Dress code - or not dress code

La Gavroche is a Michelin 2* restaurant in London. Until recently, it had a very firm “jackets required” policy. It’s clear cut and that’s absolutely fine with me. I choose not to dine at places that are so anachronistic as to have such a policy so have had absolutely no problem in spending my money elsewhere (not least at the owner’s cousin’s 3* restaurant where they are not so silly).

However, they have changed their policy as follows and I really don’t know what to make of it:

"Le Gavroche operates a smart dress code, jackets and ties are optional and we do not permit any t-shirts or sportswear. Any decision regarding permitting entry to the restaurant is entirely at the management’s discretion and guests found complying with the dress code but are not attired appropriately may be denied entry. "

On the one hand, they appear to have relaxed the “jackets required” policy. However, they are clearly stating that even if a customer is fully compliant with the “smart dress code”, they may still take a view that he is not “attired appropriately” and deny him entry. I’m reading that as though they are likely to still turn away folk not wearing jackets - which means that, for me, I would have a 400 mile round trip rail journey and an overnight hotel stay and still not be able to eat there. So, I’m still not going.


I’m struggling to see how someone can comply with the dress code and still not be attired appropriately. Is the dress code itself inappropriate? Or is their policy just fancy talk for “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason”?


I think the new policy is worse than the original. Now it is saying where something “smart” but if we don’t like the look of you we are not letting you in. I’d love to see a photo gallery of the people they kick out.


Wear expensive shoes, make sure you accessories are equally expensive. Also, be at least forty years old, unless you’re a female, in which case be pretty.


I think that means clean, pressed khakis and a nice, unrumpled button down shirt and clean loafers, no sneakers, will pass. For women, similarly dressed in terms of style.
They could say “smart casual” or “dressy casual, no jacket and tie required.” and relax their rectums a bit about how folks interpret that.

Since you care enough to post this to get opinions I would suggest calling them and discussing your preferred wardrobe options. From reading it I can tell you my perspective as a previous owner, they are telling you if you show up in a loud “Hawaiian shirt with pink flamingos” although it has a color and is button down, you are NOT going to be seated.

Primarily “smart dress code” says to me, no jeans, no tee-shirts and probably no golf/polo type shirts. Which means they want men’s button down dress shirt(s) and slacks or khaki pants. I’m also reasonably sure they would not permit sneakers or running shoes either.

Again if you are truly interested why not give them a call? If you do I hope you enjoy!


I’d love to see a photo gallery of the people they let in :confused:

It sounds like a hipster bar whose bouncers decide if patrons have the “right look” to enjoy the rarefied air of its establishment.


Recently, we went to a 2 starred Michelin restaurant in Paris for lunch. On their website, they insisted “tenue correct exigée”. Husband doesn’t like to dress up and he wore a black shirt with leather jacket, black trousers, no tie. We saw in the restaurant, there were men wearing polo and white adidas sport shoes, and being admitted. Women were more dressed up than men that day. No men wore ties.

A food writer said on her blog that when dining in Le Petit Nice (3 stars) in Marseilles, no men wore tie that evening.

Maybe try to see some pictures of that restaurant and looked at how the clients dressed.

I think its pretty clear, although slightly coded. They confirm they have changed the jacket/tie policy and “T-Shirts or sportswear” is code for scruffy or clothing inappropriate for a restaurant.

My own rule is to dress to respect the place I am going to, If its a posh night out I put on my smart clothes, if it achingly trendy I dress down and more casually. But never a t-shirt or beach clothes unless I am next to a beach or at a holiday resort.

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I think it’s always wise to recognise different countries have different norms - I am sure you do.

My experience of the US is that dress is quite a lot more uniform than Europe i.e. khakis, loafer, button down and sports coat (usually blue) seems to be the norm for most men of a certain age.

But in Europe the equivalent dress for men is far more individualistic and fashion driven. People dress up but they do it with their own style and others understand the look so the “white adidas sport shoes” may well be very much in vogue this season with models sporting hem on the catwalks.

Suits and ties often come back in fashion and men will wear them because they want to not because they have to e.g. Italian knitted ties were much on trend amongst some of my friends a few years ago.

John, does “sportswear” have a specific meaning in the U.K.? In the US I’d take it to mean anything in between suit and tie and dirty jeans and tee shirt. Pretty broad range here.

They were tourists, jeans, tee shirts and clean classic Stan Smith. Another time, usually lunch you can be more causal than dinner. Except maybe Taillevent. I have heard young girls went with shorts, they gave them trousers but didn’t turn them away. They seem to have a wall robe equipped with jackets and ties too.

I think for Harters, it’s more the principle here to choose to eat in the place that has a dress code (or not). My husband has the same attitude.

Yes, generally speaking - track suit bottoms, trainers, replica sports shirts with logo, that sort of thing.

FWIW, my favourite local Michelin 1 * has this as its policy which I find fully understandable - “Please note that our dress code is smart and informal but no sports wear, ripped denim or shorts.” The most formally dressed people you’ll see in the restaurant are the staff. I wear my standard “dining out” attire of chinos (or similar), short sleeve collared shirt, “proper” leather shoes - I wear that to Michelin places, or the local pizza place.


I went to Mozza straight from the beach once. I had on a sarong and tank top over my bathing suit, and the boy (he was maybe four?) was in his bathing trunks and rash guard. They didn’t bat an eye and seated us in front of Nancy at the bar. She chatted with the boy a boy a bit as we ate.

Of course this was in the early days, I’m not sure we could do that now… But they were very gracious.

I am the only one that finds it sad that diners have to be told that ripped denim is not acceptable?

You can spend a tremendous amount on ripped denim and in some circles it is considered very fashionable. So for large populations it gets complicated.

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I’m aware that some people find it trendy. I just don’t get that said people equate expensive and trendy with appropriate.

Very fashionable “young persons wear” in these parts.

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I agree with everyone in theory. Just saying that dress codes in general become complicated.

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