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Dress Codes Are Often Terrible & Racist, As This One From A River North Bar Shows

By Stephen Gossett in Food on May 31, 2017 7:55PM


We've been down the path of horrible dress codes many times before, and sadly here we are again.

Bro-y River North club-pub Bottled Blonde is the latest offender. Images of the posted dress code raised a lot of eyebrows on social media this week, and for good reason. Not only is the list of "guidelines" roughly as long as a Pynchon novel, it's littered with multiple flags that could charitably be called racially charged. (You can zoom in on the photo here.)

"Bottled Blonde will maintain a classy atmosphere and reserves the right to refuse anyone," the notice begins. "A high standard of dress is required at all times. Dress code is on a case-by-case basis, and is at the sole discretion of the door staff. In all instances, the door staff’s decision is final. If denied entry, changing your appearance will not change the decision."

From there, the dog whistle really blows. The code calls out "baggie, sagging, ripped, dirty, frayed, overly flashy or bright clothing." It also nixes plain white tees, overalls, Jordans, Nike Air Max, Air Force Ones, drop crotch pants, "puffer/quilted jackets or vests." The old "hats must be worn forward at all times" chestnut is in there, too, of course. No brimless headgear, no chains, no "overly long hoodies." You get the picture.

The list goes deeper, ticking off broad bro styles like Ed Hardy and gym shorts—which a cynic might say read like an attempt at plausible deniability that it's not all about brown people.

A local manager declined to comment to Chicagoist and national management did not return a request.

Of course, this isn't the first time awful, loaded dress codes have reared their heads in Chicago. Last year alone saw the Chance/WhirlyBall and Parlor Pizza Bar incidents. There was Lucky Strike back in 2010. Just this St. Patrick's Day, discriminatory door policies reared their heads, as the Triibe recently explored.

It's also not the first time Bottled Blonde has found itself in hot water. Before the Chicago location was even here, residents were mobilizing against it, calling it "an amped-up version of Hooters," according to Eater. And just last year, they were seriously pissing off the locals by attracting a cavalcade of noisy drunks.

It's possible that some of those drunks that have been irritating residents wore quilted jackets, or Ed Hardy shirts, and the place is grasping at whatever straws it can grope to self-monitor. But there's a bad way to do that—and these loaded prohibitions are just about the worst. Take our advice, Bottled Blonde, and scale it back.