How to Dress in Toronto?

May 7th, 2004, 05:29 AM
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How to Dress in Toronto?


Please give advice to a 40-year old couple on appropriate dress in Toronto. I assume jeans/shorts are ok for touring in the daytime, but how about for going out at night? For example, how do people usually dress when going out to dinner in Little Italy/Chinatown/etc.? Jeans and a polo shirt? Khakis? Dressier?

Davelw is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 06:03 AM
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It is a casual town; I've eaten in the second level (not the fanciest dining room) at the Four Seasons in jeans dozens of times.

But today I saw a tourist couple, around 40, having a coffee before walking around town, and they were both wearing polished leather shoes; flats for the woman. Both had ceases where they were supposed to be in their trousers, both had nice sweaters, and she had a short leather jacket and he had a jacket you'd imagine Arnold Palmer selling. (She also had a great smile, which is partly why I noticed them. And they had maps, showing they were tourists. Otherwise I would have tried to sell them something.)

They looked sophisticated and relaxed, and, all in all, very, very good.

About shorts -- remember the air conditioning, but it depends where you are from. I just passed a group of about eight tourists, most in short sleeves, and the temperature here is 10 C., which is 50, and I was chiilly with a long sleeve shirt plus a jacket.

I put on pressed blackwool pants last week to look dressier than my normal jeans when I was representing a client rather than myself.

I don't see a downside in "dressier" for a good dinner, though. It makes the meal and the event even more special, but I would not suggest there's any need for suit at dinner, except in perhaps a dozen of the best restaurants.

Even I would wear a suit to Avalon.

In US terms, Toronto is much more formal than down-market LA; much less formal than up-market New York, but sort of like up-market LA in casualness, adjusting for the climate.

So if you can get my point that if you were eating at Ruth's Chris Stesak HOuse in Toronto you'd dress here as you would at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Beverley Hills, rather than as you'd dress at Smith & Wollensky's in New York.

On the other hand, clean jeans and a full wallet will get in into any restraurant in Toronto. At the Four Seasons they'll just think you're a movie producer.

BAK is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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In addition to a proper outfit you need a proper tongue. Do you speak Canadian?
FainaAgain is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 05:44 PM
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I did a survey today.

At King and Bay, where four fo the five Candian banks are headquartered, among the 34 people cross the street at one traffic light change, there was one couple in business suits, 15 people in jeans, and 17 people in various slacks, causal Dockers-style pants, capri pants, sweaters, open neck shirts, and so on.

At Yonge and King, it was fancier; one third jeans, two thirds everything else.


BAK is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 08:55 PM
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Brian ... we have to get you a new surveys???
garyt22 is offline  
May 8th, 2004, 05:14 PM
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Jeans/shorts are ok for daytime, but avoid the tourist "fanny pack, water bottle & giant running shoe" look if you can. If you really want to blend in, wear clothes exclusively from Banana Republic and the Gap (downtown residents seem to live in these labels). A little unimaginative - but that will help you get the idea. We're more BR/Gap than Talbots/Eddie Bauer.

For evening, you can't go wrong if you dress in black (or mix black with your khakis, pastels etc). Some clubs have "no jeans" dress codes. Many restaurants aren't fussed by jeans, but you'll probably see people dressing them up a little (leather jackets, silk sweaters, etc.) If you want to dress up a little more, you won't feel out of place.

I'm not sure when you'll be visiting Toronto (May-June, or July-August?) Women will start wearing sundresses (bare legs), sandals (usually not super high heels), skirts etc. My Vancouver friend points out that while Toronto women generally have less flashy taste in fashion than their Vancouver peers, the Toronto women have "harlot toes". (Sandals require nail polish, and it would seem that the brighter and more garish the better.)

Pack a few light layers for the next few months: tshirt, light jacket, light sweater (to layer) or tank top/shell, cardigan, light jacket for women. It's less than 10 right now, but it could be 25 tomorrow, and later in the season, the temperature is likely to vary between 12-15 and 25-33. And the almost universal air conditioning makes many public spaces feel like the arctic.
Kate_W is offline  
May 8th, 2004, 07:40 PM
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Re>clothing surveys??? <

Well, it gave me something to do while waiting for the traffic light to change.

BAK is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 09:36 AM
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Hmmm, not sure about Kate W's comment - I'm a Talbots shopper - but I guess Gap and Banana Republic are okay as well!
SusanInToronto is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 12:34 PM
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Here's what to wear: black pants with a crisp white shirt, interesting belt/accessories, smart-looking bag. For daytime wear flats for greater comfort; for evening you can switch to heels. A light leather jacket in case it's cool. Right now it's about 8C but tomorrow it's supposed to be 25C. When we go to the Royal Alex or other theatre you do see people in jeans, and certainly in the summer people dress "down" slightly but most are still casual dressy. If you're a guy it's much the same; black dress pants, nice shirt, smart-looking belt/shoes.
baker is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 02:45 PM
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Fashion Police do not exist in Toronto. They exist only on travel message boards.

My hunch is that anything you would find appropriate at home (whether in NYC or LA or in "the sticks") would be OK in Toronto. Of course, if you are from Texas, I would leave the cowboy hat at home.
LaurenSKahn is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 05:01 AM
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Two thoughts re: fashion in Toronto - born and raised there...moved to Oakville but virtually live in T.O still.

1. I would not suggest Jeans in a nive restaurant in Toronto - we are a subtle bunch it is true but you may feel uneasy as it is NOT common place (as my memory serves me) to show up at a restaurant like - Jump, Four Seasons, Steak and Frites in jeans. If you are a director and you show up in may think you look ok - but still director or no - jeans?? Try Khaki's...and for a woman pretty simply anything but jeans...skirt, capri's, khakis etc... If you are going to a Pub or a casual greek restuarant bring on the jeans.

2. I don't know that my experience of Toronto general during the day sightseeing has been Gap / Bannan Republic. and garish toe polish...and IMHO in Canada the most impressive women are NOT in Vancouver rather Montreal...I digress. During the day just seeing the city - wear what you want - we have such a mix of people that you can catch people wearing ANYTHING at a corner in the city. Business suits obviously dominate Mon - Fri during the day, but go jeans, shorts, skirts (man or woman - hehehe) topless as it is legal for anyone now...tank tops, blouses WHATEVER....a tuxedo may get you a second glance. I do agreee though don't don the "tourist attire" but if you do be proud and ENJOY Toronto!!
carib_bean is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 03:48 AM
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Thanks for the many fun and informative responses. I live in Richmond, Virginia - khakis and jeans seem to be common here among the guys unless you are going to the theater or an upscale restaurant. Sounds like Toronto is a little dressier in the evening.

FainaAgain, I don't speak "Canadian" - Is there something I need to know?

BAK, I thought the "clothing survey" was a cool idea. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

Davelw is offline  

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