Can I Get a Dress Code for Metro Phoenix Restaurants, Please?

Categories: Saria

buttonupshirt.jpg
Maureen Didde/Flickr
See this? It's called a collar. And it's a good thing.
Dear Guy at an Upscale Phoenix Cocktail Lounge in a Tank Top,

You are why we can't have nice things.

Sincerely,

Lauren

There, I said it. And no, that's not a random, made-up reference. I was actually out at a fancy new bar -- er, "cocktail parlour" -- on a recent Saturday night and noticed another patron wearing shorts . . . and a tank top. I won't even get into the fact that man-tanks are almost never okay (unless you're at the beach) because what I really want to address is the fact that we'll never have truly upscale spots if we treat even the best eating and drinking establishments our city has to offer as if they are nothing special.

See also: Bring Back Mary Elaine's! And Get Me a Purse Stool!

To be fair, the bar I'm talking about doesn't have a dress code posted online or anywhere else. So technically speaking, Mr. Tank wasn't breaking anything besides the last straw on this camel's back. On the other hand, should you really have to tell grown adults (presumably the only ones going to a bar on a Saturday night) to put on pants and maybe a real shirt before going to a place where drinks cost $12 each?

But I'm not just picking on this lone, under-dressed patron; I'm sick of under-dressed people everywhere.

For snowbirds and resort-goers it's fun and freeing to be able to go out to a nice dinner in shorts and a golf shirt while visiting the Valley. Dining in the Wild West means never having to break out your button-up or high heels! Hooray!

But it's fun to them because it's the exception, not the rule. After a few years of dining out in this town, it's no longer fun to me.

There's something to be said about a restaurant that takes itself seriously enough to insist customers dress in a particular way, a way that demonstrates that they understand that their dining or drinking experience is going to be something special. Dining out is like a performance with roles played by everyone from the chef and waiter to you and the other restaurant patrons. Is it really fair to let a chef and front of the house work their tails off to create a magical, theatrical experience, only to have it undermined by some bozo who can't be bothered to put on a real shirt?

My Catholic parents will hate this comparison, but I value dressing up to go to a nice dinner the same way I value dressing up to go to church. It's about respect, respect for the people who work hard to make your experience a memorable one. Wearing clothes that show you care about how to look when you enter someone else's space -- be it a chef, restauranteur, or the big guy upstairs -- is one very clear way to demonstrate your appreciation for what they do.

Which is why I say we'll never have nice things unless we start treating the places we have nicely.

Yes, casual is good and fine sometimes. Probably most times. But I do want a place where I can get a drink or a meal in a nice dress and high heels, a place where everyone makes a mutual agreement to wear "fancy" clothes so no one get embarrassed for being under or over-dressed. In that sense a dress code is also a social boon, ensuring that everyone enters the restaurant on equal footing, whether packing an AmEx Black Card or not.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned or even a clothing snob and, sure, I've gotten lazy with my attire a time or two. But I can honestly say I'd rather be turned away for a wardrobe faux pas than continue on this t-shirt and flip flop road.

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145 comments
ASM82
ASM82

There's never been a more appropriate time to insert a #firstworldproblems hashtag, than right now...


The New Times must employ a per-word compensation program for their "writers." That would be the only thing that could possibly make any sense of this articulated disaster. LMAO.







Sandy Wieser
Sandy Wieser

Dress like a grown up it's hot but really have respect for yourself and others

Autumn Markley Turner
Autumn Markley Turner

Phoenix in the summer means wearing or not wearing whatever you feel like as far as I'm concerned. I'm not mad at an one who goes out without bothering to get their nice clothes swampy, or doesn't bother applying makeup just to sweat it off when you walk out the door. What's more is that I find dress codes to be an archaic method of gentrification.

Katie Greisiger
Katie Greisiger

I was just there last night and although I enjoyed dressing up to go out I didn't notice what anyone else was wearing. That didn't make a difference to me in the least. The food and drinks were still awesome.

Crystal Zampino-Coons
Crystal Zampino-Coons

I don't care about what anyone else said - this is the single greatest article that has ever appeared on the New Times. It's really tragic that it's "controversial".

FyrDiva
FyrDiva

At 110°+ anything you wear is hot and uncomfortable but you don't see people walking naked into restaurants. No shirts, no shoes, no service is a dress code most people abide by. There are several equally hot climate cultures that manage to dress quite nice yet casually appropriate. Dressing nice doesn't have to be an expensive tux or long sleeve button down shirt and slacks to every restaurant without a drive - thru window. You live in the Valley you know it gets ugly hot 4+ months out of the year. Add a few components in your wardrobe that would be both suitable for the weather and more suitable than a neon pink wife - beater tank with a surfboard on it (regardless of how much you paid for it and those flip flops) to go have a nice sit down dinner.

Shorts and even flip flops can be overlooked at most places when you are wearing a clean shirt with sleeves. A tank top at Durant's, no. At Applebee's, meh if you must. Panda Express, have at it.

Most people are not walking more than a block total from air conditioned house to car to restaurant to be that severely uncomfortable. Living downtown I easily walk or bike in the summer with a skirt and/or flats. It is possible.

Troy Mannan
Troy Mannan

I did - and I agree with the author. I further agree with the comments of "BrotherWolf" and am saddened by the ignorance displayed by many of the other commenters on the article.

Larry Gulliford
Larry Gulliford

Dear Writer, Let me guess, you were at Bitter & Twisted? It's the only new cocktail parlour in Downtown Phoenix, that is likely to attract so much attention. First of all that place is awesome, it's great to have an authentic classic cocktail lounge with exciting late night food offerings in Downtown when most places stop serving food or are closed before midnight. I agree that there are a lot of people out there that don't seem to know how to dress for certain situations, but who are we to judge? Especially, if you were at B&T, since they aim "to feed those who feed others" as a previous PHX New Times quoted, so don't be so pretentious, you don't know that guy's story, maybe he just got off working in a hotel or kitchen downtown and wanted to change into something more comfortable, is it really important what he was wearing? Shouldn't what's important be that people in Phoenix actually enjoy and embrace the food scene here. Supporting the local food scene and showing appreciation for it by going there and spending their own hard earned money and then encouraging others to embrace it. Isn't that what we need instead of just having a lounge full of well dressed people who have no idea what good food is? It seems like you've been watching way too much Downton Abbey and now you are starting to sound like the aristocratic upper class that once scoffed at the idea of someone wearing a black tie to a strictly formal white tie dinner. Our Phoenix food scene doesn't need more well dressed people with no sense of good taste when it comes to food. We need more places to be open and welcoming, and encourage others who maybe have never experienced it to try all the fresh, local, creative food Downtown has to offer, and support it with their dollars, since that is what keeps restaurants open and growing, not well meaning style snobs in overpriced clothing, scoffing at other diners. Stop looking at that guy's tank top and start looking at the amazing cocktail or plate in front of you.

Diane Kowaleski
Diane Kowaleski

Just got back from a trip to Italy. The icing on the cake was the guy going into an upscale restaurant with madras shorts, a dirty striped top and worn out flip flops. Come on.

Wendy Taylor Valdivia
Wendy Taylor Valdivia

When I moved here from a blue collar city in Ohio 18 yrs ago, I was stunned by how poorly dressed nearly everyone is. I volunteer at theaters and people with $50 tickets are stumbling in their flip-flops. I have forgotten that there used to be standards.

Cindy Coplen
Cindy Coplen

Read it...not impressed by the perspective presented

Concerned_Citizen
Concerned_Citizen

This is even worse than when they let Claire Lawton write these same stupid articles..


mrk_leach
mrk_leach

You sure did hit the nail on the head Lauren. You successfully wrote an article hating on Phoenix. Congratulations on noting that Phoenix isn't up to par with your fashion sensibilities.

Kramer Christine
Kramer Christine

Dear PRIUS owner Shut up and quit worrying what other people drive or wear! There I said it.

littlemiddle
littlemiddle

I'm fairly certain that this article was written about my boyfriend, as we were at Bitter and Twisted on Saturday night... and he was wearing a tank top and shorts... no flip flops tho! One thing you'll notice if you spend any amount of time in downtown phoenix is people riding bikes... which is often what we do when we want to go out drinking on a Saturday night... yes we both have cars, no we're not slobs or bums... riding bikes is a great alternative when you're drinking, and good way to get a little exercise and some fresh air..

Bitter and Twisted is not a fine dining establishment! Yes they have $12 cocktails, and some great food... but they are a BAR.

So tell me what the difference is between my boyfriend's $60 tank top and someone else's $60 button down? Tell me how the money we spent there (and continue to spend, as we frequent that spot) is different than the money you spend in your button down, looking like a stuffy douche, in an awesome downtown phoenix cocktail bar....

Brandon Menc
Brandon Menc

They are if you're going to use them as an excuse to complain about people being gross.

Christine Nimitz
Christine Nimitz

Whiny, useless article. Wear what you want when you go out, but if it's 110F, I will not be wearing anything that's hot & uncomfortable.

edlew
edlew

I will admit, I don't often find your articles especially noteworthy or admirable Lauren, but this piece hits the nail on the head.Thank you for getting this out and starting a dialog on the subject.

The "I have to dress like a slob because it's hot outside" is absolute BS.  I attended an afternoon wedding this past weekend on the roof of the Clarendon and wore a linen suit.  Afterwards, we had food and drinks downstairs at Gallo Blanco and our tables were outside on the patio.  Everybody in attendance seemed to fare just fine in the heat.  Even if you're not a textiles expert, it's plain common sense that if you're outside in the sun, light, thin, and breathable fabrics are cooler than shorts and a tank top because it limits the sun that your skin is exposed to. 

I would personally love to see some dress code at least suggested by the fine dining establishments around town for those that need a hint.  Maybe on their website on the bottom of the contact us or about us page?   

All that being said, it's ultimately your "right as an Arizonan" to dress like a slob.  Just don't be surprised at why restaurants and bars are only putting in as much effort into their products as you put into your appearance.  

Matt Veach
Matt Veach

Go to Snottsdale if you want a dress code.

Matt Veach
Matt Veach

Yes! You said it man! It's too hot most of the time anyway. Chill out people. Go to Snottsdale

BrotherWolf
BrotherWolf

I rather enjoyed the article (and certainly identify with the author). That is... until I got to the comments section. 


Bear in mind, I've been kicked out of bars for not having a collared shirt. I say kicked out because they were happy to take my T Shirt wearing money for happy hour, but at 8pm, my no collar having ass got the boot. THAT pissed me off. Also bear in mind that my daily work outfit has the fortune of being a T, jeans and boots. This is because I ride the Hog every day. Yes, EVERY day, even in this 100+ heat.


However, when I choose to hit the town and not go to the neighborhood bar, a bike night or something more or less casual, I desire something with a bit more flair. My $200 dinner a Fleming's should not include a screaming toddler nor should it include the dude in tight shorts and hit girlie girl in a tube top. My drinks at Bitter & Twisted shouldn't include a DBag in his '<- Obama can't ban these guns ->' tank top. Reverse happy hour at The Keg should definitely not include a gaggle of boys in pants so baggy that I can see the entirety of their ass since the pants hang below the cheek or their counterparts the yoga pant girls. Yes dear, I can tell what your labia look like in those pants, in case you were wondering. Hell, a night a symphony hall or the Phoenix opera is about as laughable as much of the bar & restaurant scene.


The 'Metro Phoenix' scene won't change so long as nobody tries to change it. If even 1 establishment in 25 stepped up and asked their patrons to treat their night out as something special, and word of mouth put it out on the street, they'd have plenty of patrons in the doors enjoying a night a Mad Men chic, while the scrubs headed back down the street to whatever watering hole has 'DBags Welcome' on the signpost.


It's one thing to be casual and enjoy casual, but Is it too much to ask to take just a BIT of pride in yourself once in awhile when leaving the house?


JDIII
JDIII

Well there you have it. An article that perfectly illustrates the Scottsdale & "Metro Phoenix" mentality for you.

You know you've made it in life when you can live comfortably, on your terms, and focus your nights out on actual relationships and other people you choose to be with. Not where you went, what you wore, how expensive you looked and who saw.

Go put on your Last Chance purchased designer clothes, drive to your favorite Metro Phoenix "upscale" establishment in your leased BMW 3 Series that you had parked in your shared apartment covered parking, and take a selfie so all the 30K millionaires that follow you on Instagram will double click and make you feel all nice inside.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Even this Sushi Bar has a dress code --


.

IceSperg
IceSperg

I used to always worry about what to wear to events. For my child's graduation this year, I was really stressing about being under-dressed in my black shoes, matching slacks and polo shirt. After some research online, what I had decided to wear would be casual, but fine for the event. Still fearing that I would be the odd-man out, I pressed on with some hesitation. Upon arrival at the school, It became apparent that I was actually overdressed. This came as a shock considering the amount of Mormons and wealth represented in this area of town. Most of the men were wearing shorts and polo shirts, with tennis shoes or sandals. When in doubt, go casual, it works here for pretty much anything.

Mark Weld
Mark Weld

have you SEEN that rat's nest you call your hair?? fuck off judgmental ugly dog

Mark Weld
Mark Weld

you just couldnt help yourself could you you pathetic childish moron....YOU LOST...TWICE..grow up and get over it. This is a DEMOCRACY...the MAJORITY of Americans do NOT agree with your political views..DEAL WITH IT

Mark Weld
Mark Weld

its 115 degrees you snobbish ASSHOLE

Johnny Sandoval
Johnny Sandoval

HA! Golf outfit? Coolness! When I lived in AZ there was always a dress code!

Leaha Monok
Leaha Monok

If you don't like it, then move! At the end of the day the owner is happy people are patronizing their establishment, meaning THEY MAKE MONEY. End of story.

Steve Garcia
Steve Garcia

Stay home, get dressed up, and hangout with your 27 cats

Ron Wilson
Ron Wilson

Has anyone been to live theater lately - Herberger Theater Center, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Broadway Theatre, Theater Works Live, Peoria, AZ etc? You'd think you were at the beach!. I'm not advocating suits and ties, but really folks.. I look at much of the audience and think either of Jeff Foxworthy's line "You know you're a redneck when...", else the latest Weird Al Yankovic song "Tacky" http://www.nerdist.com/vepisode/weird-al-yankovic-gets-tacky-with-pharrells-happy/

Cory Chapman
Cory Chapman

You want my money, you don't tell me how to dress.

Rebecca Soltis
Rebecca Soltis

Articles like these are the same reason I stopped following the Huff. Garbage stories with no real relevancy other than a bitch mode dialogue. Next!!!

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@littlemiddle


"$60 tank top"?  I would worry less about what people thought and more about your mental stability.  

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@IceSperg


Your problem Icy, is you seem to care what others think.  

Let 'er hang dude, you'll be cooler for it.  

littlemiddle
littlemiddle

Obviously the way I spend my money is none of your business.

littlemiddle
littlemiddle

@TdFerguson I'm not sure why you thinks it's up to you to decide what's appropriate and what's not for other people to wear out...

TdFerguson
TdFerguson

@littlemiddle I don't decide- everyone does and the fact that you don't understand that is part of the problem. Look around you next time, is there anyone else in a tank top and cargo shorts?

joeytheguitar
joeytheguitar

@littlemiddle as a guy who rides from Coronado to the Downtown bars (by choice), I can sympathize. A lot of these "you get out of the car and into the bar" comments are from suburbanites that don't even realize that people actually prefer to ride bikes in Phoenix. 


It's not like you were dining at Durant's. You were at a bar. If people want to play dress up, they should stick to Arcadia or Scottsdale where everything is a giant pissing contest for who has the nicest oxford and who leases the nicer entry-level BMW or Audi. Let them whip out their dicks and compare.


The reason I live in Phoenix is because we have a sense of community that doesn't involve what you wear or what you drive. It's just about being passionate for the local scene, supporting it, and having a good time. 


There are a lot of bars in Austin (similar weather, more cyclists) that are very similar to B&T. I think the biggest difference is that the people there are friendlier and they could care less what you wear.  

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