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Leave that Tiara at Home

Strange as it may seem, some Chicago restaurants are banning crowns and sashes and other princess paraphernalia. It’s all about pre-wedding hoopla.

You’d think they have bigger fish to fry … or bigger T-bones to broil … but the upscale restaurants are getting serious about dress codes, trying to preserve (or maybe to create) a sophisticated atmosphere where it doesn’t seem incongruous to shell out hundreds of dollars for steaks and seafood and high-end cocktails.

Crain’s Chicago Business says many pricier restaurants are putting the kibosh on “athleisure wear, flip-flops and hats and asking guests to dress in a ‘sophisticated’ or ‘smart casual’ manner.”

Some go for a vague request like that. “Smart, sophisticated and elegant attire.”

Some get more specific, like the Gold Coast spot thanking its guests for not wearing “excessively revealing clothing, exposed undergarments or clothing with offensive language or graphics.”

And yes, they really are taking aim at those exuberant bridesmaids. An industry CEO told Crain’s “The interior of my restaurant, the design of it, gives off an aesthetic. You can’t have that ruined because a bachelorette party is over here with balloons and penis straws.”

(You know I was a bride a long time ago. I had no idea. Penis straws? I guess it’s self-explanatory, but I looked ‘em up anyway. Many options on Amazon …) hand over mouth blushing

Does wardrobe really make a difference?

People have been saying since the 15th century, “The clothes make the man.” That probably goes for the 20-something maid of honor too. Also, for you and me.

That’s why organizations used to have dress codes. They were out to create an atmosphere that promoted work, maybe client service, certainly respect for oneself, one’s colleagues, and the company.

Dressing up for work has pretty much gone by the wayside. Many firms have vague policies about “business casual” attire. Some have dropped “business” and just go for the “casual” part.

Many of us have a sense of what’s appropriate for going to work under those rubrics. And some people don’t seem to get it.

That’s why clients sometimes want my program on professional presence to include a conversation about wardrobe and grooming. They want to set a higher standard. And, they’re hinky about telling an employee not to come into the office, or onto the Zoom screen, looking like they just rolled out of bed and threw on whatever. Easier to have an outside expert deal with that. So I do.

I actually believe that how we dress makes an impact on the people with whom we interact. A lot of that happens at the non-conscious level. They may not seem to pay much attention to what we’re wearing; they might not remember our outfit once the meeting’s over.

And yet, if there’s something jarring, it does get noticed. Think back to Melania Trump’s “I don’t really care” trench coat for an example of that.

Consider the truism, “You cannot not communicate.” From the moment two or more individuals are in contact, meaning is being transmitted, and not just in the language they use.

Our facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures … and yes, what we’re wearing … all say something about us.

I also think how we dress makes an impact on us

It just feels different on the inside, dressing up for a night on the town, compared to the business casual look that’s become the typical work wardrobe, and certainly compared to our Saturday-morning-running-the errands outfit.

Without looking in the mirror, I know what my “look” looks like. And that has something to do with how I feel … along with how I present myself to the world.

Many days my keyboard and phone are the only ways I connect with clients and those who will become clients. Nobody’s seeing me in the flesh. I dress for work anyway and I feel more confident, more on-my-game, when I suit up, so to speak.

Maybe that sounds old-fashioned to you? I’d love to hear where you stand on dress codes for work, for fancy-pants restaurants, and for bridal parties.