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.

My Favorite Manifesto Comment

I’ve really enjoyed reading your responses to my Anti Dress-Code Manifesto (which was difficult to punctuate, by the way: is it Anti-Dress-Code?), but my favorite was the last one written by Natty of Life Is A Feast. Here’s what she had to say:

“From a woman’s perspective, I like dress codes because, come on, it’s a suit or a sports coat. I wish I could look that good, that easily, that cheaply! A man can own ONE suit. ONE. Uno. 1. He can wear it everywhere and look sharp.

“Me? I have multiple outfits for all the parts of life that require looking sharp– weddings, job interviews, funerals, fine dining, etc. I have different outfits depending on the weather, time of year, and whether I’m home or traveling. I could try and get away with one little black dress but even that has its limits.

“Is it really hard for you dudes to put on suits? :-) We go out to dinner somewhere amazing I’m wearing Spanx under that flirtly little dress that tastefully shows of my cleavage. Do you know what Spanx are? No? You lucky, lucky devils.”

Make sure to click the comments in the last post to read the rest of what she had to say.