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sethd

Restaurant Dress Codes and Attire

73 posts in this topic

(This topic is split off the Eleven Madison Park topic here .)

To quote Helene Cousins (for those who know her): "Exact-lay!" :wink:

Now there is a woman who knows how to run a restaurant. A restaurant that unlike EMP fully merits all the accolades, stars, and stellar reviews it has achieved over the last 20 years. Mlle Helene Cousins is the best front of the house personality I have ever met.

One of my many problems with my one meal at EMP was the lack of formality, specifically the lack of any dresscode. I can't take a restaurant seriously as a fine-dining destination if jeans (whether Kiton or Lee's) are accepted as appropriate attire in the dining room.


Edited by David Ross Split topic (log)

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To quote Helene Cousins (for those who know her): "Exact-lay!"   :wink:

Now there is a woman who knows how to run a restaurant. A restaurant that unlike EMP fully merits all the accolades, stars, and stellar reviews it has achieved over the last 20 years. Mlle Helene Cousins is the best front of the house personality  I have ever met.

One of my many problems with my one meal at EMP was the lack of formality, specifically the lack of any dresscode.  I can't take a restaurant seriously as a fine-dining destination if  jeans (whether Kiton or Lee's) are accepted as appropriate attire in the dining room.

And we'll have to agree to disagree on this point, my friend. l'Arpege is not exactly the formal fare that I come to expect from a Michelin 3-star in Paris. I don't need stiff - in fact, I find Ms. Cousin's brand of service quite refreshing in its frankness. Very much like the easy-going, laid back feeling I get from the staff at Eleven Madison Park, actually.

And, if you are to cite attire as a contributing factor to qualifying a "fine dining" experience, then I fail to see how you can possibly classify l'Arpege (or any of the three-stars in Paris these days, for that matter) as fine dining. The clients there are no more dressed up than those I've seen at Eleven Madison Park, if not more casually so.

Edited to add: Perhaps Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee is an exception to the rest of the Parisian three-stars. From my understanding, it remains quite formal.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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To quote Helene Cousins (for those who know her): "Exact-lay!"  :wink:

Now there is a woman who knows how to run a restaurant. A restaurant that unlike EMP fully merits all the accolades, stars, and stellar reviews it has achieved over the last 20 years. Mlle Helene Cousins is the best front of the house personality  I have ever met.

One of my many problems with my one meal at EMP was the lack of formality, specifically the lack of any dresscode.  I can't take a restaurant seriously as a fine-dining destination if  jeans (whether Kiton or Lee's) are accepted as appropriate attire in the dining room.

So do you tell Passard to go back to the kitchen when he comes out in denim overalls and boots?

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To quote Helene Cousins (for those who know her): "Exact-lay!"   :wink:

Now there is a woman who knows how to run a restaurant. A restaurant that unlike EMP fully merits all the accolades, stars, and stellar reviews it has achieved over the last 20 years. Mlle Helene Cousins is the best front of the house personality  I have ever met.

One of my many problems with my one meal at EMP was the lack of formality, specifically the lack of any dresscode.  I can't take a restaurant seriously as a fine-dining destination if  jeans (whether Kiton or Lee's) are accepted as appropriate attire in the dining room.

So do you tell Passard to go back to the kitchen when he comes out in denim overalls and boots?

The last time I was at Le Bernardin (in March of this year), Eric Ripert was sporting some nice denim threads and boots. It didn't bother me a bit. Rather, I was simply glad to see that he cared enough to show up.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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To quote Helene Cousins (for those who know her): "Exact-lay!"   :wink:

Now there is a woman who knows how to run a restaurant. A restaurant that unlike EMP fully merits all the accolades, stars, and stellar reviews it has achieved over the last 20 years. Mlle Helene Cousins is the best front of the house personality  I have ever met.

One of my many problems with my one meal at EMP was the lack of formality, specifically the lack of any dresscode.  I can't take a restaurant seriously as a fine-dining destination if  jeans (whether Kiton or Lee's) are accepted as appropriate attire in the dining room.

And we'll have to agree to disagree on this point, my friend. l'Arpege is not exactly the formal fare that I come to expect from a Michelin 3-star in Paris. I don't need stiff - in fact, I find Ms. Cousin's brand of service quite refreshing in its frankness. Very much like the easy-going, laid back feeling I get from the staff at Eleven Madison Park, actually.

And, if you are to cite attire as a contributing factor to qualifying a "fine dining" experience, then I fail to see how you can possibly classify l'Arpege (or any of the three-stars in Paris these days, for that matter) as fine dining. The clients there are no more dressed up than those I've seen at Eleven Madison Park, if not more casually so.

Edited to add: Perhaps Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee is an exception to the rest of the Parisian three-stars. From my understanding, it remains quite formal.

I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly, there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

It's a shame that you feel that way.

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

I wouldn't call EMP casual in the absolute sense. An evening when nobody wore a jacket strikes me as atypical, but it is probably the least formal of the six NYC four-stars.

I think the point folks are making is that relatively casual three-star places do exist in France, even if they are uncommon. If you are saying that, on account of this, it could not possibly have three stars in France, you would be wrong. There might be other reasons, but that wouldn't be one of them.

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

For real?

I don't get how the other customers' clothes would impact your dining experience. Or why you would care. I'll take good food with less bullshit & pretense any day. Lack of formality? Bring it. Treat me well even though I'm not famous and wearing couture? Yes, please.

In fact, this is what I disliked strongly about JG on my first visit and why I don't go there often.

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

I wouldn't call EMP casual in the absolute sense. An evening when nobody wore a jacket strikes me as atypical, but it is probably the least formal of the six NYC four-stars.

Actually, I think that masa occupies that seat. Perhaps it's the counter-seating. Or, perhaps because it is the only four-star that is not recognizably French. Or, perhaps its because the chef is wearing the equivalent of linen scrubs. What e'er it be, it seemed the least formal of all of the New York four-stars to me.

Clearly, I missed the sign-up sheet for noble stock at birth. Being a bourgeois, through and through, I applaud ebullient and open-hearted restaurateurs like Danny Meyer and Jean-Georges Vongerichten who make a point of equalizing the fine dining field, making their food and dining experience more accessible. Why should the rest of us have to eat cake?

For the record, I have not entered any of the New York four-stars without a tie and jacket save masa. That being said, I would bother me little if the fellow next to me wore a garbage bag (in fact, I have seen women in fine dining restaurants wrapped in haute couture nightmares that could have come straight out of a Glad family of products box). As much as I love the ceremony of formality, I would often prefer not to have to practice the morbid and ancient ritual of tying a noose around my neck every time I have a yen for caviar and lobster.

As an aside, I've been to all six of the three-starred Michelin restaurants in this country and over a dozen others in half a dozen countries beside. I can't say that I find American Michelin three-stars any less formal (or more formal) than those elsewhere. I think that it's important to note that many three-stars (especially abroad) are housed in hotels. Because a hotel restaurant's primary purpose is to draw people to that hotel, for better or for worse, formality is often de-emphasized in favor of comfort.

I'll also note that three-star Michelin chefs (and New York four-star chefs) seem to be in their kitchen much more than those who have lesser ratings. This isn't really surprising, if you think about it.

As a second aside, would the members of this board who have been to alinea consider it Michelin three-star-worthy? Or, deserving of the highest acclaim as a fine dining restaurant in America? I can't think if a single person who would dispute that it's near or at the pinnacle of American fine dining. And yet, not an inch of linen lines its tables. Still, if I were a Michelin inspector, I'd have no problem awarding it three stars.

As a last aside, I'll repeat: the fact that Eleven Madison Park does not have a single Michelin star is, perhaps, the biggest gap in the New York Michelin reviewing process. I hope they close it up soon.

Sum: I don't know, I kinda go for the food.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I swear to God, one time this lady was wearing what amounted to "Hamburglar" pants at Le Bernardin. So unfair...

Whether it bothers you or not, it's at least accurate to say that EMP is the only non-Masa 4 star that goes with the "jacket preferred" vs. "jacket required", and thus likely to be the least formal.

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I swear to God, one time this lady was wearing what amounted to "Hamburglar" pants at Le Bernardin.  So unfair...

Whether it bothers you or not, it's at least accurate to say that EMP is the only non-Masa 4 star that goes with the "jacket preferred" vs. "jacket required", and thus likely to be the least formal.

I think it's also a function of how comfortable one feels without a jacket at any of these restaurants that have a more lax policy. While I wouldn't think twice about going sans jacket to masa, I would think twice about it at Jean Georges, or Eleven Madison Park. But everyone has their own comfort level. sethd prefers to be formal, whilst, on the other side of the spectrum, Ms. Hamburgler pants has a very colorful comfort level. I wish life would come so carefree to me.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

I wouldn't call EMP casual in the absolute sense. An evening when nobody wore a jacket strikes me as atypical, but it is probably the least formal of the six NYC four-stars.

Actually, I think that masa occupies that seat. Perhaps it's the counter-seating. Or, perhaps because it is the only four-star that is not recognizably French. Or, perhaps its because the chef is wearing the equivalent of linen scrubs. What e'er it be, it seemed the least formal of all of the New York four-stars to me.

Clearly, I missed the sign-up sheet for noble stock at birth. Being a bourgeois, through and through, I applaud ebullient and open-hearted restaurateurs like Danny Meyer and Jean-Georges Vongerichten who make a point of equalizing the fine dining field, making their food and dining experience more accessible. Why should the rest of us have to eat cake?

For the record, I have not entered any of the New York four-stars without a tie and jacket save masa. That being said, I would bother me little if the fellow next to me wore a garbage bag (in fact, I have seen women in fine dining restaurants wrapped in haute couture nightmares that could have come straight out of a Glad family of products box). As much as I love the ceremony of formality, I would often prefer not to have to practice the morbid and ancient ritual of tying a noose around my neck every time I have a yen for caviar and lobster.

As an aside, I've been to all six of the three-starred Michelin restaurants in this country and over a dozen others in half a dozen countries beside. I can't say that I find American Michelin three-stars any less formal (or more formal) than those elsewhere. I think that it's important to note that many three-stars (especially abroad) are housed in hotels. Because a hotel restaurant's primary purpose is to draw people to that hotel, for better or for worse, formality is often de-emphasized in favor of comfort.

I'll also note that three-star Michelin chefs (and New York four-star chefs) seem to be in their kitchen much more than those who have lesser ratings. This isn't really surprising, if you think about it.

As a second aside, would the members of this board who have been to alinea consider it Michelin three-star-worthy? Or, deserving of the highest acclaim as a fine dining restaurant in America? I can't think if a single person who would dispute that it's near or at the pinnacle of American fine dining. And yet, not an inch of linen lines its tables. Still, if I were a Michelin inspector, I'd have no problem awarding it three stars.

As a last aside, I'll repeat: the fact that Eleven Madison Park does not have a single Michelin star is, perhaps, the biggest gap in the New York Michelin reviewing process. I hope they close it up soon.

Sum: I don't know, I kinda go for the food.

well said.

I have very little tolerance for stuffiness at this point. I can go Momo Ssam in flip flops, sit on a stool, listen to Led Zeppelin and be served awesome food and I view this as a step in the right direction. Danny Meyer continues to be my idol when it comes to upscale dining. My parents are still talking about the welcoming and sniff-free service at a Gramercy Tavern meal that occurred at least 6 years ago.

Alinea? I say yes. I did wear a dress and heels for that meal - black - which I think must only serve to support my position.

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

For real?

I don't get how the other customers' clothes would impact your dining experience. Or why you would care. I'll take good food with less bullshit & pretense any day. Lack of formality? Bring it. Treat me well even though I'm not famous and wearing couture? Yes, please.

In fact, this is what I disliked strongly about JG on my first visit and why I don't go there often.

Because, for me, appropriately dressed diners adds to the overall dining experience: it makes the experience more special as well. For example, I have eaten at Louis XV and was quite impressed that many men at dinner were dressed in dinner jackets and the women in long gowns.

I would never not wear at jacket and tie at a michelin three star restaurant (or 4 star NY Times). One more point, I found the best dressed customers at Le Cinq, Les Ambassadeurs, le Bristol, ADPA: the restaurants in the palace hotels in Paris.

In addition, my praise for Arpege was for the glorious overall experience one has there (one that is superior to any such meal found in the States) not for the level of formality found there.

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As a second aside, would the members of this board who have been to alinea consider it Michelin three-star-worthy?  Or, deserving of the highest acclaim as a fine dining restaurant in America?  I can't think if a single person who would dispute that it's near or at the pinnacle of American fine dining.  And yet, not an inch of linen lines its tables.  Still, if I were a Michelin inspector, I'd have no problem awarding it three stars.

Absolutely. I've eaten at Michelin three stars in Paris and beyond, and to date Alinea is the most memorable meal of my lifetime. The service was perfect, the wine pairing masterful, and the food superb. I did not miss the tablecloth. For the record, I wore a jacket and tie, but I've done the same at every Michelin *** I've visited.


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This is good news: A reliable source tells me the Gourmand changes entirely with the season.

The same source tells me they are not "jacket preferred" as I wrote (which I got from their opentable page), the EMP website in point of fact does not address it at all. So apologies for that.

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There were plenty of diners eating at El Bulli in June wearing jeans. One of them was even wearing sandals (the horror!). Didn't bother me or detract from the experience in the least.

Also re: Alinea. Given the aesthetic of the restaurant, the room looks better with bare tables. Linens would be totally out of place. And yes, it is clearly a Michelin 3 star.


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I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

So you were the odd man out with your jacket.

I'm of the no shirt, no shoes, no service variety. Honestly if a restaurant is good i'm not gonna notice or care about the morbidly obese lady in jogging pants 2 tables away. I know there was a time and place for formal dining but I think that ship has sailed.

Conversely, the attire at weddings and bar mitzvahs does not add to my dining experience at all!

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I have noticed a much greater percentage of men in jackets in three star restaurants in Paris than I saw at my meal at EMP; actually, I was the only patron of EMP wearing a jacket the night I ate there: that is ridiculous!! Secondly,  there is no way you can compare EMP or any restaurant in New York, (perhaps excepting Per Se) to the best in Paris or Europe in general. Thirdly, it is a shame that a lack of formality is so casually accepted my members of this board.

What next; critics who take into account what the other patrons at a restaurant are wearing before they assign their ratings?


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I'm not a critic. But I totally take into account what other people are wearing when I rate a restaurant, for my own purposes. And I find it actually a little hard to believe that other people don't.

Are you guys all saying you REALLY don't care what the other people in the room are like when you eat?

If I went to Le Bernardin, say, and everybody else was in sweatpants, you'd better believe it would bother me.

Conversely, Ssam Bar wouldn't be Ssam Bar if everybody were wearing business suits.

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Thank you , Sneakeater!! Alan Richman, in his recent review of Marea, did indeed comment on the (lack of ) dress of diners eating at that restaurant.


Edited by sethd (log)

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I'm not a critic. But I totally take into account what other people are wearing when I rate a restaurant, for my own purposes. And I find it actually a little hard to believe that other people don't.

Are you guys all saying you REALLY don't care what the other people in the room are like when you eat?

If I went to Le Bernardin, say, and everybody else was in sweatpants, you'd better believe it would bother me.

Sneakeater, you know this is a red herring. Restaurants like le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park DO have a dress code. You know perfectly well that a room full of sweatpants and hoodies would not be met at any of the four-starred in New York. But places like Eleven Madison Park also afford their guest the courtesy of comfort: should a man not want to wear a coat, he doesn't have to. I'm reminded of the funny, but helpful instruction by the reservationist at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at RHR: "Gentleman are reminded that trainers and track suits are not allowed."

I'm also reminded of my first visit to le Bernardin. There was a large party in the middle of the dining room. One of the ladies at that table decided it might be amusing to dress up as Miss America. Besequined from head to toe (and there was a lot of her, so there were a lot of sequines), she turned the entire dining room into Studio 54 for the evening. Instead of a tiara, she had a male peacock roost on her head that evening. As splendid as her headdress was, those feathers whacked servers and diners left and right with every turn of her head. And I'm not exaggerating. Now THAT bothered me, and many other people as well.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Sneakeater, you know this is a red herring. Restaurants like le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park DO have a dress code. You know perfectly well that a room full of sweatpants and hoodies would not be met at any of the four-starred in New York. But places like Eleven Madison Park also afford their guest the courtesy of comfort: should a man not want to wear a coat, he doesn't have to. I'm reminded of the funny, but helpful instruction by the reservationist at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at RHR: "Gentleman are reminded that trainers and track suits are not allowed."

I'm also reminded of my first visit to le Bernardin. There was a large party in the middle of the dining room. One of the ladies at that table decided it might be amusing to dress up as Miss America. Besequined from head to toe (and there was a lot of her, so there were a lot of sequines), she turned the entire dining room into Studio 54 for the evening. Instead of a tiara, she had a male peacock roost on her head that evening. As splendid as her headdress was, those feathers whacked servers and diners left and right with every turn of her head. And I'm not exaggerating. Now THAT bothered me, and many other people as well.

In case you missed my point (because I often do), I just wanted to illustrate that for every shockingly declasse wardrobe that walks into a restaurant, an equally absurd costume party waltzes in under the guise of formality. It seems that some people would be happier with me showing up as the Joker rather than Happy Gilmore if not only for the sake of having lapels and a pair of trousers.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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I think the issue of dress code is really that people seem to have absolutely no standards for appropriateness if you don't give them very clear and firm direction. For men, that generally means a jacket. Could a guy look dapper and well put together in the right pair of jeans and a button down or the right slacks with a sweater? Of course, but most men will look schlubby and messy. Women get more leeway, but appropriateness is certainly an issue. Can jeans work with a nice top? Sure, but I really don't need to see three inches of your stomach/hip/whatever that area is called. It seems like the more casual Americans are, the less that they're capable of looking put together. That's why Europeans can manage the L'Arpege dress code, but NYers as a whole (and the rest of the US is far worse) can't do it. Stylish and foodie are hardly terms that go together...

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Sneakeater, you know this is a red herring. Restaurants like le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park DO have a dress code. You know perfectly well that a room full of sweatpants and hoodies would not be met at any of the four-starred in New York.

Well, no, it's NOT a red herring. Because the only reason those places AREN'T filled with sweatpants and hoodies is that they have dress codes.

I've been grateful the times that EMP has let me in to eat at the bar, impromptu, when I was dressed inappropriately (flannel shirt, wool pants). But I don't think I was doing the other diners in the room any favors.

I agree with Jesikka that Americans tend not to know how to dress well casually (an irony, since we invented casual wear). I've mentioned this before, but 15 or 20 years ago, when the tide was first turning to office casual, the New York Times ran an article with contrasting pictures of three members of the management committee of Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, one with them dressed business formal and one with them dressed business casual. In business suits, they all looked distinguished and well-tailored. In business casualwear, they looked like three dumpy overweight middle-aged men.


Edited by David Ross (log)

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I've mentioned this before, but 15 or 20 years ago, when the tide was first turning to office casual, the New York Times ran an article with contrasting pictures of three members of the management committee of Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, one with them dressed business formal and one with them dressed business casual. In business suits, they all looked distinguished and well-tailored. In business casualwear, they looked like three dumpy overweight middle-aged men.

Of course, ue could point that this is a red herring, since the business casualwear those guys were wearing would pass any dress code in New York.

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