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by Abigail Van Buren

Call Before Dinner Party to Find Out What to Wear

DEAR ABBY: Recently my husband and I invited his son and daughter-in-law for dinner. We also invited two other couples. They know each other, so we felt confident everyone would be comfortable. Our guests seemed to have a great time.

A few days later, I received a note from the wife of my husband's son. It read: "Thank you for having us for dinner last Thursday. Everything was lovely! However, we would have dressed more appropriately had we known it was going to be a 'dinner party.'"

They both had worn jeans. The husband of the second couple came dressed in a coat and tie, and the third couple called beforehand to ask if the men should wear a tie. I said no.

How should I respond to this note? -- PERPLEXED IN TEXAS

DEAR PERPLEXED: Tell the young woman how pleased you were that they could attend and how much their presence added to your dinner party.

Suggest to her that in the future she might do as you do when you're not sure of the "dress code": Call ahead and ask what others will be wearing so that embarrassment can be avoided.