DEAR MISS MANNERS: I think white linen suits look smashing in the summertime. I have had one of my own (off-white or ecru, to be honest) for a few years now and believe it flatters me quite a bit. (More importantly, my wife agrees.)
Having searched without success for the etiquette involved in the wearing of such an outfit, I have been forced to invent some rules for myself based on other etiquette rules. (I know, very dangerous.)
I never wear the suit before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, as if it were white shoes. Come to that, I never wear white shoes with it as it is not sportswear. I also never wear it in the evening.
How am I doing?
A recurring (and current) question is whether it is appropriate to wear as a guest to a daytime summer wedding. My mother (who remembers when such things were more widely respected) thinks it is correct, but it seems to break the ban on wearing white to a wedding. While I'm about it, would it make a difference if it were a "country" or "resort" wedding?
And what about seersucker? You have been so generous in clarifying the terms of seasonal dress for the ladies; can you give any guidance to us gentlemen?
GENTLE READER: You are doing fine, so long as you keep out of the ladies' rule book.
They are not supposed to wear black, red or white at weddings. Gentlemen, in contrast, must wear black at formal weddings, should wear red only when they are out hunting, and may safely wear white or off-white (seersucker being slightly more sporty) to informal daytime weddings without fear of being mistaken for the bride.
However. Miss Manners is pleased to note that you realize that the seasons govern gentlemen as well as ladies. And if they violate this by wearing white other than in the summer, they are more likely to be asked where they parked their ice cream trucks.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A standing ovation seems almost de rigueur at concerts, etc., these days, no matter the caliber of the performance.
Is it considered rude to sit and applaud when others are giving a standing ovation? Or is this a time to "go with the flow" even if I disagree with the other audience members?
If a standing ovation now means giving encouragement and appreciation to thankless performers, instead of feedback for an outstanding production, then I will gladly participate.
GENTLE READER: Much as she hates to discourage kindness, Miss Manners feels obliged to report that the purpose of curtain calls is to garner audience reaction, not to receive thanks. As you know from real life, people who expect thanks, such as hosts and the givers of presents, do not bow to provoke it.
Naturally, the performers hope that the reaction will be praise, if not adulation, in the form of applause, ovations and roses tossed at their feet. But they must take their chances. And they should realize that when ovations are routine and automatic -- as opposed to having a thrilled audience jump to its feet -- they are meaningless. If you think the performance good but not extraordinary, it is not rude to remain seated while clapping.