No Jacket Required (An Anti Dress-Code Manifesto)


The man was a regular. He walked in confidently, with an air of entitlement about him. I’m not sure what he did for a living–was he a stock broker? An investment banker? A bestselling novelist?–whatever he was, it didn’t matter. He smacked of success; he glowed with accomplishment.

He moved briskly from the door to the maitre’d, an equally polished man who stood alongside an equally polished woman, there at the entrance to one of the city’s finest restaurants: Le Bernardin.

“Good afternoon, Monsieur,” said the maitre’d.

“How are you?” said the man in a deep, resounding voice, shaking the hand of the maitre’d. “I know I don’t have a reservation, but can you squeeze me in?”

The maitre’d carefully, but subtly, looked the man up and down. And the man, who possessed charisma and charm and a killer smile, lacked the one thing the maitre’d was looking for: a suit. The man was wearing shorts and an untucked buttoned-down shirt.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the maitre’d. “Perhaps if you went home and changed?”

“Oh right,” said the man, laughing. “I’m not wearing a suit.”

“We’re sorry sir,” said the maitre’d. “We have to uphold our dress code.”

“I understand,” said the man, making his way for the door. “Thanks anyway.”

He exited and I felt like I had just witnessed something important, something I wanted to write about. As for myself, I was wearing a suit I hadn’t worn since law school, waiting to meet my friend Phoebe Damrosch. When she came, she complimented me on looking so dapper and the maitre’d happily led us to our table. Maybe it was because of what I had just witnessed, but the feeling was nothing less than triumphant.