Frank Bruni Responds

I’m deeply flattered that Frank Bruni took the time to respond to my dress code manifesto on his Diner’s Journal blog (to read his response, click here; to read my original post, click here.) He begins by calling me a “lovely, thoughtful guy” (woohoo!) and then systematically dismantles my argument. I appreciate the logic of his approach and admit that, rationally speaking, it’s unreasonable to expect restaurants like Per Se or Le Bernardin to change their dress codes if customers are willing to (and often happy to) oblige. The best, part, though are the comments; so many comments, in fact, that Bruni wrote a follow-up post to highlight his favorites. My favorite comment concerns a patron at the French Laundry who, uncomfortably hot, removes his jacket only to have the maitre’d come over and say that jackets are required. “I replied that I was uncomfortable in it because of the heat. He replied that he doesn’t want me to be uncomfortable and asked for the jacket, which I gave him. After that, all the diners came in and noticed I wasn’t wearing a jacket. I wonder how they felt?”

As Bruni says in his follow-up, “A dress code is, indeed, arbitrary…But the code has to say something, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that the existence of a dress code is, on balance, going to lead to more formally dressed patrons than the absence of a code.”

Clearly, though, it’s a subject that inspires passion and I think that’s because there’s a sensitive link between what we wear and who we are. Seen through the prism of identity, a dress code drums up issues of class, gender, maybe even race. It’s a delicate conversation, and an important one, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

4 thoughts on “Frank Bruni Responds”

  1. As a retired rest. manager from Disney, I enjoy dressing for dinner. I also enjoy those around me to dress-up a little.

    I am now living in a small town in VA and would be hard pressed to find a restaurant forcing its patrons to wear a jacket or tie. The town’s gourmet steakhouse will allow customers to wear overalls, if they want.

    Feeling over-dressed, I would sometimes wish for a dress code. But then we wouldn’t be embracing our local culture, would we?

    Classism definitely plays a major role in this debate and I am curious to see what others think.

    After all is said and done, a customer is a customer – jacket or no jacket.

  2. Walter Bernal

    I just read about the dress code. I am from Chile and in this country if you go to a good restaurant you normally attend dressed up. It is nicer, I personally feel much confortable and the rest of the people seems to enjoy the atmosphere produced in the dining room.

  3. I hate dressing up because it is uncomfortable. Wearing a jacket makes it harder to eat without dumping something on your tie or catching something with the sleeve of the jacket. Jackets also guarantee that I will be hot. which adds to the discomfort.

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