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Woman Called Out For Staying Home After Being Turned Away From Work Dinner Over Her Shoes

A woman holding a pair of high heels and a pair of sneakers.
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

No two people have the same idea of what they might consider “casual” or “formal attire.”

Some men never leave the house without wearing a jacket and tie, nor do some women ever leave without high heels and a matching purse, even if they’re just going to the grocery store.

Others are seen more often than not in sweatpants or a t-shirt and jeans.

As a result, when people are told that a dress code is “smart casual,” the wardrobe choices of everyone present are bound to vary pretty widely.

A colleague of Redditor Ok-Training3714 was retiring, and to give them a proper send-off, her company threw them a party at a nearby restaurant, where the dress code was “smart casual”.

Unfortunately, when the original poster (OP) arrived at the restaurant, she was informed that not all of her wardrobe met their dress code standards and was denied entry.

Feeling humiliated, the OP decided to forgo the party completely rather than change and return.

After being scolded for her decision, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Reddtors:

“AITA for not going home and changing my shoes for a restaurant’s dress code?”

The OP explained why the shoes she wore to her colleague’s retirement party ended up getting her in a whole lot of trouble:

“I (29 F[emale]) was recently invited to a work dinner, as one of my colleagues is retiring.”

“It was being held at a little barbecue restaurant in town.”

“I was told that the dress code was ‘smart casual’.”

“For context, I wore a nice skirt and button-up and a pair of crocs.”

“I live in a hot climate, and lots of people such as myself wear sandals/crocs/flip flops everywhere.”

“When we got to the restaurant, it turned out they had a dress code, and the hostess loudly told me I couldn’t come in wearing Crocs.”

“It was extremely embarrassing in front of my coworkers.”

“I don’t really understand the problem because there were people wearing sneakers, converse, etc, and that’s fine, but Crocs aren’t?”

“It wasn’t even a fancy restaurant, so I really wasn’t expecting this.”

“Anyway, one of my coworkers urged me to go home and change my shoes and come back.”

“I was so distraught I ended up just going home and not coming back.”

“I suffer with anxiety, and the whole experience just made me melt down.”

“My coworkers are now collectively angry at me for leaving and not coming back.”

“My boss told me the event wasn’t about me, and I should’ve sucked it up.”

“Was I an a**hole for leaving?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The OP found little to no sympathy from the Reddit community, who all generally agreed that she was, indeed, the a**hole for not returning to her colleague’s retirement party.

Everyone agreed that the OP should have been well aware that Crocs were not “smart casual” attire and that she was being childish in not returning to the party, agreeing that she was making the night about her and not her colleague:


“‘I was told that the dress code was ‘smart casual’.”

“And I chose to ignore that and wear Crocs.”- KronkLaSworda


“In what way are Crocs considered smart casual?”

“They are very casual shoes and, unlike sneakers, cannot pass at a glance for business casual shoes.”

“No matter that Crocs are your standard footwear, this was an occasion with a specified dress code that does not include Crocs.”

“Would you wear them to a wedding?”- lemon_charlie


“A dress code is a dress code.”

“Businesses have a right to refuse service, and if they have a dress code, they tend to hold that in high regard since it impacts the visuals.”

“If they deem Chucks appropriate but Crocs are a no-go, that’s their prerogative (whether it makes sense to patrons or not).”

“And you’re within your right not to patronize said establishment for any reason.”

“Whether it’s because your anxiety kicked in, you didn’t feel like wasting gas on another round trip, or you just feel that strongly about Croc equality.”

“However, your co-workers are correct.”

“It wasn’t about you; the event was for your retiring colleague.”

“I get it; anxiety is rough to deal with.”

“However, this could have been avoided had you actually acquiesced to the dress code stated beforehand.”

“Crocs are not in any way ‘smart casual.'”

“As a Croc-wearer myself with little to no sense for fashion, even I’m confident in that.”

“If you were unsure, you should have thrown a backup pair of shoes into your trunk (my wife does this all the time when she’s not sure if a place has an open-toe policy).”

“Sorry, but you need to take some accountability here.”

“Smart/business casual just means use common sense when getting dressed.”

“Most of the time, your co-workers don’t need to see your prized collection of NSFW novelty shirts at a work function.”

“And to dress like you’re actually employed, as those visuals impact the company, also.”

“The company was probably reminding the employees of this by saying ‘smart casual’ regardless of what the facility’s actual dress code is.”

“Then a lot of restaurants have footwear policies for many reasons (health, safety, optics, etc).”

“But I think these are two separate dress codes, not necessarily that the barbeque place itself had a business casual dress code.”- consolelog_a11y


“Crocs do not fall into Smart Casual.”

“If any restaurant has a dress code, it is safe to assume Crocs are likely not included in that dress code.”- Hawk833


“Smart casual, and you wear Crocs?”

“Dress code or not.”

“You’d seriously wear Crocs to a work function???!”- DELILAHBELLE2605


“What in the world made you think that Crocs were business casual or ‘Smart Casual'”

“They are house shoes for children at best.”

“Try to be more professional.”- DANADIABOLIC


“Nowhere has that ever meant ‘foam toddler shoes’.”- StAlvis

“The dress code was the bare minimum.”

“Crocs is saying ‘I done care about anything’, which is way below minimum.”

“YTA.”- Broad_Respond_2205


“Crocs are casual, not smart casual.”

“You knew that there WAS a dress code, and you didn’t call the restaurant to get details.”

“That was your fault.”

“You turned your coworker’s retirement party into an occasion where you were the main topic of conversation, all over a pair of shoes.”

“If your anxiety is so intense that you can’t handle being told that you’re not in dress code, you need to get help (or better help if you’re already seeing a therapist).”- InappropriateAccess


“You put yourself in this situation.”

“Crocs to a restaurant when you were told it’s smart casual just doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“Also, you could’ve ‘saved’ the situation by simply going home, changing shoes, come back and be like  ‘haha my bad, let’s have a great night,’ but you didn’t.”- MssDare


“This was a work event, and like it or not, this type of thing can/will affect your career.”

“Crocs are not smart casual, at all.”- GirlFromMoria

“YTA for wearing Crocs to a work dinner.”- MarionBerryBelly

“For anything outside your own yard and maybe medical environments, Crocs are never the right fashion choice.”

“I understand feeling embarrassed, and don’t think you’re a raging AH, but next time, don’t assume Crocs are okay for anywhere where there is even a remote mention of a dress code.”

“They’re akin to slippers.”- No-Hedgehog9321


“You blew off a retirement party you had agreed to because you decided to wear Crocs to a smart casual dinner.”- Foxlikebox

“Dress code are there for a reason, not ‘just in case I feel in the mood for that dress code’, and crocs are definitely not on the same level as sneakers.”

“You’re not forced to do it, but then you can’t complain if there’s consequences.”

“I can see you’re struggling with some anxiety and difficulties reading the room, but sorry YTA.”- Marzi_R0s3

There were others, however, who felt the OP did nothing wrong, agreeing that “smart casual” is fairly vague and that Crocs could have easily fit into that description, and she didn’t deserve such an unsympathetic response from her boss and colleagues.


“You should have told your boss in response where you are going to pay for my time?”

“No, for real. there is no such thing as smart casual.”

“Unless they had something clearly stating no Crocs/sandals/flipflops, your coworkers are just a**es to expect you to drive home then back when they are most likely be done by the time you get back.”

“I would document what they are saying and treating you.”

“This sounds like a hostel work environment and also retaliation.”- ITdargon

The OP seemed to be aware that Crocs were on the casual side.

Even so, however, the OP interpreted “smart casual,” one would think she might have made the tiniest bit of effort for her departing colleague and worn slightly more respectable shoes to their retirement party.

One can only hope this unfortunate episode might make the OP think a bit more carefully when choosing attire for future events.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.