Restaurant Dress Code

The dress code for going out to a restaurant varies widely according to the restaurant’s formality, the town or city it’s in, the time of day, and the company.  Here are some guidelines to help you navigate all this for a fun meal out:

For the ladies

Think about the restaurant you’ll be going to and the company you’ll be with.  Is this a hot date?  A family dinner?  A weekend brunch with friends?  Regardless, you’ll want to look nice and pulled-together, with a cute top and fun jewelry.  People will be looking at you from across the table for a couple of hours straight, so do them a favor and dress up a little — at least from the waist up.  But keep necklines high if you’re around family.  No cleavage for lunch with Grandma. Restaurant Dress Code

For the guys

Guys, the same goes for you.  Think about where you’re going and with whom, and calibrate your outfit accordingly.  Dinner at a nice restaurant demands a crisp buttoned shirt and probably a jacket, while for a casual lunch in the summertime you could get away with just a polo shirt.

Rules of Thumb

  • Check out to see if there’s a listing for the restaurant you’re headed to, and take a look at the style guides for that dress code.
  • If you can’t find a dress code here, try other sources such as or Yelp to get a ballpark sense.  If all else fails, simply check out the restaurant’s website, and look through their photo gallery to see what people are wearing.
  • Consider the rest of your night as well, if you’re going out for dinner.  Will you be hitting the clubs afterwards, or heading back to Uncle Pete’s for backgammon?  Take this into account as you’re choosing what to wear.
  • A little jewelry, or a colorful tie, goes a long way toward adding interest to your above-the-waist ensemble.
  • Don’t forget to do your hair neatly, both guys and girls, and if you’re wearing lipstick, bring some reinforcements in your purse.