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Dressing for the urge to splurge

My wife and are planning to treat ourselves to a New York City visit for one of those splurge trips where, with hardly any effort at all, you can blow next month’s mortgage payment in two days.

When she mentioned getting tickets to see a Broadway play, I pointed that they were awfully expensive.

Then she pointed out that they weren’t as expensive as Super Bowl tickets.

Then I pointed out that the Super Bowl doesn’t play six nights a week with a matinee on Saturday.

Then we bought the theater tickets.

And I’m guessing we’ll spend time in one or more of those only-in-Manhattan boutiques and I’ll have to do my best to control my heart palpitations when she shows me the price tags.

For my part, though, I have just one splurge goal: I want to have dinner one evening in a restaurant where men are required to wear jackets.

And if that makes me sound stuffy or old — or both — so be it.

It’s not that I can’t appreciate casual dining. I’ve had plenty of good meals where the busboys were better dressed than the customers. Given my choice of a last meal I’d probably head to the nearest checkered- tablecloth Italian restaurant for pasta Bolognese and cheap Chianti in a straw-covered bottle.

Every once in a while, though, I like to put on a suit and tie and go to a restaurant where there’s food I can’t identify and prices I can’t believe. A place where the guy at the table next to ours isn’t wearing jeans, a T-shirt or a baseball cap with his favorite football team’s logo on it. Where there are waiters in tuxedos, linen on the tables and no television over the bar showing stock car races.

Places like that are getting harder and harder to find.

The last restaurant in Dayton with a “proper attire requested” notice on the front door expired a few years ago, the victim of changing tastes and an increasingly casual generation of diners.

Even in big cities like New York, Chicago and LA, restaurants that require jackets are becoming rarer.

“I think people feel they’re spending X amount of dollars and they can do whatever they want,” the maitre d’hotel at one of Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurants explained in a New York Times interview.

“But the other people in the place are also spending X amount, and they want to dress up and feel good about themselves. They want to be in an environment that’s special.”

And so do I.

Even if it’s only for one evening.

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