On a recent Saturday evening, Peter and I, along with another couple, had reservations at one of our favorite Boston steakhouses, Mastro. It is on the waterfront, a beautiful setting, with an equally impressive dining room. From the bread basket to the desserts, all food is outstanding – with prices to match. The service is impeccable, delivered by a staff in formal white jackets and black bow ties. And – to top it all off, they have live entertainment on the weekends which contributes to an energetic, fun vibe. (Yeah, loud too!) There was only one problem: an apparent lack of dress code. Sitting next to us, a young man in a tee shirt, while his date was wearing a cocktail dress. Plenty of other men in jeans and sneakers. Sloppy looking, very casual. Toward the end of the evening, a guy walked by our table actually wearing baggy gym shorts and athletic sneakers. Awful! Sorry, I don’t want to see this when I am paying this much money for an elegant dining experience. After a lengthy discussion with our friends on our way home and a bit of online research, here are a few points to ponder:
- This occurs not only at Mastro – most high end restaurants now have a very loose dress code; Mistral, L’Espalier do not require men to wear jackets.
- The loose dress code is likely done for business reasons. They do not want to turn away revenue from the affluent younger set, nor do they want a dining room filled with sedate baby boomers.
- Having a dress code that states ‘business casual’, ‘upscale casual’, or ‘no ripped jeans’ is too vague and confusing for most people to interpret. Guys especially can be clueless when it comes to this category, many only understanding ‘dressed up’ (suit and tie) or ‘casual’ (jeans, sneakers, fleece or leather jacket). There needs to be more specific guidelines.
- If it were up to me, it should be ‘Jackets required for men, no jeans, no sneakers, no athletic wear.’ (While ‘nice’ jeans look great with a sport jacket and dress shoes, it leaves too much up to interpretation for what are ‘nice’ jeans.) Basically, you need to draw the line somewhere.
- The lack of dress code is unlikely to change, so what to do? Just because you can wear jeans, teeshirts, sneakers, shorts – doesn’t mean YOU have to. There are plenty of people in upscale restaurants dressed nicely, and not only those over 50. Dressing up shows a level of respect for who you are with, for where you are, and for yourself. And trust me, people notice.
Ok! I am hoping to get many comments on this post so please don’t let me down! What do you think about the lack of dress codes in fine restaurants? Does it bother you or not so much? For the ladies, you may enjoy the occasion to wear a dress/skirt, but would it be a challenge for your husband wear a sport jacket if it was not required? Do you care? Let’s get the debate going!