You are visiting NYC: of course you want to get dressed-up, at least once, while you’re here! This is the city where you actually can wear those black satin gloves and polish those tuxedo oxfords. Manhattan, always glamorous, gets even dressier after dark.“If you’re looking for a place where people do still love to dress up, New York is it, more than any other U.S. city,” says Thomas P. Farley, a Manhattan etiquette expert, who lectures nationally under the moniker Mister Manners. “People care deeply about what they’re wearing, and they enjoy getting dressed up.”
So, go ahead: Make a reservation at one of these fabulous venues, where you’ll feel at home in a little black dress, a suit and tie, and even, on occasion, a tuxedo and ball gown:
The Rainbow Room (30 Rockefeller Plaza, 212.632.5000) has brought its original prewar glamour roaring back to Manhattan and also provides one of the city’s best views. On any given evening, the room plays host to acts ranging from small jazz combos to full-scale orchestras. The Swarovski crystal chandeliers gleam and couples of all ages show up on the dance floor. Women often wear floor-length gowns (sometimes vintage) and men, in tribute to the swing era, will sometimes sport whimsical bow ties. The Rainbow Room offers two seatings on select evenings, and a prix fixe menu. The Sunday brunch also includes a jazz band.
At Chevalier at the Baccarat Hotel (28 W. 53rd St., 212.790.8869), Michelin-starred Chef Shea Gallante runs the kitchen. Luxe and understated, the modern-French dining room offers dinner à la carte, with tasting menus available upon request and arranged in advance. The restaurant does not require jackets and ties for men, but diners should and do dress for the occasion, with many men in jackets and ties and women in attractive suits or dresses.
Le Bernardin (155 W. 51st St., 212.554.1515), Chef Eric Ripert’s paradise for pescatarians, requires jackets—but not ties—for men in the formal dining room, which was redesigned by Bentel and Bentel and reopened in 2011.
“With our redesign, we wanted to provide a luxurious experience for our guests, with great energy that reflects New York City,” says Ripert. “We see that our guests always dress for the occasion anyway, be they regulars or first timers. It really adds to the ambience we wanted to create.” In the more casual lounge, jackets are recommended but not required.
Reopened in 2013 by ex-Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons and Chef Alexander Smalls, Minton’s (206 W. 118th St., 212.243.2222) has returned to its roots as a hub for Harlem jazz. Drawing a dressy and festive crowd, Minton’s has been refashioned as a jazz supper club, serving upscale Southern food during its two live sets Wednesday to Sunday evenings, and at a jazz brunch on Sundays.
“Although we don’t strictly enforce a dress code, most people wouldn’t be caught dead walking into the club in sneakers, a T-shirt and jeans,” says Smalls. “People tend to get dressed up: They are going to not only enjoy a meal, but also experience sophisticated entertainment.” Sunday brunches offer live jazz and Southern favorites such as fried chicken and biscuits.
The plush and legendary ‘21’ Club (21 W. 52nd St., 212.582.7200), whose barroom ceiling is hung with some 700 toys (including Willie Mays’ baseball bat and a replica of Air Force One from President Clinton), has relaxed a little—requiring jackets but not ties for men—but still personifies dressy.
During a recent lunch, a small wedding party dined, resplendently, with oysters and champagne. “In a tradition that dates back to when ‘21’ opened on New Year’s Eve of 1929, this is an establishment that celebrates the notion of dressing for dinner,” explains General Manager Teddy Suric.
Opera lovers adore theatricality, and the same is true of their dress at the Metropolitan Opera House (30 Lincoln Center Plz., 212.362.6000). From ball gowns to kimonos to ascots, anything goes, as long as it’s worn with flair. Expect to see jeweled brooches, tiaras, pinstriped suits, satin, lace and stilettos.
Finally, The Django at the Roxy Hotel (2 Sixth Ave., 212.519.6600) is a new jazz club that draws a sophisticated downtown crowd. “The Django is the kind of place where people—from couples on date nights to hardcore jazz aficionados, like to dress up,” says Tony Fant of GrandLife Hotels, which owns the Roxy.
The club has tables for two and intimate banquette seating. The designers looked to Jazz Age Paris for inspiration, illuminating the vaulted ceiling with vintage lighting fixtures. Plush and luxurious: In NYC,it’s the only way to go.