In 2016, it is considered rude to talk on a cellphone or use a tablet at a restaurant, regardless of what one is wearing. In an earlier time, restaurant manners very much focused on people's attire. George Gallup reported in July 1951 that "Long-suffering males who feel they ought to wear coats in summertime in the presence of women are in for some good news." In a Gallup poll that month, just 27% of women -- and 24% of men -- thought men should be required to wear coats in hotels and restaurants in the summertime if women were present.
|Gallup, June 16-21, 1951|
Gallup described the prevailing regional differences in 1950s-era social norms, saying, "In some parts of the United States, notably the South, shedding coats in restaurants on hot days is a custom of long standing. But in other areas, many a restaurant will request a male guest to get his coat before he can sit down to eat."
While the July 14, 1951, Gallup news article doesn't specify the regional differences in Americans' views, it does present the figures by size of community. Those living in areas with 500,000 or more people were most likely to favor the dress code for men (38%), while those in the smallest communities -- those with fewer than 10,000 people -- were the least likely to favor it (18%).
Gallup asked this question only once. Thus, it is not clear if the 1951 snapshot reflected a weakening of summertime etiquette for men's attire, or if the idea that men should wear a jacket in the presence of women in certain settings just never fully caught on.
These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.
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