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Two women in vibrantly patterned dresses at a table laid with tall stems of white wine in a minimally designed restaurant.
Jasmine and Regine at Mida.

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What Are We Wearing to Restaurants Now, Boston?

At chic pasta place Mida on the first spring-y day, it’s Brain Dead, Boden, and just a little J.Crew

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Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Welcome to Best Dressed, an Eater series where diners show and tell what they’re wearing out to eat, from the small details to the splashy pieces — and how they approached getting dressed for each spot’s specific scene. Installments answer the question, how do we dress to go out these days?

Want to see what diners are wearing in London, Paris, Philly, and Brooklyn? See all of our Best Dressed series here.

The Place: Mida
Location: The border of South End and Roxbury
Concept: Pasta in a stylish friend’s living room
Menu Highlights: Focaccia showered with Parm shavings, rock shrimp carbonara, a spin on cacio e pepe with gnocchi, short rib lasagna, and an M-branded tiramisu topped with espresso poured tableside. The restaurant is also known for its weekly Mangia Monday: five courses of pasta, salad, and bread for two people for $80.

On one of the year’s first 50-degree Friday nights, Bostonians left their winter coats at home for the first time in months. It was also one of the last nights of biannual restaurant week Dine Out Boston. At participating restaurant Mida, diners were in Brain Dead sneakers and golden-yellow leather jackets; chef Douglass Williams mixed Lululemon with merch from a chic Downtown Manhattan sex shop.

Williams opened Mida about seven years ago at the corner of Tremont Street and Massachusetts Avenue, a busy thoroughfare dividing Roxbury, a predominately Black neighborhood, and the South End, a predominately white one. In a city that is constantly reckoning with its race relations, Mida is both a literal and figurative bridge that successfully connects different communities. Williams “very much intended it to be that way,” he says. “This is what attracted me to this space to begin with: the corner location literally straddling two neighborhoods that couldn’t be more different.” It’s also, like Williams, demurely stylish: Glowing chandeliers hang over tables lining long windows; passersby can spot diners twirling pasta from a block or two away. It’s a popular date-night spot before the opera or a swanky night on the town, and Dine Out Boston had pulled in at least one new couple — but Mida attracts a loyal crowd of weeknight regulars, too.

Here’s how people turned out for dinner at Mida on an almost-warm Friday night in March.

Ashley, 27, from Fenway, and Winston, 27, from Chinatown

A couple gaze into each other’s eyes and grin in the doorway of Mida, wearing gray-toned outfits.
Ashley and Winston.

Did you dress specifically to come out here tonight?

Winston: I would say, honestly, whenever we go out we just dress up a little bit more.

Ashley: As medical students, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to dress up. You’re in your scrubs all day.

Do you have a favorite part of your outfit tonight?

Closeup of a high-top sneaker with red-and-blue details on the white platform sole and blue sock exposed under the pant hem.
Winston’s cow-print Converse.

Winston: The shoes, but funnily enough, I actually copied her by getting these shoes.

Ashley: I almost wore those today.

What are they?

Winston: It’s a collaboration between Converse and Brain Dead.

Ashley: They’re a California-based skate and street-style brand.

How would you describe your sense of style?

Ashley: Probably comfortable, maybe eclectic, sometimes borderline eccentric.

Winston: I would say kind of eclectic. But for me a little more Western-leaning. I’m from Tennessee. So you’ll see me pull out a lot of boots here and there.

Jasmine, 44, Rhode Island, and Regine, 44, Milton

Two women pose in pink tights with knee-high black boots, and black flats under an exuberantly patterned flowing gown.
Jasmine and Regine.

How do you two know each other?

Jasmine: We met in college. Freshman year at Penn, a very long time ago.

Can you tell me about what you’re wearing?

Regine: This dress is from Anthropologie, one of my go-tos despite their terrible labor practices.

Jasmine: My dress is from Boden. It’s one of my go-to shopping places, because of my kids. I used to shop for Mini Boden. It’s great quality, and it’s great for work. My tights are from Snag. It’s an all-inclusive company from the U.K. They size by height and weight and they’re really nice.

Did you dress to come out to Mida?

Jasmine: No, I dress for myself. I enjoy looking nice, and I dress because I know I’m gonna see my friend.

Regine: Everyone knows I’m a fancy-dress lady.

How would you describe your style in general?

Jasmine: It’s clean lines and good structure.

Regine: Fancy and colorful. Isn’t that right?

Jasmine: Yeah, it’s true.

Regine: My favorite, favorite brand is Farm Rio and their tagline is “Dress in Happiness.” I can’t tell you, especially as a professor, how many times I’ve gone into meetings and people are like, “Oh my gosh, that bright dress, that bright color just lit up the room.” It feels like a ministry that you’re helping other people spread joy.

Have you always had such a defined sense of style?

Regine: I mean, girl, we’re 44.

Jasmine: I would wear, in college — remember my baby tees and my crazy pants? I had these pants from London, like these hot pink, plaid pants. I loved to pair them with baby tees for no reason. I think we’ve always had distinct styles for all our lives.

Rick and Maureen, “somewhere in their 60s,” both from Brookline

A woman in green cardigan and patterned scarf poses with a man in collared shirt under quarter-zip and white trimmed beard.
Rick and Maureen.

What brings you to this restaurant?

Maureen: Our children are always giving us gift cards, and our son is a chef, and right before COVID they all chipped in and gave us a gift card for here.

Is your son a chef here?

Maureen: No, in Worcester. He was familiar with somebody who’s very familiar with this restaurant. And he’s really into really good dining.

Did you dress to come out to this restaurant?

Rick: Well, we’re going to the opera after dinner.

How would you describe your style?

Rick: Casual.

Maureen: When I dress, to be honest with you, I look in the mirror and say, does this make me look bad? And then I take it off and I try again. I joke with the kids, it’s going to be on my epitaph: “Does this make me look bad?” But basically, I just try to grab things I know will work. And then I just try to accessorize, you know, and hopefully people will notice the accessories and they won’t notice anything else.

Kayla, 28, from East Boston

Woman poses in the sun in yellow leather jacket, shredded high-wasted, light-washed jeans, thin brown belt, and hand on hip.

Did you dress to dine out tonight?

Kayla: I did, yeah. I was wearing leggings before I got here.

Where’d you get this jacket?

Kayla: I got it when I was studying abroad in Morocco in college. I’ve literally never worn it out before. But during my study abroad, we were touring a bunch of places and we went to a tannery. I spotted this jacket and bargained for it. It’s goat leather and dyed with saffron.

How much did you end up paying for it?

Kayla: I don’t even remember. We didn’t negotiate pretty hard for it but I think probably somewhere around 140 bucks, 150 bucks.

Closeup of jacket detail: zippered front breast pocket.
Kayla’s Moroccan jacket.
Closeup of jacket detail: a loop at the collar, one-sided zipper at the neck, and visible stitching.

And this is the first time you’re wearing it?

Kayla: Yeah, I’ve never really worn it out since I got it.

Why not?

Kayla: I just felt like yellow, for a while, has not been in. Also, in terms of the sizing and the fit, it’s a little bit more structured than what I used to wear. So I’ve always loved it but never felt like it was the right moment. And today, I just gravitated to it.

Molly and George, both 26 and from South Boston

A couple poses on the sidewalk in matchy outfits: brown shoes, navy pants (hers jeans, his checked),  blue-gray shirts.
Molly and George.

What brings you out to this restaurant tonight?

George: She works as a nurse, she does night shifts, and I work in sales during the day. We have a small Bernedoodle puppy at home and just with work, the dog, and everything, we don’t always make it out in the city all the time. So we designated two days a month where one of us plans like a nice little date night, and this is my turn to plan it.

Molly: This is one of our favorite restaurants, we love it.

Can you tell me about what you’re wearing?

Molly: Dark-wash jeans, brown boots, and a flowy, low-cut top with long sleeves. I’ve had this [top] forever and I haven’t worn it in years, actually.

You just pulled it out tonight?

Molly: Yeah! Thought I’d change it up.

What about you, George?

George: Nordstrom Rack boots, cheap as you can get. This is just a suit pant, I want to say it’s from a local place from my hometown in Western Mass but it could also be Men’s Wearhouse, I can’t remember. And then this is a, whatchamacallit, a Henley, from this brand called Fair Harbor that I stumbled upon—

How would you describe your style?

Meg: It’s ever-changing with my mood and the weather, but overall modern but showing a little bit of me in it.

George: I would say, the colors I wear are very neutral and dark. Occasional blues, but they are still more, like, neutral. But it’s still very expressive.

It’s important to you to be expressive.

George: Correct. I feel like a lot of my outfits have, like, one little thing, like my plaid pants. Something that is a little daring but it still doesn’t pop out too much.

Have you always been this way?

Meg: Yes, but gotten more fashionable as life has gone on.

George: Yeah, exactly. Because I’m no longer working at my local restaurant, living on tips.

Ashwin, 30, and Jessica, 34, both from the South End

What brings you out to Mida tonight?

Ashwin: We have been apart this week. I’ve been traveling for a conference for work. And it’s been a while since we’ve been here. So Restaurant Week is as good a reason as any. We actually live like two blocks down Tremont. We probably should come here more often.

Jessica: And I’m leaving next week so this is like, our time to have our date night.

A couple in blazers — hers checked and doubled-breasted, his navy — caught in a candid moment in front of a restaurant.
Ashwin and Jessica.

Do you have a regular date night?

Ashwin: It varies. But it usually involves eating out somewhere in the South End.

Did you dress specifically to come out to this restaurant?

Jessica: Yeah, I was wearing something else. And then I was like, let me get dressed for dinner.

Ashwin: This is basically what I wore to the conference, so, not really.

Jessica: He threw on that blazer though. The blazer tied it all together.

Tell me about your blazer, Jessica.

Jessica: I saw a picture of it online and I was like, oooh, I want a blazer like this. So I kind of looked around. And then this one is from Mango, I think. So, a fairly new addition to the wardrobe and I’m liking it.

Ashwin: What about the handbag?

Jessica: This is a fun bag because I got it from a friend of mine. I don’t know if you can say this — it’s not a suggestive thing, but, like, have you ever gone to a Naked Lady party?

Closeup of a hand holding a navy clutch with white lining the fold, resting on a thigh in black leather pants.
Jessica’s handbag.

No, what is that?

Ashwin: I don’t even know.

Jessica: The idea is that you partner with some female friends, or male friends if your vibe is androgynous, and you bring clothes that you no longer want but that are, like, still in pretty good condition. And everybody can go through everyone else’s clothes and see if there’s something they want. And a friend brought this and obviously it’s great. I was like, “I don’t know why you’re giving this away, but I will happily take it off your hands.”

Ashwin, where’d you get the blazer?

Ashwin: J.Crew. No real stories other than we did spring cleaning recently and I threw out most of my blazers except for two.

Jessica: That shirt made the final cut, that blazer made the cut. It’s a recently curated wardrobe.

How would you describe your style?

Ashwin: Not this well-put together.

Jessica: There’s sort of a cozy winterness that you can — I don’t know what that style is called but cozy Vermont meets like New England prep, maybe?

Ashwin: That’s another way to say it’s, uh, mostly J.Crew.

Jessica: How would you describe my style?

Ashwin: I’d say a mix of modern professional but with a little avant-garde twist.

How long have you two been together?

Ashwin: Coming up on four years now. We met just prior to the pandemic. So, good timing, on my part.

Jessica: Funny story, since this is Dine Out Boston, one of our early dates that he took me to was at another South End restaurant, Aquitaine, during Dine Out Boston. He was very excited [that] we were going to get this $50 Dine Out meal and I immediately am like, I’m going to order this expensive bouillabaisse that is not on the Dine Out menu, and he was like, that’s when I realized, this was going to cost me.

Ashwin: That’s my running joke. I should have ran at that time, knowing this was going to cost me.

Jessica: You stayed. You stayed. I am eating from the Dine Out menu this time.

Ashwin: It took four years to get here.

May Tang, 27, from Roxbury

A blond in miniskirt with bold black lining along the zipper and white stiletto ankle boots leans with arm outstretched.

What brings you out to this restaurant tonight?

May: I’m celebrating one of my favorite people’s birthdays.

Oh! Whose birthday is it?

It’s her’s! It’s Estella’s birthday.

Congratulations! What made you pick this restaurant?

Honestly, it was a coincidence. We had never tried this, it’s a very cool restaurant. Very cozy. We wanted to check it out.

How would you describe your style?

I’m a half-streetwear, half-classic girl.

Can you talk a little bit about how you put this outfit together?

Honestly, I woke up. Picked out whatever I want. This is a J.Crew skirt. Zara top. Zara boots. But color coordination, absolutely important.

Closeup detail of May’s white leather ankle boots, with a pointed toe and spindly stiletto heel.
Closeup detail of the fabric texture of May’s skirt, woven white, blue, and black boucle.

Your nails look great, too.

They’re really natural, I like a little bling here and there. Shout out to Danny at Elegant Nails in Somerville. He’s perfect.

A close up on the hands of two people with manicured nails.

Douglass Williams, 38, from Jamaica Plain

What are you wearing?

Douglass: I am wearing a sweatshirt by Contact Sports, a new brand out of Soho that I just am in love with, for many reasons. I think it’s clever. I am wearing Lulu, I usually wear their pants everywhere. I have a Masters shirt underneath, because I’m very happy I went to the Masters so I try to rock that whenever I can. And I’ve got some Stance socks and Tiger sneaks.

What about your hat?

My hat is Stüssy.

Man in a gray sweatshirt with small red rose detail, backward blue cap, black sweats, and white gym shoes with hands clasped.
Douglass poses in front of his restaurant.
Bust detail of Douglass gazing to the right as he grins with a backward blue baseball cap on his head.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style in the same way that I like to eat. You wear what makes you feel good, right? You wear what kind of nourishes you both in your self-image, and how you feel about it. And I think we do the same thing with food. I like to wear what fits my body and what fits my tastes. In order to elevate and evolve your style and self image, you have to sometimes take some chances in the same way we eat food. Maybe you don’t like something — you should probably try that from someone you respect. If you’re a little scared of a certain cut or a certain height or where the the crop line is or how long the sleeves are, how baggy they are, going up one size, going down one size, then I would suggest that you find a brand or designer that you love and that you trust and that you know fits your body, or at least that you’re comfortable with, and you take a chance on them.

I’ve never thought about style in the same way that I think about restaurants.

Well, I mean, we wear it on ourselves. It’s on your body and you see it and it makes up how you think about yourself on a daily basis and how you want to think about yourself in the future and how much confidence you have and that touches all points of your life. And the way we eat directly impacts how we feel about ourselves, and about our own health and longevity and how long we’re going to be on this earth. I think style and food intertwine in that way of sensibility and self-image and self-feeling and self confidence.

You have a very stylish restaurant here.

I mean, we’re not no Bad Bunny restaurant. It’s not all that.

Well, but it was intentional, right, the design of this space?

It’s not over-stylish, I don’t think, I think it’s just the right amount. It’s reserved, it’s conservative, but it’s also pleasurable, which I think is a lot about style and clothing as well. We want you to feel that when you walk in that door or when you walk out that door, when you walk to the bathroom, that you feel like you are seen — not seen in an attention way, but seen in that we are here to support your experience.

Tell me about the sign on the front of the door that says “You look good, come on in” —

You look great.

You look great.

It was my buddy Jose Luis Martinez. I wanted a welcome thing without someone vocally saying it. I wanted something to see and it would just make me smile. I said, “I want to compliment people.” And he sent me a few back. “You look great, come on in.” Like, hell, who doesn’t want to hear that from anybody, let alone a door? It’s even better when it’s from a piece of glass, right? It’s setting the tone before they step foot in the door. It’s subtle, but it also is meaningful. That is what my kind of style is.

Closeup of a glass door that says, in all caps, “MIDA.” Underneath it are the words “you look great, come on in.”

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Malakhai Pearson is a Boston-based director and photographer.


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