Everything I “Dress to Impress” with is Forbidden on this List


Update from Masa 14:

“We apologize for the confusion around the dress code requirement at Masa 14. There has never been a required dress code for any meal service at our restaurant. This includes brunch and dinner. We welcome our guests to dress comfortably and any dress code requirements may only be applicable to our late night hours of operations.

Most importantly, the language used within the sign does not represent or reflect upon the restaurant’s principles. Please know that the sign has been removed, and we apologize about any unintended harm that this has caused. We are upset about this misrepresentation and would like to reiterate that we are committed to our values of inclusiveness. We have taken corrective action and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than what was represented in this sign.

At Masa 14 we value every guest, and will see to it that we continue to be a welcomed member in the community.”

1825 14th Street, NW

Guess I’ll have to find another brunch spot. Seen Sunday morning.

So that’s what these sneakers mean…


162 Comment

  • This just reads as clothes that are popular among people of color. How insulting.

    • that’s actually what I thought

    • There’s nothing wrong with hats, timbs, sneakers or athletic wear, I can agree with you there. Then there’s the baggy pants, is it to hard to ask someone not to have their underwear covered ass hanging out of there pants while people try to eat. Is there a difference btwn baggy and saggy?

    • justinbc

      Yes, people of color really have cornered the market on “hats” and “sneakers” in this city.

      • Justin, I doubt they would turn you away if you wore one of your porkpie hats and sneakers.
        Let’s be real here. We all know what the sign signifies.

        • justinbc

          They are trying to have a nightclub vibe. The implied racist reaction here is so overblown.

          • Scrillin

            My first thought was that they don’t want anyone dressing like Larry David.

          • Sorry dude, you’re simply either lying or clueless if you don’t think singling out “Timbs” as prohibited has anything to do with race.

          • Cherry – in these types of conversations, Justin likes to draw ridiculously convoluted conclusions that fail to take into account any semblance of reality. It’s actually pretty entertaining to see the mental gymnastics he goes through to negate the obvious as part of his effort to be The Pedant of PoP’ville.

          • justinbc

            Yes, how pedantic of me to point out the difference between brunch and a nightclub. Those 2 are so often equated with one another.

          • But I have to agree with Justin on this one. Everyone wears timbs. I actually showed up to see a show at the Corcoran once (I’m white) wearing jeans and timbs and before I could ask for two tix the woman at the counter proceeded to try and show me where the plumbing was leaking as if I were there to fix it. Somehow I didn’t take offense by being mistaken for a plumber.

          • I contacted Masa 14 today out of curiosity and this dress code applies all the time.

        • I’ve been many “dress to impress” places, in the evening, where blacks have been turned away for wearing sneakers, but to find whites inside with sneakers, and worst, flip-flops and t-shirts. So I agree with you. I doubt everyone would be turned away from Masa 14 for violating the dress code.

      • put all of the “no’s” together and you have a specific look. you find it at Ben’s Next Door all week long. don’t be naive, deep down you can read between the lines, can’t you?

    • SouthwestDC

      I read it more as it being anti-male. Guys are much more likely to be sporting sneakers, hats, etc.

    • By this logic white people never wear workout clothing, boots or hats and black people never wear business casual attire. That opinion, while subversive, is every bit as prejudice as you’re accusing Masa 14. It’s possible they just don’t want people in their restaurant to dress like they just crawled out of bed or left the gym. Totally unheard of for a popular restaurant.

      I also had to wear a coat when I went to Marcel’s last month….bunch of racists.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        My guess is this sign was left over from the night before. It has nothing to do with gym clothes and everything to do with a perceived stereotype of what “thugs” wear out.

      • You seriously don’t see the charged difference between these two dress code directives: “Jacket and Tie Required” vs “No Timbs”?

  • Wow, Masa 14 put a lot of effort into saying we don’t want blacks or the working class/lower middle class in our restaurant

  • Besides the inherently racist/classist nature of this dress code, they want hungover brunch patrons to wear business casual???

  • Yeah, this dress code reads as pretty coded racism, targeting “urban” fashion trends that are more often worn in the Black community. They’re definitely not the first place to do this and I’m sure won’t be the last, but I’m incredibly unimpressed all the same.

    • I agree. Though usually the issue is in how it’s enforced – predominantly against people of color.

    • This use to be the norm in DC nightclubs back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Radio and news papers ads would say “dress to impress”.

  • This might be more reasonable if this weren’t a Richard Sandoval restaurant. Why should I dress nice to eat mediocre, overpriced food?
    Also, just saying “business casual” would suffice. Singling out things like baggy pants and “Timbs” is pretty low-class.

    • Even if I were to overlook the blatant racism, there’s absolutely zero chance that I’m “dressing to impress” at Masa 14. They’re definitely kidding themselves.

      • And “business casual attire”? Please, I’ve seen the girls in line to get into this place at night… if what they’re wearing qualifies as business casual, then get me a job in that office so I can stare at cleavage and booty all day.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      Again, I don’t think this is targeted at the dinner crowd, but at the late night crowd.

      • All of my points about the quality of the place and idiotic wording of the dress code still stand. Even if they meant no harm here, they are monumentally stupid.

  • I’m assuming this was left up from the night before (when Masa resembles more of a nightclub)?
    Or are they actually enforcing a dress code?
    Regardless, not cool. Be Yourself.

  • i wonder if athletic wear includes lulelemon. If so, a lot of 14th street folks will be upset.

  • You’re fine, POP. They mean no black people but it’s illegal to post that. If you’re white wearing items on this list, they’ll still let you in.

    See it all the time.

    • Dude. You’re totally right. ALL black people wear baggy jeans, timbs and sideways hats. Nothing racist about that assumption! Also, this will act as a perfect filter since ALL white people wear khakis, polo shirts and absolutely never wear workout attire or hats.

      You nailed it, bro!

      • Exactly right, Brandon. Now this white guy needs to go donate his Timberlands, sneakers, and baseball caps somewhere, because I did not know they were only for black folks when I bought them… It couldn’t be because they want customers to dress with a little class in their restaurant, so it must be racism!

  • Would be interesting to see if Caucasian patrons wearing some of these items would be treated differently than “urban” patrons wearing the same items. Might be a nice project for a local university sociology class.

    • I’m not sure about Masa 14. But, I was denied entry into happy hour at Eighteenth Street Lounge for wearing chucks a couple of years ago and I’m a white guy.

      • I wear chucks to work. Do they expect me to dress up for drinks AFTER work? Hell no.

      • That’s a bit odd. I was denied entrance at ESL a few years ago because I was wearing flipflops and shorts (I was coming back from a Saturday afternoon on the Mall, some friends invited me at the last minute to a happy hour). I was annoyed, to say the least. But you had on normal shoes…..that’s just bizarre.

        • Notice how flipflops and shorts aren’t on that list…

          • Good point.
            And for reference, I’m white. I’ve seen ESL turn away a lot of white guys over the years that are not “dressed appropriately.” They’re equal opportunity jerks! 😀

        • It was a summer day in 2008 and one billion degrees out. I had a job interview earlier that day and was schlepping around in a suit. Afterwards, I went home and changed into something more comfortable and went to meet up with my now-wife and her coworkers at ESL. The bouncer said I wasn’t allowed in. I called my wife to let her know and she talked to the bouncer he said I didn’t have appropriate footware on. It was the last time I every tried going there.

          • What type of footwear did you have on? I’m pretty sure they don’t allow athletic shoes or sandals on anyone (men and women). I’ve seen both turned away.
            You could probably get in with “fashionable” leather sneakers (e.g., black leather Varvatos for Converse, etc.)

      • Eighteenth Street Lounge used to be pretty vigilant about no sneakers, no shorts, and definitely no flip-flops (at least for flip-flops on guys). Overall, its dress code enforcement has relaxed significantly in the past 10 years, but I’m not surprised that any one of the three mentioned would get you denied entry.

      • Bargain – did you figure out why? It’s because you’re a guy. They have to maintain ratios.

  • valentina

    Is it 1956 at Masa 14??

  • Besides the racism inherent in this policy, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to brunch wearing footwear other than sneakers.

  • I thought DC was done with this BS years ago. At least now I have a valid reason to continue boycotting this place. My previous reason for the boycott was overpriced freaking small plates.

  • Maybe someone (textdoc, obvs) can dredge up the comment thread from when Lucky Strike posted a very similar dress code.
    I assume this is left over from the night before, which changes nothing, as it’s still a tool to keep a specific demographic out.

  • Even if it’s left from the night before, it’s racist. Not only racist but lame. Who wants to go to a place on a weekend night with people dress business casual? With that dress code they would have to keep Kanye out the door.

    • I can see it being racist but I know a crap load of white dudes that wear clothes just like that. They remind me of Jesse Pinkman from breaking bad or J-rock from trailer park boys.

      • Yes but no one tries to find a way of saying, no jerks from Clarendon.

        • Actually, I had the impression that part of Eighteenth Street Lounge’s goal with its (unwritten) dress code was to weed out bro-types from Clarendon.

  • justinbc

    Go to The Park at Fourteenth one night. It’s almost all black patrons and they have the same dress code. It has nothing to do with keeping a race of people out, but more to do with keeping a certain appearance inside. And, having gone to brunch here, I can assure you this sign was left up from the night before.

    • Justin, there you go being all rational. Can’t you see that people want to have their racist finger-pointing orgy on a Friday afternoon. I happen to think that pointing out that only black people wear these clothes is probably more racist than that stupid dress code (which was most definitely left up from the night before).

    • What Justin said. This is also common with latino nightclubs.

    • You’re right about the dress code at Park. When Park does it, it’s because the professional Blacks don’t want “those” blacks around (ie the transients want to be away from the locals). It’s still horribly elitist when they do it. The “hey they do it too” argument is so played.

  • Obviously you only go to masa for brunch and don’t know that at night is a club and that sign applys at night, feel sorry for you that’s why brunch is for jerks

  • jim_ed

    Not only is it racist, it’s also hopelessly out of date. Unless their goal is to keep black people from 2006 out of the club, and I mean at that point, you’d definitely want to hang out with people who had a time machine, even if they were black, right? But I digress. I’m sure somewhere Juelz Santana and the rest of Dipset are heartbroken they aren’t welcome at Masa 14.

  • Masa 14 is terrible anyways. I’ve been there twice. Food was overpriced and not good.

    Hey Masa 14, it’s not these folks that are ruining your business, it’s you crappy food, terrible service, and prices.

  • I think anyone who assumes the posted dress code is “racist” and only describing black people is racist yourself. Why do you assume only black people wear tombs, baggy clothes, sneakers, work out attire and do not dress business casual? That is inherently racist – or, if you don’t agree then you are just making a gross generalization.

    • No one is saying that “only black people wear tombs, baggy clothes, sneakers” etc. A lot of people do, but when you post a list of clothing items that, when put together, amounts to clothing that all points to one culture norm. “Timbs” (aka Timberlands), why not post, “LLBEAN hiking boots?” their basically the same boot… ONly one is affiliated with one group that Masa14 clearly does not like…

      • Please. Move along, you sound ridiculous. I thino dress codes in a sweaty tourist city is pointless but there is no way you can assume that this is directed only to black people without either 1. Being paranoid or 2. generalizing black people yourself. I see plenty of all types of people wearing timbs and LLBean apparel. You have no basis for your opinion besides your gross generalization of what you think black people wear. It’s more offensive to say only black people wearing the recited clothing than it is to assume they are addressing all types of people including sweaty tourists who found their way fro Arlington Cemetery to 14th st still in their sweaty baggy pants, sneakers, baseball caps and athletic apparel.

        • Yeah, you lost me there… I don’t work for Masa 14. So I don’t know what racial undertones they were considering, but if you think that this type of behavior isn’t done quite alot, of hasn’t been endemic in the history of this city, then maybe you should wander out of Dupont for once and get yourself an education

          • Hahaha now you’re admitting that you in fact don’t know the racial undertones of THIS posting but that you are generalizing this posting with “this type of behavior” that has been done “quite a lot” in this city. Huh? I’m not understanding what facts your opinion is based on. I think you made my point, you can’t say this is racist and if you do you are making a gross generalization based on alleged “type[s] of behavior” done “quite a lot”. I wonder, have you ever been to any of the club’s in DC that have the same dress code? I have. I guess. You’d think they’re all racist.

      • What’s happening here is quite the opposite of what some readers seem to think. These signs are most often used by clubs that are populated mostly with minority patrons. The clientele at these kinds of places (similar to Park on 14th) prefers a more upscale vibe and maintain a dress code to maintain the vibe. You don’t see signs like this at places like (the mostly white) Wonderland because that crowd prefers the the schlubby dress/dirty bar aesthetic.

      • Exactly! I have never once seen a club post “no doc martens”.

  • binpetworth

    Where I’m from, women commonly wear hats for Easter services. Given that Masa 14 is also advertising Easter Brunch on their website, I’d be curious to know if they’d enforce this on that day. (Regardless, I agree with everyone else’s comments on the racism of this clothing selection.)

    • Are all the hat wearers from where you are from black?

    • justinbc

      It’s not for brunch. The photo / caption is taken out of context.

    • I’m assuming that by “hats” they mean “ballcaps.” Poor wording on their part, especially given how the former Kate Middleton has revived the popularity of the small hats known as fascinators.*
      *A term which always makes me snicker, because it sounds vaguely salacious.

  • Basically what the bottom of the paper says is “management reserves the right to kick black people out if they look too black”

    Kinda gross that Masa 14 has found out a way to circumvent modern anti-segregation laws. Hopefully someone calls them out for that…

  • I see they didn’t mention anything about old-timey railroad engineer overalls and caps.

  • I enjoy dressing up for brunch, but I agree with the other commentors who pointed out what lies underneath this particular dress code.

  • This must have been left up from the night before when it is in fact a nightclub. This is pretty standard dress code for nightclubs. Even Ibiza which has a ton of crime, stabbings etc. has a dress code of: NO Spiked Accessories or Shoes- NO Athletic Wear – NO Baggy Clothing – NO Oversized T-Shirts – NO Sneakers, Tennis Shoes, Boots. Nothing to do with race, it’s the nightclub scene.

    • +1 Pretty much all clubs in the city that cater to a predominantly black clientele have this dress code. Mostly because that’s what their clients (also black) want.

    • I contacted Masa 14 today out of curiosity and this dress code applies all the time.

  • Add this to the list of reasons they’ll never receive my business. Uninspired, bland, and overpriced small plates… weak drinks… fussy service… now this crap.

  • Timbs = Timberland boots. I had to read all the comments to figure that one out.

  • Ok, call me old fashioned, but there’s a good reason for dress codes–when a proprietor sinks a shitload of money into creating a nice place, they want an attractive crowd that creates a cool vibe. Workout clothes are for the gym and lounging around the house. Pants hanging down your butt makes you look like an idiot, regardless of color. If i ran a nice place, the last thing I want to see is a bunch of hoods looking like they just ran in off the street without any thought of making a nice night out on the town. One thing is for sure no matter where you go–the better dressed you are, the better you will be treated. End of story.

  • The use of the word “timbs” is crazy to me. Why not just say timberland? Who calls timberlands “timbs”? Oh ok.

    • This was my first time seeing or hearing the abbreviation “Timbs” for Timberlands.

    • +10000000 i agree with both sides though. It has a semi racist undertone only because of Timbs. But the list is similar to many DC clubs. Whoever wrote it just messed up.

      • I grew up in Scotland in the 1990s and we referred to Timberlands as “Timbs” or “Timbys.” It wasn’t racist, but the feckin boots kept out the rain. Of course, I’ve always worn Clarks Wallabees – but I had wet feet.

  • I am a black man who actually likes Masa14 on occasion, and yes I find the language of this kind of targeted dress code offensive. “Timbs”? Please. Having said that, I do agree that this sounds a lot like the typical language you see at Black-oriented lounges; just some head-shaking middlebrow respectability politics nonsense going on here. A friend of mine got reprimanded at STK for having a hat on there (it was cold inside). They too are in that league of wannabe VIP, upscale, top-shelf liquor silliness. Not sure what’s worse, the invasion of hipster joints in DC or these kinds of places aspiring to some fake P Diddy luxuriousness.

  • People still wear “timbs” and baggy jeans?

    While I appreciate a nicely dressed individual, I think Masa is a bit out of their league. This isn’t NYC where people are more apt to dress stylish-casual (dressier shoes, long pants, button-down shirts). This is DC, home of pleated pants.

    • +1

      Don’t forget DC is the home of the J. Crew button down blue shirt under a sweater, Longchamp bag, sneakers with business casual dress above, black leggings with brown boots, Northface fleece and Neverfuls.

      • Really? I assumed that look belonged to Boston… Actually one thing DC is not, is particularly fashion conscious… well unless you are Aaron Shock that is…

        • Aside from the leggings and boots (which I personally think is a fine look) I can’t say I see those other trends in DC very often.

      • love this. neverfuls aren’t basic, but classic.

    • Granted, I might be the exception, but I wear Stone Island, Lacoste, Stussy, Boss, Armani, Diesel. Just invested in Tom Ford frames. Don’t buy that DC guys wear pleated troosers.

  • I Dont Get It

    “Can’t we just talk about the Metro?”

  • it’s simple:
    Are you wearing the clothes listed?
    Then have a seat.
    I’m sorry we have a dress code, we apologize for the inconvenience.

    No where on that sign does it say, *insert race* is not allowed

  • Regardless of if this is aimed at a brunch crowd in the morning or a nightclub crowd the night before, I am just not willing to spend my money at a bar or restaurant with a dress code of any kind. The only thing that should matter about my appearance (assuming common sense is adhered to and the person is not naked and is reasonably dressed to be in public) is the color of my money. As long as it’s green, and I’ll give it to you in the amount you ask for in exchange for the product you are selling, you should be a happy establishment. If that is not enough to make you a happy establishment, then I guess I’ll go find an establishment that wants the money more than you.

  • I didn’t get people of color. I’m from Maine and this is what all kids dress like baggy pants timberlands ect ect.
    I think we’re tired of seeing these young kids rear ends ect ect. I’m always telling my kids to be yanking up their pants tying there boots or high top sneakers. I’m surprised pajama bottoms isn’t on the list too, that’s a big one in our area with slippers

    • You’re from Maine 🙂

      It is a subtle way of excluding working class and below black males.

  • So, a place that has offered crappy and overpriced food with an unwarranted large dose of pretentiousness is now also becoming sort of down at the heels. Rather than improving the food and atmosphere they try to become more “selective”. This is not a new strategy. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, this strategy never works. It’s a sign that they are on the way out. Hopefully they’ll go soon and we’ll get something better.

  • business attire for BRUNCH??? yeah, that’s the POINT of Sunday Funday… to NOT have to dress like it’s just another manic Monday…. Just say what you mean. No black people.

  • I thought they were alluding to girls in tank tops and yoga pants with flip flips/sneakers or people with stupid wide legged raver pants

    This could easily apply to white people how did everyone jump on the racist bandwagon

    Also I’ve never even heard of this place wtf is everyone bitching about there’s a zillion places to go for brunch so either dress like a turd early jn the morning or fuck this place and go anywhere else

  • I’m planning on starting my own bar with a “no pleated pants, no flag pins” policy.

  • This sign was clearly left on the door from the night before, when the place is more of a club than restaurant, and not intended for the brunch crowd. And yes, no need to beat around the bush, these dress codes are targeted at certain kinds of attire that some black people like to wear, and he’s the inconvenient truth – these dress codes are very prevalent at popular majority-black clubs and lounges. Below are some dress codes for DC clubs that overwhelmingly have a black clientele.

    The Park on Fourteenth Street – “Please understand that these decisions are not arbitrary, but rather based on our desire to facilitate the optimal surroundings for an environment of our caliber. Sports shoes, casual boots, flip flops, t-shirts, athletic apparel, and tattered or ill-fitting clothing clearly are unacceptable.”

    Ibiza Nightclub – “Dresscode: NO Spiked Accessories or Shoes- NO Athletic Wear – NO Baggy Clothing – NO Oversized T-Shirts – NO Sneakers, Tennis Shoes, Boots”

    Lux Lounge – “Dress Code: No athletic wear, no sports attire, no construction boots, no baseball hats.”

    Ultrabar – “Dress Code: Strictly Enforced. Casual attire: no shorts, boots, athletic wear”

    Josephine – “Dress Code: No athletic sneakers, baggy jeans, hats, white tees or boots”

    • I also initially thought the same thing. However, I called Masa 14 yesterday out of curiosity and was informed this dress code applies “all” the time. I was further informed some of the Masa 14 workers were uncomfortable when sign was posted by management earlier in the week. None of the places referenced above use the slang “Timbs” and all the places are nightclubs (versus a restaurant). Lucky Strikes bowling alley was sued for posting and inconsistently enforcing a similar dress code.

      • So what? They’re allowed to have any dress code they want, even during daytime hours. And I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if a lot of young black people use “timbs” as an abbreviation for Timberlands. Maybe even a black person wrote that dress code sign (gasp!).

      • You were apparently informed incorrectly (see below from Masa 14)

  • From Masa 14 via Metro Weekly

    “We apologize for the confusion around the dress code requirement at Masa 14. There has never been a required dress code for any meal service at our restaurant. This includes brunch and dinner. We welcome our guests to dress comfortably and any dress code requirements may only be applicable to our late night hours of operations.

    Most importantly, the language used within the sign does not represent or reflect upon the restaurant’s principles. Please know that the sign has been removed, and we apologize about any unintended harm that this has caused. We are upset about this misrepresentation and would like to reiterate that we are committed to our values of inclusiveness. We have taken corrective action and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than what was represented in this sign.

    At Masa 14 we value every guest, and will see to it that we continue to be a welcomed member in the community.”

  • Went to brunch today at Ghibellina in my jeans, sneaks and NorthFace jacket.

  • I’m on the “not racist” side of the argument. I think what is, in fact, racist, is the “oh, please, read between the lines” commenter who sees this list of clothing and immediately thinks “black man.” Perhaps it was the brief shock of acknowledging his/her own tendency toward stereotyping that set off such a reactionary rant. What I see in this sign is a misguided attempt to promulgate a dress code by a restaurant that clearly has some image perception issues (they see their brand image as one warranting a dress code while many patrons don’t agree) – what’s actually evident from all these “it’s racism!” comments is that a bunch of white yuppies living in DC don’t like to get dressed up to go to brunch at Masa. Many nightclubs going for a “refined, upscale, classy, whatever” vibe have similar dress codes, though they do not advertise them in such a misguided manner. Out of curiosity, I’d be interested in what the reaction would be if the word “timbs” was removed…usually, situations like this serve more as a rorschach test than anything else. In this case the test seems to demonstrate that the majority of commenters harbor their own stereotypes regarding the way black men dress.

  • …that feeling you get when you come across a particularly divisive thread only to realize you’re too late to get into the commenting fracas…damn 🙂

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