The Dressing Well Conundrum

Ocean Prime, Boston

If you are reading my blog, I will assume that you see the value of dressing well and that you make a reasonable effort to look your best whether for work or after hours. Yes? Good. For those of you in a steady relationship, what about your significant other? Does he/she share your values or is it a point of contention? And you might be wondering, why do I bring this up?

Peter and I recently went to Ocean Prime in Boston for dinner, it happened to be Valentines weekend…for those of you unfamiliar with Ocean Prime, it is an elegant steak house with equally ‘elegant’ prices and a lovely atmosphere…if you check them out online, the ‘dress code’ says business casual…it goes without saying that I dressed up, and Peter wore a handsome suede blazer with a collared shirt…we were seated at a great corner table in the bar area where we had a fun view of all the comings and goings…shortly after we ordered our drinks, another couple was seated in the booth right next to us. The woman was dressed nicely in a sweater and pants, while her partner wore an athletic hoodie with a baseball cap. :-0 Just my luck that they were seated near me…

Call me nasty, call me a snob, call me old-fashioned – whatever you call me, I defend my position. I see this as inappropriate and disrespectful, both to his partner as well as to other diners. The restaurant clearly does not enforce any dress code, probably to avoid losing any business – while I don’t agree, I do understand. What I don’t understand is why anyone would choose to dress in this manner when frequenting an elegant restaurant – this is no sports bar. It boggles my mind.

A couple of weeks later hubby pointed out an article in the Wall Street Journal on this very topic…Moira Hodgson wrote about dress codes and the very complicated rules and inferences that have been around for centuries…she presents a book that I can’t wait to read: Dress Codes, How the Laws of Fashion Made History, by Richard Thompson Ford.

As one who has always believed that what you wear is way more than superficial, it will be interesting to learn more…do note that ‘dressing well’ is not always dressing to the nines…it need not mean that a man must wear a suit and tie – that can often appear dated, just as a woman dressed as if she were going to a wedding can look silly, but there are definitely blatant ‘do nots’ when a dress code says business casual.

  • Do not wear hoodies.
  • Do not wear baseball cap.
  • Do not wear sports or athletic logos.
  • Do not wear gym sneakers.

Once I read this book I may have more ideas to share or I may simply continue with my personal frustration with the advancing casualness of our society…in the meantime, would love to hear your thoughts!

In closing, here is Peter in business casual done right! 🙂

Stay well. Dress well. Enjoy the NOW.

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  • Thank you for your blog, I appreciate the fashion and the commentary.
    You and Peter look classy.
    I love fashion books and this book looks promising.

    • Appreciate your comment Shelley! When there are no comments (often, haha) I start to think that people see me as a superficial nutcase. 🙂

  • I am so with you on this!!! And with covid people are now wearing their pajamas out, drives me nuts.

    • There’s absolutely no excuse for that, but those people suffer no real consequences. They likely hang out with people that dress just as they do. 🙁

  • I completely agree with you. Husband and I are often befuddled by the way people dress when going out to dinner (or anywhere really). What were they thinking? Did they check the weather? Have they no self respect? No full length mirror? I have always tried to lead by example. I don’t know what else to do. I am interested to hear you thoughts on the book. BTW, husband doesn’t usually wear a blazer when dining at nice restaurant, but he does enjoy a good cashmere sweater.

    • Haven’t bought the book yet but I hope to soon…the part that bothers me even more is what it teaches children – we are raising a generation that thinks it is ok to dress super casual and/or sloppy in public. Honestly if I could go state to state, school to school, I would love to give inspirational talks about the POWER and VALUE of dressing well. Maybe my next career…


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