Etiquette Tuesday: Dress Code

[ 3 ] May 8, 2012 |


Last night my fiancé, a couple of friends, and I planned an evening out to celebrate my birthday and our engagement. The plan was to finally be able to attest to the experience of being a guest at a specific upscale restaurant (*keeping things anonymous on this one) in downtown Washington, D.C. We walked up to the restaurant and immediately noticed the red carpet, the fancy red rope, the valet, and the “bouncers” (for lack of a better word) outside. Glamorous, indeed! As quickly as the excitement rose, it died. My fiancé, my friend, and I were let in, but my other friend was denied access… because of his shoes!

Under the details tab on their website, the restaurant states that the dress code is “business casual (dress to impress)”. Naturally, I had already checked this out prior to making reservations and alerted everyone so we would dress the part. According to the bouncers, they have a “no boots” policy so my friend wasn’t able to enter.  He was wearing shoes that resembled this pair:

Following that comment, since both H&M and Macy’s were close by, my friend went on a 20 minute search for a pair with no luck because both stores were closed. After explaining our situation to one of the hosts, they were about to let it slide. Unfortunately the manager on duty wasn’t as lenient. Needless to say, I was upset. We ended up going to Ceiba and still had an amazing night but I’m still rather confused because in my mind business casual and dressing to impress are two totally different categories. Here’s my main question:  if other lounges, bars, clubs, and other entertainment establishments can be specific about what attire is and is not acceptable, why can’t they?

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Category: Etiquette Tuesday

About the Author ()

Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Panama, Washington, DC and North Carolina. All four places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9, FOX 5 DC and WJLA (ABC Affiliate) News Channel 8. During the 2016-2017 football season, Johnna aired on Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic (CSN) show, Redskins Life, as the weekly tailgate host. Johnna is currently a regular contributor to the FOX Baltimore Weekend morning show.

Comments (3)

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  1. I know exactly which “establishment” you are referring to as I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago. The difference is my male friend had on what could be considered casual sneakers. Ever the good sport, he left to go purchase a pair of $100+ dress shoes nearby and we resumed our evening. No less than 15 minutes later, a woman with outright tennis shoes was seated just across the aisle from us. Upon leaving the restaurant, we asked to speak to the manager to point out the hypocracy and were told that “sometimes folks sneak by”. It didn’t help matters that the offending parties were of different races. My subsequent email to the manager has gone unanswered. This place clearly needs to revisit their enforcement of this policy. This incident left a really bad taste in my mouth.

  2. johnna says:

    Wow @ichoosethesun…that story only reinforces what Chassis found. Funny, because I always thought this establishment would suffer due to all the velvet ropes, dress code, etc. Sounds like that’s what’s slowly but surely happening…

  3. Mary says:

    Nicely done, Chassis. Welcome!

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