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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman's See Through Style Leaves Little to Imagination

DEAR ABBY: When inviting someone to a famous restaurant for a birthday celebration, is it appropriate to mention its dress code? One family member took it as an insult and that I was implying she doesn't know how to dress appropriately. (She always looks lovely when she goes out.) Because of it, she refused to attend the party, and it has caused an uncomfortable rift in the family. -- NO OFFENSE INTENDED IN MISSOURI

DEAR NO OFFENSE INTENDED: Sometimes it isn't what you say, but the way it is phrased that can offend someone. From my perspective, warning a guest in advance that a restaurant has a strict dress code is doing the person a favor. While few establishments have one anymore, this could prevent confusion or embarrassment when the group arrives.

However, because your relative felt insulted, in the interest of family harmony, extend an apology. If she doesn't accept it, the problem then becomes hers.