I love fashion but I hate you.

on dress codes

A new article from NYT on dress codes If you don’t want to scale the paywall to read it, I will summarize: Dress codes in bars, lounges, and clubs often discreetly signal that a particular establishment is filtering for a particular client. That is,”[dress codes are] frequently intended to keep out a certain type of person. The clothes themselves are secondary.”

The article goes about interviewing various owners of said establishments. Says Michael Satsky, proprietor of Provocateur (the article neglects to mention that he is also a major asshole, although you get the idea after reading his comments),

…male patrons wear “a blazer, a solid button-down or a solid sweater.” For women, shoes are key. “Minimum five-inch heel,” he said. “Christians are our favorite,” he added, referring not to the faithful but to Christian Louboutin, the designer known for his red soles. Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior are also welcome. If the crowd in Provocateur on any given night is a gauge, being European, gorgeous and at least 5-foot-10 is good, too.

Lovely. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in Provocateur — honestly all “upscale” bars look the same: red lighting behind the bar, weird Euro-y music, leather couches and even leathery-er people. I’m not sure why, in New York City of all places, anyone would stand in line, deal with douchebags, and pay a cover just to sit uncomfortably in a dark space with various Nordic pedophiles lurking everywhere, when there are literally hundreds of bars per city block. Here’s a good rule for having a good time: if there’s a line at a bar, it’s probably not worth going into.

But this continues:

An injunction against flannel, shorts and other typical brunch fashions helps convey the message that … the Day and Night Brunch…is for socialites and financiers, not hotel guests in search of French toast, said Daniel Koch, who runs the weekly party with his twin brother, Derek.

“You get guys in from L.A., they think a brunch is a brunch,” Mr. Koch said. “We have to say, ‘Look, dude, this isn’t what you think it is.’ You can’t rock a T-shirt here unless you’re a rock star.”

I haven’t been in NYC long, so I’m still getting the hang of Things Which Are Not What They Look Like. Brunches which aren’t really brunches. Meat that is actually made of soy. Grungy clothes that costs thousands of dollars. It’s like NYC is one enormous practical joke. If I ever get mugged and stabbed in the street, I’ll tell the cabbie not to take me to the hospital (“St. Luke’s” is actually a Catholic-themed S&M club) but to take me to the donut shop that doubles as an ER ward.

Even OUTSIDE of NYC, this ridiculous dress codeness is rampant:

“We cater to the ‘authentic’ Hamptons crowd,” said Ben Grieff, an owner, “people who are actually from the Hamptons, not just people who drive out here to see a big D.J.” (Mr. Grieff clarified: “From the Hamptons” refers to people whose parents had a summer home there as a child, not to duck farmers.)

I don’t know NYC well, but I do know rich people. And I’ll tell you: rich people dress like crap. I mean, hell, they’re rich, what do they care if they wear shorts and flip flops all the time? Oh no I can’t get into your shitty club? I guess it’s back to the beachfront resort/hotel/mansion/evil genius lair. I can take my helicopter. My pilot doesn’t care if I wear shorts. Another great NYC rule: poor people wear Gucci labels, middle class people wear button-ups, rich people wear huge Tommy Bahama shirts.

I’m for dressing well as much as the next elitist style blogger. But I realize that the same rules of style that are supposed to elevate people can be used to oppress people as well (in all honesty the rules probably were meant to oppress people in the first place). But real style should never be about exclusion. It should always be about being confident in yourself, expressing yourself, and putting your best foot forward. An asshole in a Ed Hardy shirt is still an asshole if wearing a Zegna suit. I’ve seen it. It’s like dressing a donkey as a penguin.

Bottom line: dress code is a code. It says “this place sucks.”

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