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Smart attire??

I am sorry, but as a colonial (USA), I am not certain what it means when a Michelin starred restaurant (not in a big city) says "smart attire is preferred."
I am pretty sure they don't want my clothes to answer difficult algebraic questions and I suspect cargo shorts and t-shirt would be frowned upon, but beyond that?? Any help before I make a reservation decision? (For male and/or female attire, if possible, since the wife will also be dying to know.)

Posted by
27368 posts

Good question; you've got me curious now. I suspect it means "Not what Ann has packed in her suitcase." I'd guess "smart attire" is at least one step up from business casual (if you interpret that to include polo shirts).

But you may get more specifically helpful advice if you tell us what venue is suggesting that guideline. It's entirely possible that many/most customers don't dress that well, which might relieve your mind (and your suitcase of otherwise-unnecessary clothing).

Posted by
8214 posts

We used to plan our restaurants in advance, and have had friends suggest their favorite European restaurants. It was all wasted time. We either would find "fine dining" establishments to be either more money than we wanted to spend or their menus were simply not appetizing for our tastes.
But you can imagine any Michelin starred restaurant wouldn't let you in the door unless you were dressed appropriately. I'd say at a minimum no jeans or golf shirts would be allowed. Many would expect "coats' on gentlemen and collared shirts. That means Parrotheads are excluded from such dining experiences.

Posted by
8824 posts

Geez it's an easy answer.

Men: Slacks not jeans or cargo shorts. No tee shirts or tank tops. Nice shirt with collar. Nice shoes not flip flops or sandals. I'd throw in a jacket as well.

Women: No jeans, shorts. Slacks or black leggings with blouse, tunic or sweater or skirt with blouse, tunic or sweater or simple black dress with a jacket or sweater. Flats not sandals.

And trust me this is from some one who hasn't worn panty hose since the Reagan years. I dress very casually but when smart attire is required I'll dress for the occasion.

Posted by
884 posts

In my brain, "smart attire is preferred" means try somewhere else.

Posted by
3304 posts

Maybe cargo pants if not cargo shorts. If your tee shirt is clean and without holes, I wouldn't worry - as long as you know how to behave and act like you belong. Maybe throw a blazer over the tee shirt. Dress codes are one my pet peeves. To me, behavior is way more important than clothing.

Posted by
3000 posts

In my town it means a tux and very expensive, as in toasted lettuce with a mystery sauce for $35. That's the cheapest item on the menu. Entrees have prices not listed on the menu. It's a major faux paux and quite gouche to ask how much something costs.

Posted by
186 posts

Since it is implied it would help, the restaurant in question is Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor.
Anyone been? Alternative ideas in Chester? (We are en route from Portmadog in Wales to the Manchester airport, where we drop off the rental car and catch a flight to Edinburgh.)

Posted by
1434 posts

I just googled the restaurant and clicked on images. You'll see how folks are dressed. It's pretty much what you would expect.

Posted by
1605 posts

I was in the bar area of the Grosvenor many years ago and it was pretty snotty even then. If I remember correctly, in one of the front windows there was a giant soft toy (a bear in a morning suit?) with a monacle over one eye and holding a walking stick.

“Smart attire” is probably smarter & more formal when it’s outside of London, because it might be the smartest place in town where locals go for a fancy meal.

I’d say trousers that aren’t jeans, a proper shirt (not a polo shirt) for men - and maybe a tie. (In London a lot of smartly dressed men seem to have ditched ties). Easier for women - a dress or a nice top over black trousers or leggings.

Not trainers.

Or alternatively you could just eat in one of the many nice casual restaurants you’ll find in any city in the UK!

Posted by
6113 posts

In the provinces, many people tend to dress up more than they do in London when going for a meal or even just down to their local pub.

The Chester Grosvenor is as smart as it gets. I have been there for morning coffee, not dinner.

It’s definitely not a place for jeans, t shirts, polo shirts or sneakers or flip flops. For women, it’s the same list plus not leggings. It is the place for leather shoes, shirt, tie, jackets and dresses.


Posted by
5697 posts

I'm with Blue439 -- not going someplace where I have to bring extra shoes! Good food in a casual setting for me beats posh surroundings. To each his own taste.

Posted by
4442 posts

I'm with Blue439 and Laura B-I can totally handle the no jeans, shorts, trainers, and t-shirt thing, but think the boy uniform at the private school where I taught-polo shirt and khakis-should be acceptable anywhere except a courtroom.

Posted by
3243 posts

Years ago (2006), we reserved a Christmas day dinner in York. I called the restaurant to check the attire and the man said to look 'smart'. Not knowing exactly what that meant I asked if 'smart' meant that my husband needed to pack a suit jacket. The man responded 'no'. So, my husband packed a dress shirt and tie, and he always wears nice slacks. I wore black slacks, leather shoes and a nice blouse. We fit in fine. experience says smart attire does not mean a suit jacket...

Posted by
5371 posts

I've eaten at many Michelin starred restaraunts and never wore anything more than a smart pair of jeans, a shirt and smart shoes or boots, not once have I been turned away of drawn comments about my attire. I've not been to this particular restaurant however looking through some photos I see one bloke dressed in light grey jeans and a sweater, evidently he didn't get turned away. I suspec that the requirement for smart attire is to put off those who think wearing shorts, a polo shirt and running trainers perfectly acceptable.

Posted by
3000 posts

I had a boss who fancied himself a Texas cowboy and wore well-ironed jeans, cowboy boots, and the hat. Would that work? His name, and I'm not making this up, was Johnny Jack Johnson. Not as perfect a name as former University of Texas Longhorns' quarterback Colt McCoy, but close.

How about a prep school uniform including shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, and tie, with white socks and brown shoes?

Too much of a dandy?

Posted by
186 posts

Thanks to one and all for your responses! This has been most illuminating (and fun)!! I hope everyone has been as entertained as I have!
Emma, based upon your review and with your suggestions, we will NOT be dining at the Grosvenor (nor are we staying there - I am on Rick Steves' site!!). This is just a one night stop between Porthmadog and the Manchester airport and a nice meal seems appropriate (doesn't it always?).
My wife (in particular) and I agree with all who have said they refuse to dine somewhere that requires an extra pair of shoes! Each of us with a single carry-on for a 3 & 1/2 week trip already leaves us restricted (and staying in AirBnB type places with washing machines).
Finally, BigMike - As a graduate of UT-Austin, I am pleased you follow your fellow Big 12 teams and hope you don't mind the occasional cowboy boots (though I only take mine when returning to Texas these days and I skip the cowboy hat).
You are all "smart" in my book!

Posted by
4174 posts

Another Texas Ex here, and one who has always disliked dressing up. Unless it's a wedding or a funeral, my husband (a WA native) always wears jeans and a T-shirt. When he worked at Boeing, his work clothes consisted of jeans and a Hawaiian shirt.

One trip we did take kinda fancy clothes for a dinner cruise in Paris. Totally unnecessary and we swore never again. We are definitely of the opinion that if fancy or business dress is required or even preferred, it's not the place for us.

I recognized the comments about people in small towns being more inclined to dress up. It was like that in the Texas I grew up in, too. But there were people of a certain status everywhere who dressed in a way that they could easily recognize each other.

In reality, we all wear clothes that give hints as to who we are. And there will always be places that certain types of people frequent where dressing appropriately is a part of the experience or the best option for it. I'm thinking Texas dance hall or nightclub Saturday night, church or sports event Sunday and office worker or bricklayer (like my father) Monday.

The restaurants I like to go welcome dogs (one of my favorite things about Europe) and people, no matter how the latter are dressed, although I will admit that I prefer shirts on the people in most settings. I don't care if they have shoes on. Full disclosure: I'll overlook what anyone is or isn't wearing if they have a dog with them.

Posted by
2783 posts

Ristorante Sergio is a really good restaurant in Chester.

Posted by
1019 posts

Emma - we are doing the 7 day London tour in about 4 weeks. I wanted to go to a Gordon Ramsey restaurant but it said “smart attire”. Needless to say , we aren’t going. We pack super light and taking sneakers/running shoes/ tennis shoes(what I call here in the states). Had to look up your definition of “trainers “. So no smart attire here! Poo!!🙂

Posted by
18572 posts

When I go some place nice in Europe I always wear my Ostrich Luccheses and silver Beaver Stetson. But with slacks, French cuffs, a tie and jacket of course.