DEAR HARRIETTE: My family has a formal manner of dressing, and I have never been a fan of changing into a dress just to go downstairs for family dinner. My mother and sister especially rag on my style and tell me to stop being so “sloppy” and to “try a little.” I tend to spend my money on outdoor gear or plane tickets, not $300 shoes. Is there any way I could get them to appreciate my laid-back style, or do I just have to learn to let their comments roll off my back? -- Not en Mode, Salem, Massachusetts
DEAR NOT EN MODE: My guess is that your family’s dinner style is not new. As you are growing into yourself, you must be stretching the limits, which is upsetting them. I totally get it. And yet, you should offer respect to your family’s traditions.
The entreaty to “try a little” gives you some wiggle room. Can you consider what is in your wardrobe that still looks like you but also gives a nod to your family’s style? I understand why you may not want to do this, but I want to tell you that this will be great practice for when you go out into the world. Chances are, you will find yourself in situations for work or even socially when you will need to dress up. The good news is you know how to do that. The challenge is figuring out what dressing up means to you.
Rather than bucking your family, get creative and discover your personal dress-up style that at least slightly bridges back to theirs. This will be a skill that you will need as you navigate your life.