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.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What should I do when I dine out at a restaurant I’ve been to before, and the server brings me whichever beverage I ordered last time? What if I want a different drink?
It’s as if the server is saying, “I’m an excellent server, because I memorized your beverage preference.” So I’d hate to crush their accomplishment. But sometimes I like to mix it up.
How should I politely request a different beverage? Or should I grin and suck it up ... through a straw?
GENTLE READER: A kinder way to interpret this is that the server is flattering you by remembering your previous order. So while Miss Manners does not expect you to down the wrong drink, she would like you to acknowledge this:
“How kind of you to remember. But you know, I’m in a different mood today, and I’d like to have one of your wonderful Pisco sours.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A dear friend has invited me to her wedding, which is followed by a “no host” reception. The morning after, she has invited me to a “no host” breakfast. I am completely unfamiliar with this term; can Miss Manners enlighten me?
GENTLE READER: It means that your friend is not intending to be hospitable. You may join her at the reception and/or breakfast if you like, but don’t expect to be offered anything to eat or drink; for that, you must pay your own way.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)