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The Casualization of Dining

How about it? Anyone wanna respond to Troy? This is a road we've all been down before on this board...too many times ;-)


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  1. Well, I haven't been down this road before, but 15 years ago observed folks leaving church after Mass on a Saturday evening wearing tank tops and shorts. Don't think there are many standards left standing.

    6 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        I think "The Church" just wants people there. Was this in San Diego?

        1. re: c oliver

          Yep. Still have yet to see such casual attire on church-goers here in the Midwest.

          1. re: pikawicca

            Tell me, I have friends in OK that get decked out in suits with ties, dresses etc in the humid summer. Those days are gone for me!

            EDIT... OOPS sorry, I thought this was in the Not About Food Board.

            1. re: treb

              Me too, above. Since everyone is jumping in regardless, my comment was something about how we drove by the local high school the other day. My husband could not believe his eyes at how the kids were dressed, especially the girls. Things have surely changed since we went to high school. It's a brave new world.

              1. re: coll

                HA! We had a dress code when I was in high school. Girls couldn't wear pants, boys couldn't have hair touching their collars...and this WAS a public school, part of San Diego City Schools

      2. Hmm...responses from people not in SD. Troy must have hit a nerve ;-)

        3 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          I just think it speaks worldwide, not just SD.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I found it to be a more in general over the country feel. I mean, how much more laid back can we get here in SD? The Kings Clothes?

            1. re: cstr

              Don't they do that in San Francisco?

          2. I went to Market for a birthday dinner wearing actual pants and shoes and a decent shirt. I hadn't been there in a couple of years and was worried I would be one of the few without a sports coat..not because I consider it "formal dining" but because of the locale. My girlfriend reminded me there would likely be a lot of people wearing jeans, so not to worry. She was 100% correct. I think I only saw 2-3 sportcoats.

            I for one applaud the move away from needing formal dining just to get great meals. Save it for weddings and actual formal occasions. I don't want to be my grandparents!

            3 Replies
            1. re: MrKrispy

              I typically wear what would be called "resort casual" at nice places in SD. Nice silk Hawiian shirt and slacks or nice shorts, no cargos.The spouse is always well dressed. I just find that we do treated a bit better at those places than the tank top and baggy cargo short crowd.

              1. re: littlestevie

                yeah, fwiw I would never wear a tank top to a restaurant unless it has the beach for a floor. But that's me. Tank tops are trendy again, so who knows.

              2. re: MrKrispy

                I think you said it best, McK.

                This so-called "causualization" thing is really no more than a move away from the need to be as "formally" dressed when dining as was the case 30 years ago. The details depend on the type and location of the restaurant and time of day, as has always been the case. But the trend is away from the formerly formal.

                Look at any photo at the turn of the (last) century. Even poor men wore sportcoats most of the time -- and not just in restaurants and bars. Women at that time seem to have almost always worn cumbersome and, what look to me to be, very uncomfortable dresses. (They were the first to become less formal, but not until the 20s.)

                Times and social mores change slowly, but they do change. Thank goodness.

                BTW, I don't want to be like my grandparents either, at least not in manner of dress. But then, they were born in the 1800s...

              3. IMHO, Mille Fleurs has it right. Nice jeans are okay, but no beach or sports attire.

                Unless buffalo wings is your idea of fine dining, leave the hockey jersey and flip flops at home.

                1. Unless the servers are wearing tuxedos, male diners should be dressed at least as nicely as the male servers.

                  Shorts should not be worn to dinner at nice, indoor restaurants.


                  11 Replies
                  1. re: foodiechick

                    There are number of things which should never be worn in any (not fast food) restaurant including shorts, tank tops, flip flops, sport jerseys

                    1. re: foodiechick

                      Does that mean I have to wear a fedora at one of "whose name shall not be spoken" restaurants? I get your point but there are a lot of resturants in SD where the servers wear ties such as the Beach House. I will dress nicely when I go there, but I will probably have shorts on and a nice shirt and no tie.The staff are at their place of work and that is their uniform. I am a professional that deals with the public and I am almost always better dressed than my customers. Does it bother me? no, not really.

                        1. re: honkman

                          If we are talking Addison or Mille Fleurs then no. But Trattoria I Truili or 3rd Corner, sure why not. Again I am not talking about some ratty dirty cargos, some nice resort shorts and a closed shoe. I think that looks a h*** of a lot better than some 5'9" 250lb man in a shirt that is a couple of sizes too small but he has on long pants or a woman wearing clothes that are 30 years too young for her with some ridculous platform shoes

                          1. re: littlestevie

                            I don't think shorts (and a number of other stuff) are appropriate in any restaurant (leave them for the beach where they are OK like many other things people tend to wear in restaurants) if you don't want to look like a small child who never learned how to dress (actually we wouldn't even let our little daughter wear something like it). I think FN has summarized it nicely in his response - and I can't hear the argument anymore that San Diego is a "beach city" as an excuse why so many people run around like slobs in their life away from the beach.

                            1. re: honkman

                              Your no-shorts thing sounds a lot like people who say not to wear shorts anywhere when you go to Europe. Yet the times I've been there plenty of adults were wearing shorts on warm days and they weren't the American tourists (you can spot them by their shoes haha). I am not talking at a fine dining restaurant of course. Shorts seem perfectly acceptable in the US for lunch at most restaurants. Dinner, not so much.

                              Then again, no-shorts-ever-if-you-aren't-at-the-beach kind of doesn't help your argument.

                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                I am not saying that there are no people who wear shorts or flip flop in a restaurant in Europe but there are far fewer than here in the US (but times are indeed changing - 30 years ago when I was living in the second largest city in Germany you have had problems to find a McD. Today there way too many. So no doubt that the globalization of (fast) food and the casualization of what to wear will continue

                                1. re: honkman

                                  Europe and shorts. Yes, they have a lot of catching up to do in the style department.

                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                    Indeed Fakey. I don't have nice things to say of a culture that refuses to wear shorts when it is 80F and humid haha

                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                      They don't refuse to wear shorts in general just not in restaurants

                        2. re: littlestevie

                          "Does it bother me? no, not really."

                          And there you have it. If it does not bother myself, it's ok.

                          I was taught a little differently (because I'm old) and was required to consider that I was not alone on the planet.

                          I remember a distant friend of mine was kicked out of the bar at Montanas (remember?) because he was wearing a tank top. He was indignant, and threatened to sue, etc etc, drama, drama.

                          The bartender's position was simple- other people don't come to the bar there to gaze at your hairy armpits. Put on a f'ing shirt.

                          I couldn't disagree.

                      1. Time was when the upper class and haute bourgeoisie dressed formally for dinner in their own homes. Occasionally I eat in a restaurant where jacket and tie are required, and where I think it's worth the effort - Rules in London, for example. But for the most part, if the restaurateur wants us to decorate his dining room with what we wear, he can pay us instead of our paying him. :-)

                        1. I'm more concerned with the casualization of food rather than of dress, but I suppose that's a whole other discussion...

                          1. I do not care of about the casualization of dining dress code.

                            I do care, however, about the casualization of dining etiquette.

                            I'd rather much have a well-behaved, polite diner in shorts and flip-flops than a brusque, rude diner dressed to the nines.

                            1 Reply
                            1. I don't know if its a chicken or egg kind of a thing, but I do agree that we don't have enough restaurants that encourage formality. When I go to the Wine Vault, for instance, I feel compelled to dress up because its a multi-course meal with wine pairings. And while I don't go to the Wine Vault every night, I have a good time because it is such a different experience.

                              In contrast, other restaurants, in an attempt to be "warm and casual," compel diners to be more casual. But those restaurants are going for more of a regular (2-3 times a month) clientele, rather than a special occasion type clientele.

                              Anyway, one thing I miss most about Jay Porter leaving San Diego is that he would have a long, thoughtful post about the economics of casualization in restaurants.