DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work for a financial services company. We are not on Wall Street and don't adhere to the strict dress codes you would expect there; in fact, we have a somewhat casual dress code.
Because I'm in a position where I regularly interact with the CEO (who almost always wears ties and often suits) and other executives, and because I could possibly be in front of the media on any given day, I tend to dress more formally than many people here. I love getting dressed up, enjoy wearing jewelry and usually choose to wear dresses or suits.
On a recent day, when I was wearing a suit jacket, my supervisor commented about my clothes, saying something like, "My, you're awfully dressed up today."
I found his comment to be odd, in part because I was taught not to comment on anyone's clothes unless you're giving a compliment. His comment also prompted me to pause and wonder if I'm dressing up too much and possibly making him uncomfortable. He generally wears what I would call fairly casual clothes, unless he has specific meetings that call for a necktie, etc.
Is it rude of me to dress up in a way that's often more formal than the clothes worn by my boss? Is it simply not the smartest thing to do?
GENTLE READER: It amazes Miss Manners that there is, in general, less tolerance for every day formality than for the lack of it. Gentlemen who show up properly dressed for any but the most casual of occasions are inevitably ordered to remove their ties and jackets.
There is indeed such a thing as overdressing, but that is when one ignores the conventions of the situation: the equivalent of ignoring the conventions by underdressing.
As you have explained, you are dressed to do your job, which requires meeting with formally dressed executives and representing the company to the media. You could explain that to your supervisor, or you could simply say good-naturedly, "This IS my casual look; you should see my dressed-up look."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When someone does something for me I say "thank you" to them, and I have noted some younger people respond by saying "no problem."
Is the response "no problem" an appropriate response to my "thank you"? I personally find the term "no problem" to be negative and inappropriate.
What is an appropriate response for me when someone responds to my "thank you" with "no problem"?
GENTLE READER: It does not require an answer, but it does require an adjustment.
It is true that the traditional resonse to "thank you" is, in English, "you're welcome." In some languages, it is an equally traditional declaration that there was nothing for which to thank -- a version of "no problem," which slipped into common American discourse a decade or so ago.
Mind you, Miss Manners is not crazy about this sort of messing around with the conventions. Once people stop using polite expressions automatically, they start analyzing them and, often as not, attributing unpleasant motivations. And although "no problem" grates on her as well as you, she knows it is not ill meant.