Mods moved this post to Not About Food from the Boston board, only it never arrived (broken link).. Since I can still find my post in my "All Activity" page, I'm reposting here. The original post was here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/581612 , from which a side discussion evolved about differences in dress sense on either side of Boston's Charles River, which led to a discussion of declining standards of appropriate dress in American fine-dining restaurants. At some point, I said:
"I agree: dress is culture. (Actually, the line I like, can't remember whose now, is that culture is your mother's cooking. Pollan, maybe?) What surprised me is how quickly the line moved on American dress sense in fine-dining restaurants, especially at five-star US hotels. The old Ritz-Carlton in Boston used to insist on a jacket in its dining room and its bar as recently as a few years ago. They kept a couple of size-48 navy blazers on hand for the short-sighted to wear. Not long before it was sold, jeans became okay in the bar (still true at successor Taj), I imagine to the horror of some of the old servers. "Jacket required" has become a very laxly-enforced "jacket suggested" at the few places that try, and certainly no one can afford to turn away the business anymore.
I'm going to hold the line on batting an eyelash at ballcaps in the dining room.
Bruni had an interesting, even-handed take on this subject last year: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...
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