Dress to impress….waiters?

by Gray Cargill on October 30, 2008

After reading this article in today’s Wall Street Journal (“The Suit That Turns Me Into a VIP”), I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us solo diners have received poor service in restaurants not, as we assumed, because we were solo diners, but because we weren’t dressed in more expensive clothing?  (Which is, of course, equally wrong.) The author, Christina Binkley, writes:

As a woman at midlife, I find that if I want notice, I must command it. Waiters can be slow to respond to my black Banana Republic pantsuits. But they “ma’am” my St. John. Store clerks glide over to offer coffee while I browse. Maitre d’s offer hangers for my jacket.

Fascinating.  (First off, I read Ms. Binkley’s name too fast the first time around and thought it was Christie Brinkley writing the article. I thought “Oh please, she could wear a burlap bag and get great service.”  Which is a whole other topic for another day.)

Has this ever happened to you?  Has it ever happened to me, I wonder?  I rarely dine at expensive restaurants, but I wonder how much of a service difference I would experience if I wore nice slacks and my $600 leather jacket versus nice slacks and my $40 fleece jacket?  I might just have to test that theory. How else do we explain the vast difference in reviews of some solo diners visiting the same restaurant–where one received impeccable service and was made to feel like royalty, while the other was crammed into a table near the kitchen and ignored?  Different waiter?  Or the waiter was having a bad day?  Or the one at the kitchen table looked like a bad tipper?

If you’ve ever noticed a difference in your treatment as a solo diner at a particular restaurant from one visit to the next based on your attire, I would love to hear about it.  It’s definitely food for thought.

admin October 31, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I am really looking forward to being at a point in my life where I don’t care any more what other people think. How liberating!

admin October 31, 2008 at 10:40 pm

I am really looking forward to being at a point in my life where I don’t care any more what other people think. How liberating!

Brad October 30, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I often find nearly the opposite. If you come in on the verge of under-dressed they assume you can actually afford to eat there, whereas if you’re wearing your Sunday best, you probably feel ill at ease and are trying to “fit in.” Or maybe it’s just cause I’m old and too lazy to care anymore and that comes across.

Brad October 30, 2008 at 6:29 pm

I often find nearly the opposite. If you come in on the verge of under-dressed they assume you can actually afford to eat there, whereas if you’re wearing your Sunday best, you probably feel ill at ease and are trying to “fit in.” Or maybe it’s just cause I’m old and too lazy to care anymore and that comes across.

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