum; people do. Being from Los Angeles, I've seen plenty of well-coiffed diners acting about as obnoxious and rude as a drunken meth-head (which some of them probably were). And, just as well, I have seen many diners wearing nothing but a pair of 501s, an off-the-rack polo shirt from TJ Maxx, behaving and acting like they graduated summa cum laude from the Emily Post school of etiquette.

                                                                  (* In other words, I'd rather have a roomful of diners dressed like hobos and behaving properly than a roomful of diners dressed to the 9s acting like douche-bags.)

                                                                  * How I personally decide to dress really depends on the company I am keeping. Friends and family? Pretty casual, jean, sneakers and a tee. Business associates? Probably a bit more formal. I never let what other diners (not at my table) dictate what I'm wearing, or feel uncomfortable if I'm either over or under dressed.

                                                                  Life's too short. Live and let live.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                    1. It's funny; I work in a field where suits and ties were de riguer. Times have changed and dress codes have relaxed. Sports coats and ties are ok now..:)

                                                                      Now I mostly go to work in khakis and button down or polo type shirts but if I go to certain restaurants, I actually enjoy getting "dressed up." It enhances the experience for me.

                                                                      I'm fairly indifferent to how other people dress.

                                                                      1. I am happy that ties aren't required anymore. I like the look, but they can be very uncomfortable for some, like my boyfriend. He hates them. He has some nice shirts, jackets and pants to go out in, but loathes the tie. These places never required me to wear very uncomfortable shoes, so why the tie? Jackets required is fine. A man should have a nice jacket to wear, maybe even two. I mean I have more than one dress for such occasions.

                                                                        You should dress for who you are, and at a nice place dress accordingly, i.e. nicely. You don't need to be uncomfortable, because if you are you're in the wrong clothes to start with. It's very easy these days to dress nicely and be comfortable. And now that the tie requirement has gone away, it should be quite easy to do this.

                                                                        And I believe that most of the places that are getting rid of the tie requirement also rid themselves of the no ladies in pants requirements 20+ years ago. People thought the world would end then but it didn't. Now we even have wonderful jobs and can take our men out for dinner in such places!

                                                                        1. During the awful heat wave that killed 16,000 people in France a few years back, we were confronted with the VERY IMPORTANT question about wearing a tie to dine at the Ritz in Paris. We ended up wearing jackets sans tie and the Espadon restaurant was very accommodating. However, the AC was not up to the task, and another diner attempted to take off his jacket. Immediately surrounded by lovely staff, who made him put it back on. Wonder if they would hold same diner to the same standard today.

                                                                          1. This topic always brings out a lot of disingenuous responses. People claim not to have any standards for the attire of other patrons, but I wonder if that would really be their reaction if a male customer walked in in leather/S&M regalia - hooded mask; mesh "shirt" with nipples, chest, armpit and back hair exposed; crotch demarcated and exaggerated; shorts cut to just below the genitals.

                                                                            If you consider that not appropriate, then obviously, you have some sort of minimum standard. So what is that minimum standard then ?

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: dump123456789

                                                                              Reminds me of the time I saw a gentleman with a mohawk parading down the beach in Fire Island Pines, totally nude except for multiple piercings through his lips, nipples, navel and penis. The very waspy couple with two children aged 8 and 10 walking in the other direction did not bat an eyelash. This should serve as our model for behavior toward others' attire in restaurants.

                                                                              1. re: whs

                                                                                But that family didn't have to sit next to him at dinner, and I have a feeling he wouldn't have been seated--doesn't the sign say "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service"?

                                                                              2. re: dump123456789

                                                                                The minimum standard is dictated by (usually unspoken) norms at the restaurant in question. If the entire clientele of a restaurant is wearing ripped nipple-exposing shirts and eating happily, then it's entirely appropriate at that restaurant. Period, Heck, one might even politely summon the waiter and ask if it would be too gauche to unzip one's pants - someone has to keep the place from getting too stuffy. To go to such a restaurant and loudly decry the lax dress code is like going to a nudist resort and spending the whole time grimacing and moaning - if you don't like it, find someplace more to your standards.

                                                                                No, if there is some disingenuity in this argument, I usually see it coming from the other side. It starts off with a bunch of nostalgic silliness about how a strict dress code reflected a time when people were civil towards each other, a more polite, refined society --

                                                                                (tangent paragraph:
                                                                                For one, it's a stretch to show that the two are even related, that one is in any way a symptom of the other. Dressing norms may change independently of civility norms and vice versa. For another, the off-white peoples of America may not remember yesteryear's polite society as being particularly polite. Finally, haven't people been longing for a hazily remembered gentler, more civil past for as long as there have been people? I have an anthology of Grimms fairy tales - folk stories told in the middle ages - and these occasionally mention the same longing, the same notion that kids these days just don't have the respect they used to. Forgotten in these arguments are little details like that baby boomers in their youths were experimenting en masse with how long they could go without showering before skin infection set in. Isn't it a bit strange then to come down on today's youth for experimenting with skinny jeans, ripped shirts, short shorts, racy slogans, and involuntary unemployment?).

                                                                                Previous thought, continued -- When someone mentions that they find a more casual dress code liberating, that they like that eating well prepared food has in many places been divorced from the pomp and circumstance it once entailed... then the flag bearers of the old school reframe the argument as being about the smelly, unwashed, armpit-stained lout in a restaurant otherwise filled with pleasant customers wearing neat, pressed jeans and khakis and clean inoffensive shirts. For the sake of the argument,that smelly, underdressed person is usually drunk, loud, leering or otherwise badly behaved to boot - it makes it even harder for those of us who prefer not to wear tuxedos and ball gowns to fine dining restaurants to defend him.

                                                                                It's an elaborate bait and switch, a strawman argument used when it becomes clear (as it quickly does) that there is no moral imperative for people to wear a suit and tie in order to eat expensive food in public. And it plays out this way on every thread about restaurant attire I have ever seen on the internet (mostly here on CH). And so it will continue to play out until this thread is locked, and then again on the next one.

                                                                                Fine. I've accepted that. But I take this post to cry out, fully aware of the obnoxious effect of using caps on an internet post:


                                                                                SHENANIGANS SHENANIGANS SHENANIGANS SHENANIGANS SHENANIGANS!!!!



                                                                                That is all.

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  Actually, your entire post seems like one big straw man itself.

                                                                                  Your very first sentence says there are norms. That was my entire point, which you seem to think you're contradicting, but in fact, you're supporting.

                                                                                  Then you go off on tangents which I don't bring up - pretty much the definition of straw man.

                                                                                  Here's my take: "When in Rome, dress and act as the Romans". That's the norm. If a place is suit & tie, although I hate to dress like that, I do anyway, or I just don't go. I don't try to force my usual jeans and tee get up on my fellow diners in those types of places. There are enough places where my usual is the norm, so I see no reason why there can't be a few where it's not. And if I don't want to dress THAT way, then I simply don't go. I'm not going to go to a leather bar in a 3 piece, nor vice versa.

                                                                                  What I see is that those who prefer suit & tie establishments bemoan the eventual extinction of their restaurants, whereas as the anything's-OK crowd bemoan the mere existence of those same restaurants. The former crowd wish there were at least a few places where everyone dressed up, but they do not insist that all restaurants should be like that; whereas the latter crowd do insist that all restaurants cater to their preferred mode of dress.

                                                                                  1. re: dump123456789

                                                                                    "Here's my take: "When in Rome, dress and act as the Romans". That's the norm. If a place is suit & tie, although I hate to dress like that, I do anyway, or I just don't go."
                                                                                    Excellent. Then we're in agreement.
                                                                                    Now take a look back at the OP's attached article. And the early posts on this thread. These aren't really about debating that 'when in Rome' attitude, are they? No - they're people who prefer formal dining bemoaning the changing standard.

                                                                                    "What I see is that those who prefer suit & tie establishments bemoan the eventual extinction of their restaurants."

                                                                                    "...whereas as the anything's-OK crowd bemoan the mere existence of those same restaurants."
                                                                                    Nope. Nonsense. Show me where anyone said that. You just proved my point.

                                                                                    My post contained no strawman. Rather it was an elaborate way of pointing out that you accuse the wrong side of disingenuity (I also tangentially addressed other points, not made by you, in this thread). Your above post is a perfect example. You repaint the 'fine dining should be formal' crowd as having a 'when in Rome' philosophy that they explicitly reject in the early parts of this argument (and the argument-spurning article), and likewise repaint the 'When in Rome' crowd as militant casual-ists, demanding that any place with a dress code close its doors, when the most anyone has actually said is that they personally prefer to dress casually and are glad that it's now an option at many fine dining establishments.

                                                                                    More directly addressing your original point: within the context of this thread, which began with the argument that fine dining should stay formal and proceeded with people defending casual fine dining, when someone says that how others dress at a restaurant doesn't bother them, it can and should be understood to refer to people who don't flagrantly transgress the minimal social norms established at said restaurant - your example of 'the gimp' would not have been seated even at most casual dress venues. I think everyone would also be bothered by someone wearing a suit that blasted out 20 foot bursts of flames in random directions - so what?

                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      "...your example of 'the gimp' ..."
                                                                                      Uhh, the person dump123456789 described wasn't (necessarily) a gimp, not in the attire as described.
                                                                                      Just sayin'. :-)

                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                        You're right. Bet you knew immediately what I was referring to though, right? No offense intended to those with alternate lifestyles.

                                                                                2. re: dump123456789

                                                                                  Probably depends. If it were at a resto in the Castro or other predominantly gay areas, nobody would probably care.

                                                                                  It would be a view to behold, for sure.

                                                                                3. I think it's nice to dress up for a nice dinner, and being surrounded by well groomed people does kind of enhance the experience. I realize that ties may be a bit uncomfortable for guys, but only a small handful of places call for ties, and I doubt very many people eat that high end all the time.

                                                                                  For girls, it takes the same amount of time to pull on a dress or nice top and skirt as it does your jeans or t-shirt. Flat shoes can be very stylish, so no need to whine about heels. And a neat ponytail takes about 20 seconds.

                                                                                  There are plenty of places to eat if you want to wear a t-shirt, and I've had many great meals in places where I've felt comfortable in track pants.

                                                                                  So, for me, there's no reason not to dress to fit in to your surroundings for a meal out.

                                                                                  I will agree with what some have posted: I'd rather dine in a roomful of people in gym shorts that are well behaved than douches in head to toe Louis Vuitton.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                    Me two,

                                                                                    but could all the reference to Tshirt, ripped jeans crowd reference in this post be a reference to the Jersey Shore Crowd?

                                                                                    Edit: Jersey shore as in the show on MTV.


                                                                                  2. Question to all of you... What would you wear if going to dinner at The Inn at Little Washington, in Washington, Va?

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: basketwoman

                                                                                      what do they expect their dishwashers to wear?

                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        I bet their dishwashers would know to dress up. Quit assuming poorer people don't know what's appropriate and don't dress accordingly.

                                                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                                                          I am not assuming anything about poor people. I was, half jokingly, implying that I could only afford to enter the Inn if I worked there.

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            Buy the book and cook the receipes. The book is ONLY $50 retail, less on Amazon. I've looked through the book, but didn't see anything that I would like to cook, but others might.

                                                                                            I've wondered if they serve the same items on the menu, but have not compared; but I'm not that interested.

                                                                                            I do know one person who raves about it, considers herself a foodie and as I recall thinks its right at the top.

                                                                                      2. re: basketwoman

                                                                                        I recently looked at The Inn's website as I hope to eat there on a coming trip to America. Good to see they have no official dress code - so I'm be wearing my usual chinos and collared shirt.

                                                                                        1. re: basketwoman

                                                                                          I have eaten there numerous times, though not in the last decade (since moving from DC) and have never worn a tie or jacket that I can remember. I probably wore a polo or oxford cloth shirt and khakis.

                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                            The owner makes a big deal (on the website and on Avec Eric) about doing everything to make each guest comfortable (not just the well dressed ones).

                                                                                        2. I'm 19, have been to fine dining establishments by myself across the country since I was 17 and always dress up. It's just respectful to the chef and manager who have set the standard for dress. Do the best you can.

                                                                                          1. Hello... I am always somewhat surprised when a poster will state that they incline toward more casual dining attire because it is more comfortable, or more to the point, that dressing up can make one feel uncomfortable. I am not wealthy, but I own a few nice suits, ties and shoes. My experience has uniformly (no pun intended) been that a nicely cut suit, a silk tie and stylish footwear can be a bit costly precisely because the better the materials that go into it's manufacture (as well as the well-conceived thought that went into it's design), the _more_ comfortable the outfit. Less casual clothing need not (some might say, ought not) cause discomfort, in my opinion. A well-tailored suit should actually feel better because it is fitted to the individual and 'hangs' on their bodily frame with greater attention to one's unique physical characteristics. If one is uncomfortable in a suit, it simply may not be fitting properly. And as for ties, for me personally, I love to unconsciously run my fingers down my silk tie and marvel at it's pleasing texture. Ditto a good pair of evening shoes - they feel luxurious and not at all like the grip of a medieval iron maiden.... I also enjoy jeans and well-worn scruffy blazers and scuffed doc martens. They are a souce of comfort; but so are my nicer togs... To each, their own, and we're hopefully the better for it when taking the longer view of the journey among our fellow denizens...

                                                                                            1. Maybe it's just me...but when I dine with a dining companion, I only pay attention to them. This is especially true in a romantic situation. I really don't care what strangers look like, talk like or act like as long as it is not interrupting me or mine. Why on earth would anyone divert their attention from a lover or close friends to pay attention to strangers?

                                                                                              I rarely notice what others are wearing unless it is in a business context. I am not going out to "be seen" or to pay attention to strangers -other than to be courteous if in close contact, which means to be mindful of "space", sound, and not wear a heavy scent that might bother someone. Paying attention to a stranger to the point of noting that the person has jeans on -and not dress slacks -is waaaaay to intrusive for me. I have not been to a beautiful restaurant and found myself surrounded by stinky disheveled people. If one person is like that- do you really focus on them? Why would you do that?

                                                                                              A business setting is different and I might be more attentive to someone that is woefully out of the ordinary and attempting to "fit in" and being unable to -due to dress or behavior. But I would feel more sorry for them and not be "insulted".

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                The fanciest place that I've eaten at, in the Chicago Loop, had those deep leather booths. Combine that with low lights, and you didn't see much of anyone else in the restaurant.

                                                                                              2. So apparently it may be okay for men to wear jeans and baseball caps to fine-dining restaurants. I'm not sure I agree with that, but how about a little historical perspective...

                                                                                                At some point recently, dress codes were relaxed to allow men to dine without jackets. It was a departure from the norms of the time, but...

                                                                                                It was nothing compared to the earlier relaxation of dress codes that allowed men to dine in open-collared shirts. What's the world coming to?

                                                                                                But earlier than that, dress codes relaxed to allow men to dine wearing a tie and a sport coat. What is this, the country?

                                                                                                (We'll ignore the whole leisure suit thing here.)

                                                                                                Before that, people bent standards of proper decorum to allow gentlemen to wear business suits to dinner. A business suit? In the evening?

                                                                                                And of course that was a major departure from the requirement that they wear a dinner jacket. Seriously, a tuxedo was once considered a casual alternative to proper evening wear - ie, white tie, swallowtail coat, etc.

                                                                                                We can all bitch and moan about how things are going to hell in a handcart, but how many of you would really want to be required to put on a celluloid collar and a stiff waistcoat before being allowed into a good restaurant?

                                                                                                Things change. You don't have to like it, and you don't have to go along with it (I'm still a dress-pants-and-sport-coat kind of guy), but time marches on. Stop the whining already.

                                                                                                84 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                    The trouble is it seems to leave mourning and segue into castigating...

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      I know people (women, can't think of any men who do) who will comment on the inappropriateness of dress--eg. a woman wearing a cocktail dress while her date is wearing a tuxedo, women wearing white after labor day, etc. I always think there's an air of superiority with that. I can't be bothered to notice what others are wearing to be offended by it. White shoes before Memorial Day? Gasp.

                                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      What, dress codes are like a family member? Okay, okay, maybe just a beloved pet.

                                                                                                      Seriously, I don't think anyone here would want to return to the rules of 25 years ago, let alone those of the mid-20th century. People embrace these changes eventually; anybody who refuses to acknowledge that fact is delusional.

                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                        Not sure what rules you're referring to here, but this thread was prompted by a news story covering a very recent change in rules: one storied high-end NYC restaurant abandoning a jackets-required dress code. That's this year, not 25 years ago, and there are clearly people here who wouldn't mind rolling back the clock a couple of weeks, when jackets were still required in a few more places.

                                                                                                        It's easy to dismiss this as fuddy-duddyism: "Get with the times, gramps!" In my mind, though, I can't help but connect it with a broader, ongoing coarsening of public behavior, of declining standards of civility toward strangers. Rudeness, self-centeredness, living in a bubble of undue self-entitlement seems to be on the rise in American society. (I imagine my great-grandfather making this complaint, too; it's possible we may both be right.)

                                                                                                        How people behave towards service workers and fellow patrons in restaurants offers a useful example; an interesting Boston blog deals with this: http://www.servernotservant.com/ . I hear echoes of this behavior, see a self-centered rationalization in, "I want to be comfortable, and I don't see how my dressing comfortably adversely affects your dining experience."

                                                                                                        The way I'd explain it is, Well, it's different from how it used to be pretty recently. Enforcing a nominal dress code in a nice restaurant lent an air of occasion to dining there, of formality, specialness. I'm celebrating my wedding anniversary: why do you look like you just came from the gym or a Jersey Shore casting call?

                                                                                                        You're like the guest at the Halloween costume party who didn't bother to come in costume: I went to the effort to feed and water and entertain you, and all my other guests took the trouble: you couldn't put in the tiniest effort to get into the spirit of the event? That just seems lazy and ill-mannered. Dress codes say, "This is a certain kind of costume party; please get into the spirit of it."

                                                                                                        The fact that an increasing number of customers decided to flout this, couldn't be bothered, is clearly what has wrought this change. I understand and respect the business decision here; few restaurateurs can afford to turn away the business. But I found that particular costume party more interesting, more fun for special occasions than one that is indistinguishable from the every single other casual social encounter in everyday life.

                                                                                                        I don't expect the clock to turn back on this score, ever. But I have to say, it feels like we've lost something, and that it's part of a broader decline in civility in our culture. Yeah, you're more comfortable: good for you. Myself, I still wish people had a more keenly developed sense of occasion, a belief that there are a few moments in life where it is appropriate and worthwhile to get a little bit dressed up, including meals in more formal, high-end restaurants.


                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                          See that's the thing. Some people, like me, don't wish that other people have any beliefs other than those that they have. Other than wishing that people would not force their values on me or judge me for my values or what I treasure in life.

                                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                                            Manners aren't the same thing as beliefs. We're talking cultural norms here, not politics or religion. It's not like there are two schools of thought on whether chewing with your mouth open is rude. Manners are a sort of social contract of mutual consent to certain standards of behavior. Clearly that contract changes over time.

                                                                                                            No one's forcing you to behave a certain way; that is painfully obvious. I'm just wishing more people felt the social opprobrium that held sway until fairly recently about dressing very casually in nicer, more formal restaurants. That toothpaste is out of the tube. I'm just feeling a bit of nostalgia for a few short years ago.


                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                              Hey Slim- Sometimes I long for yesteryear also. I go so far as to dress really "retro" on occasion.... to the extreme in pearls and cats eye jeweled sunglasses. It's fun. After a few drinks...the world seems to have gone to hell in a hand basket..."these damn kids don't know shit from shine-ola" (not sure what that means...but I am sure it's true).

                                                                                                              Then I realize that life is just too short to lament over silly crap like a dress code for strangers. It really won't matter in the greater scheme of things. That doesn't mean it's not fun to dress up- and the world would look more "beautiful" if everyone did. It sure would. So, dress up! But for other people, with their priorities- in a different order -on the same day.... Nope. Wear your priorities like a banner but don't lay it over anyone else. Then buy the woman a drink........the one in pearls and cats eye sunglasses.... a gin martini, a wisp of vermouth...stirred 50 times with two olives.....you know- like it *should be* made!!!!

                                                                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                Lovely sentiment, but not quite in line with my point. I'm not talking about turning back the clock in terms of how people dress, even if I admire Don Draper's and C. K. Dexter Haven's wardrobes. I think fedoras are snappy as hell, but you won't catch me wearing one outside of a costume party. No, what I'm talking about is an acceleration in the decline of public behavior, of which newly relaxed restaurant dress codes are merely a reflection.

                                                                                                                I'm not suggesting the ongoing progression to more casual standards of dress causes boorishness, but I think the willingness to say, "Screw it, I can't be bothered to wear long pants to the three-star restaurant", braying drunkenly into your cellphone in the middle of a dining room, and insisting on being seated before the start of service are of a piece.

                                                                                                                Manners are about taking others' needs and feelings into consideration ahead of your own convenience, and I think that by that standard, putting your own personal comfort and desire to dodge the nominal effort required to dress up in situations that, until pretty recently, very much called for it, is still bad manners. But the number of people who agree with me on this is clearly shrinking.

                                                                                                                To many, the fact that a jacket isn't required anywhere ever is the new normal: no big deal, get over it. To me, it's a small symptom, one of many, of a general coarsening of public behavior. I understand why some people who hear that perspective react to it with hostility and defensiveness.


                                                                                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                            While my wife doesn't run a restaurant she does have a business that involves a lot of personal care and feeding of customers at times. And what you learn, the more you do that sort of work, is that great customers, the ones you want to see coming back, (even if they aren't there to buy) have nothing to do with the way they dress and everything to do with the way they are. I imagine that small restaurants value the same type of patrons for a lot of the same reasons. I'm also willing to bet that "manner of dress" falls way down the list of desirable attributes of excellent customers.

                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                              No question that there are good, polite customers that dress informally, and bad, rude customers who dress more formally. But I reject the notion that there's a causal relationship either way.


                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                "But I reject the notion that there's a causal relationship either way."

                                                                                                                And yet you've made the point throughout this thread that the new level of casual dress has somehow contributed to the "coarsening" and "incivility" of our society in some way, and shows that others are some how being "inconsiderate" (again I find this to be purely in your mind) of those who believe as you do.

                                                                                                                I don't find any of that to be true. Those who are coarse and uncaring of others come in all stripes and manner of dress. Those who dress nicely and do very uncivil things are rife in the business world. While dressing casually doesn't mean you won't be coarse or uncivil, it certainly doesn't mean you are automatically relegated to that category.

                                                                                                                As I tried to point out in my example of the types of customers that my wife likes to see coming through the doors of her business, dress doesn't even enter into the picture.

                                                                                                                What you are really saying is that, since you (and others here) personally disapprove of folks eating out at nicer places while more casually dressed than you would wish, that they are somehow contributing to the downfall of society in some small way.

                                                                                                                I say that is utter nonsense for which there is not a shred of credible evidence. You talk about what a wonderful world that the show Mad Men brings back. If you look back at the society of that time, and the types of prejudice that ran rampant through it (and earlier times even more so) you will see that being well dressed counts for little in terms of true civility and cultural uplifting.

                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                  Well, I've addressed each of these already, but since it's a long thread, allow me to recap:

                                                                                                                  Yes, it's an emotional, not an analytical argument. I admit I don't have statistics or other hard data to back this up. You either buy it or you don't, but you too will have to make your argument on the same basis. If you've got evidence to the contrary other than the anecdotal, by all means, present it.

                                                                                                                  I've said a few times that dressing like a slob in certain specific situations (here, in more formal fine-dining establishments) doesn't cause bad manners, but they are of a piece in my mind. They are related in that they reflect a self-centered lack of concern for others and a diminished sense of occasion, both relatively new phenomena in regard to this one particular aspect of manners.

                                                                                                                  Yes, there are rude formal dressers, and polite casual dressers. It is a mistake to prejudge a person's character based on appearances. Duh.

                                                                                                                  My disapproval is not a personal preference: it's a holdover from a set of manners that I agree is increasingly outdated. But manners aren't simply preference or a belief. It's not like people in the States debate the merits of orderly queueing: people who cut in line are rude jerks. Manners are a mutually-agreed-upon (if tacit) social contract. The contract has changed, but a few of us remember and miss some of the more recently-retired terms.

                                                                                                                  Anyone who actually watches Mad Men knows that a major theme of the show is the many reprehensible social mores of the time: racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc.. No one is advocating a return to that, let alone the cuisine of the time. I hardly think you want to make the argument that since those things were bad, everything about the era was bad.


                                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                    again - there are many degrees between wearing a suit and dressing like a slob.

                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                      My thoughts exactly. No middle here.

                                                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                      "I've said a few times that dressing like a slob in certain specific situations (here, in more formal fine-dining establishments) doesn't cause bad manners, but they are of a piece in my mind. They are related in that they reflect a self-centered lack of concern for others and a diminished sense of occasion, both relatively new phenomena in regard to this one particular aspect of manners."

                                                                                                                      As I said before, you have no problem with castigating folks who dress below your personal standards as "slobs" and "self-centered" and "unconcerned" about others. I am pointing out that none of those things is a fact, other than in your own mind. It's as if I said that those who dress up were snobs who have a falsely inflated ego that is covering up a deep seated feeling of inferiority. Those are all highly pejorative and hateful stereotypes that have no basis in fact. And yet the reprehensible social mores that you so rightly point out above are very much a part and parcel of your stigmatizing those who dress too casually for your taste.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                        Yet again, I'll repeat that the dress standards in question are not simply a personal preference: adhering to a certain formality of attire as specified by dress codes in fancier restaurants was just good manners, reflecting a well-developed sense of decorum appropriate to occasion and venue that was characteristic of such manners until recently.

                                                                                                                        I'm not arguing that the standard hasn't changed. That it has is obvious. I am noting the shift, and lamenting it, and offering my own perception on why it is so. You are welcome to offer other interpretations on how we came to this pass.


                                                                                                                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                        The thing is you're drawing the line where you find appropriate and expecting others to follow suit, so to speak. What makes your line between the "good" and the "bad" the right one? Do you believe women have to wear nylons, dresses and pumps, as they have in the past? Gloves? Corsets? Who is the arbiter on what is appropriate and what is dressing like a "slob"?

                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                          Okay, I'm down to repeating the same points I've made elsewhere about three times already. I guess this is an unavoidable by-product of long threads.

                                                                                                                          I'm not arguing for a specific standard of dress. The article that kicked off this discussion basically says, "Americans started ignoring dress codes in nicer restaurants, or gave their business to restaurants with none, so most restaurants with dress codes have relaxed them lest they lose further business." I think these facts are hard to dispute.

                                                                                                                          The purely opinion-based perspective I've offered here is that: 1) yes, it is absolutely true that Americans dress in nice restaurants in ways that were deemed unthinkably crass and rude just a few years ago; 2) in my book, that's kind of a shame -- I liked it better when people treated nice restaurants as something special, and reflected that attitude in how they dressed for them; 3) in my mind, that disregard for occasion is related to a larger issue of a growing American culture of undue self-entitlement, one that is at odds with an older notion of good manners; 4) I understand why some people are going to react to these opinions with defensiveness and hostility.


                                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                            So my question, indirectly, was how far back would you take it, in time, where restaurant dress was acceptable? And, further, at that point, there were people who would make the same lament you are now. see, it's a sliding scale. I don't see people reacting with hostility or defensiveness, just with different opinions.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              I recognize that one size does not fit all; the original discussion was about the kind of high-end restaurants that once had dress codes and have since largely abandoned them. Reiterating prior points I've made multiple times already:

                                                                                                                              I'm not arguing for a specific standard of dress.

                                                                                                                              I remember the feel of a formal dining room where everyone was dressed up for the party, and the one where half the people were flouting the dress code on the invitation. I liked it better when there was a certain costume specified for the occasion, and people got into the spirit of the occasion and place.

                                                                                                                              For a variety of reasons, this is no longer the case, and I find that regrettable.


                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                I guess it's a difference in perspective. I grew up in a household where high end dining was very rare and we never knew the right way to dress. The whole thing made us feel awkward and like we didn't belong (and often treated as such), as much as we tried. It's easy to tell people to shop at the Salvation Army but it's another to try to scrounge together an outfit that kids will wear once, just because you want to celebrate every few years. FWIW, I always dress well now for eating out and my family does, too, but I remember those days and don't look down on others for not doing so. I think making people feel comfortable and at ease is far more important. Everyone deserves respect, regardless of how well they are dressed.

                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                  Abso-freakin-lutely. Well said, chowser.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                    Coming from similar circumstances, I agree with most of this; certainly it drives my perception that character is not necessarily reflected in how well one dresses.

                                                                                                                                    But it doesn't change any of my feelings about those places that had dress codes, and my sense of loss over their disappearance.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                      While many high end places have relaxed their policy, I've yet to see personally anyone not dressed nicely at places like that. I'm reading in the threads about torn jeans and flip flops but I've never seen that. IIRC, we were at a nice DC restaurant, son in coat in tie, husband in a suit, my daughter and I in nice dresses. Family next to us, boys in oxford shirts and khakis; husband in a tie but jacketless. Perfectly fine, imo. That's probably the most casual I've seen. This is a restaurant that would probably have had a dress code in the past. I'm not unhappy to see the jackets that restaurants kept in a back closet for guests who didn't have them on disappear. That was far more awkward.

                                                                                                                                      I guess the serenity prayer works well here, even if you're not religious.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        As I've noted elsewhere, I have the occasion to dine in such high-end restaurants far more often than I would of my own choosing (thanks to business entertaining and my sideline as a professional restaurant reviewer), and I see what I would consider too-informal dining attire *everywhere* in the US. Far more often men than women, incidentally: the ladies seem to have less of a problem with getting the tiniest bit dressed up.


                                                                                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              Really great point. I think it's fun to go to a restaurant like the Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disney. Yes, it's part of the Disney Resort, but it is a widely respected restaurant- expensive and upscale. People are there from all over the WORLD in various forms of dress- from Italian suits/Sari's/Tshirts/skimpy dresses/formals/tweedy jackets/jeans....a lot of pastel polo shirts! Whatever. All are enjoying themselves and the food and each of them decided what to wear based on their own needs and culture. You simply don't have to have a "set dress code" for enjoyment or good manners. I certainly don't want others deciding for me what I should wear when I am there to enjoy the food and spend my money.

                                                                                                                              The atmosphere there is terrific -but I am sure there is a guy in shorts thinking "geez, look at the idiot sweating to death in the suit" and the guy in the suit thinking "geez, what a slob to come to a nice restaurant in shorts". :)

                                                                                                                          2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                            >>>>talk about what a wonderful world that the show Mad Men brings back. If you look back at the society of that time, and the types of prejudice that ran rampant through it (and earlier times even more so) you will see that being well dressed counts for little in terms of true civility and cultural uplifting.

                                                                                                                            And who wants to sit in those smoke-filled rooms, however well-appointed, and however well-dressed its smokers?

                                                                                                                            I agree with everything you (very eloquently) just said, Servorg.

                                                                                                                      3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                        Hmmm, which article did you read? It certainly wasn't the one the OP referred to, which contained nothing whatsoever about a storied high-end NYC restaurant abandoning a jackets-required dress code this year.

                                                                                                                        It did talk about the 21 Club dropping its requirement that gentlemen wear ties at dinner in 2009. That's precisely the kind of "rule" I'm referring to. That and the "rule" that men must wear jackets at dinner - a rule that has become increasingly rare since the dawn of the 21st Century.

                                                                                                                        If your great-grandfather had shown up at 21 wearing a sport coat and a tie, he would have been tossed out on his ear. Does that mean that anybody wearing such attire to dinner at the same restaurant today is "living in a bubble of undue self-entitlement"? I don't think so.

                                                                                                                        As others have noted here, the vast majority of people conform to the written and unwritten rules about proper dress at a restaurant. And while standards and expectations have changed over time, I think that people's behavior - measured by those standards and expectations - has remained fairly constant.

                                                                                                                        A plaid cummerbund and tie in the 1920s, a sport coat instead of a suit jacket in the 1960s, a pair of khakis and a polo shirt today - they all push(ed) the boundaries of societal expectations for dress in a good restaurant. But it's going way too far to claim that anyone wearing those clothes is or was rude or self-centered.

                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                          You're right: the article talks about 21 abandoning jackets-required two years ago, and also mentions Galatoire's holding the line to this day.

                                                                                                                          But you're not reading my argument very carefully if you suggest I'm saying that "anyone wearing those clothes is or was rude or self-centered". Your point that dress standards evolve over time is pretty obvious, and I don't see anyone disputing that.

                                                                                                                          But I think the recent decline is much more precipitous, and I think that some of that new casualness is born of laziness and an underdeveloped sense of occasion that is part of a larger coarsening of public behavior. For example, in perhaps the past ten years, I've seen a huge surge in the number of grown men who think it's appropriate to wear baseball caps, shorts, and sandals in luxury steakhouses and other high-end restaurants.

                                                                                                                          L'Espalier, long considered one of the very best and most formal restaurants in Boston, went from jackets-required to seating customers in head-to-toe Ed Hardy, tracksuits, and jeans & hoodies in the space of two years. To my eye, there's more going on than just the steady march of fashion: I see a decline in manners and sense of propriety that is outpacing the ongoing evolution to more casual standards of dress.


                                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                            If we're going to criticize people for not reading carefully, let's talk about the article you keep referring to. Nowhere does it suggest that 21 has "abandon[ed] jackets." In fact, they're still required there. (http://www.21club.com/web/onyc/hours.jsp ) The "downfall of civilization" everybody's complaining about is that the place started allowing men to wear open-collared shirts to dinner a few years ago.

                                                                                                                            If the world's cultural norms had in fact deteriorated to the point that most people wore baseball caps, shorts, and sandals to places like 21 and Galatoire's, maybe there would be some slight legitimacy to your argument that there has been a "precipitous coarsening of public behavior." But that world exists only in your imagination. Jackets are still mandatory at both places.

                                                                                                                            In the real world - the one where I live and dine - the vast majority of people dress appropriately for dinner wherever they're eating. There are exceptions, but they are vanishingly rare. And those who violate the unwritten rules tend to figure out pretty quickly that they have failed to meet expectations.

                                                                                                                            There are some who don't get the hint, but this isn't exactly a recent phenomenon. The article you keep referring to talks about how Pete Rose and Burt Reynolds resisted the dress codes at 21 and Swifty's. 21 also had a problem with Sammy Davis, Jr., who complied with the tie requirement by wrapping one around his head. (He was wearing a turtleneck under a three-piece suit.)

                                                                                                                            In case you haven't noticed, none of these guys are on the front page of this week's Entertainment Weekly. In fact, Sammy died in 1990. The "decline in manners and sense of propriety" you're complaining about may have been breaking news in 1973. Today? Not so much. Or more to the point, probably exactly as much.

                                                                                                                            The reality is that dress has always been a minor issue at good restaurants. But it's never been a major problem, and hasn't gotten appreciably worse in recent years or decades. Of course reality isn't very interesting; it's always far more exciting to claim that the sky is falling. Knock yourself out.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                              No, the sky isn't falling. Ours is just a slightly sadder, grubbier, more vulgar culture than it used to be. That's a cause for head-shaking regret, not hysteria.

                                                                                                                              You are correct that I got another fact of the article wrong: 21 is still jackets-required, no longer necktie-required. But surely you're not just niggling and missing the bigger point it makes? "Now, from Manhattan to L.A., the majority of the iconic old-school restaurants that once mandated jackets and ties for men have replaced 'required' with 'requested.'" The fact that patrons are not dressing up in restaurants that once encouraged if not insisted on it is exactly what most of us are talking about here.

                                                                                                                              (The piece also examines the economic necessity behind loosened dress codes, and notes a novel small movement of more sartorially-serious young men. And yes, famous people pressing their celebrity as an excuse to bend the rules is hardly new. I don't see anyone here making a case to the contrary.)

                                                                                                                              I can only offer my anecdotal experience, not an authoritative accounting, but I see underdressed patrons in high-end restaurants several times a month, month in and month out. It's a bit less common in New York than my native Boston (the two cities I spend most of my time in), but it happens even in New York, generally a much better-dressed city than most of the country. Around the rest of the States, I see it everywhere.


                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                There's certainly an argument to be made that our current culture is "sadder, grubbier, [and] more vulgar ... than it used to be." The standard at most fine-dining restaurants has recently gone from smart casual (jacket required, tie preferred) to business casual (no tie, jacket preferred).

                                                                                                                                But the exact same argument was made when places went from informal (business suits) to smart casual. And when they went from semi-formal (black tie) to informal. And when they went from formal (white tie) to semi-formal. And that only considers the "modern" dress codes.

                                                                                                                                Things certainly got "sadder, grubbier, [and] more vulgar" when men gave up swallowtail coats for short dinner jackets. But in retrospect, who cares?

                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                  Again, no one is arguing that American dress codes haven't gotten progressively laxer over time: you don't have to be much of a student of history to appreciate this.

                                                                                                                                  I'm talking about a bunch of ostensible businessmen in an elegant Boston luxury steakhouse the other night, half the table dressed in t-shirts and wearing baseball caps indoors. That doesn't even meet the absurdly minimal business-casual standard of my industry, and it's hardly the worst offense of its type that I encounter in nicer restaurants on a weekly basis.

                                                                                                                                  The example of moving from tailcoats to tuxedo jackets is amusing. I'd settle for a guarantee of not seeing a man's bare, ungroomed toes while I'm having dinner. That's the problem with "Who cares?" It takes you from evening clothes to designer velour jogging suits in just a handful of decades.

                                                                                                                                  Ultimately, this is an emotional argument, not an analytical one. It just seems to me that the pace of the downward spiral in public manners in America is accelerating faster than when I was a kid. Schlubby, lazy dress sense is hardly the worst of it, but in my book, it is unmistakably a part of it.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                    MC Slim JB, I haven't gone through the entire list of responses, but I, for one, would like to thank you for taking the time to articulate points. It's not about going back to yesteryear but about manners, and the way that manners and etiquette were once seen as ways for people to negotiate interactions with a degree of care and concern for the other, I understand that in some cases these are situated within more problematic contexts, and it's worth thinking those through, but I don't see care and concern for others as an assault on my belief system (unless said system is one of narcissistic solipsism) or a weapon for belittling others.

                                                                                                                                    Again, for me the issue arising more in the discourse of the debate than the thing itself. I'm not a fan of those who use tattoos and hair-colour as a standard of dress unless it's about catching a glimpse of tattoos and hairs on body parts best left unseen within certain contexts. But I'm also not a fan of the argument that respect for others is somehow an assault on personal freedom. This is a frame that keeps getting smuggled into this debate It is a depressing outlook and indicative of a troubling rise in self-centredness and the waning of compassion.

                                                                                                                                    And lest one start with the quotations from The Republic re: today's youth, check this: http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/06/.... Maybe an old phenomenon, but a distinctly troubling statistic.

                                                                                                                                    For those interested in the "keep out poor people" argument: The prices do that first. And before that, the system that keeps people poor (such as the privatisation of education and health care). And so on. I won't go all firebrand here, though...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                      Lizard, I think you've put your finger on what I sense is the crux of the dissent on this issue, the false choice between personal freedom and the self-abnegating concern for others that is reflected in civility and manners. It's at the heart of my perception that *never* feeling there is an occasion that calls for a certain decorum is essentially selfish, lazy, childish.

                                                                                                                                      Grownups recognize that there are moments in life that call for you to respect the occasion, venue, and others present in small but significant ways. Children complain bitterly about dressing up for church (or used to). In my mind, the bubble of undue self-entitlement that Americans increasingly live in -- one reflected in the attitude, "Never mind the dress code -- I should be able to wear whatever the hell I want", is analogous to the self-centered, empathy-free existence of the spoiled brat.


                                                                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                        Wow. Those are some big judgments to make.

                                                                                                                                        I am not sure that there are too many people that feel they should *never* dress up for anything. But, there probably are some-and maybe they might like to eat at the same place you do.
                                                                                                                                        Maybe just going out to eat at a restaurant would not be one of those occasions.

                                                                                                                                        Perhaps their *idea* of dressing up is not the same as yours.

                                                                                                                                        Maybe they don't want to- for reasons you know nothing about: they are going somewhere else later (or earlier) and it would be awkward, their weight changed and they couldn't wear what they planned, they don't think the restaurant is all *that* special, they didn't pack correctly, they just wanted to try it once while in town, their spouse or friend didn't want to dress up so they didn't want to make them feel awkward...there could be DOZENS of reasons. None of them would be the downfall of America or come close to the snarly, rebellious attitude of "wearing whatever the hell I want".

                                                                                                                                        Lordy, relaxing a dress code and making things not "required" now- does not mean you CAN'T dress up if you wish and are able to. It has nothing to do with childishness.

                                                                                                                                        Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                          Above, I wrote a long post about a turnaround that always happens in these threads, where people who enjoy fine dining restaurants with relaxed dress codes are re-envisioned as slobs and boors who don't care at all what their neighbors think of them, because that makes it easier to demonize them. You commit this switch repeatedly - in nearly every post you make.

                                                                                                                                          No one here has said that there are no occasions worthy of dressing up for. And that is by no means derivable from the simple fact that restaurants have relaxed their dress codes. We're not talking about an attitude of 'never mind the dress code.' We're talking about the dress code changing.

                                                                                                                                          More to the point, preferring a casual dress code for fine dining is not in any way the same as living in "a bubble of undue self-entitlement." You seem to genuinely believe that you are wistfully and honorably lamenting the loss of a gentler, more polite society, but in repeatedly characterizing casual dressers as slobs, self-entitled children, and spoiled brats, you are in fact betraying your own naked contempt of the majority of your neighbors and fellow diners. Who's actually being impolite here?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                            Oooo, oooo! I know the answer!!!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                              You might have a point there, if you weren't mischaracterizing or missing the point of nearly every thing I've said here. As I'm weary of trying to make the same points over and over again in different ways, I'll simply cut and paste another recap of my positions:

                                                                                                                                              I'm not arguing for a specific standard of dress. The article that kicked off this discussion basically says, "Americans started ignoring dress codes in nicer restaurants, or gave their business to restaurants with none, so most restaurants with dress codes have relaxed them lest they lose further business." I think these facts are hard to dispute.

                                                                                                                                              The purely opinion-based perspective I've offered here is that: 1) yes, it is absolutely true that Americans dress in nice restaurants in ways that were deemed unthinkably crass and rude just a few years ago; 2) in my book, that's kind of a shame -- I liked it better when people treated nice restaurants as something special, and reflected that attitude in how they dressed for them; 3) in my mind, that disregard for occasion is related to a larger issue of a growing American culture of undue self-entitlement, one that is at odds with an older notion of good manners; 4) I understand why some people are going to react to these opinions with defensiveness and hostility.


                                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                Those who come down on the side of the ledger bemoaning the loss of civility and genteel behavior, all because someone wore a tee shirt to dinner within eye shot of your table also seem to be reacting to the lesser dressed with plenty of hostility and defensiveness (or is that just a figment of my overactive, defensive and hostile imagination?)...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                  Maybe it would help if I explained that as a rule, I don't choose to dine out at very formal, fancy restaurants of the type that once had a dress code. My preferred style of dining, where I spend most of my own dining-out dollars, is in much more casual restaurants. (My professional reviewing duties are evenly split between fine dining and very modest restaurants.) I reserve occasion dining mostly for special occasions. But the occasion places don't feel as special as they used to.

                                                                                                                                                  I've said it many times now: I understand that American dress standards have gotten progressively more casual; I don't expect them to trend back in the other direction. But I also detect a downward tick in general public behavior in restaurants that has outpaced this normal relaxation of dress standards.

                                                                                                                                                  And I see a connection there, for instance, in people trying to flout dress codes at the handful of places that had them. Restaurateurs responded to the economic imperative, but most contend (as the article notes) that something about the atmosphere, the special-occasion feel of their places, has been lost. I agree with them.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not trying to mount a personal attack on anyone by pointing out that current standards of dress allowed in formal restaurants would have been deemed ill-mannered not very long ago. Clearly, the standards have changed.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm saying, I wish there were more places left where people still valued that special-occasion nature, who honored the operators' decision to throw a particular type of costume party, more than their own convenience and comfort. I don't expect Americans to dress up in most places, but I am sorry that many don't feel they should have to dress up even slightly *anywhere*.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                    When folks start charging me to come to their "costume party" then I'll be less concerned about actually wearing an appropriate costume. To this point my hosts of any costume party I've ever been to have gone to considerable out of pocket, personal expense to have me to their house so I tend to hew to their wishes if I attend.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                      One can push any analogy to the point of absurdity. I think you understand what I'm getting at when I talk about getting into the spirit of an occasion and place, even if it takes some effort on your part, rather than being one of the few who flouted the rules on the invitation ("jackets required").


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                        Private costume parties and public restaurants are 2 very different things. If I were to throw a costume party and certain guests didn't show up in costume, after a few occassions of this, I'd stop inviting them. I don't expect them to hew to my wishes because of expenses. That is the terms of the invite...which is at my discretion..and for the fun of the guests who did bother to wear a costume.

                                                                                                                                                        Restaurautnts don't have the same option.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                            A very wise friend online often quotes her very wise mother has having said "if you just tend to your own business, you'll be too busy to be bothered by others'.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                              While I agree in general with the principle of minding your own business, it's a bit tougher to do when people share public spaces. Manners are designed to help minimize the inevitable friction that results in public life, and they generally require more effort than just simply ignoring the behavior of others.

                                                                                                                                              Inappropriate dress is like bad or too much perfume; when it's right there next to you, there are limits to how much you can consciously ignore it. The corollary that should be implicit in "Mind your own business" is, "Make an effort to ensure that your business doesn't interfere with other peoples' business."


                                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                "Inappropriate dress is like bad or too much perfume; when it's right there next to you, there are limits to how much you can consciously ignore it."

                                                                                                                                                Not so for those not overly consumed with the business of others. I think that's the crux of the whole issue as you've framed it. People either dress to *your* preferred degree or they're "slobs." If they're quiet, it's easy for those of us with more interest in our companions and our meal than the appearance of others to focus elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                  Once again, I must repeat points I've already made elsewhere here. I'm not spending my meal staring at other people; I am mostly concerned with my meal and my dining companions. But my eye can't selectively edit out other people in my line of sight; that's a superpower I lack.

                                                                                                                                                  I remember the feel of a formal dining room where everyone was dressed up for the party, and the one where half the people were flouting the dress code on the invitation. I liked it better when there was a certain costume specified for the occasion, and people got into the spirit of the occasion and place.

                                                                                                                                                  For a variety of reasons, this is no longer the case, and I find that regrettable. You may choose to interpret this as somehow judging you, but that's not really my point.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                    I think there are also degrees of nice places - from a Boston perspective, jeans and an intact shirt would not seem outrageous at Craigie on Main, though plenty of people dress up. At L'Espalier, I think most people would agree that at the very least you would want to wear khakhis and a collared shirt.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                                                                      Unless you're at a lobster pound or a clam shack, I think a collared shirt is the least a man can do, really. Anywhere. I do have standards, after all. I just don't let it affect me when others' are different.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                        I think it's far easier for men as "business casual" goes than women. If my husband wears a polo shirt, can I wear a sundress? It's a dress but far more casual than many of my pants. And capris? Are they ever acceptable? And, that doesn't even touch on shoes.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                          I don't think of sun dresses as business anything, but I bet there are some you might get away with by adding a cardigan or linen blazer. Shoes; I'm guessing anything from espadrille to peep toe to strappy sandal or ballet flat, no?

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                      " You may choose to interpret this as somehow judging you, but that's not really my point."

                                                                                                                                                      You're not judging me, I'm dressed appropriately for time and place. But for you to use language like "slobs" demonstrates a very high degree of judgment and fault finding. Not discernment, necessarily, but harsh judgment.

                                                                                                                                                      Maybe it's just me, but I find this language just a teensy tad judgmental in tone:

                                                                                                                                                      "Ours is just a slightly sadder, grubbier, more vulgar culture than it used to be. That's a cause for head-shaking regret, not hysteria."

                                                                                                                                                      When folks blow through a red light or otherwise drive recklessly, drunk, or otherwise interfere with the peace and safety of others, I shake my head. If they have sandals or a golf shirt on while I'm wearing a dress or skirt, I *don't*. YMMV.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                  mcf: Corollary: Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        Wise woman. I've heard it before, and it's always high impact despite it's simplicity. Another corollary: "Mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter." (grammar intentional)

                                                                                                                                                3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                  >>>>I'd settle for a guarantee of not seeing a man's bare, ungroomed toes while I'm having dinner.

                                                                                                                                                  If you're staring at some guy's toes while you're eating dinner, find someone to eat with you, or bring a book.

                                                                                                                                                  I can't *imagine* being this offended by visual stimuli. If you can *smell* his toes, or he's making noise (of whatever variety), it's understandable that you'd be upset at a baseball hat wearer, but what he's wearing (or not wearing)? I simply cannot comprehend your upsetness.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                    And I'm baffled that someone who would also be offended by a baseball hat in a more formal restaurant would not find flip-flops on the same man a lapse in judgment. Granted, in the absence of a dress code, it's a matter of taste, but to my eye, both are inappropriate in a certain kind of nicer restaurant.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                      MC, I'm with you all the way on this. There are men in my community who do not have much money and many don't own cars. But when they go out on a Friday evening, they wear pristine white shirts, jeans with a crease down the center, cowboy boots that shine and a white cowboy hat that is pristine. They may not have money, but they have class.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                        I'm not so sure MC would agree that white shirts and jeans are acceptable attire for a high-end resto, and neither would the high-end resto, probably. Unless we're talking Texas. I hear things are a bit different down there.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                          Certainly there are regional variations of what constitutes levels of formality in attire, climate being a big factor. The worsted-wool suit doesn't make much sense in Miami in May. It would be silly to suggest that there is a single standard there.

                                                                                                                                                          The WSJ article is pretty clear in noting the bar that certain restaurants used to set: "Gentlemen must wear jackets." An increasing number of customers said, "I don't care what you're trying to do here; I'm not wearing a jacket." Restaurateurs reluctantly responded to a changing market.

                                                                                                                                                          Whether you think the customers that showed up without a jacket despite knowing the dress code were rude or not is one of the big disputes here. I see something selfish and ill-mannered in it.

                                                                                                                                                          For those who defend that behavior, the good news is that market forces have born your position out. And I'm saying, I think that's regrettable. It's not the end of the world, just the passing of another small grace, a tiny corner of a more civil world disappearing.


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                            "The WSJ article is pretty clear in noting the bar that certain restaurants used to set: "Gentlemen must wear jackets." An increasing number of customers said, "I don't care what you're trying to do here; I'm not wearing a jacket." Restaurateurs reluctantly responded to a changing market."
                                                                                                                                                            Am I reading the same article you are? The only mentions I see in the article of anyone purposefully ignoring set dress codes are a couple anecdotes about specific celebrities. You really didn't have to go writing all of those posts to convince us that Pete Rose could be a bit of a dick sometimes - we knew that already.

                                                                                                                                                            Meanwhile, you're still committing the same fallacy I accused you of above, now accusing the casual crowd of willfully ignoring dress codes rather than just patronizing restaurants with looser dress codes until the strict ones changed their policy. The article doesn't back you up either.

                                                                                                                                                            Of course a few people do ignore posted policies. But then, that was always the case, and it's silly and untenable to argue otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                              It is true the that article does not explicitly cite non-celebrity customers purposefully attempting to flout dress codes as a major driver of those dress codes being relaxed or abandoned. To verify this, all you have to do is talk to any veteran maitre d' at a restaurant that has or once had a dress code, or have spent a few years dining out at them regularly.

                                                                                                                                                              I've got countless anecdotes about host-stand scenes with underdressed customers demanding unsuccessfully to be seated. I witnessed one not long ago at Boston's Locke-Ober -- the gentleman loudly protesting to no avail that his jeans cost $300. The host offered him a seat in the bar, generous under the hallowed old restaurant's rules; the would-be patron stalked out in a huff.

                                                                                                                                                              Incidentally, Locke-Ober just closed, to re-open under new management, and I'm guessing its stature as the last dining room in Boston with a jackets-required rule will go by the boards. Sic transit gloria.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                MC, I'm guessing you remenber the story of a few years ago; when Mick Jagger ( or another high profile star)was refused entry to the original Ritz Bar, for dress code issues. He wore jeans and a t shirt.

                                                                                                                                                                The Ritz is now the Taj and the new Ritz will let you in a workout suit; but there was an elegance to the days of the old Ritz.

                                                                                                                                                                I don't dress in suits nearly as much as earlier in life, but I'm fine with restaurants that establish the rule...and abide without any disturbance to my life..in fact I enjoy it.

                                                                                                                                                                I hope LO can hold the line someplace close to before, while being a little more lenient.

                                                                                                                                                                Funny example, I had a meeting today..which was cancelled due to weather. I would NOT have gone in a sports coat and slacks; blue, black, dark grey suit, glenn plaid only. Hopefully I can still find 1 that I can fit in..:)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 9lives

                                                                                                                                                                  The Bar at the old Ritz-Carlton: another place where countless scenes occurred. They really didn't care how important, famous or rich you were, even if you were a guest at the hotel; it was jacket and no jeans or no seat, so very sorry, sir.

                                                                                                                                                                  And though it wasn't a place I drank at very much (a little dear for my blood without the benefit of an expense account), I was sorry when they relaxed those standards. It hardly seemed worth the trouble after that, since the bartending didn't equal the quality at similarly expensive places nearby. It's pretty much the same in its current incarnation as a Taj.


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                    and there you have it -

                                                                                                                                                                    the value of the place had NOTHING to do with the quality of what they served... why would anyone choose a place that's value was in the appearance of the guests rather than the product they serve?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                      I don;t know the Craft cocktail places MC knows but I like to think I appreciate good one, New Orleanian that I am. Still the immense value of the Old Ritz was conveninece and the fact that the bar was quiet. As much as I lament the dress issue, it is the general standards of public behavior..including all variety of suits or sandals wearers, being loud. Part of the the problem I suspect is that damn near everywhere has a television and pumped in music nowadays. Hell, people answer their cell phones in movie theaters and think nothing of because they aren't thinking of others.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                        The fact that the Ritz dropped its dress code is the very reason I don't bother with it (or its successor, the Taj) any more: that dress code was the best thing about it. Let me try once again to explain what the value was.

                                                                                                                                                                        More formally-dressed patrons makes a venue feel more special, more serious, more occasion-worthy. It's the same reason that some wedding parties don tuxedos and gowns instead of just ordinary suits and dresses, and specify black tie or semi-formal attire for their guests. When celebrating a big-number birthday or anniversary or business deal, or otherwise marking some other less-than-quotidian event, some people like to reflect the gravity or festiveness or joy of the occasion by wearing something different from what they wear to the office, to the mall, to the ballgame. It's not the same if only some folks are getting into the spirit of the occasion, taking the trouble to honor the type of dress specified on the invitation.

                                                                                                                                                                        There is a very different feel to a venue where everyone is dressed equally formally from one where some are dressed up and some are dressed down. Have you never been to an occasion where a certain level or style of dress was expected, and that the feeling or mood was damped, diluted by people who flouted that expectation? Never been to a formal wedding, a funeral, a charity ball, a theatrical opening night, a debutante ball (okay, I've never been to one of those), an awards dinner, a graduation, a costume or theme or fancy-dress party?

                                                                                                                                                                        That some people here don't understand the symbolism inherent in different types of attire, and how they affect the mood of an event or evening or venue, really surprises me. "What difference does it make to you what I'm wearing?" Actually, in certain specific situations, it means a lot, and not just to me, but to everyone else in the room with a similar sense of decorum.

                                                                                                                                                                        Restaurateurs do set or did set dress codes to establish a certain mood, to symbolize a sense of seriousness or occasion, to create an ambiance commensurate with the level of the dining experience offered. Read the WSJ article again, and hear the old restaurateurs bemoaning the loss of that ambiance in lowering their standards of formality.

                                                                                                                                                                        Americans have so lost this sense of decorum, of occasion, that it appears that many of us feel there's *never* any moment in life worth dressing up for. We go to church in sweatpants, show up to court in novelty t-shirts, wear pajamas to the supermarket. This is something relatively new, and now includes people who feel fine dropping a bundle in a very formal restaurant while wearing shorts, flip-flops and ballcaps.

                                                                                                                                                                        It's a small thing -- I probably go to these kinds of places on my own dime once or twice a year -- but I will miss it. I understand how we got here and respect the reasoning behind restaurateurs' decisions to go that way, but I feel that something is being lost, and once it's gone, I suspect it will be gone forever.


                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                          >>"[T]hat dress code was the best thing about it"<<

                                                                                                                                                                          Isn't that the antithesis of what Chowhound is about? Quality over popularity, taste over pretension, etc., etc.? Or am I missing something?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                            And as far as attitudes go, why are adjectives like "slobbish" "self'-centered" "vulgar" and "grubby" permissible, while "priggish" and "pretentious" are off-limits?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't see anyone proscribing "priggish" and "pretentious" here, know of no reason why you couldn't use those adjectives if you thought the shoe fit. One man's formality is another man's pretension.

                                                                                                                                                                              I've pointed out that by not-very-long-past standards, attire that would get you deemed a slob ("slovenly and boorish") by many, say, a golf shirt and shorts in a white-tablecloth dining room, doesn't get a second glance in many circles today. I still might grit my teeth at it, but there's not much I could say or do about it.


                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                                Lol - I think people know what "slob" means. "Slovenly and boorish' isn't any gentler or less insulting.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think most Chowhounds are so simplistic in their approach that they utterly ignore factors like service and ambiance, nor scorn places soley on the basis of cost or formality.

                                                                                                                                                                              Where I like to think of Chowhounds as more discerning than your average consumer is in their ability to see through hype, to not follow the herd, and to ferret out great food and drink in venues of every type, level, and locale. Value appears in many guises and at many price points, not just in modest holes-in-the-wall.

                                                                                                                                                                              In the case of the old Ritz, I rated its bartending just okay (skilled in the classics but not sailing in the modern craft-cocktail-revival vanguard, and bearing a luxury-hotel premium), the service extraordinary, and the ambiance almost nonpareil thanks to the room, the view, and yes, the dress code.

                                                                                                                                                                              Absent the dress code, it lost a lot of its uniqueness, became just another of many good but not highly-differentiated luxury hotel bars. Since that change, my value equation for a fancy drink in that neighborhood has tilted in favor of places with more exceptional bartending, e.g., the nearby No. 9 Park.


                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                              Jerry: Again with the sweat pants?
                                                                                                                                                                              George: What? I'm comfortable.
                                                                                                                                                                              Jerry: You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweat pants? You're telling the world: "I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable."

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: 9lives

                                                                                                                                                                          I seem to recall a wonderful (and probably apocryphal) story from back in the day when one of the original Rat Pack (Sammie Davis Jr. perhaps) was greeted by the host with a tie from under the podium and told discretely that all "gentlemen" who dined at this particular restaurant must wear one; whereupon Mr. Davis wrapped the tie around his head like a sweat band and marched off to his table...the term "sang-froid" always comes to mind when I think of that story.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                            That Sammy Davis, Jr. incident happened at 21 (he was wearing a turtleneck at the time), or so the restaurant liked to tell the story.


                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                    My comment was more about the fact that some people understand going out is an occasion and that it can be treated that way regardless of your income. Give me this guy over the one in shorts and a tank top anytime!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                  Please re-read: "If you can *smell* his toes, or he's making noise (of whatever variety), it's understandable that you'd be upset at a baseball hat wearer..."

                                                                                                                                                                  I said I found it understandable that you'd be upset by a baseball hat *if you could smell his toes* (or hear his noise).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, I get you know. I still object to both of them in a more formal restaurant.


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                      Please don't make me re-read that...

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                      I whole-heartedly agree with your position MC.

                                                                                                                                                      I really like your analogy to a Halloween party. It reminds me of a night I had plans to go dancing after a Sox game. The game went late and I didn't have time to change. When I got to the bar still dressed in a jersey (just like the players!) and a baseball hat, I told my friend I felt like I was in a ridiculous costume. He laughed and said "Oh please, we are all in costume!" (Except everyone else's costume was indie rock kids)

                                                                                                                                                      It's easy to dismiss Slim's argument and say "I want a choice" or "I don't want to wear a "costume."" . Particularly as Americans, I think we are so (unreasonably) attached to our freedoms as if giving up one for one night is an assault to the foundation of the entire country.

                                                                                                                                                4. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                  Oh, c'mon Alan. What would the NAF board be without the whining about the (perceived) downfall of the human culture, nay, humanity itself??

                                                                                                                                                  Lame, is what it would be. Pass the popcorn, but please -- use your white gloves!

                                                                                                                                                5. I like a dress code, because it keeps out poor people. Nothing ruins truffles and caviar for me like sitting next to a poor person also enjoying truffles and caviar. I'd be fine with relaxed dress codes as long as each person not in a jacket passes a credit check before being allowed to sit down in their jeans. When I am enjoying decadent excess it's important to me that no prole beta wage slaves are enjoying the same thing. It just ruins the atmosphere for me. For decades our great restaurants had proud traditions of humiliating poor people who tried to eat there, and these traditions are important to my enjoyment of my lavish excess.

                                                                                                                                                  Please, lets not allow proles without proper, expensive evening clothes in the nicest restaurants. The only poor people i want to see in my restaurants are the cooks and dishwashers.

                                                                                                                                                  Now, if only we could have bathrooms with dress codes so poor people didn't get to use the same toilet as me.

                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheFoodEater

                                                                                                                                                    Dress codes do not keep out poor people. You can buy a sportcoat for $5 at the salvation army or you could spend $300 on an Armani t-shirt. And if someone can afford to eat in these top-tiered restaurants, they can absolutely afford to wear a blazer. The cost of the clothing isn't prohibitive and isn't what's stopping them. It's that they don't feel they should have to dress up.

                                                                                                                                                    I think people are arguing about several things in this thread though and it's getting muddied up. I don't think anyone in this thread who thinks people should dress up is saying that people need to wear expensive clothes. There is a difference between wishing people would still dress up ie. wear a jacket or tie (no matter the brand) and saying people should be wearing expensive clothes. I don't care what brand someone wears and for 99% of restaurants I don't care what people wear at all, but for special occasion restaurants (particularly ones with dress codes) I dress up and I wish people wouldn't take such an offense to a dress code. For me, the night feels more special when I have to dress up because it is so unusual these days.

                                                                                                                                                    As I mentioned earlier I do have a problem when a restaurant has a dress code and diners assume that because they are the customer they can wear what they want. ie the yelper I mentioned in my previous post who made sure to point out that he was wearing a $200 t-shirt, $500 jeans, $3,000 watch, but was turned away for not wearing a blazer. It's not that this person can't afford a jacket, it's that they believe they shouldn't have to dress up ever and I disagree with that. You can wear whatever you want to 99.9% of restaurants out there, why is it such a big deal for that .1% that has a dress code or where everyone else in the restaurant is dressed up? And if you truly don't want to dress up, just don't go to that restaurant. If I don't want to dress up in S&M gear, I probably won't go to S&M night at a restaurant. There are a million other restaurants I can go to where I don't have to dress in S&M gear, and if for some reason I just HAVE to eat the chefs food at that S&M night (because I want to), well then I would just suck it up and wear S&M gear. But maybe that's just me.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                                      Somebody's irony meter is on the fritz! :-)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                                        no one is stopping you from dressing up, if it makes the night more special for you. we only ask you respect our clothing choices, and how they make us feel equally.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Formal dress codes have been doomed ever since dining out went from being a formal event to being a casual event.

                                                                                                                                                        However, it's silly to assume that "no jacket required" is the same as "wear whatever the hell you want and expect to be treated the same", and I'm always surprised at how many people don't seem to understand this (or, worse, seem to think they can will it away). Clean, well-fitting clothes will get you a lot further in life than short shorts, dirty sweatpants, or the oversized free T-shirt from that 5k you ran last year no matter what the expected level of formality is. Let's not kid ourselves by claiming otherwise: what you wear matters a lot less than it did in 1960, but how you wear it matters a lot more. In that sense, dress codes did at least remove the uncertainty of what to should wear to ensure the best treatment in a particular situation.

                                                                                                                                                        1. I can recall exactly NEVER that I have gone to a nice restaurant and been overcome, surrounded, was outnumbered by or...even found "a few" people that were sitting there at tables in dirty sweat pants, ratty jeans or stained T-shirts. I don't recall ever seeing ONE that I would call slovenly dressed or dirty.

                                                                                                                                                          Are you sure you are not talking about the McDonalds in the Walmart store? The little "hole-in-the-wall" place downtown for lunch on Saturday? The local sandwich shop? I have *never* seen these sloppy,dirty, hole-y, filthy, obscene T-shirt wearing people at high end restaurants anywhere I have traveled.

                                                                                                                                                          I recognize that it could happen somewhere as a "fluke"- but it seems a little histrionic to paint the picture that it is a common, everyday experience at really nice restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. I'm on the "I Like a Dress Code at Some Places" side of the fence, but I do agree that some people really go over the top with the depiction that anyone who is dressed down is also dressed in rags.

                                                                                                                                                            I save my ire for those who are wearing "nice shorts" or a "nice flipflops" to a formal restaurant. Frankly, I find that concept more irritating.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                              "nice flipflops" I love it! I will confess to being a flipflop junkie, but there is a time and a place.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                Unless you are wearing a sari.......pumps just don't work!

                                                                                                                                                          2. My wife and I left a fund raiser when dinner did not come out for 2 hours - went to local restaurant in formal wear. Have received superb service ever since. My mom always said you can't be over dressed.

                                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: indigo394

                                                                                                                                                              I would hope that someone not overdressed would also receive superb service from that restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: indigo394

                                                                                                                                                                Was it out of respect for your clothes, or the size of tip that they implied?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps one doesn't exclude the other.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: indigo394

                                                                                                                                                                  I've always read that being overdressed is more inappropriate than being a bit understated. As a rule, one hopes to avoid making onself stand out like a sore thumb attracting excess attention. Overdressing too often looks like buffoonery.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                    There are certainly places where it's as bad or worse to be overdressed than underdressed. However, a restaurant really isn't one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                                                                      I think that's probably a matter of degree, time and place.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                        Not really. If you're overdressed at a restaurant, people are just going to assume you're going to or coming from a more formal occasion.

                                                                                                                                                                3. [Not in direct response to the OP, but to the whole thread]

                                                                                                                                                                  I dont care what the venue happens to be; I would rather be in the company of Jeff Lebowski than Don Draper any day.

                                                                                                                                                                  Wherever I go, I am always clean and neat; my clothes are without holes, even stylish ones. I NEVER wear baseball caps. That will have to suffice.

                                                                                                                                                                  I will never wear a necktie again. And I will never patronize a place that chooses to offend me by requiring them. If a person is offended by the sight of my Adam's Apple, it's their problem, not mine.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. there was never a golden age in the past where people were more polite and mannered. there was never a time when one generation did not look at the next and proclaim "they aren't as respectful as we were." what they forget s their grandparents said the same thing about them.

                                                                                                                                                                    what there was in there past was a rigid demarcation so you only had to deal with people like yourself. thankfully those days are vanishing.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 'The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
                                                                                                                                                                      authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in lace of
                                                                                                                                                                      exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
                                                                                                                                                                      households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
                                                                                                                                                                      contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
                                                                                                                                                                      at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.'


                                                                                                                                                                      Seems like an ongoing problem for more than a few ... decades.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                        Hahaha. I called that someone would quote this passage.


                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                          Yep. The whole "o tempora, o mores" complaint is as old as civilization itself. Things have been going downhill ever since we left the trees, no? Oh wait, that's when we stopped flinging feces at each other.

                                                                                                                                                                          Now we just do it verbally '-)

                                                                                                                                                                          ETA: I am one of those folks who enjoys dressing up for an 'occasion', btw. But I couldn't care less what other folks do. I'm much too busy enjoying myself & the food/music/whatevs.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'm fascinated that there's so much heated passion and emotion on this topic.

                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                          Ipsedixit, I suspect it's not the thing itself which sustains the thread, but the way people are framing the issue.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                            Heated passion on dressing is usually about the "un" part of it,;-)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                              Now *that* is a discussion I'd like to get into ...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                Which brings to mind that famous saying "Let's get you out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini..."

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                  sounds like first line of a great country song...:}

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Fascinating article, and lots to love. My friends and I always go on the town dressed fine. It's one thing when youngsters look slobby, but on a few years it does one no favors.

                                                                                                                                                                            And btw, the WSJ writer flubbed: Bryan Ferry was very much the 1970s, not the '60s.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I don't like wearing jackets in restaurants as I tend to get very warm when wearing one (nothing ruins my meal more than me adding my own liquid salt to it as I eat), but if I really want to eat at a place that requires one, I'll do it. I really don't see what the issue is with me dining in my usual dining outfit, though, nice not ragged jeans or black slacks, button down shirt, shoes. I know folks are bringing up all kinds of histrionic examples of being in fine dining establishments looking at someones toes, or armpit hair, and while I would never wear that type of outfit to almost any restaurant (at least of the sit down variety), if the restuarant let them in that way, then that's their perogative. I know that in my nearly 50 years on the planet, I've never seen anything like that at any of the finer dining establishments I've been in. Not saying it doesn't happen, just saying I've not witnessed it. I recenty ate at WD-50 in NYC, and one of the things I loved about it was that it was casual, fine dining. Plenty of jeans and nice t-shirts, and nice shirts and slacks. It was twice the price of my last (not terribly good) meal at the old L'Espalier, and I was far more comfortable eating it. The value of the money I spent was the same if it came out of the back pocket of my jeans, or the inside suit pocket of a suit jacket.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. We are seeing a change of fashion. The three piece suit is going the way of knee britches and buckle shoes. Woman's clothes have already made a huge transition; pants and shorts are acceptable anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                Whenever there is a sea change like this some people get upset. Personally I prefer not to wear a jacket unless I'm cold. On the other hand, I'll wear almost anything if the food is good enough. As far as everyone else; as long as it's clean and in good repair it's fine with me. (The same goes for the diners; actually clean is good enough, I'm getting to where I'm not in such good repair myself.)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. A little more casual isn't a big deal. However, a baseball cap just screams fast food and shouldn't be allowed unless the wearer is signing his home-run baseball at a dinner table.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Hi, folks. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, with many of the same posters restating their opinions multiple times. We're going to lock it now.