By Denise Ortuno Neil
Palm Springs has had a history of glamour. Movie stars who started coming to the Coachella Valley in the 1920’s brought a sense of glitz to our desert oasis, elevating it into an area of fabulous parties, nightclubs and restaurants. And when they went out, they got dressed up. Jackets for men and high fashion dresses for women were more the rule than the exception. But times have changed, and has brought a new dress code along with it, making “Desert Casual” and “Resort Wear”, the new rule.
It is easy to picture how it was back in the day. Hot spot night clubs like the Chi Chi Club and the Doll House would beckon Hollywood elite and local movers and shakers to come out and play. It would be almost criminal to not be dressed to the 10’s. It was a time of classic elegance, reaching well into the late 1980’s and early 90’s.
Upscale restaurants and clubs would impose a dress code to their guests. For men, a jacket was usually required and for women…well, fashionable attire was the norm. However, somewhere along the way the dress code has changed. Perhaps it is just a sign of the times and our new casual culture that as a society we have come to embrace. The majority of desert restaurants have abandoned the dress code as to appeal to a wider range of cliental. Not every man likes to wear a jacket to dine out, and by not having a dress code, it gives the guest the freedom to wear what they like and takes the restaurant out of the awkward task of having to tell their guests what is acceptable to dine at their establishment.
There are still places like Melvyns, which do ask that men wear slacks, and most of their male guests do wear jackets, but it is not demanded. The slack thing however is a no brainer…but I guess it does need to be highlighted to establish that jeans just would not be an option.
It can sometimes be slightly disconcerting when dining out at one of our upscale desert restaurants, and there are people actually wearing hoodies and shorts. It takes “Desert Casual” to a whole new level. But it is understandable in a way, we are at the end of the day, a resort destination where people go to vacation. And most people in a vacation state of mind probably don’t want to mess with getting overly dressed up…I get that. And that’s why businesses have most likely left the dress code in the past, not having one won’t scare away those with a more casual sense of fashion. But there is nothing quite like admiring diners who have taken the time to be elegant, to respect not only themselves by looking fabulous, but also the restaurant itself and of course their fellow diners.
It is true that we live in a resort area, and people are in a relaxed state of mind here more so than other cities. However, that doesn’t mean that classic elegance while dining out should be left in the cob webs of the past. Once in a while, a jacket should be required.