DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I respond when someone comments that I appear too stylish or well-dressed?
This happened at a casual luncheon at a friend’s home. I pointed out that I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. My thought had been that the hostess had put a lot of effort into her luncheon, so my outfit should reflect a bit of effort, too.
The commenter said the wide-leg jeans, linen blazer and suede flats made my outfit too stylish. I was also told I was too dressed up when I wore a white denim skirt, floral blouse, flat sandals and coordinating purse for a restaurant lunch with friends.
It’s not as if I am wearing a ballgown for a hike in the woods, nor am I wearing designer logos and tons of expensive jewelry. I’m only elevating my casualwear a tiny bit.
GENTLE READER: What was your critic wearing that she considered jeans and a T-shirt “too stylish”?
For that matter, what does “too stylish” even mean? Surely she cannot be suggesting that such a long-established, universal, unassuming outfit was indicative of a slavish devotion to the latest fashion industry pronouncements. (And even the fashion industry is aware that this dictation no longer works.)
Perhaps you and Miss Manners are wasting time parsing a rude person’s muddled insult. But there is a lot of that sort of casual unpleasantness going around. To justify their own lack of effort -- whether to look nice or to otherwise make things pleasant -- people will make snarky remarks about the efforts of others.
What should you have said? “Thank you, I’m glad you like it.”