Most of us would put on a fancy dress for a date-night dinner at Savannah’s The Grey, Charleston’s Husk, or any of the South’s best restaurants, but when it comes to dinner at a local favorite, it’s sometimes hard to justify swapping jeans for a more buttoned-up look. Should we make more of an effort to dress up for dinner? Maybe, especially if we want to maintain the standards of Southern gentility.
Over at Delish, though, author Sam Dangremond argues that dressing up for dinner is not only a way to show off your personal style and good breeding, but also signals to the chef and the restaurant staff that you respect their craft. If you put some effort into your dinner outfit, you will show the restaurant that you are prepared for a fine experience—and they just might treat you accordingly. For the Delish article, the author interviewed chefs and restauranteurs who admitted showing favoritism to those who were dressed to the nines (or probably even the sevens). They get put at the best tables, because they make the restaurant look good.
Plus, some restaurants have dress codes or de fact ones. If you stroll up to Commander’s Palace in your jeans—even your good designer ones—you’ll either get turned away at the door or seated in the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. While some people can get restaurants to bend their rules, even Jackie Kennedy couldn’t enter New York’s famed French restaurant Le Périgord wearing trousers (gasp!) until 1966! "In those days, a woman was not allowed in a restaurant with pants," Georges Briguet, who owned the restaurant with his wife, told Delish. "I was the first fine dining restaurant to let Miss Jacqueline Kennedy in with black pants! She came in with a governor of New Jersey. I still remember the table."
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You, however, are not Jackie Kennedy and should probably politely abide by the dress code at the restaurant. And even if you are visiting a restaurant without a dress code, looking composed is a staple of Southern gentility and a chance to show off both good manners and personal style. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to look good when you’re stepping out.