# Etiquette

Exercise Clothes in Nice Restaurants?

Hello Daily Connoisseurs,

Today I have a nice, juicy chat video for you as a bonus this week. I love doing these videos because I feel as though we are actually chatting together and we can continue the discussion in the comment section and on social media.

These days it is rare when my family and I go to a nice restaurant, so when we do go, our expectations are high. We went to a fancy Sunday lunch last weekend and this video discusses my thoughts and observations about those who wear exercise clothes to nice restaurants. I'm sure you can imagine what my stance on this is!

Please check out my bonus video this week for the full discussion. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or check out my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

And please let me know what you think. Do you think there is a direct correlation between dress and behavior? Have you noticed that people are no longer dressing up (or even appropriately) for nice occasions such as nice dinners or the theatre? Do you feel that this brings down the tone of the whole engagement? What are your thoughts? Don't be shy! Let us know in the comment section below and you could be picked as the comment of the week.


I have written an article for Dress for Success on Poise in the Workplace.

I am featured in Real Simple Magazine in an article called, 5 Ways to Handle an Awkward Conversation.

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic: Lessons in Everyday Elegance comes out next Tuesday! I am so excited for you to read this latest installment in the Madame Chic series.

I will be speaking and signing books at Pages Bookstore in Manhattan Beach, Thursday, October 29th 7pm. I hope to see you there! I will be signing extra copies of Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic at Pages and they will have these copies available to sell after the event.

Question of the Week
Candice writes:

I myself am struggling with a new change in my life: I took a job in a city about 20 minutes farther than I currently drive to work, so will be taking transit into the city each day now, instead of driving. I am looking forward to time to be able to read to and from work. My only concern though is footwear & purses. I will be walking probably 8-9 blocks per day so will be in search of appropriate winter footwear for Western Washington (it's very wet here during fall/winter). Do you have any suggestions or tips for incorporating chic looks along with form/function? Obviously heels are out for safety & sanity reasons. I would love to hear your input on this subject!

Congratulations on your new job Candice! My advice for you is to wear an all-weather boot. Something comfortable to walk in and able to withstand the elements. If appropriate, you can keep a pair of chic flat shoes or heels in your office and change into them once inside. If not, many flat boots are very attractive and will look good with most outfits. Good luck!

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Cleese said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Jennifer. Like you, I am bothered when people make so little effort to present themselves well and to practise common civility. Exercise wear is for just that. I would very much hope that someone who went to a dinner party would not disrespect their hosts by wearing exercise clothes; why do the same to restaurant patrons? I love technology and my gadgets, but there is a time and a place for their use; using your cell phone during a meal, unless it's for an emergency, is not respectful of the other people at the table. Civility is fast becoming a dying art.


Deborah said...

Bravo! Wholeheartedly agree.

Madame Melville said...

Hi Jennifer, Thanks for the great food for thought! I too could not agree more. Recently my husband and I went on a date night to a nice restaurant. This is a very rare occasion for us and was something special that we were looking forward too. We arrived at our table, only to a young girl seated right next to us on her ipad with a video game BLARING! Her mother was sitting with her and did not seem to notice. I have 9 and 10 year old boys at home. The last thing I wanted to see and hear on date night was video games..grrrr. My husband asked the server to request that the device be turned off. She ended up finding us a new table. This was a nice restaurant, one I could have brought my children too. We never have electronics at the table (home or restaurant). I often bring markers and paper to keep the kids happy if I know they are likely to get squirmy. My husband was assertive on his request, I am the quiet one and likely would have done nothing ): Thankfully he was not!

Madame Melville said...

Just as a follow up, a agree the restaurant should have a no electronics policy at the table. She moved us, but I feel sorry for the people who ended up with our table and table neighbors!

Emma Knight Peel said...

I agree with you. The important thing is that you and other connoisseurs set a standard for others to observe and try to adapt and that we don't adapt their casual standard. It's a problem when others see sloppy people and then think they don't need to go out of their way to dress nice anymore either. When I see people dressed well, I feel inferior and it makes me want to step up my game, so hopefully, your family has that impact on people. Probably not those oblivious, spoiled people, but I'm sure others in the restaurant noticed everything and appreciated and admired your well-dressed, well-behaved family who enjoyed brunch and conversation together. P.S. Anyone who has a hateful comment must not be a daily connoisseur!

elizabeth said...

Newer to your books and blog, but not new to this topic! I could not agree more. Yoga pants/wear also seems to be so trendy that I've seen professionals wear such clothes and it astounded me. Time and place, people have lost a sense of both.

Val said...

I totally agree with you too. It really bothers me. I also hate it when parents take their children out and they sit and stare at their iPad or iPhone the whole time. No interaction with anyone else at the table.
I live in Florida and the obsession with living in workout clothes is here too. I think it comes down to pure laziness.

Unknown said...

This comment is for Candice - congratulations on your new job! Washington weather can be very wet. I'm familiar with England weather, and understand your woes! I also recommend all-weather boots. Many companies are creating "weatherproof" shoes nowadays. Some brands to look at are La Canadienne, Aquatalia, and Blondo. I would also recommend a chic, water resistant nylon tote such as a Longchamp (or similar!). Hope this helps!

Charlene said...

I completely agree with you. Our society is getting more and more relaxed about what is appropriate. I've read that some companies are now marketing "athleisure" clothes. I really would love to think that those people noticed how out of place they were in a nice restaurant but I truly doubt that they did. Sounds like they were oblivious to everything but their cell phones.

Natalie Tze said...

Jennifer, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Not sure what kind of hater comments you'll receive, but those comments reveal more about the speakers than anything else, so ignore them. Don't waste your time with them. We support you!

I've experienced what you mentioned in the video numerous times - other patrons' sloppy clothing and behaviors negatively impacting my personal enjoyment of the experiences. Something that is meant to be special became a bit mundane because of this lack of respect for others in public.

Personal freedom of self-expression is important and wonderful, but there is a fine line that one should not cross in public. Sometimes I just want to confiscate everyone's cellphones and force everyone to have eye contacts with their dining companions! What is SO IMPORTANT that one must check their cellphone? Is someone dying? If not, PUT IT AWAY. We're all busy and it's truly rare to find the right time for a group of people to come together for a meal. But when people get together, their cell phones take priority and somehow, everything is out the window - no manners or considerations. I also cannot stand loud patrons. This is a public place, not your living room! Again, lack of respect for other patrons who share a space with them.

Live with dignity, respect and class I say! Love you, Jennifer. Keep these videos coming. I love reminders from you and other classy like-minded folks!

Cynthia Washburn said...

I feel the same way about swearing in public or print (especially F bombs). The English language (and others) is replete with other possibilities.

Amber Martin said...

Jennifer, I agree with you that much of the experience of going somewhere nice is dressing up or at least dressing appropriately. (And putting our phones away!) That extra effort elevates the whole experience for everyone. My husband and I went to a nice restaurant for our anniversary (a special treat) and I was surprised by how casually people were dressed. I think much of it is due to lack of standards. I live in LA so I know part of it is the laid-back culture here but still. I'm grateful for your reminders to look presentable always. The best thing to do is to keep our standards high and live a beautiful life :)
P.S. I look forward to meeting you at your book signing next week!

Stephanie Clayton said...

Jennifer, I agree 100% with all your points here. My husband and I have not been eating out much these days so when we do, it's special. The last time we had Sunday brunch out was at one of our favorite upscale restaurants. Seated near us was a table full of people in cargo shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, flip-flops and baseball caps. I know they couldn't have wandered in on impulse because the restaurant only takes reservations in advance. They planned ahead of time and yet managed to be dressed as though they were going to do yard work. Most other patrons including us were dressed properly. It was my husband who first noticed their attire and how inappropriate it was. When I see this sort of thing, I consider it an eyesore. You're absolutely right: acting and dressing appropriately, with dignity, has NOTHING to do with money or status.
Perhaps nicer restaurants really should have a dress code and cell phone policy.

Lindy said...

Jennifer, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. I am shocked at the way too many people dress and behave in fine restaurants. My husband and I once had to hear a woman at a nearby table in a restaurant talk loudly on her cell phone all through our dinner. All people should respect the fact that others are attempting to take in the restaurant's lovely ambience and have a nice, relaxing dinner without outside irritations. I applaud that you are speaking out on this subject.

Christina said...

I agree with you. My husband and I went to a classical piano recital last month and I was shocked at the way people were dressed. We dressed up, of course, but there were so many people in jeans, tennis shoes, even flip flops and shorts (we live in New Jersey and it was 50 degrees outside - there was absolutely no reason to be dressed in flip flops and shorts).

I do want to counter one comment above about children and electronics. We have a 2 year old and a 4 month old. Before we had kids, we were adamant about not giving our kids electronic devices at the table. Last month we ran into some friends at the mall and we decided to go to lunch at a casual hamburger restaurant. Now, because of our children's ages, we almost never go to restaurants. But, we were so excited to see our friends that we made an exception. When we sat down to eat, my husband handed my son his phone with a video to watch while he ate his lunch. The video was not loud. I initially protested, but my husband looked at me and said that he just really wanted a chance to have an adult conversation with our friends (which is rare) and he knew that the video would be the best way to keep my son occupied. I relented and we had a lovely lunch. I don't think that people should be on their cell phones and, in general, I don't think children should be occupied with electronic devices, but since becoming a parent, I have relented in my initial no screens at the table rule.

Unknown said...

I agree, but not many people have the courage to confront the problem.

Maia Valentina Strinden said...

Dear Jennifer, let me start by saying I'm from Argentina, but I've lived in the United States for six years now, and it's always shocked me how casually people dress in this country. I have a million examples, but the two most recent ones have been a job interview I had, where the interviewer was wearing an old tank top with a coffee stain on the front, a stretchy maxi skirt and flip flops (flip flops!)... I was in disbelief. The other example is a group of people who were wearing shorts and sneakers at the theater (theaters should absolutely enforce a dress code).

All this makes me think of people in Argentina, who make a fourth of what people make here, yet they manage to look presentable always. Argentinians, men and women alike, dress up even to go have dinner at a friend's house- let alone going to a restaurant or the theater!

At one point you said that this is the direction the world is going, but I think you mean the direction the United States is going, because I haven't seen this kind of behavior anywhere else in the world, no matter how poor the area. However, when I see people like you, I feel very hopeful that this trend could be reversed. Thank you for your fantastic job, Jennifer! I don't write often, but I'm a devoted fan of yours :) Love, Gabi

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your story and experience. I side with you wholeheartedly and believe that poise, class and dignity are all things we can bring about in ourselves no matter our circumstance. I’ve got two mini-stories to share which expand upon your discussion.
Firstly, I recently went to the theater with my husband as part of our monthly #cultureday. We were dressed nicely, I should note I am a fan of jeans and am most comfortable in jeans/trousers, but always pair it was smarter items and feel I look presentable. However, for the theater I chose a beautiful dress, what a marvelous opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy the whole experience. I am surprised to say I actually starting to feel self-conscious of how ‘over-dressed’ I was in comparison to most people, I’m not sure if this is because it was a matinee rather than an evening affair, I soon shrugged it off and carried on putting my best self forward, a little saddened that others don't use the experience to the full that I believe it has, getting ready at home a relaxing glass of vino or cocktail prior to the show starting.
My second story, is when I was inadvertently one of those people post workout having brunch! I had traveled to a friend’s home and whilst staying as her guest I was partaking in all the various activities she enjoys. We were taking a nice morning walk, grabbing a coffee to go and then heading out to an exercise class. Unbeknownst to me after the exercise class we were heading straight for brunch – it was a very casual diner location but here I was in my sweaty exercise clothes hair scrapped back and feeling horrified that I might be offending the other diners, as well as not wanting to offend my friend to whom this turned out to be a usual weekend excursion. I made a dash for the restroom and freshened myself up as best I could. This situation is what it is, and I continued to remain present, phone away and enjoyed the meal and company. Needless to say it’s an experience that has taught me to be mindful of visitors and guests I have who may want an opportunity in-between activities to change and freshen up. Something should also be said for going with the flow of an experience, and I take from your comments the opportunity to be your best self regardless of a situation and if it is in your power to be presentable/polished and poised make that choice.

I’ve started my own blog and I’m eagerly anticipating your next book to write a review.
Have a wonderful day, Love Katherine

Ms Splendour said...

I am a bit more relaxed on this subject. I love clothes and dressing up as much as anyone and have recently adopted a more minimalist lifestyle. Therefore for the most part I only own things that I use or that I love. I don't think I would go to a very fancy restaurant in my yoga clothes.. but honestly I might and don't see an issue with it. They fit well, don't have stains or tears, and are a luxury as many people on our the planet don't have the means to to buy fancy dress up clothing or expensive yoga pants. I feel privileged to be able to (occasionally) go to nice restaurants, or even the pub down the street. And even if I do so in yoga pants (most likely with my hair and make-up done) I don't think that should be a faux-pas. Looking tidy and presentable is one thing, but I view judging people for how fancy they dress to a restaurant as a bit elitist. But thank you Jennifer for starting this conversation! I definitely remain open to other's opinions and I just think we should all practice gratitude for the opportunities we have to dine with friends and family, wearing whatever makes us feel great!

Ms Splendour

Unknown said...

I am still so enjoying reading your blog and look forward to the release of your new book. I appreciate your commitment to keeping up the standard of dress and behaviour. This is something I have noticed in Australia also I have a cousin who shared a video with me that perfectly summarises the current cultural trend. She is an activewear everyday kind of girl when she is at leisure but she will always dress for work or to go out, I would love to see her in something other than activewear at leisure. Here is the video she shared https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CYRENWT8lz8

There was also research conducted in a top New York restaurant that indicates that the increase in wait time is due to people arriving and using their cell phones prior to ordering and during the meal as they are so engrossed in their on activity. How do you even enjoy your food while using a cellphone I know I never do. The increase in wait time results in one less service per night for the restaurant in the article that is a pretty big impact. And why go out with friends an not honour the occasion by engaging in conversation. Regards Andii

Unknown said...

I think activewear itself has become a symbol of luxury in itself, in Australia most people I see who are regular wearers of activewear at leisure are wearing branded products where pants or a top will set you back $70 or mor more no item in my spring wardrobe cost more than that (as I couldn't afford to spend more) and I would not wear activewear to a fancy restaurant so I think the lack of money is not the consideration. I think it is more likely a lack of personal awareness. I have friends who work at the gym and even they wear day clothes when not working out.

Mrs. said...

YES! I agree, and I think that when people dress down it lowers the experience for everyone around them. I know it's hard to maintain these standards; I have two teen daughters who regularly ask if they can wear jean to church (NO! but I do let them wear pants, something I wasn't allowed), and why can't they just run into the grocery quickly in jammie bottoms, but if we are careful in cultivating a lovely 10 item wardrobe with COMFORT and STYLE in mind, it's just as easy to pull on a dress and look polished (and feel great), as it is to wear a t-shirt and jammie bottoms.

Do you think some of our current problems stem from our consumerism, the collection of stuff, and then the fact that we have so many choices we would rather default to "sweats"?

Thanks so much for keeping standards high and letting us rally around you!

Elisabeth Ensor said...

Of course I agree with you Jennifer! You put it so elegantly 💕 I am very strict with my workout gear and it's for the gym only! I hit a promotion this spring and bought my first items from Lulu Lemon and love them- I can see why others might think they are acceptable to wear as casual clothing but I never do and think it's gross for one (did you sweat in them? Then change!!!) and I really prefer a more feminine style so I bring a casual dress to slip on after the gym and a quick shower. Sometimes I use the gym childcare to wash my hair and style it in quiet, more moms should take advantage of this! Thank you for taking the time to address this subject!!! It's getting out of control

Mary Grace said...

Hello Jennifer,

LOVE this discussion -- it's nice to know I'm not the only one who's tired of exercise clothes everywhere that they don't belong. I am seventeen, and as you have probably observed, my generation really seems to wear only sportswear. I've been a fan of your books for a long while now, and, when I read your first book, I felt such freedom in knowing that yes indeed I'm allowed to wear my favorite, glamorous, pink, frilly skirt to the grocery store (contrary to what everyone says)!

I don't know if adults experience this, but as a teenager, people judge me by my "overdressed" appearance. Many people automatically think me (or anyone else dressed up) snobbish or without any depth of character because I have put effort into my appearance. They berate us for evaluating them at the face value in their very casual clothing, saying we judge them by appearance, but do the exact same thing to us! It's a strange world, isn't it?

Amy said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the video, I 100% agree with you. More and more it just seems that people don't care to put effort into how they dress. Like you said it has nothing to do with money, but the effort and care you put into how you present yourself. The one thing that bothers me the most are leggings, especially when they are too tight and very sheer. Girls now wear them as their regular everyday pants and you basically can see everything. I think its completely unacceptable to be wearing them in public if not exercising.
I have also noticed peoples behavior in general is declining as well. No one seems to have respect for the others around them. Thank you so much Jennifer for being a voice for the rest of us who want to live by a higher standard!

Anonymous said...

It's rather hard to have an elegant experience when you are forced to look at others dressed in sweatpants (or exercise gear). Where I live in Blacksburg, VA, there is no fine dining probably because it is a college town. However, there are a few nice places, which are demeaned by sweatpants, sagging pants, sneakers, baseball caps, etc. I've noticed more and more that men enter a nice establishment and do not take their hats/caps off. When I was growing up, this was considered to be lacking in proper rearing. My family dressed for most everything - church, restaurants, airport, whatever - and my mom always looked presentable even if she was only going to the grocery store. I might add that we did not have an abundance of money; it doesn't take a lot of money to always look presentable and even elegant.

Ann said...

Agree, Agree, Agree !!! I often see this and think "WHEN do these people dress up ?" What occasion would be the one where you would dress ??? See it at restaurants, and in church...that is the part that gets me. Not inexpensive clothes, but inappropriate! And yes, the theater - we are fortunate enough to live a few hours drive from Broadway. When we first went to see shows on our honeymoon ( almost 39 years ago...) EVERYONE dressed. Now, it is amazing...the sweat pants, the jeans, and the texting....so obvious in a dark theater! I am with you, Jennifer....keep observing and sharing and maybe things will change !

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer,

I who completely agree with you. I am from Australia and I recently watched this YouTube clip from a comedy troupe on Activewear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYRENWT8lz8. Watch it and have a laugh!

It's so frustrating how standards are dropping everywhere. People no longer dress well, which is simply laziness. People play on their phones constantly, like when they are having coffee or dinner with you, which sends the message that you are boring them. People running very late also really bothers me, because it shows they disrespect your time. Where is all of this heading? If we start dropping standards, it doesn't take long for this to impact all aspects of our lives in a negative way, and we are suddenly lazy and sloppy across the board...and even worse, its considered acceptable behaviour.

Jennifer I am completely behind you and your message. I like to always dress well (even if its just to run errands in clean jeans and a nice tee shirt) I always have my hair and make up done (which only takes 10 minutes every morning) and I make an effort to put my phone away in the presence of others. These are simple things that make me feel better about myself, and hopefully shows others that I respect their time and their company.

And one last thing, every single gym has change rooms and showers. If you have been working out, get changed into clean clothes before you go out in public. It's really not difficult to do.

Claudia said...

Jennifer, I absolutely agree with you! Whether it's a fine dining or a fine arts performance, I've always felt that I should make an extra effort to match the tone set by the skills of the chefs or artists. Even if I lacked the self-respect to pull myself together, surely I ought to show them some respect for their extensive training and preparations! Dressing up for the finer things helps us to appreciate them (and their creators more) more, rather than viewing these things as commodities to be purchased and forgetting their human sources altogether.

Nancy said...

I absolutely agree. It's everywhere you look. I think they have replaced the jeans and t-shirt look.

I really do wish more people would dress up. It just makes you feel better!

Michelle said...

I agree as well. For me, so much of what people do or don't do is a matter of respect.

I have a baby shower to attend on Saturday and you know I'll put some thought into my outfit in honor of the mom and our mutual friend hosting the brunch.

I'm known for dressing up when going out to dinner or for a family feast on a holiday. It's fun! That party of three is simply missing out...

Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more with you. I live in Southwest FL and people wear workout clothes, shorts and flip flops to EVERYTHING! From work to Church to the theater to restaurants. It really bothers me too and I think it's plain laziness as well. Yes, I know the heat and humidity is awful here sometimes, but every place is air conditioned too much anyway. I have read both your books and have the third ordered and it is refreshing that someone is bringing this issue to light.

As far as electronics in restaurants, I find it very sad to see people out with each other who don't even look up! It's obnoxious really to hear them "pecking away." Why did they go out in the first place? I especially get a kick out of seeing people walk and text nearly crashing into something (or someone). Zombie- like behavior, definitely not in-the-moment.

Kathryn Bechen said...

Hi Jennifer,

I totally agree with you and all the others here. I think you said it best when you said it's about dressing appropriately for your surroundings, and at such a beautiful elegant hotel, one should dress accordingly and not in work-out clothes. Nor should they use electronics; why in the world would anyone want to do that when they could be focusing on the beautiful setting, lovely tasty food, and quality time with their family. My husband and I see this all the time too now at even nice restaurants, and we have stopped going to any but the very nicest ones for these reasons, and having nice dinners more at home. It's beyond me why things have changed to this point and it makes me sad that civility is disappearing more and more. Ignore the hate comments you mentioned you get, whatever they are. Keep up your good work. Congrats on your newest book. Never apologize for wanting to take your family to a beautiful place for brunch. Blessings to you and yours!

Unknown said...

I agree with the observation that dress does indeed influence behavior, and the proof can be expressed in two words: school uniforms. Or in two other words: dress codes. The calming influence of these uniforms and codes is well documented. Dress codes not only in schools but also in organizations and clubs. They show respect for others as well as respect for self. And goodness knows our world could use more of both.

Keep up the great work and carry that torch high!

Unknown said...

My first reaction to the video was that I totally agree. I would never go to a nice restaurant in my work out clothes. Then I started thinking, I'm sitting here at my computer in my work out clothes. I just got home from the park and will probably go out to eat in a few minutes. I have to admit, before I watched the video, I didn't have any plans to change my clothing. And while the place I'm going to eat is casual, I'd much rather improve the atmosphere than bring it down. I'm going to go quickly change now. :) Thanks Jennifer

celkalee said...

Interesting that this appeared on my feed when a friend and I had just talked about the poor standards of dress and decorum in our church. To me the subject narrows down to respect. Respect for the venue (church, opera, restaurant) and respect for those you are sharing your time with. And certainly respect for self. How did this happen? When did our society (and others outside the US) choose to seek the lowest common denominator for dress, conversation and civility? I demand that my family look their best under normal circumstances. Of course, there are always incidents where this is impossible, say, in an emergency in the middle of the night, or if you have suddenly started to bleed profusely from your eyes and heaven forbid if you have experienced spontaneous combustion! One must understand these things! I also think flip-flops are the bane of society. Are you at the beach? Are you using a public shower? If not, lose them. They are ugly and not good for the bone structure of your foot. I'll stop, this is also a subject upon which I can go on.................

OneEnglishLady said...

I absolutely agree with you Jennifer it is not acceptable behaviour. Here in Australia (well I can only speak for Brisbane and Canberra) Lycra exercise leggings and other gear are certainly out there and we do have a 'laid back' problem. But I will say our classier establishments - anything with cloths on tables etc do generally have dress codes which are enforced and even pubs/bars will specify footware..no plastic thongs for example and acceptable T shirts for the guys I am not sure about women but would think Lycra would not be acceptable but most young women dress up to go partying anyway. Having said that some of those same women would live in exercise gear the rest of the time. When we go to symphony concerts the standard of dress is pretty good and at Christmas performances of the Nutcracker ballet all the children are dressed properly with pretty dresses, ribbons and smart dress for boys.
I think the problem has it's roots in the idea that you just need to do enough and no more and anyone who aspires to do more is somehow different and ripe for ridicule..we call it 'the tall poppy syndrome' here, stick your head up and do something different and it gets lopped off by a chorus of detractors who think you are 'above yourself' (and believe me Australian's are very good at it!).
It carries over to other areas of life as well not just dress. I strive to keep learning and hope to still be learning the day I die. I take on-line courses in the subjects that interest me, I am learning the recorder -it's cheap and my aim is to learn music and make music and I listen to classical music and enjoy opera and ballet....all very suspect - women may age are suppose to watch Days of our Lives all day..in exercise gear! So it is up to us to put ourselves out there and stand up and be counted I guess but I sadly feel that it is a loosing battle. Keep up the good work Jennifer I am with you all the way.

222Liamsangel said...

Jennifer I agree with everything you have stated here. I work in law enforcement and I honestly can't believe how people show up to the courthouse to go before the judge. Honestly it is so disrespectfully. PJ's, slippers, pants hanging down so their underpants show. It has gotten so bad the judge throws them out of the courtroom with along speech on respect. What happened to common sense and respect?

Renee said...

Well, I don't hate, but I don't agree. I personally made a promise to myself when I became a mom that I would never leave the house wearing exercise clothes unless I was going more or less directly to an exercise class, and the on or two times I violated this when I wasn't feeling well and had been hanging out at home in yoga pants I felt really uncomfortable. However, what someone else wears simply does not negatively impact my experience of a restaurant or show. In fact, I might find it hilariously entertaining or enjoy someone's wonderful style. What they wear has nothing to do with me. Granted, I'm from southern California and now live in Seattle, where it is not at all uncommon to see people wearing jeans, fleece and hiking boots seated next to people in fancy dresses and tuxedoed at the opera. SO it is possible I am biased.

Regarding cell phones, I really dislike when my dining companions leave their phones on the table or periodically stop to check their phone or text something. It's rude. But what happens at the tables around me I do not care about, so long as they are not being super loud or in some way directly affecting my enjoyment. What I really dislike are people who talk on their cell phones at a volume that suggests they think they are talking to someone on the moon. No need to shout!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was bad back when people wore jeans and t-shirts 24/7, no matter how fancy the place they were going. Then it got worse -- exercise gear. It makes me wonder how much more casual Americans can get. Five years from now, can I expect to see people wearing pajamas everywhere they go? Dress codes for restaurants would not work. The only thing it would accomplish is to put the restaurant out of business. In my area, there used to be a number of fine dining restaurants. Now there are two. And as fancy as they are, they do not have dress codes. Most people you see there do dress up a bit. But I don't think you will ever get the average man into a jacket again -- much less a tie! -- or the average woman to take off the trousers and put on a skirt. If people were required to dress up to go to a place, they probably would just go elsewhere. Restaurants know this, which is why there are no longer dress codes.

As to the ubiquitous electronics: almost every person I see in a restaurant, whether it be at the bar or at a table, keeps their phone on the table where they can see it and grab it in an instant. Frequently, couples will be out together, but each in their own little world, hunched over their phones. It used to be that you could sit at a bar or a lunch counter and strike up a conversation with the people around you. Televisions in these establishments killed any potential conversations, and SmartPhones put the final nails in the coffin. I think that people have developed such a low threshold for boredom now; they MUST be entertained CONSTANTLY. The most egregious example I have seen of this was in my eye doctor's waiting room. An adolescent boy was playing games on his phone, the nurse trying to ask him questions, and his mother constantly trying to get his attention to answer the questions. I felt like exploding on behalf of the poor nurse, who was really being disrespected by both the boy and his mother. I would love to have grabbed the phone and threw it against the wall while benignly telling the boy to 'answer the nice nurse's questions'.

Caley said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments, Jennifer. I find it completely mind-boggling that anyone would feel that it is acceptable to dress in such an inappropriate way in what is widely understood to be a nice restaurant/theatre/museum/etc. If someone chooses to wear gym attire outside of the home or gym, that certainly is their own business; however, when they are so blatantly disregarding and disrespecting the type of environment they are in, that just becomes unacceptable and rude. It really is unfortunate that they were so engrossed with their phones - having seemingly missed out on an enjoyable meal and dining experience with their companions aside, it seems they also missed out on an opportunity to spot that they were presenting themselves to the world in such a churlish fashion.

Patricia said...

Jennifer, you and your blog are a "breath of much needed fresh air," in my opinion in this 21st century. I am anything, but stodgy. I've even been known to use the "F-bomb" in conversation amongst close friends (no children present). However, I so totally agree with you and your perception. There was a time when there was a dress code in society (certainly in upper end restaurants which would provide the required suit jacket and a tie if a man were to come to dinner in his shirtsleeves).

Nowadays it seems many men don't even own a sport jacket or a suit, so you'll see them at weddings, their wives or dates dressed in cocktail dresses while they are wearing Dokkers or jeans, not even a crisp dress shirt and tie. Not long ago, I saw pictures from a wake where some
people were wearing shorts and I was aghast, literally.

My husband and I have seen the same thing you described in your video, from the local CT Olive Garden to the more upscale restaurants. Patrons come in looking as though they'd just come from the gym, or worse, like they'd just finished doing home chores or washing their car in their

Likewise,imagine going to the symphony or a play here in CT and seeing (mostly men)dressed for a sporting event. I must say, I've seen fewer women not dressed for the occasion. I think those women should leave their husbands at home and go with friends if their husbands are unwilling to dress for the occasion. Obviously, those men don't want to be there so come at their wives or girlfriend's behest, but dress in a very "passive-agressive" manner.

In New York City, I really must say, I haven't seen anyone inappropriately dressed for the occasion or venue. However, in high-end hotel restaurant/lounges, my husband and I have seen more than a few people (couples)at tables, or with friends at the bar, on their cell phones the entire time.

Jennifer, perhaps you feel as I have for a very long time, our society not only seems to be sinking "'to the lowest common denominator" in dress, but also in civility and manners, which
have nothing at all to do with wealth. Our comportment in society has everything to do with self respect and respect for others.

Jennifer, keep "fighting the good fight," with your daughters and through your blog and books. I, for one, am behind you 100 percent.

Patricia Wilson
Columbia, CT

Unknown said...

Perfectly timed! My husband and I just got back from our date night at a nice Thai restaurant prior to watching your video. I got dressed up, on a very cold and rainy day in Colorado, because we were going on a date. I have felt for a couple of years now, that to honor my relationship with my husband, I will dress up when we go out. Alone or with the family. My husband also likes to dress up for these outings too, nothing extremely dressy, but making the effort. It sets the tone for the whole night.

I realized while sitting down at the restaurant that I felt very uncomfortable watching a mother with 3 children, on her phone & taking calls while they were all eating. I believe there needs to be a "phones off" rule when family is together. I think that is such an important issue. I also love seeing others dressing up. Most of the people around us were in jeans and or sweats. We then later walked a bit in the mall nearby and I commented to my husband surprisingly, "I'm the only person in here that is in a dress!" Everyone else was in sweats or something similar. The weather was bad, but by no means blizzard conditions. I love my sweats as much as anyone but I also have learned I feel 100% better about myself and outlook when I make an effort for myself and try a little harder to present myself in the best light possible. Thank you for bringing this up! :)

Unknown said...

P.S. I COMPLETELY agree with Cynthia Washburn!

Sweet Bean said...

My piano instructor is Japanese and was born and raised in Japan. She has such elegant poise and presentation in everything she does. When she would tell me stories of Japan, she would always describe details such as how the flowers blossomed in the spring, or more relatedly, how even a small trip to a convenience store would result in thoughtful hair and dress. She said going out in your pjs or work out clothes was non-existent.

It's about mindful living. It's about loving yourself enough to demonstrate it to yourself by sitting up straight (which is soooo healthy for you) by caring for your hair, giving attention to your body, and respecting your self enough to mindfully decorate that "window" into who you are, that is, your image.

Sally in Sydney said...

Hi Jennifer,

I've been thinking about this a lot today, mostly because I was perplexed by the negative comments on YouTube (and why anyone who follows your channel would attack a view you share with 99% of your viewers).

I live in Australia and we've become very casual; it is a recent thing though because when I was growing up in the 80s, people still dressed to go 'to town' and tennis clothes off a tennis court were only spotted in the petrol station if someone was quickly filling up their car or on children on their way home from Saturday sport (an Australian thing). These days, dressing down is everywhere and the arguments used generally centre around 'me' rather than 'you'. In that, 'it's more comfortable for me' whilst being 'unappealing to you', and the 'I don't really care what you think/feel' assertion usually follows straight after. I feel sad that privileged western society has lost touch with making an effort. We're spoilt and don't suffer the real indignities that those in less well-off places in the world do.

But, clearly this may be a generalisation because the sheer numbers alone of supporters of your blog/channel/Facebook point to people also being bothered by this 'who cares' dismissal.

I do feel context plays a part and I can live with people sitting in a beachside cafe wearing shorts or wearing hiking gear in a country-side pub etc. My street hosts several cafes that are popular with cyclists and, whilst the majority of Australian men do not have bodies like High Jackman (sorry to burst that bubble for non-Aussie ladies), men-who-cycle-in-sydney tend to wear lycra outfits and they like to sit outside the cafes with their bikes wearing said lycra. It's annoying but I turn a blind eye because they've been riding their bikes and now they're refuelling. (European men don't seem to chafe as much when they ride their bikes as Australian men do!)

A mother at the school at which I work walked past me on the school grounds two days ago wearing lycra exercise pants, a singlet top and no shoes; her wry remark was 'of all the times you think you're not getting out of the car'. She was very embarrassed as she scuttled past. Another student once suffered the indignity of her mother crashing her car outside our school and wearing only her pyjamas. The girl was more upset about her mother wearing her nightclothes in the street than the accident. I doubt that woman ever drove her car anywhere wearing her nightie ever again!

But for me, I would never wear workout gear to any type of restaurant or even a cafe. I wouldn't drive my car wearing my pyjamas. I've just seen a young man walk down the busy business area of North Sydney not wearing a shirt. He might as well have not been wearing trousers and be stark naked. I don't know how low society will go before it says 'enough!'. I say it every day to my (teenage female) students: 'leggings are not pants'; 'those denim shorts are really just underpants, aren't they?'; 'did you forget to put on your skirt today?'; 'were you away from school the day you were taught to do up buttons?'. They laugh but they get it, and they actually appreciate the message. They are often just looking for guidance and will work to whatever standard we set, and these standards and boundaries make them feel safe and cared about.

If I am feeling lazy and don't want to change out of my Sunday exercise-walking clothes, I stay at home, simple. I don't want other people seeing me out of context; I want to feel the sense of pleasure that making an effort appropriate to the event/location/time of day gives me. I pay courtesy to myself and to other people by wearing tennis clothes on the tennis court and not out to lunch. After all, I don't wear my best frock to go canoeing on Sydney Harbour.

Unknown said...

Jennifer -- I totally agree! When I was very young my family used to go to this Chinese restaurant -- it was in no way fancy -- but to me at that time, it was. It was eating out! Anyway, this family arrived in their sweatshorts! I could never get the image out of my mind.

Margaret Anne said...

Wonderful post, Jennifer. I agree, and I think this has to do with politeness. Coco Chanel said, "I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness." But, politeness requires putting the feelings of others before our own comfort, a virtue rooted in thoughtfulness and kindness.

I also think people lack a sense of occasion nowadays. They don't "rise to the occasion." For example, going to a nice brunch in a pretty restaurant would be a special occasion, different from our daily grind. An occasion to be celebrated! How unfortunate to treat it like an afterthought.

Years ago, I was lunching at the Junior League tea room here in Houston, and I overheard the lady at the next table remarking to her friends. In her lovely Southern accent, she said, "Well, unfortunately, there are just some people who do not wish to enjoy a refined way of living." So true, but we mustn't let them get us down! Instead, we must soldier on, leading by example. The thought occurred to me (and I hope this is true) that maybe your lovely family provided that good example at the restaurant that day. Perhaps those people noticed you and said, "Wow, look at those lovely people and well-behaved children." Who knows, maybe you inspired someone to come up a little higher, as you do in this wonderful blog!

Well done!

Lillian said...

I get so much flack for my opinion about this, but I completely agree. I feel as though my opinion is always met with the notion that I'm being elitist by saying people should dress up for things, but it really doesn't have anything to do with money. I'm a graduate student on a very low budget, and somehow that does not relegate me to sweatpants. In fact, the nicer skirts, blouses, and dresses that make up my wardrobe, and which are worn out to nice meals, music events, theater, and for teaching and conferences were MUCH less expensive than the "designer" sweats and leggings I see my students wearing all the time. Anyone who has been to a Goodwill or Salvation Army quickly deduces that nicer clothes are actually easier to come by in thrift stores, because they have less wear before people tend to get tired of them and donate them. All of my nicest dresses have been Goodwill finds. Five dollars for a dress, vs. 50$ for a pair of Victoria Secret sweats or leggings. It seems like a no-brainer.
On a personal note, one of the nicest things my boyfriend ever did for a gift was to take me to a very special restaurant that happened to have a dress code. Everyone was dressed to the nines (again, not expensively, just nicely) and it was a magical evening.

Unknown said...

My husband took me to Ruth Chris for a birthday dinner once. A man was seated in my line of sight wearing shorts, t shirt and baseball cap on backwards. We have never returned to that dining establishment since. Somemhow that should not be the memory one has from a nice birthday dinner!

Fashion_Loving_Stylist said...

I agree with you as well. It definitely bothers me how people seem to lack self respect and manners these days. Even allowing their children to misbehave in nice restaurants.

I am not sure if you have seen theis very funny video of how women are getting around in their "Active wear" - http://youtu.be/lQi2C4rKc18 I thought you might find it funny but very telling.

Hannah Geci said...

I agree. Cell phones in social settings (and many others) are my pet-peeve. Thank you for setting an example. You have had a huge impact on my life and I'm so glad to see someone bringing these ideas and standards back to people in our fast-changing, fast-paced society. Thank you, Jennifer.

Unknown said...

Hello Jennifer,
I have only known about you for a few weeks and I am already a big fan. Read your books, your blog [most of it, yes] and highly anticipating the next book, which I have pre-ordered. I am a Parisian and Madame Chic could have been ME, the way I was raised. It is so REFRESHING to find that I am not the only one feeling the way you are feeling about American society and the wrong trend it has adopted for a while now. I am part of a movement of women that are actually fighting back just like you are and love to read all these lovely comments from your admirers. You have brought back so much loveliness into my world. I want to say a bit MERCI. Looking forward to meeting you soon. A tres bientot j'espere.

Mandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cheryl925 said...

My husband and I went to dinner last night. Just a casual restaurant. A mother and teenage son sat next to us and ordered, then ate. It broke my heart because neither said a word to each other because they were on their phones the entire meal. It broke my heart that so much could have been said and shared.

JenniLouLou said...

Brava Jennifer!

How wise you are for one so young! Years ago, 1987 to be precise, I was married in an elegant morning wedding. Classy, not that expensive but classy. I had a guest show up in all white--white cotton "sun" shirt with white capri pants. Another showed up in a casual sweater (think bowling) and very casual slacks. Church wedding and restaurant reception. I was horrified--so I am not at all surprised that public dress continues to decline. I lived in Long Beach for a year and it seems the richer one is the more one tried to look like one is homeless.

Years ago I used to dine at a restaurant in San Francisco called Jack's, or was it Jax? Don't recall. But, they had an ENFORCED dress code. All men must wear jackets. No jacket, we will loan you one. And ties must be worn. No tie? Out comes the tie box. This was a delicious restaurant and if a man tried to take off his jacket--not allowed! Professional waiters, full liquor license but no bar. Your waiter made your G&T and did it pack a punch! Miss that place. Wonderful food!

Like you I respect the place and occasion. Unlike most Americans, when I travel to Paris or London or Rome I don my city duds. I have been stopped in France by a Frenchman and asked directions--why--because I "fit in" with my dress and manners. In Italy, at the Vatican, an American Tourist went into St. Peter's in short-shorts, flip-flops, and skimpy tee. Back when I was a child visiting my mother had to cover her head with her sweater to go in St. Peter's. (Pre Vatican II)

I do admit to struggling with the exercise clothing at the grocery store issue. But I would never wear exercise clothing to a restaurant--I have enough trouble venturing out in the AM to get the paper in my robe! I usually combine Safeway or Target or Trader Joe's with the GYM. Gym being last stop. I do try to dress up a bit and change at the gym but it is a pain.

Do you know of any "nice looking" exercise pants (not tight fitting) that one can put a nice top on with for shopping, and then just change shirts for the gym? That would simplify my life.

Looking forward to the new book!



Vickisartstudio.blogspot.com said...

Great post, Jennifer. It really takes no longer, or is more trouble, to put on appropriate clothing,than it takes to put on exercise clothing. (Especially if you have a 10 item wardrobe, which is filled with appropriate possibilities.) I always think about the owner of the restaurant, who had a vision of a lovely setting with lovely food, and respectful patrons, who must seat guests who do not respect his vision enough to dress appropriately. Restaurants in years past used to refuse business to those who were not dressed according to the dress code of the restaurant, or offered jackets to men who did not wear one. In today's lawsuit crazy society, I don't think that is possible anymore. Too bad. Keep up the good work - beautifying America!!! Or, at least trying!

Woman of the House said...

I agree, Jennifer! The downward slide has been happening for at least twenty years. I teach a class on classical music to high school students, and one of the topics to be covered is concert hall etiquette, including appropriate dress. At first the students seem a little surprised that I would actually tell them what to wear to a concert, but they come around. I'm with you on the fight to maintain standards! :)

Marla said...

Didn't even have to watch your whole video to say I 100% totally agree Jennifer. YOU and your family took the time to dress up. This other group is making it seem like, well gee it's dumb you dressed up, we're here in our gym shorts. I hate that too and in my ideal world I would have marched into that restaurant, slapped the phones out of their hands, and told them to go change.

esther said...

i 100% agree wiht you greetings from the netherlands

ege said...

I agree with (and I absolutely love and follow) your high standards!

however it's hard for me to be so concerned with other people's choices. how they prefer to live their life is their concern. I don't know if you'd like give it a try, but in such moments of deep reaction to anyone/anything, I choose to ask myself why this person/situation bothers me that much. why is it so unacceptable for me? which kind of emotions it triggers in me... is it my voice who is talking or the voice of another person / a parent / a teacher / a role-model? it's so hard to unlearn and let loose our long-held beliefs and opinions, we should be aware of them all the time! I think the more we think of them and strengthen our need to justify them, the more we attract and feel trapped in them. and this makes it harder and harder to enjoy the present moment...

Jamie Lynn said...

Jennifer, Thank you for your blog. I agree and I had an experience this weekend that made me appreciate appropriate dress. I was at the Vatican attending the canonization of two French saints - Louis and Zelie Martin. Attending a large Papal event can be physically demanding. I waited in line for hours and endured an intense and pushy crowd to get seats up in the front section. I've been to many canonizations, and usually people are dressed very casually for this reason. Sadly, I've gotten used to Papal Masses being a "casual dress" affair. Even some of the singers and readers wear jeans. Additionally, I don't have children (and I can't imagine how difficult it would be to bring children to an event like this) so I try not to make a judgement on the many people in sportswear with their children. But this weekend was so different! I was in a section with a large crowd from France, and they all looked beautiful - the children in particular! They did not look uncomfortable, but they were all dressed well. It was a good reminder that a lot of the excuses people use to dress poorly (comfort, function and practicality for example) are just that - excuses. If a small child can happily pass hours in line wearing loafers instead of sneakers then surley most adults can as well. And if Mass with the Pope is an occasion for jeans, then I am really not sure what we are supposed to be dressing up for anymore.

helen tilston said...

Hello Jennifer,
Of course I agree with you and I would bet that the same three careless dressers were also speaking and communicating at a higher decibel level than should be in such an establishment. Why has this happened? Could it be TV and the programmes being watched?

Keep on keeping your values and standards Jennifer and thank you.


Daesman said...

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep civility and refinement relevant for our lives today! While I do try to keep an open mind as to others' behavior that I do not agree with (one never really knows what is going on in their lives), I completely agree with you that the incidences of cell phones at the dining table and clothing that is far too casual for the occasion is worrisomely on the rise. I think our only recourse is to set an example with our behavior and to work hard to teach our children our values- all of which you do! Thank you for you inspiring work and I look forward to reading your new book.

galant said...

Just read your post about exercise clothes (or tracky bottoms as we in the UK might call them!) and cell phones (or mobiles as we call them.) I have said for years and years and years that today never has so much been spent on clothes and makeup and hair dressing/products and yet never have people looked (for the most part) so unkempt, so this bears out what you've just said about the people you had the unfortunate experience to be sat next to. Yes, such people have no manners, because manners is not only about behaviour but how we dress and it's ill mannered to appear in a restaurant as if you are kitted out for the gym. I'd not go into a gym dressed as if to a wedding, so why the other way around? You are totally correct in what you say and I applaud you for saying it.
Here in the UK there used to be, and I'm sure there are still places, where gentlemen especially weren't admitted to a restaurant without a proper shirt and tie and if a chap wasn't wearing a tie, the maître 'd would hand one to him.
Margaret P

ilsa said...


I couldn't agree more with you dear!!!

here in Spain it's exactly the same... and it bothers me that you make and effort and expending money in nice experience it's and extra not aneveryday thing and popele don't care any more...

have even seen popel in poshhotels having breakfeast in their pyjamas!!!!! On this ocassion we complain at the reception desk... Nowadays you can look presentable and comfortable .. It's a battle wher is the education and good manners gone....

Vicki Zimmerman said...

I'm in full agreement with you and wouldn't it be lovely if most restaurants held to these same standards, as your fantasy restaurant, and had a dress code and a no mobile phone policy at the table.

Our sushi bar, in Corona del Mar, has a sign posted behind the sushi chefs which says very politely no cell phones and patrons respect it, which I love. So, people are engaged in talking to one another and enjoying their meal.

Now, I must tell you that I am in San Francisco for the weekend and went to Equinox to work out with family and friends. While spontaneous, I knew to put in a change of clothes for lunch afterwards and, in fact, took the pretty and easy-to-pack Garnet Hill dress you posted and I love it. I felt presentable and polished, but one person in our group wore workout clothes afterwards and knew we'd be having lunch at the Ferry Building later. I was somewhat stunned, but said nothing.

It took me no more than five minutes of pre-planning to gather my dress, undergarments, ballet flats, scarf and sweater. I was ready for the day and hope I set a good example with a *hint-hint* that maybe next time, the other group member would do the same.

Thank you for this terrific and timely video, Jennifer.

Little Miss Know-it-all said...

Sadly, I have to say that this is one of the reasons North America does not appeal to us as tourists, despite the fact that we have friends there who do know how to behave! Having said that, I am seeing more and more distateful appearance and behaviour in my home country of England, too, which I find shocking.
I live in Switzerland, where I see the best-dressed people in Europe (including Paris). Not because they wear expensive labels or super fancy clothes, shoes or make-up, on the contrary, but there is what in German is called a "sporty-elegant" style that is very typical and allows everybody to wear neat, clean, appropriate clothing, even if the styles can be relatively casual (eg jeans), the fabrics are usually decent quality. I have never encountered anybody in sportswear in a restaurant, unless it was an outdoor café in summer where cyclists stopped off for a cool drink… and that is fine. Not even in McDonald's do I see the kind of clothing you describe.
We do not have a culture of baseball caps, that is just something hiphopper kids wear! Even if you go at lunchtime when the blue-collar workers are stopping in to a fast-food place or simple restaurant, they are clean and tidy, have decent table manners and are there to enjoy a lunch hour where they will generally be eating a 3-course meal. I guess in that way we are a bit like France! (Having had a repair guy in today, I would also like to add that I have never had one come into my home who didn't offer to remove his shoes before entering or who didn't clean up after himself perfectly!!)
On the whole, I'm against dress codes because I think men can look perfectly smart without having to wear a tie, for instance, or women needn't have to wear stockings or whatever, but if the public does not dress appropriately of their own accord, perhaps that is the way to go?! It's a really state of affairs.

Little Miss Know-it-all said...

Oh, and as far as cell phones go, again, it is a matter of discretion and behaving in an appropriate manner. There are occasions when I need to keep my phone handy (elderly relatives etc.) but it is always on mute and I wouldn't keep it on the table. My husband often needs to have his phone available for business but again, keeps it muted and leaves the dining hall if he needs to speak. In the course of conversation we have often been glad to look something up that we are chatting about or consult a calendar, and I find that acceptable, since it is something we're doing together. We may also quietly photograph a beautifully presented dish! (We do frequently spend at least 1-2 hours in the restaurant over a meal, sometimes more, which I believe is not common in the US where the expectation is for tables to be occupied multiple times per session - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, this is what I have been told by my well-travelled family and friends, who find this amazing!)
Regarding children and electronic devices - they can be useful for squirmy kids but certainly not with any sound or flashing lights or whatever and only as a last resort, in my view! We would usually try to include our children or grandchildren in the general conversation or in a larger gathering, the adults might take turns with quiet entertainment, colouring books, paper/pencil games and so on, just as we used to be occupied by our own parents.
The problem is when a phone is used in a loud, obvious and obnoxious manner… again, behaving respectfully towards other diners - the whole point of manners. But perhaps they are no longer taught by many parents?

Robyn said...

First, please continue to take your children to nice restaurants. This is how they learn to behave in nice restaurants. Secondly, the use of the cell phone bothers me more than the clothes. In saying that, dressing nicely is respectful and it adds to the specialness of the occasion. On a final note I hold back on the criticism of the dress because you never know what situation a person might be in. When my daughter first went to college, we moved her into her dorm and and we were all tired and dirty. We wanted to have a special dinner with her before we left and yes we went to a beautiful restaurant and we were not presentable but it is a memory I will always cherish.

Polly said...

I think the key is just what you said--dressing respectfully for the environment (to respect yourself, the place, and the others!). I do wonder if this is more of a regional phenomenon, in a way? I live in the American South, and people still typically dress up for nicer occasions....though not for the grocery store. There is still a little more formality here than in other parts of the country. We still have a lady in our church who wears a fancy hat every Sunday! (Or maybe it's an East Coast thing? I haven't been to NYC in about 10 years, so I'm not sure.)

There is often a direct correlation between dress and behavior. It's why I like to dress my children each morning and get them looking sweet, cute and tidy even though we'll just be home all day together...and I try to dress nicely at home, too, because it makes me feel good. I dress very comfortably in dresses/skirts most of the time (I sew my own a lot because they are supremely comfy and fit well). A soft dress with leggings and boots in the winter is more comfortable than yoga pants or jeans to me!

I will say that I don't usually fixate much on what other people wear. In general, I assume that I never know the circumstances behind someone's life or choices, and just give grace (because I need grace from others, too!). Of course, in your situation, with obviously wealthy people in obvious workout gear, it's SO much harder to give grace...:) The cell phone addiction annoys me even more than inappropriate clothing.

And, finally, good for you for taking your daughters to the nice restaurant. My children are 8 and 4 and although I am trying not to brag here, they are a couple of beautifully-behaved children in church, restaurants, etc. (They are still human: at home they can still act truly wild!) They do not use technology as entertainment, not even on long road trips. I get comments on this a lot, and on how well they get along together. I honestly think that much of it comes from getting used to social situations at a very young age. Our tiny church has no nursery, so from a young age they grow accustomed to being quiet in church; we take them with us almost everywhere and they learn how to behave (I try to always be encouraging, never draconian). I think that if we are to be the change we wish to see in the world, it is even more important to gently and kindly guide our children into that as well...knowing that they have a learning curve when they're young, and it's stressful to work through that, but it's worth it. So I applaud you for that!

sydney85 said...

I definitely agree with your thoughts about exercise wear and the sad way in which people are dressing.
I am constantly shocked by the way people dress. Lately my husband and I went to a high tea at a lovely hotel. It was expensive and I was excited about the event. Most of the people were dressed well but I was surprised that people in flip flops and shorts were also seated. Another place that has gone downhill for the way people are dressing is on a plane. I expect people to dress comfortably but dressing in outfits that are beyond tacky, tight and look like they slept in their clothes and this is before they start the flight.

Margery said...

Jennifer, I could not agree with you more. I think I can one-up you I, however, one the outrageous venue at which I observe this type of inappropriate dress: church! We attend church weekly, and I am always surprised at the level of casual dress which I see. I often see people in baggy gym shorts, logo tee shirts and flip-flop shoes, for example. Since we live in an upper-middle-class area of Atlanta, and since I know many of these families, I know it is not an issue of being able to afford nicer clothing. By all means, if someone cannot afford nice clothing, they should fell free to worship in the best that they own. We do not wear suits/ties and dresses in my family but aim for at least dressy-casual. It makes me a little sad, but I have had to accept this since it is the way of the world, and I want to enjoy my worship experience regardless.

Thanks for your blog, books, and message to the world. Blessings to you.

Carla said...

I agree with you! Maybe you need to move out of California. I've decided the problem is as much mine as it is the others'. I shouldn't be so "controlling". Last Sunday in church in the very front the two year old behind us was munching on something crunchy her parents' gave her throughout the Mass. It was not the first time this family behaved this way. The Mass is less than 45 minutes long (with beautiful intellectual homilies by the way). Surely the parents don't need to feed their child during that time. (I do not blame the child, but the parents!) I joked to my husband that I have "misophony" which, if I spelled it right, is when you are abnormally bothered by chewing sounds and such. But as I made the joke I realized the problem is as much mine as theirs and I can only make myself change, although I did turn around twice and look right at the source of the noise. I was so offended and almost enraged that a family thinks it's okay to give their child crunchy snacks in the front row of Mass week after week. And this offense is a feeling that occurs often as I observe the way people dress and behave. Where are the manners?! But it would be better if I were a little "cooler" and didn't let others bother me so much. I fully recognize that, possibly as the oldest in a large family, I'm a bit of a controlling person. Anyway....my husband is French, I've lived in France, Belgium and Germany, and I really miss the higher level of formality there. However they are not perfect. They will cut you in line without a thought, for example; so much for consideration of others! I think we should take the advice from your book and just hold ourselves and our family to a higher level and shine by example. (I left a review of your book on Audible by the way.)
One last note: I rebelled and threw out all my clothes and socks with Nike or any other sport label. I walk in my Tretorn wellies or sneakers or even loafers or such (they say minimum support is best anyway) and I practice yoga in Lands End cloth pants and t-shirts. I don't have anymore sports bras but something called a bra 30. I don't know, I feel like I'm asserting that this workout clothes idea is just a marketing gimmick and we can exercise in our everyday life, walking the dog, etc. I'm not at all overweight and I don't belong to a gym, but I don't snack, la la, you know the French way! Throwing out all my clothes with Nike or other sports labels somehow made me feel a little more like Mimi Thorisson, more feminine!

Cassie said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your message today!!!! I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I was raised that you dress up to go to the museum, out to a nice restaurant, a party, etc. When I go back to visit my sister, we are both constantly shocked at the laziness of people and how they are dressed. It's fine if it's a true beach or casual restaurant but if it's nice, how hard is it to put on a skirt and a nice pair of sandals. We couldn't figure out if we are old LOL in our 40's or we are stuck in another era. So refreshing to see we are not alone in this! Keep spreading your classy message!

Linda Z said...

I'm a fellow Californian, and I'm so glad that you are talking about this. In our state, things definitely tend to be more casual... I think it's just part of the culture. I was raised in LA, but my parents still taught me that it's important to dress for the occasion. I really don't think it's an issue of "being yourself" or "being comfortable" or "expressing your style." I think it's just good for people to be respectful of the situation they are in and the people they are around. I think people are just forgetting that it's good to be appropriate. I had the amazing opportunities to go to New York and Seattle last summer, and I attended several Broadway shows. It was so special, and I got dressed up for the occasions. I can't tell you how many people I saw in tank tops, nasty t-shirts, cut off shorts, plastic flip flops, jeans with holes, ratty tennis shoes, etc. It was like they were on the way to the beach or the park, and it blew my mind. I think everyone should have the opportunity to go to the theater, but it's a "nice occasion," and not a casual situation. The actors pour their hearts into their performances 8 times a week, and I just want to show them respect.

As for the phone thing, I have been guilty of allowing my kids to have tech out at a restaurant, and I really want to make it a rule to put it all away. They are so addictive, and we end up relying on them, instead of connecting with one another, and I don't want that to be the case. I think there are definitely times to use them, and other times when they need to be put away. Just this past Sunday, a man at church answered a phone call and had a 5 minute conversation during the pastors' sermon. It was surreal... I just couldn't believe it was happening. I think we, as a society, should come up with some norms regarding cell phones... for example, put them away while your at a restaurant, while driving, at weddings, while meeting up with a friend or business associate, etc. Let's not miss life. Let's not miss the people and situations right in front of us.