DEAR MISS MANNERS: I learned that once the napkin is unfolded after one sits down at a table, it is not refolded. It is folded loosely and replaced back on the table when the meal is over and one is leaving the table. I have looked up various sources, and all agree on not refolding the napkin the way it originally was.
However, in two different restaurants, the waitstaff has come to the table while I had excused myself, refolded the napkin, and placed it back on the table. Upon returning to the table, my friends reported what had happened and said that maybe I should have refolded the napkin before leaving the table. When I disagreed, feeling uncomfortable, they said that is what waitstaff does in expensive restaurants.
I felt (and feel) like I was not there to get a lesson in etiquette and that the napkin is never refolded after one starts to use it. (By refolding I mean corner to corner, over and over, like a man's handkerchief would be folded.) So now my brother is betting me he is right and that the waiter is supposed to come over and fold a customer's napkin while they are away from the table.
GENTLE READER: Two bad sources for etiquette instruction: pretentious restaurants and friends who don't mind embarrassing you in public.
Miss Manners assures you that you and your sources, who do not dine with you, are correct. That silly trends pass through expensive restaurants (remember when waiters were shaking out clean napkins at the beginning of the meal and placing them on the clients' laps as if they were children?) does not make such practices correct. This one is as bad as blowing one's nose into a handkerchief, and then re-folding and placing it in the breast pocket -- both being actions that etiquette classifies under Eeeeew.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I attended a wedding with a 1920s theme, where the guests were encouraged to dress in period costume if they felt so moved.
We did, to amuse the bride and groom, and my costume included a somewhat ridiculous hat correct to the period. Many of the gentlemen who arrived in the suggested costume wore hats, to better convey the theme, and we all by unspoken accord wore them the entire evening (perhaps, subconsciously, in imitation of the groom, who did the same).
Later, it developed that the bride's grandmothers and aunts had been much dismayed by all the gentlemen wearing our hats indoors. Obviously, there's nothing to be done about that now (or perhaps nothing to be done by me) but for the future what's correct?
Do costume party (which this sort of was) rules or wedding rules apply here? Do we follow the groom's lead? I am not normally a great wearer of hats, so I'm unsure.
GENTLE READER: Gentlemen who lived during the '20s were normally great wearers of hats, so they were sure about what to do. If you really want to be in character, you would therefore remove the hat indoors.
What Miss Manners fails to understand here is why the grandmothers and aunts were not busy being dismayed at the notion of a costume-party wedding, where the guests felt obliged to keep the bride and bridegroom amused.