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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Do I Have To Dress Like a Slob, Now That I’m Retired?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have had a 70th birthday and a career that left me with a closet full of beautiful clothing. I watch my figure, and I love fashion and basically all the feminine things.

However, we are living in a society that is completely contradictory to all of the above. When I go to a nice hotel or restaurant with my husband, or just go to church, I see men and women with blue jeans, T-shirts, capris and even halters -- not to mention the people who shop in pajamas. Suits and dresses seem to be a thing of the past.

So, do I abandon all my nice clothing and put on jeans and sweats, wearing only long pants, a top, flat shoes, and insulated coats for everything else?

I am not self-centered. I am very generous and benevolent, give to many charities, have taken good care of many people, and have worked in a soup kitchen for several years.

GENTLE READER: Even if you had not worked in a soup kitchen, Miss Manners would consider you to be allowed to take an interest in your appearance.

That self-presentation may involve a dollop of vanity should not obscure its being chiefly about respect. Self-respect, to begin with, but also respect for others.

Anti-tourism, now rife even in places that depend economically on tourism, exists in part because the dress you describe is interpreted as disrespectful of the place being visited.

This look is to be lamented, not imitated. By all means, dress nicely: for yourself, your husband, and any onlookers whose ideas may be elevated by your example.