Last weekend train passengers around the world rode the rails without their pants. Until recently, cafe diners in San Francisco were under no obligation to wear even one stitch of clothing - a city ordinance allowed nudists to spread their depraved cheeks across restaurant seats and banquettes, regardless of the unsanitary consequences.
These may be extreme examples of America's accelerating abandonment of dressing in a dignified manner in public places, but dressing for comfort, even in 'upscale' restaurants seems to have gone mainstream...Hoodies are the new blazers. Baseball caps are the fedoras. Americans commit murder to capture a pair of sneakers.
In California it's not unusual to see adults wearing pajama bottoms in public. Visible male tank-top armpit-hair is as common in bistros as it is in gymnasiums. Silk blouses and oxford shirts have made way for t-shirts touting messages like "YAY, I POOPED TODAY!"
It's been a couple of decades since the coat and tie requirement for men in fine restaurants was the norm. For heedless gentlemen without tactful foresight there were always starched maître d's quick to extend the safety net with ill-fitting loaner sport coat and gravy-stained clip-on ties.
The easing of dress codes in fine restaurants, certainly a reflection of our demand to do everything casually, has essentially been a business decision by a desperate industry ravaged by downturn. Many upscale restaurateurs have conceded that the average American's idea of Friday night perfection is found at Applebee's or Ruby Tuesday, and if they can slice off a small wedge of that mall-bound "Mountain-high Mud Pie" clientele... it may mean the difference between closing and staying afloat.
Alas, there ARE some restaurant hold-outs across the country still retaining their dignity and upholding the 'jacket required for dinner' policy for men. Note...a couple of restaurants on this list may assert 'jacket preferred,' but make no mistake, better to don a jacket unless you're fond of sitting at the table next to the employee restroom. View the 24 photos list above.