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Thread: Casual and formal cities

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Casual and formal cities

    We've seen all kinds of interesting lists on here, from the angriest cities to the cities with the most native born residents to the most walkable cities.

    Along that line, I thought I'd look up something I've often wondered about -- most and least formal cities. Primarily, I mean in ways of dress -- especially business dress and dinner dress -- but also in terms of the way people interact. As far as I can tell, no studies have been done on this subject, so I thought I'd bring it up here.

    I'm curious to see what people think -- my own experience has provided some surprises. Generally, I find Denver to be an extremely laid-back and casual city in this manner, and I've found the same in Seattle. Denver only has one restaurant that requires a sportjacket (Brown Palace), and last I heard, Seattle had none. On the other hand, Southern California is far less casual than I'd expect -- a handful restaurants seem to be instituting dress codes, something I thought went out of style years ago (I've come across two in the last week, and they were at places I would consider Chili's-level in terms of their menu -- interestingly, a sweatshirt and khakis would not be good enough for these stuffy folks!).

    I know the Northeast has a reputation for being more formal.. but I did not feel out of place at a nice restaurant in Back Bay in touristy-dress (sweatshirt and jeans) -- I walked in, it was a lot nicer than I anticipated, so I asked the hostess if I was dressed nice enough. She assured me it was no problem at all, my attire would fit right in -- and the restaurant ended up being great! I just wish I could remember the name of the place. I also had a simliar experience at a nice place in Lowell after a hockey game -- so in my experience, I've found New England to be pretty relaxed.

    As far as Canadian cities go, I find Vancouver and Calgary to be casual... Toronto, I have not been to in more than a decade, so I can't get a reading on it.

    I'm interested in all responses from all places... maybe we can have some fun with this one!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Detroit is both. Its a city of the haves and have nots. Downtown during the day is very corporate (well the part of it thats not empty anyways). At night the tourists and thugs take over the sports bars, casinos, and dance clubs.

    There are lots of restraunts where you would not even think about going into without a jacket. However there are others where if you wear a jacket, you're libel to get 'jacked' in the parking lot!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    With 6 kids per family I would say everywhere in UT is a casual city (although there are a couple of downtown SLC restraurants where a jacket is required). Except on Sunday's, when you better be in a suit, driving around the corner to get to church, and carrying your bible with you or else you risk being exposed as a "non member".

  4. #4

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    San Francisco can be very casual, overall. Luckily, it is too chilly, generally, for the short shorts crowd, but...

    Although, as a mecca for pretentious dining, there are several restaurants that require a jacket.

    I remember visiting my sister in downtown San Francisco when she worked there, and she drug us to Rubicon, a high end restaurant (some movie star is a partner-or maybe it's Coppola, I don't remember). They seated us, but dressed in my ratty teeshirt, we got the bad seat (by the kitchen door).

  5. #5
         
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    st. louis seems quite formal.

    kcmo is annoyingly so, for what is really a 'chill' town. there are an awful lot of restaurants in the core that i wouldnt feel comfortable going in without at least putting on a jacket. some places with stated dress codes. its a 'food town' though, and to be expected i guess.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    San Francisco can be very casual, overall.

    [...]

    Although, as a mecca for pretentious dining, there are several restaurants that require a jacket.
    Well what do you expect from the national center for idle rich ***** who spend all their time "discovering themselves?" Being formal is bad for your aura.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blue View post
    I know the Northeast has a reputation for being more formal.. but I did not feel out of place at a nice restaurant in Back Bay in touristy-dress (sweatshirt and jeans) -- I walked in, it was a lot nicer than I anticipated, so I asked the hostess if I was dressed nice enough. She assured me it was no problem at all, my attire would fit right in -- and the restaurant ended up being great! I just wish I could remember the name of the place. I also had a simliar experience at a nice place in Lowell after a hockey game -- so in my experience, I've found New England to be pretty relaxed.
    Well, Back Bay is the most touristy neighborhood in Boston and Lowell is a dump. They were probably glad to have anyone eating there. I assure you, your experience was the exception. Few cities in America are as pompous, uh, "formal" as Boston. Next time you go back try the same thing in Beacon Hill, Park Square, or the South End. And just because the waitron said it was okay, does not mean that others were not talking about your choice of outfit.

    There are benefits to formality. We have been frustrated by the lack of professionalism in the hiring process down here (NC). We are also shocked by what many down here seem to view as evening wear, especially the women.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Back Bay certainly is touristy -- to be honest though, I don't care if people talk about what I'm wearing. If that's what people judge me on, they're too pretentious for me to care about what they think anyway! I take that approach considering I don't dress like a slob, but a nice sweatshirt and khakis is about as dressy as I care to be when I go out to enjoy myself in a relaxed setting. I figure if that limits my restaurants, that's okay.. but I hate to get in a penguin suit just for dinner!

    The place in Lowell was actually in a historic building dating back to the 1800s -- it was surprisingly upscale, yet very friendly -- albeit kind of quiet (as in not busy).

    Speaking of Boston, the Red Sox incredibly require a collared shirt and no jeans in the club seats. Wow -- to me, fans should always be encouraged to wear team jerseys and other gear -- even owners, in my opinion, should show support. Mark Cuban gets this, the Red Sox do not.

    I appreciate all the input greatly, and most of it is along the lines of what I've observed along the way. I should also add I find some places in the South to be very formal for formal occasions, yet extremely casual day-to-day -- Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana all fit into that category. I found the restaurants unpretentious and casual, yet you would still see people wearing suits to football games!

    Chicago is a city I found relatively casual, yet I found Detroit to be quite formal, almost stuffy at times, which ties in with what Detroit Planner said. Yet at the same time, I had a great time at the Red Wings game with a jeans and jersey crowd!

    The Twin Cities are also very casual in my opinion -- the stereotype of plaid flannel shirts might not be right on target, but sweatshirts and jeans seemed to be the order of the day for most people. Very comfortable. Places such as Omaha and Madison are similar to MSP, I've found. Yet Des Moines seems more formal to me -- maybe it's just an impression or where I've been.
    Last edited by Blue; 22 Aug 2006 at 8:02 PM. Reason: Added more comments

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb View post
    Well what do you expect from the national center for idle rich ***** who spend all their time "discovering themselves?" Being formal is bad for your aura.
    Clearly, you've never spent much time in San Francisco or the greater Bay Area.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Clearly, you've never spent much time in San Francisco or the greater Bay Area.
    Yeah. Chicagoans are ALL so down to earth. North State Parkway doesn't exist in his Chicago. No snobby suburbs, pretentious yuppy neighborhoods, or hipsters in The City of Big Shoulders. (oops....not too much real industry left there, is there? All decamped for the suburbs and Asia....Which means the Chicago economy is based more and more on tourism and financial services, and the like.....Just like ......... San Francisco...)

    He drove around the city once and thought the Sunset District was ugly and repetitive and so San Francisco was not worthy of any more of his attention. It's back to Cicero Blvd or Stoney Island around 75th for our intrepid explorerer.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Orlando is generally casual, except for a few restaurants in the resorts and downtown. What amazes me is it's business dress as usual downtown, even on 98 d. days, which last for months. I guess if most restaurants/businesses can handle European tourists in socks/sandals and plaid shorts, they can handle the natives in jeans.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    ... tourists in socks/sandals and plaid shorts...
    I'll leave the golf shorts and black socks home this weekend. Don't mean to embarrass you.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  13. #13
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Well what do you expect from the national center for idle rich ***** who spend all their time "discovering themselves?" Being formal is bad for your aura.
    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    Yeah. Chicagoans are ALL so down to earth. North State Parkway doesn't exist in his Chicago. No snobby suburbs, pretentious yuppy neighborhoods, or hipsters in The City of Big Shoulders. (oops....not too much real industry left there, is there? All decamped for the suburbs and Asia....Which means the Chicago economy is based more and more on tourism and financial services, and the like.....Just like ......... San Francisco...)

    He drove around the city once and thought the Sunset District was ugly and repetitive and so San Francisco was not worthy of any more of his attention. It's back to Cicero Blvd or Stoney Island around 75th for our intrepid explorerer.
    Whoa...can we stop the city-bashing here? Both of you.

    Y'all don't want 20 posts by me defending Chicago again, do you?
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    Whoa...can we stop the city-bashing here? Both of you.

    Y'all don't want 20 posts by me defending Chicago again, do you?
    Heck, IP. I love Chicago. It was my first big city (I'm from Indiana), and I love the history, the architecture, the parks, the vernacular everyday architectural fabric. jordan was trolling again, and I took the bait.

  15. #15
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Cleveland has a lot of old money, and "American Trad" style is still the norm in places like Shaker Heights and the over-the-top estate suburbs like Moreland Hills, Hunting Valley, Chagrin Falls, Gates Mills, Waite Hill, and the like. A jacket and tie would be expected in many restaurants in downtown or some of the wealthy eastern suburbs.

    My curling club doesn't allow players or spectators to wear jeans. They're tolerated during open houses, but otherwise you're sent home if you're wearing denim.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blue View post
    Speaking of Boston, the Red Sox incredibly require a collared shirt and no jeans in the club seats. Wow -- to me, fans should always be encouraged to wear team jerseys and other gear -- even owners, in my opinion, should show support. Mark Cuban gets this, the Red Sox do not.
    They make Red Sox polo shirts (and Mark Cuban is an idiot).

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Wow -- growing up in the heartland of curling, it surprises me that there is a restriction on jeans! Curling's always been pretty casual where I grew up -- beer and burger type of event, come as you are. Of course, I can't see wanting to wear jeans while playing -- jeans stay damp longer than most pants, and when you're sliding on ice, that's a bad thing.

    Interesting point on the old money, Dan. It does seem that cities with "old money" tend to be more suit and tie -- new money cities tend to be more casual. At least, that seems to be what we're seeing on here.

    Cuban definitely divides people. To me, he represents all that is good about sports. Too bad the NBA officials made sure his team did not get a fair shot in the finals this year.

    Yes, they make Red Sox polo shirts. But you should always have the right to wear a team jersey at a game. I figure the bad karma from that and the Curse of Johnny Damon led to Boston Massacre part 2 last weekend!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Philly is a little of both....

    Downtown whether in the clubs, restaurants, etc. it is VERY flashy and formal. It is dress to impress, by the book.

    Out in the neighborhoods though, its very blue collar, working class, not so formal.

    Then you get to the ghettos, where "urban wear" is all the rage. STOP SNITCHING T-shirts are the latest craze among our young street corner entrepreneurs.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    They make Red Sox polo shirts (and Mark Cuban is an idiot).
    I went to a Red Sox game in the EMC club seats a few weeks ago in shorts and a tee shirt. No one looked overdressed to me. The only thing that irritated me were the $7 beers and $10 sandwiches.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    With the exception of Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale (Las Olas), and Miami Beach south Florida is informal to the point of embarrassing, especially when citizens show up at planning board meetings in wife-beaters and flip-flops. Everybody is either a pool screen contractor or real estate agent and you better be careful because only half of these folks have business licenses. In the land of get-rich-quick (slogan: "if you got the money we got the time") business activity is generally conducted shadily and informally. Same goes for government.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Maybe the Red Sox policy has changed -- this was for the .406 Club, I noticed it a year or two ago under their terms and conditions.

    I'm also kind of curious about both Toronto and New York City if anyone has some experiences from those two cities -- both cities are financial and national hubs, yet very diverse places. From my experience, the stronger the financial/government sector, the more formal a city can feel, yet diversity tends to lead to open-mindedness, which in turn leads to friendliness and an accepting of all standards of dress/social interaction.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    With the exception of Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale (Las Olas), and Miami Beach south Florida is informal to the point of embarrassing, especially when citizens show up at planning board meetings in wife-beaters and flip-flops.
    Same at our hearings on the panhandle. Of course, tomorrow is dress down day at the office, so I'll be in jeans and a golf shirt.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Today is friday so I'm wearing sandals. This is Florida right?
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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  24. #24
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    STOP SNITCHING T-shirts are the latest craze among our young street corner entrepreneurs.
    From Wikipedia:

    "Boston mayor, Thomas Menino announced that he would begin confiscating Stop Snitchin' shirts from local stores. Though Menino rapidly backed away from mandatory confiscation to endorse voluntary removal of the shirts by store owners, his proposals sparked considerable controversy locally and nationally. Though many saw the initiative as ineffective, counterproductive, or misleading, some community members of high crime inner city areas such as Dorchester defended the move as important to conquering fear on the streets and assisting in criminal prosecutions. [5]

    A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union rapidly opposed Menino's confiscation plan, claiming that it would violate the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of free speech, in addition to violating rights granted by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The shirts gained attention in Boston in 2004 when the mother of an alleged gang member (and a number of other spectators) wore the shirt during her son's trial for the shooting death of 10-year-old Trina Persad. [6]. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Margaret R. Hinkle successfully banned the shirts from the courtroom as a witness intimidation tactic.

    Boston Police officers removed Stop Snitchin' shirts from shelves in a Dorchester store after meeting with Marco Antonio Ennis, who owns the store and manufactures the shirts. Ennis, a former member of the rap group Made Men, agreed to stop selling the shirts after discussion with the mayor, community members, and relatives of recent homicide victims. Other stores, including Bargain T and T in Roxbury have agreed to cease selling the shirts. The controversy, however, seems to have increased the demand for the shirts, though changed the demographic of their wearers towards the suburbs and away from the inner city [7].

    The Stop Snitchin' debate was revived when a Boston judge banned the shirts from all state courthouses, also disallowing cameraphones in the interest of witness protection. [8].

    The Stop Snitchin' shirts have inspired parodies including "Stop Menino", "Start Snitchin'", and "STOP Stop Snitching" shirts."

  25. #25
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    Well, Back Bay is the most touristy neighborhood in Boston and Lowell is a dump. They were probably glad to have anyone eating there. I assure you, your experience was the exception. Few cities in America are as pompous, uh, "formal" as Boston. Next time you go back try the same thing in Beacon Hill, Park Square, or the South End. And just because the waitron said it was okay, does not mean that others were not talking about your choice of outfit.

    There are benefits to formality. We have been frustrated by the lack of professionalism in the hiring process down here (NC). We are also shocked by what many down here seem to view as evening wear, especially the women.
    Bit south of you in SC and it's pretty much the same if not a little more casual although there are exceptions. What gets me the most are the "church outfits" if you know what I am talking about! Many are over the top and leave me shaking my head. One county councilwoman where I work takes this to new levels.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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