Attire for men in nice restaurants

Old May 16th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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Cross posted...
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Old May 16th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Sorry, that should have been Rabanel, not Rabanat. I forget I'm not a touch typist sometimes.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 12:51 PM
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As a little girl in the 50s and growing up in New York City, I was dressed to the nines by my grandmother to be taken to a Broadway show or to see my mother dance with the Rockettes on a regular basis. People dressed up for dining out, church, shopping, and most all social activities. By college, where skirts were mandated for dinner, you could also get by with a T-shirt on top. As recently as the late '80s I was appalled that London theatre-goers could actually eat ice cream IN the theatre itself. I have not been on a job interview in 20 years where I was not dressed better and more formally than the person interviewing me. "Casual Fridays" have changed the American dress code forever. Our favorite word is COMFORT.Yes,we have changed, and we are more casual, more out there with just about every aspect of our behavior, including the freedom to dress as we please and say randomly despicable things to strangers on the internet, because we CAN. It worries me that my college students are more concerned about how their tats will be perceived by a prospective employer than how to write a decent profile on Linked-In. But this is America in 2011, and while it does not look or function like Paris or Rome or certainly New York City, it is what most people understand as real. Do we not aspire to improve? Perhaps. Likely to change? Assuredly not. Make you wonder what de Tocqueville would think of us today.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 12:54 PM
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That's why I use the drive through window. No one care how you are dressed.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:08 PM
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It depends a lot on why you are going to a restaurant. If you are going for the food, then obviously your attire is irrelevant. If you are going to see and be seen, then your attire is of utmost importance, and the food is irrelevant.

Some people prefer style, others prefer substance. It's closely related to the differences between extroverts and introverts, Mac users and PC users, artists and engineers, and so on.

The French place more importance on appearance than Americans do. Nevertheless, time marches on, and the notion that there are strict dress codes in Paris generally, or that most French people really care about how others dress, is several decades out of date.

I'm reminded of something I once read: When you're 20 years old, you worry about what other people think of you. When you're 40 years old, you stop worrying about what they think of you. And when you're 60 years old, you realize that other people were never thinking of you at all. You can save yourself a lot of grief by not waiting until you're 60 years old to stop worrying about what other people think.

I have to laugh about getting respect or admiration from the restaurant staff. Who cares what they think? Are they paying you to be there? And, for what it's worth, professional staff will not even blink at what you are wearing ... everyone gets the same top service, irrespective of attire. And yes, I've worn jeans and a t-shirt to the Tour d'Argent. I got exactly the same service that everyone else got.

This goes for stores, too. In Paris, dumpy stores don't care how you're dressed. Dumpy stores that would like you to believe that they are good stores may look askance at any dress they deem inappropriate. But the very best stores will remain absolutely indifferent to your attire: as long as it's not coated with mud or putting you at risk of arrest for indecent exposure, not the faintest flicker of disapproval will cross their faces, no matter how casually you are dressed. That's because they know better, whereas the wannabe stores do not.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:41 PM
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"Heck, there is a photo on the Gramercy Tavern website that has at least 3 people in jeans. Were they so terribly offended by jeans, why would they put a photo like that on their website?"

Why use the extreme "terribly offended" to make a broad point? Why wait for "terribly offended" to motivate us to do what is appropriate? One photo with 3 people in jeans does not signify a preference. It does not define owner recommendation or appropriateness. For me, all it says is "inclusive," which can often be a smart business decision.

I would say any place with the word "tavern" or "cafe" in its name will be subject to casual interpretation. The food can be great but the overall feel of the place can be relaxed. Far from stuffy. I'm sure Danny Meyer knew exactly what he was doing when he named both restaurants. I would also say that many fine-dining restaurants offer popular, affordable lunch service, like Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, catering mostly to local business folk. And yes, these restaurants know that clothing in the workplace has gone from Friday casual to every day casual in the last five years, especially in the type of businesses that are located in the Union Square/Flatiron/Gramercy districts.

Restaurants like these two aren't looking to deny service to any customer. It makes PR sense and business sense to post at least one photo that includes the jean-wearing set. The question one should ask, how do the vast majority of people dress who eat dinner at these two restaurants? A very small percentage would wear jeans, and there's a reason for this. The vast majority of evening diners view their dining experience at either restaurant as special, and this attitude is reflected in the appearance of its devoted customers. I'm quite sure the restaurant owners and employees appreciate this. As a customer who cares about these things, I appreciate it, too, which encourages me to keep coming back.

"I think a great many people simply don't care for getting dressed up"

I have no idea what "getting dressed up" means without knowing the individual. Such terms are meaningless when used as a generalization, in the abstract. I think a great many people simply don't want to deal with questions of style. They don't wish to challenge their brain to figure out a better way to present themselves in public. They want life to be easy. Jeans offer a no-brain solution to dressing. Jeans are a perfect choice for the lazy.

"one should feel free to wear what is comfortable"

With that thinking, then why not pajamas? Why not tank tops? Why not underwear or swim attire? Why not flip-flops? Some people love to eat naked. What about their comfort? When does comfort become inappropriate? Who decides? Where are the teachers who teach these social norms?

Since when are jeans comfortable at a three course meal with wine? Or, worse, a seven course tasting menu? I'm never comfortable eating while wearing jeans and I have very little body fat on a worked-out body. Denim is a heavy material. Jeans can be extremely restricting if you wear jeans the way they are meant to be worn. Denim is often tighter than a girdle. Pleated denim looks awful and makes everyone look FAT, or PHAT, if you're auditioning for a Hip-Hop video. I think there's a health argument that tight denim is not a good choice for digestion and/or circulation. Next, I expect you'll be recommending jeans with an elastic waistband. Everyone knows how attractive and tasteful that is.

"Certainly, if the restaurant makes a point of requesting no jeans or jacket required, as Per Se does, then one should respect that."

Too bad some restaurants feel the need to spell their preferences out, often in bold black and white. If there were less customers like you, travelgourmet, the need wouldn't exist.

It's presumptuous to assume that just because the code isn't written out for all to see, it's OK to do what you want. It's a business decision to state your customer preferences in print. For some businesses, especially businesses that are frequented by tourists, this decision can be fraught with risk. It's completely unfair to expect any restaurant in Europe to offer language translation for such code. God forbid they offend one foreign patron.

Elegant, stylish people who know how to define appropriate don't need to call a restaurant to ask about dress codes. They don't need to see preferences spelled out in black and white on the menu or on the website. Educated, respectful people know what to do.

"Jeans are certainly casual, which is pretty much in keeping with the style of many, many restaurants today."

I agree. I wear jeans. I wear jeans in winter only. In pizza parlors and ramen shops. I wear jeans when my meal is less than $15 and my waiter is wearing Nike's. I wear jeans where the noise level is louder than the city streets. There's a time and a place for everything.

"Price is not a very good indicator of dress code."

Price is a very good indicator of quality expectations. How you dress says a lot about your feelings and attitude. I don't want to sit next to some tasteless jerk while I consume my $150 meal.

"Masa, which is arguably the most expensive restaurant in the US has a casual dress code."

I have a veteran career in upscale marketing. I know the psychology behind "most expensive." I'm not a gullible consumer. I will not spend hard-earned money on expensive food in a restaurant that encourages its patrons to eat in jeans. That experience is for some other kind of customer.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 02:46 PM
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"I will not spend hard-earned money on expensive food in a restaurant that encourages its patrons to eat in jeans. That experience is for some other kind of customer."

Wow. You are indeed special. So eating in a good (by your definition of food) restaurant is ruined by other people's clothes.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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"So eating in a good (by your definition of food) restaurant is ruined by other people's clothes."

First, I determine what is good food, for me. The PR words "most expensive" do not impress me. Frankly, such words send up red flags because I'm all too familiar with high-end marketing and psychology hooks.

There are plenty of consumers who believe that just because something is sold as the "most expensive," it must be the absolute best. I'm too smart for this BS. I'm not that consumer.

Second, bad clothing choices don't offend me. If ugly clothes did, I couldn't spend holiday time with my fat, Ohio cousins who stuff their bodies into anything sold at JC Penney, two sizes too small and on sale. What offends me is a restaurant that sells itself as the "most expensive" and then encourages its patrons to dress casually. That opens the door to lazy slobs who don't care what they look like and attracts people who believe that if you spend enough money on something, the experience must be worth it. Again, I'm not that consumer and I prefer not to dine with such a consumer.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 04:33 PM
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>>

Words fail me.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 05:01 PM
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I have no problem with people being csual in a casual place - but there is a difference between csual and "cleaning out the garage".

I do have a problem with people who dress very casually in upscale restaurants where many people are going for special events. I'm with 21 - not jacket no entry. Jeans and sneaker - no entry. There are plenty of places where you can eat dresed like that - but others where the dress isn;t welcome. (It may be tolerated, but not welcome.)

I'm not suggesting that we bring back supper clubs with men in tuxes and women in beautiful floor length gowns and furs. But I don't see how it can hurt anyone to dress like a presentable adult for an upsacle dinner. (My fear is that a lot of people do it becuse they don't now they aren't presentble - having spent most of their lives whooping it up at Applebees or Chilis.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 05:33 PM
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Don't knock Applebees and Chilis.
At least they DO have a dress code.......

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service
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Old May 16th, 2011, 08:37 PM
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Applebees poisoned me. Never again.

It's pretty obvious which side of the tracks that travelgourmet grew up on. T-shirt and jeans are his religion. Doesn't wear flip flops so I guess he goes barefoot. Probably voted for Lenin. Eats squab with rice. Drinks the wine dregs. Boasts that he paid more for a dinner than anybody on his block.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:45 PM
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Incredibly entertaining. I do believe the vitriol on this thread may have reached new levels. I wish I had tuned in earlier today as I may have needed less coffee.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:10 PM
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"A Big Mac and Coke, please."

"You want vitriol with that?"
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:20 PM
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Yes, and they have only scratched the surface, because we have not even started talking about perfectly dressed total loudmouth jerks, who can ruin the ambience of a meal far more than a discreet, poorly dressed person.

Can you imagine trying to enjoy a meal sitting next to those Sex in the City women, who clearly were glorified for thinking ONLY about their appearance?
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Old May 16th, 2011, 11:00 PM
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I have a veteran career in upscale marketing. I know the psychology behind "most expensive." I'm not a gullible consumer. I will not spend hard-earned money on expensive food in a restaurant that encourages its patrons to eat in jeans. That experience is for some other kind of customer.

There are plenty of consumers who believe that just because something is sold as the "most expensive," it must be the absolute best. I'm too smart for this BS. I'm not that consumer.

You are the one that said price was a good indicator of attire. I pointed out that this is simply not true. Which is it? Is price a good indicator or not? You seem to have trouble making up your mind.

Price is a very good indicator of quality expectations. How you dress says a lot about your feelings and attitude. I don't want to sit next to some tasteless jerk while I consume my $150 meal.

Why do you keep bringing up price? You seem obsessed with it. Again, avoid Masa (or Sasabune, or most other top-level sushi places in NYC). And Ko. And noma, or pretty much any place in Copenhagen. You will be unhappy.

There's a time and a place for everything.

Yes. And increasingly, the time and place for jeans is Friday evening at many of the best restaurants in the world.

Why use the extreme "terribly offended" to make a broad point? Why wait for "terribly offended" to motivate us to do what is appropriate?

I was following your lead. You clearly think wearing jeans to what are, objectively, pretty casual places like USC and Gramercy Tavern is some affront to the owner.

One photo with 3 people in jeans does not signify a preference. It does not define owner recommendation or appropriateness.

It sure doesn't signify offense, either. I may not have an extensive career in marketing, but I can tell you that it would be pretty poor branding to publicly display pictures of people in jeans, if that caused the owner great offense. Tell you what, a couple of friends know Danny Meyer personally - shall we ask him how he feels?

For me, all it says is "inclusive," which can often be a smart business decision.

I agree. Both USC and Gramercy Tavern are quite inclusive. Good food. Relaxed vibe. Nice, friendly, but not really formal service. Exactly the sort of place where one can comfortably wear jeans and nobody will bat an eye, including the photographer charged with helping brand the restaurant on their website.

I have very little body fat on a worked-out body.

Thanks for sharing? Is this a discussion about attire for restaurants, or a dating site?

If ugly clothes did, I couldn't spend holiday time with my fat, Ohio cousins who stuff their bodies into anything sold at JC Penney, two sizes too small and on sale.

Frankly, I'm not entirely certain your "fat, Ohio cousins" would miss their "judgemental, pompous NY cousin" would he/she elect to stay home next Christmas.

Again, I'm not that consumer and I prefer not to dine with such a consumer.

Tell you what, send me an email, and I can let you know my dining schedule so you can work around it.

I'm with 21 - not jacket no entry. Jeans and sneaker - no entry. There are plenty of places where you can eat dresed like that - but others where the dress isn;t welcome.

Back to the OP, if we may. The OP is not going to 21. They are talking about relatively nice places in places like Normandy, not the Ritz. The one restaurant they specifically mentioned does not seem that formal, but rather nice country restaurant. Neither I, nor anyone else, disputes that there are some restaurants where a jacket is required or at least advisable. Those places are just fewer and farther between than some would like.


It's pretty obvious which side of the tracks that travelgourmet grew up on.

We don't have trains where I grew up.

T-shirt and jeans are his religion.

Actually, lapsed Catholic, but close.

Doesn't wear flip flops so I guess he goes barefoot.

Only in summer.

Probably voted for Lenin.

Twice.

Eats squab with rice.

I quite like squab. And rice.

Drinks the wine dregs.

Now that crossed the line.

Boasts that he paid more for a dinner than anybody on his block.

I think you have me confused with someone else in this thread.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 01:50 AM
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I lived in Paris for many years. My husband didn't (and doesn't) own a pair of jeans. We are European. We eat out in very nice restaurants all the time (yes, its Tuesday for us too) but we always dress well.

In fact it's not a restaurant "thing", it's more of a cultural difference. We were in NYC a few weeks ago, and we dined in extremely nice restaurants and my husband wore a blazer/sports coat and I a dress.

Of course you can wear jeans in a restaurant in Paris, but you won't find many nice french people doing the same.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 05:24 AM
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>

Wow, how good of you to make their simple Midwestern hearts happy by gracing them with your presence!
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Old May 17th, 2011, 05:48 AM
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How civilised the perennial discussions about ladies'shoes are in comparison to this one.

Of course this is PHILOSOPHICAL and about MEN.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 05:59 AM
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This is fast becoming a Fodors classic. Carry on!
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