Whether you’re trying to impress the boss, on a first date or simply enjoying a night out with friends, there’s no shortage of entertainment options in London. The city has a variety of venues that attract both visitors and residents each and every evening. It’s important to note though, that many of these venues feature strict dress codes; some may even turn you away if you arrive in less than your best attire. So, how do you know where to wear your suit and wear you can get away with just chinos and a tweed jacket? Let’s take a look at some of the different types of establishments that you might visit during an evening out in London.
If your evening begins with a meal, you’re in luck. London features a smorgasbord of delectable cuisine, including several Michelin Star restaurants. The dress code varies between each one, however. For instance, at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, you aren’t required to wear a tie, but you do need to wear a jacket and collared shirt. Le Gavroche requires a jacket, as does Claridges. At Petrus you can get away with not wearing a suit jacket, so long as you’re wearing a collared shirt. The Ivy, on the other hand, has a smart casual dress code. Men wearing short sleeved shirts, however, must wear jackets as well.
Most restaurants call for diners to ‘dress smart.’ Suits and ties set a tone, one that makes the dinner feel unique and unlike any other. The restaurants strive to make each meal a memorable event. The dress code varies, however, so it’s important to take the time to call or visit the site’s web page prior to your evening out.
When planning your night out, think ahead. If you don’t have a reservation, the restaurant of your choice may be booked or have a long queue. Be prepared if you have to eat at another restaurant by having a nice jacket and tie available with you.
Bubbling champagne, decadent cocktails and even a bit of dancing are what’s in store when you take advantage of London’s nightlife. There are a variety of different pubs, clubs and lounges that cater to various tastes and styles; you just have to find the right one for you. If you’re in the mood for a fine affair, consider one of the swankier hotels in the area, such as The Dorchester, The Savoy or the Ritz. These all have beautiful lounges and bars. Here, formal attire is strictly enforced. Dress in your best men’s suit and tie and enjoy your evening.
There are plenty of exclusive clubs as well, such as Bouji’s and Annabel’s. These ritzy clubs are known for their tasty cocktails and the chance to dance. The dress code at these types of clubs isn’t often found on a piece of paper or on a website. Frequent visitors know, though, that donning a suave navy or charcoal suit will help them look the part and fit in with the regular crowd. First-time visitors to these clubs might want to adhere to unspoken black tie dress code as well; it will greatly improve their chances of getting into the club.
In the past, attending the theatre or the opera meant putting on your best suit or even a tux. Today, the rules are a bit more relaxed. As long as you aren’t wearing revealing clothing, you won’t be turned away at the door. You’ll like find patrons of the West End theatres wearing jeans, tee shirts and tweed jackets to performances, especially matinees.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you should, however. While the official rules may not require formal dress any more, theatre- and opera-goers are still expected to dress in smart attire for these events. In fact, you’ll likely receive some stares or even sneers if you attend in anything less than a jacket and collared shirt. This is especially true for evening performances, where most patrons still attend in formal attire.
London is a city of fashion, of art and of intrigue. If you’ve been invited to one its numerous art gallery openings, you may not know what you should wear. In most cases, smart attire is acceptable. Wearing a collared dress shirt, a Dunsfold POW check jacket and a wrinkle-free pair of trousers will help you fit into the crowd observing the displays of photos, sculptures or paintings. Suits are a standard dress at these events as well.
If there’s one situation that demands formal attire, it’s an invitation to a ball or gala. These parties are often held as fundraisers for charities and may be at high-class venues like ballrooms, fine hotels and exclusive lounges. The individuals behind these events typically leave little to chance and indicate the required dress on the invitation.
Lunch and dinner cruises are readily available to those who want a memorable evening. Many cruises have specific dress codes for these meals, though the type of cruise will alter the requirement slightly. Lunch cruises are more relaxed with a smart casual dress code. Dinner cruises, however, are more formal. Most do not allow for leisurewear, shorts, flip-flops or trainers. Men’s suits and ties are preferred, but you may also gain entry onto the boat if you’re wearing a jacket and a nice pair of suit trousers. Some may also allow for dark denim jeans.
With so many events and venues in the city, you’ll never run out of new things to do and experience. It’s important to consider how you dress when you visit various places, however. When in doubt, always call ahead to see if the restaurant, pub or theatre has a dress code that you can follow.
No matter what the venue, always make sure you’re wearing clothing that is free of wrinkles, clean and void of any rips, stains or holes. This shows you’ve taken the time to think carefully about your wardrobe.