He Said, She Said: Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go


It’s another edition of He Said, She Said, where Foobooz co-conspirators Kirsten Henri and Arthur Etchells wage IM war about a topic.

Today it’s about proper attire at the swanky Four Seasons. Should the way you’re dressed matter anymore? Is dressing up doomed or will Barney’s Co-Op save us all?

kirsthenri: so I took my mom to tea at the four seasons on saturday
kirsthenri: for a belated birthday thingee
foobooz: nice.
kirsthenri: it was
kirsthenri: pricy, but nice
kirsthenri: but here’s the thing

swann_lounge_2kirsthenri: it was 3:30 in the afternoon
kirsthenri: and we were in the lounge
kirsthenri: but still, it’s the four seasons
kirsthenri: and people were dressed like dirtballs
kirsthenri: like grungy old funky jeans, flip flops
kirsthenri: t-shirts
foobooz: Welcome to America.
kirsthenri: there were a few ladies in hats and like Easter suits
kirsthenri: but I would say the majority were slovenly
kirsthenri: although there was a guy in lime green pants
kirsthenri: I mean, I guess the thinking behind that is
kirsthenri: oh, I’m spending $15 on a drink, I should be able to wear what I want?
foobooz: well were they people staying at the hotel?
kirsthenri: I’m not sure
kirsthenri: does that make a difference
kirsthenri: ?
foobooz: Well yeah.
foobooz: If you’re going out for tea at the Four Seasons i’d expect you to dress up a bit.
foobooz: If you happen to be staying at the Four Seasons on a weekend I wouldn’t necessarily expect you to be dressed up if you just came in from walking around Center City.
kirsthenri: hmmm
kirsthenri: I think it’s a matter of respect
kirsthenri: for yourself and for the establishment
kirsthenri: why can’t you go up to your room and change into a pair of actual shoes?
kirsthenri: and a collared shirt or whatever?
kirsthenri: I mean, what is the point of the Four Seasons
kirsthenri: if you are going to be a slob while you’re there?
kirsthenri: nice things stop being nice if you don’t treat them nicely
foobooz: It’s a tough call. There’s something kind of fun about being underdressed in a nice place. It’s like you’re getting away with something.
kirsthenri: maybe this is b/c you’re a guy?
kirsthenri: Because I think there’s something fun about being dressed up in a nice place.
kirsthenri: It’s like you’re doing something special
foobooz: Well that’s true too.
kirsthenri: I’m surprised, Arthur
foobooz: But I can understand walking around all day and plopping your unwashed self in a big lounge seat at the Four Seasons and having a drink.
kirsthenri: yes
kirsthenri: true
foobooz: Not saying I wouldn’t get dressed up nicely for dinner or even later in that same lounge. Just saying there’s something about being the impromptu interloper in the ritzy set.
kirsthenri: yes, but if you’re either A) staying at the four seasons
kirsthenri: or B) it even occurs to you to plop down for a drink at the four seasons
kirsthenri: then you have enough money/style/savvy to at least know the difference between appropriate casual and dirtball casual
foobooz: And at the Four Seasons it’s kind of fun to be the dirtball, because you will still be treated well.
kirsthenri: well, that’s really the fine line, isn’t it?
kirsthenri: because the Four Seasons thing is all about catering to the guest
kirsthenri: putting the guest first, etc.
foobooz: And it is more than just dress.
foobooz: If I’m dressed like a dirtball and acting like a dirtball that’s different than
foobooz: being polite, cordial, leaving a good tip despite being dressed like I just got back from the Phillies game or something.
kirsthenri: that’s true
kirsthenri: but dressing appropriately is like the third leg of that tripod of being polite and leaving a good tip
kirsthenri: I mean, if it were up to me, everyone would be dress like they were in The Thin Man at all times
kirsthenri: I know I’m probably a little on the extreme side
foobooz: Yeah, I’d say you are.
kirsthenri: but if it’s okay to wear flipflops at the Four Seasons
foobooz: It’d be ok to wear them at the White House like Northwestern’s women’s lacrosse team did?
kirsthenri: no way
kirsthenri: those girls should have been waterboarded by the ghost of Jackie Kennedy
kirsthenri: why don’t we all just start peeing in the plants while we’re there too?
foobooz: There’s a big difference between the two.
kirsthenri: also, to be fair, you are on the extreme other side
foobooz: I’m a constant plant urinator?
kirsthenri: hahahahah
kirsthenri: no
kirsthenri: I mean you are less likely to want to get dressed up
kirsthenri: you had to put a facebook status up the last time you wanted to shop for a dressy outfit, if I remember correctly
foobooz: Well that was an odd description of the dress code.
kirsthenri: what was it?
kirsthenri: oh, Union Trust… cocktail attire.
kirsthenri: it was dressy, right?
foobooz: But I came through with a fine ensemble complete with lavender shirt that I enjoyed wearing.
kirsthenri: yes, you looked very nice
kirsthenri: but it does prove my point
kirsthenri: you were perplexed by the dress code
foobooz: I wasn’t alone.
kirsthenri: Goodtimes does not count
foobooz: I’m perplexed by his dresscode.
kirsthenri: you should be.
kirsthenri: um, dude
kirsthenri: the invite said ‘cocktail attire’
kirsthenri: that is a standard dress thing
foobooz: ok. So I don’t get invited to many cocktail attire required events.
foobooz: Sniffle.
kirsthenri: hahahahah
kirsthenri: that’s not your fault, that’s Philly’s fault
kirsthenri: people are against getting dressed up here
kirsthenri: which brings us right back where we started
foobooz: Or propbably any place not named Miami, NY or LA.
kirsthenri: well, judging from What Not To Wear
kirsthenri: the women of Seattle are way more sartorially challenged than we are here
kirsthenri: so I guess that’s comforting
kirsthenri: I guess if Georges Perrier can give up his formal dining stuff
kirsthenri: there’s really no hope
kirsthenri: I should just break out my sweatpants and be done with it
foobooz: Yeah I think so. It’s rare that people dress up. It’s more like sometimes we play dress-up.
kirsthenri: I refuse to give in
kirsthenri: suck it, flip-flop wearers
foobooz: Well we have a Barney’s Co-op now. Maybe things will change.
kirsthenri: it’s the attitude, not the access
foobooz: True.
kirsthenri: I wonder what The People think?
kirsthenri: let’s put it to them

Swann Lounge at the Four Seasons [Official Site]

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  • I’m with Arthur. I wore jeans last time I was at Lacroix. I don’t think flip flops are appropriate anywhere but the beach though. Other people might not want to see that much of your feet whether you are at the Four Seasons or on the bus.

  • mazza3

    well, unless you are a teenager who doesn’t know better, there is no excuse for looking poor when you are not. casual is fine, funky tshirts and jeans are fine, but stained and stinky-looking clothes of any sorts is wrong.

    there is nothing wrong with dressing like a grown-up, but i think one of the problems is that men aren’t growing up as early as they used to and women think flip-flops are ‘cute’. both of these attitudes are bogus and need to be changed. rock the nice clothes and don’t complain about it. chances are you probably look better dressed up than you do casually dressed, so do it for your own ego if nothing else.

  • Dan

    I’m totally with Kristin. The Four Seasons is a really nice place that requires a certain attire. if you don’t feel like getting dressed up that’s fine but don’t eat or stay at the 4 Seasons.

  • Julie

    There’s nothing extreme about equating wearing flip flops to the White House with peeing in a plant. It’s really the same event. Unless of course no one can see you pee into a plant, in which case, wearing flip flops is much worse.

    Wearing flip flops anywhere but a beach or shared shower or pool is even worse than sweatpants tucked into Uggs. It’s the worse offense in the history of fashion-based offenses. Expect for neon. Man, I wore tons of that neon sh*t in middle school. It was wrong.

    In conclusion, I agree 100% that people do not dress up well anymore. I mean, the Four freakin Seasons! If not then, then when?

  • I had tea at the Four Seasons a month ago and everyone looked fine. I felt way underdressed because I had jeans on and didn’t have time to change.

    Footwear can definitely change things. Flip flops with jeans are painful to watch, and flip flops at bars or restaurants that are not on/near a beach? Return to start.

  • Emmkay

    Whenever out-of-town friends come to visit, they totally stress out about what to wear to whatever place I’m taking them. I end up reassuring them that whatever they think is appropriate will work because “Philadelphia does not dress for dinner.”

    I think a certain level of casualness is fine. For example, if a guy wears a button-down shirt and khakis, I think that should suffice, no need for the resturant-issued suit jacket. But I think grungy clothing and flipflops should be a no-go.

  • derbystinks

    when i go to the 4 Seasons i don’t pay 1 second of my experience on who is wearing what. Maybe its the fact that I’m on my 4th martini and i can barely find the door but seriously folks who cares?
    Americans dress like slobs and have average manners. If you are going to complain about attire, what about people that make out in restaurant, those who don’t take their hats off, don’t tip for coat check, people that get loud and drunk (I get drunk and quiet) , people that do drugs in bathrooms, sex in bathrooms,escorts with married men, allow kids to run around, scream in their cell phones, curse. Should i go on I have a lot more??
    Yes we can complain about things but it’s usually people just want to hear themselves talk and thats when these discussions confuse me
    I agree that people dress bad but who made me the fashion police?
    My point is that Im so completely 100% wrapped up in the 4 Seasons experience with a beautiful date and having great conversation that i don’t care to focus my energy on these things.
    Did anyone ever think that sandal person may have lost their luggage or forgot to take dress shoes? Maybe they have a foot infection and are advised by doctors to not wear shoes for a day
    My point is that i don’t know and I’m not going to perch myself on a pedestal (remember i’ve had 4 martinis that would be a bad idea) and declare myself a better person because I am wearing a suit
    I have seen rich people dressed like royalty act rude to staff at 4 seasons and complain about everything and i have seen slobs be super nice and have stellar manners
    I think people are so focused on needless things about strangers that they don’t even enjoy the company they are with.

  • CEF

    I am usually Johnny Dressup, love me a good suit while making the scene. But I think Art hit on something concerning time of day and whether these folks were staying at the hotel. If you’re an out-of-towner and have nowhere to go (think of the neighborhood the Seasons is near, it looks pretty dead, except for the large amounts of Parkway and Traffic Circles) you might just plop and deal with a 15 dollar drink dressing down.

    In the evening though, I’m gonna have to say no way on the dress down, because even while travelling, I take something to wear at night. Even the hotel is a ‘place to be’ at that point.

  • mike

    I pretty much eat anywhere in Philly in jeans and a T-shirt and have never had any problems or felt underdressed. My wife and I usually eat at the bar if that matters.

    I think this a battle that the casual people are going to win. I don’t even think the prime rib requires jackets anymore.

    People used to get dressed up to walk on the AC boardwalk too…

  • I might be missing the point here. Are you saying that if I’m wearing lime green pants and a lavender shirt I can pee in the plants at the Four Seasons?

  • Roland

    I wholeheartedly agree that the problem is with the attitude. When I started exploring the Philly dining scene with my girlfriend, we were always worried we’d be underdressed for poshier establishments. Now, we know what to expect and sadly, we don’t try as hard as we used to by fear of being overdressed.

    People in the foodie scene here tend to think that they’re too cool to dress up, that it’s just about the food, being green, not being like NYC, etc. For example the whole small South Philly BYOB and gastropub waves is not going to attract people that like to play dress-up. But it will attract the trendy hipsters with their non-covered sleeve-tattoos and their noserings.

    I’m not bothered at all by these displays but that’s just how the Philly scene is… Poshier establishments can’t afford to keep the jacket-required policy because they can’t attract enough diners that will comply.

    Philly isn’t NYC and doesn’t want to be NYC… I got that but I’d still like for people to dress up when going to nicer restaurants.

    Thanks in advance Philly

  • Even though everyone should be allowed to express their own personal style, there is a point at which we can say enough is enough. Uggs over sweatpants, valor pants, or jeans are not dressy, even if Cameron Diaz can get away with it, you can’t. And if you must wear flips flops please make sure your toes and clean (men) and toenails painted (ladies)

  • Slowdown

    Listen people. Jeans are over. It doesn’t matter if they are nice or not. If our wearing Diesel jeans and a tshirt, in my opinion you are still wearing jeans and a tshirt.

    Dress smart, No jeans.

    I’m with Kristen all the way; if you wear nice clothes out to a place you expect to be fancy, and your the only one that took the time, it sort of sucks. You feel like an asshole, when in fact, the people wearing pink polos an 200 dollar jeans are, literally, the assholes.

    Kristen, anytime you want to get fancy pants and go out for a drink, im down! Dont bring Kelly White though (she shops at banana republic ;))

  • Slowdown

    Stamp that.

  • joey

    I think whoever this girl is, she has a warped perception of reality. First off, the whole “Philly doesn’t know how to dress, and it doesn’t care” attitude is really getting old. That may have been true 10 years ago, but I think the city is full of people who care about their appearance and take the time and spend the money to look nice. Even college students who are broke still put fashionable outfits together. Miami fashion in five years behind the rest of the country. NY is not comparable. And LA is trashy. We are lucky to have a casual-city-style that is acceptable here. I’ve live in California and Florida, and that’s my opinion.