Oh, boy. Adam, over at Amateur Gourmet has weighed in today on the subject of jackets in fine dining restaurants. As you surely remember, in the early days of The Blushing Hostess, John (the Dashing Host) weighed in on the importance of possessing a navy blue blazer. I feel we, here at The Blushing Hostess and The Blushing Hostess Entertains, could weigh in (as this is kind of, er, totally, up our ultra-traditional alley) perhaps more heavily. Since The Host is in Baltimore and could even be sleeping, I will go it alone for you... but check back here because once I get with him and give him his cocktail, he'll have some gentlemanly thoughts on the subject. When I read one commenters sentence, "Enough of this laissez faire crap." I smiled.
After all, that is precisely why John and I began our discourse on manners and tradition. Ah, only we wished we could have been that straight forward.
In the time since John wrote the jacket essay, The Dashing Host has moved to its own new blog and John no doubt still finds use for his jacket nearly everyday. The truth is, that is who are. John will always put on trousers and a jacket if he is not in a suit. And I will always put on a skirt. These days of wine, roses, and jeans are not for us.
We are young, yes. But we come from an old tradition we dutifully protect: Respect. Caring for oneself and having a polished appearance is not a product of being overly concerned for oneself, it is a product of being conscious of the tone others wish to set for their day, their home, their meal, or their restaurant. And if I was to look deeply into myself, I would also admit life goes a little easier when I have taken care with my appearance. I like to think that is the product of an
atmosphere of mutual respect.
I put on good, neat clothes and do my hair and makeup because I want you to know that this conversation I have come by to have with you, or this meal we sit down to together, or this food you made for me, or this exchange of money for postage stamps at the post office window is an important event: You are a human being, as such I will present myself to you in a respectable manner. In doing so, I acknowledge your work, your pride, your presence right from the start.
Once in a while, there is a restaurant I can go to in jeans. But they are very good jeans and that in no way means I let the hair/makeup thing go by the wayside. No, not ever. Even if I am only toddling up the way to 121, a restaurant full to the gills with show jumpers just left the stable, I am still done. And if I am not, I am not coming out.
As for the specific issues of dress codes, I agree with many of Adam's commenters, there should not be one, anywhere. We should live prepared to move from the stable to Le Bernadin: Ever ready. Ever graceful. And "dress codes," can just fade away, instead we could call it elegance. Wouldn't that be lovely?