Restaurant dress codes

How to dress appropriately for the venue

WRITTEN BY: Janelle Vreeland
Restaurant dress codes

Do you want to go out to a nice dinner with your sweetheart but are too intimidated by the many dress codes to even make a reservation? Don’t worry. We’ll help you through the restaurant dress code maze and get you in the door of prestigious and upscale restaurants.

Restaurant dress code 1: Business Casual

Although the name may sound confusing, dressing for a business casual restaurant or event is usually pretty easy to do, especially if you already work in a corporate environment. A step down from business wear, business casual includes polo shirts, collared button-down shirts, dress slacks, and conservative skirts and dresses. While dress shoes are expected, jackets and ties are optional.

Restaurant dress code 2: Casual Elegant

A step above business casual, casual elegant trades in khakis and polos for dress shirts and slacks. Generally, men will do well to wear a dark suit or perhaps a sportcoat. The look can be made even more elegant by the addition of a tie and cufflinks. For women, it generally consists of a formal black pant suit or a gown or dark-colored cocktail dress. Women can also switch to more elegant, evening makeup and carry a clutch or wear a wrap to complete the look.

Restaurant dress code 3: Formal

Yet another step up, formal wear is often reserved for the fanciest of parties or restaurants. A formal event can be a black tie or white tie affair and, as the names imply, both expect similar styles of dress. For men, suits are usually acceptable, but if the event is black tie or white tie only, then men are expected to arrive in tuxedos. Women are expected to wear formal cocktail dresses or long evening gowns.

Restaurant dress code 4: Jacket Required

This final code is probably best described as “elegant.” Men are expected to wear suits (with a matching jacket) and ladies are expected to wear elegant cocktail dresses, gowns or even evening separates or elegant pant suits. 

Remember, when it comes to restaurant dress codes, it is always better to overdress than underdress. You may feel a tad out of place if you show up to a black tie event in a white tie, but if you show up to a formal event in business casual dress, you will certainly be turned away at the door.

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