A Sushi Restaurant In Surrey Has Told Women They Have To Wear ‘Sexy’ Heels And ‘Bodycon Dresses’ To Get In

‘Women can wear skinny jeans with sexy black ankle-strap heels and with a form-fitting top. Alternatively, there are many different types of dresses that would look good at a bar in the summer or winter.'

dress code restaurant

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Updated on

Dressing up for dinner can be fun. Picking out an outfit, doing your hair, adding some perfume—essentially, feeling good. What isn’t fun is being told exactly how you have to dress by someone else, especially if that rule is dictated to you based on your gender.

A Japanese restaurant called Beluga in Leatherhead, Surrey, has come under fire after it published a dress code that said woman had to wear ‘sexy’ clothes to get through the door. Yuck. Meanwhile, men were simply told not to wear tracksuits (the bar is on the floor).

‘Women can wear skinny jeans with sexy black ankle-strap heels and with a form-fitting top,’ the instructions read. ‘Alternatively, there are many different types of dresses that would look good at a bar in the summer or winter, namely midi of bodycon dresses,’ the ‘selective’ restaurant continued to really helpfully explain.

Contrastingly, male customers were told: ‘Dress code is smart casual with jackets for men, no tracksuits, no t-shirt.’ Obviously, the internet erupted with outrage at the alarming disparity between the two instructions for men and women: ‘What self-respecting woman would ever want to set foot in your restaurant?’ questioned one Facebook user. ‘Because what are women but faceless objects for filling out your aesthetic?’ added another on Reddit. ‘This dress code was written like Jay off the Inbetweeners opened a night club, joked a third.

The restaurant, set to open a matter of hours after the widespread PR disaster, has since apologised for the ridiculously antiquated dress code. ‘The description was inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and does not reflect the image we’re seeking to promote,’ Beluga management wrote on Instagram. ‘We wish to clarify that our policy is a smart dress code for men and women… We are wholeheartedly apologising for any offence and upset that we have caused.’

Beluga’s holding-their-hands-up apology for wrongdoing is something. But still, it’s troubling that in 2022 an entire team of management with (presumably) multiple figureheads to cross check promo material before it was released thought this was a normal way to present the vibe of their new restaurant to customers.

Really, the infuriating thing about the whole controversy is that Beluga have only been criticised because they made their expectations so transparent—it was written in black and white. Elsewhere, there are plenty other restaurants, bars, and clubs that still expect women to wear heels and fitting clothes and will turn them away from the door if they don’t… but it isn’t explicitly stated in their guidelines.

As with most forms of discrimination, it’s unspoken and subtle. Until society stops seeing women as accessories to an aesthetic or a sexy commodity for men to buy with free drinks and food then stilettos to elongate our legs and dresses that cling to our figures will remain the expected dress code at nightlife venues that align with those values.

READ MORE: The Fact That Two Women Were Kicked Out Of Wetherspoons For ‘Inappropriate’ Clothing Speaks To A Larger Issue About The Male Gaze

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