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Aug 22, 2011 11:37 PM

dress code at EMP


Hi all

Will a nice pair of jeans and shirt work for EMP dinner ? [I hate business dress for dinner]

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

      1. Almost everyone wheres some kind of "shirt" pretty much all day, what kind of shirt are you talking about?

        The short answer is that would probably be fine. They won't throw you out or think badly of you or laugh. I was seated next to a younger guy in a polo shirt and jeans last time I was there. He was on a date with an elegantly dressed woman. I couldn't help but wonder what his deal was.

        The long answer is that you probably need to invest in some nice clothing that isn't "business dress." EMP is anything but stuffy and I have never worn a "business suit" to a meal there. I have, however always worn a jacket and often worn a suit. You would do well to find at least a pair of slacks and decent shoes that you feel comfortable wearing (both are readily available in New York at reasonable prices--you might try Paul Stuart for a one-stop solution or head down to Century 21 for some slacks and then back up to alden or leffot for the shoes). It will make you feel more comfortable and certainly make you look better.

        1. You're going out for a nice meal. The room and atmosphere are both elegant. Other patrons will be dressed up a bit. I'd personally feel out of place if I didn't do the same. I would encourage you to wear a nice pair of slacks instead of jeans. And a button down shirt.

          You don't have to wear a tie and suit, but there's solutions that are nicer than jeans and a t-shirt/polo shirt (not sure what kind of shirt you mean).

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn

            Agreed. Wear slacks, not jeans. And a button down shirt.

          2. I see what you all mean. It's not a matter of "investing" in slacks (i'm not american so I hate slacks :)) - it's a matter of comfort (and i meant a botton down shirt and not a t-shirt). If people will stare at me than this is indeed a stuffy place so i'll better look elsewhere.
            Any recs for an equally good place that will accept my jeans and botton-down shirt for dinner ?

            11 Replies
            1. re: icorem

              No one said they wouldn't "accept" your "heans and botton-down shirt for dinner," only that you would be more causally dressed than most. It is not a stuffy place.

              I would not stare at you, but I would prefer eating next to people who wear pants to dinner. That doesn't make EMP stuffy, it makes me stuffy.

              And, there are no equally good places in New York that are more casual than EMP. The only place in the country that I can think of that fits that bill is Schwa in Chicago, but that is a bit out of your way.

              As an aside, American's tend to wear "slacks" (i.e., odd trousers) far less frequently than nearly all of Europe and Asia. For most Americans it is jeans, khakis, or suits, with nothing in between. Pretty much everywhere else in the world (except those places too hot to bother), professional men have wool pants to wear on occasions just like this.

              1. re: icorem

                If by equally good, you mean upscale, fine dining with a rating of 4 stars from the New York Times, you'll be underdressed at any of those as well. Jean Georges, Daniel, Per Se, etc.

                Do you have a sportcoat? My husband often wears a pair of designer jeans with a button down shirt and a sportcoat to places less casual than EMP, but where he would still like to look sharp. Mainly restaurants that are a level down in formality like the Bar Room at the Modern, Maialino, Locanda Verde, etc.

                1. agree. what recpirocity do they expect back in terms of my dress? I'm already paying a small fortune for the privilege of eating there.

                  respect isn't about the dress code, iat least in my opinion... it's much more about the speaking honestly and respectfully to the staff part that Phil lays out later in his response. i'll sit next to some well-mannered "dude" in jeans over some obnoxious, drunken, well dressed "gentleman" any day of hte week.

                  and sure, they could point their jerky thumb at an empty table, mix ingredients helter skelter and tell me i'll eat that they serve, but then it wouldn't be fine dining and we wouldn't be paying $200+ person.

                    1. re: FattyDumplin

                      I think showing respect requires complying with the norms of the location. It they have a dress code, it IS about the dress code. Imagine the following: you walk into Daniel and respectfully and honestly say to the host, "Good evening, I am very honored to be here, I have reservations at 8:00 under Dumplin." Is that transaction equally "respectful" if you are wearing, say, an elegant dress as it would be if you are in a tube top and cut offs? Of course not. That established, the argument is only one of degree, i.e. how far away from an elegant dress (or how close to a tube top and shorts) you can get without being disrespectful. My take is that it is up to the restaurant. They say what they want their customers to wear and the customers decide whether to accept that condition on their enjoying the restaurant.

                      The second thing your argument misses is that you don't get to define "fine dining" for the restaurant or other posters. I imagine that gutsofsteel would say that it isn't "fine dining" if the place welcomes folks in a t-shirts and shorts. The OP would disagree (and could cite Schwa as an example).

                      Finally, we would all rather sit next to a clean looking nice guy in jeans than a drunk obnoxious guy in a suit. I assume that the OP is a nice guy and that he looks good in his nice jeans and dress shirt. I also am sure that EMP would welcome him and treat him just like any other customer they were meeting for the first time if he showed up in that manner. It is also certainly the case that SOME diners would prefer to sit next to people a little more dressed up and that for those people OP might detract from their attempts to find a place special. For example, imagine the following: A 21 year old kid saves up for months to take his girlfriend to EMP. They talk it up for weeks and get very excited about their first "nice" meal together. She buys a new dress. He heads over to Filene's Basement and picks out a new sportcoat and tie. She gets her hair and nails done. He shaves. (Is all that necessary? Certainly not, but it is how they envision a nice meal at a fancy place.) Then, they get there. Elegant room, gracious staff. But, they are seated next to the guy with a polo shirt and jeans and a similarly dressed date. Perhaps the shine it taken off their night. Perhaps the restaurant isn't as special as they thought it was.

                      Certainly that story is not too far fetched. Certainly one's dress can reasonably effect how others enjoy their evening. Might as well tidy up for their sake if not for one's own (as I am sure you do!)

                      1. re: nmprisons

                        again with the tube top????? always from the formal side, arguing from the extreme. (lol how did my old jewish parents sentence structure sneak in here???)

                        the equivalent of the tube top/ flip flops is a tuxedo, not slacks and a jacket.

                        some people may also prefer to sit near casually dressed diners, instead of people in top hats and monocles, or even suits.....

                        if the kids dinner in your example is ruined by what some stranger is wearing, they don't love each other enough

                        when i'm with someone i love, your shoes do nothing to detract from my evening

                        1. re: thew

                          How about if the EMP servers wore shorts and tank tops and flip flops? How would that be?

                        2. re: nmprisons

                          Point by point...
                          1) Comply with the dress code. There is no dress code at EMP based on what someone posted below. It's "jackets preferred". If jackets or formal dress are required, then make it so, as they do at Daniel (I think?). Otherwise, I'm not seeing anything wrong with a nice pair of jeans and a dress shirt.
                          2) Not sure I understand the point about defining "fine dining" and what is expected of the patrons. For me, fine dining implies amazing food with high-end ingredients, exceptional service, typically at a high price and a civilized atmosphere. One thing I do not care about is how others dress. Others may have different views. But as you stated, no one can define this term for anyone else. So as far as i'm concerned, a nice pair of jeans and dress shirt passes the smell test and I don't see a problem with it. Others may disagree and that's fine.
                          3) Ruining the experinece for 21 year old couples... Why is a 21 year old kid who is taking his girlfriend out to EMP getting distracted by some couple in jeans / shirt? If that's taking the shine off the date, I'd pull the kid aside and tell him to shape up and focus on his girl. I can honestly say that in my time eating at nicer establishments, I've never been distracted by what others wear... well, except for the time one woman wore a VERY revealing out fit at Fleur de Lis - that was distracting.

                          Let's take it a step further. Less than formal dress may offend some. But what about diners perceived as too young, who detract from the more sophisticated, mature environment at these high end establishments? What about heavily overweight people? Certainly, that could be offensive to some as well. I don't know, I just don't get too focused on other people when I am out enjoying myself, I honestly didn't even realize people were concerned about how others dressed.

                          Again, I'm not saying dress in crappy, smelly clothes, but with respect to dress code, I do believe there isn't a line drawn in the sand and it's a matter of personal judgement, and to me, a nice pair of jeans and dress are a-ok.

                          1. re: nmprisons

                            >Perhaps the shine it taken off their night. Perhaps the restaurant isn't as special as they thought it was.

                            Then they've learned a useful lesson about dining out: It's a social act that isn't all about them and their particular expectations.

                            1. re: squid kun

                              So do yoyu think there are any reasonable expectations as to what one will find in a 'fine restaurant?" How about the decor. How about how the staff dresses? How about that patrons should be washed? Or is that just too bourgeois. I mean showering is so 1980s.

                          2. re: FattyDumplin

                            "i'll sit next to some well-mannered "dude" in jeans over some obnoxious, drunken, well dressed "gentleman" any day of hte week."

                            What sort of straw man is that? How about a flanneled hipster sporting unwashed selvage jeans, stroking his handlebar mustache while drunkenly misquoting Nietzsche? That dude would need to get his face smashed in, and I would be first in line.

                            To the OP, a button-down shirt and a clean pair of jeans should be fine, though you can certainly dress up. I'd avoid sneakers.

                        3. I've seen Chad from Rick Owens there once, if you follow fashion. He was in his usual Rick Owens garbs and goth makeup. Also once I've seen an older man in head to toe Comme De Garcons.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Ricky

                            I'm ready to try EMP with my pair of khakis hehe

                            1. re: icorem

                              Aha, so you do own pants that are not jeans! :-)