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S/O- Is etiquette a generational thing?


NicAnn
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I am thinking of the wedding tux thread here. I was surprised to read how many of you knew the proper etiquette about wedding attire. Some even expressed shock that a tux would be worn before 4 pm.

I find that I am often left out the disussions here that involve etiquette, simply because it just never comes up im my daily life. I am 26, from a moderate well off family...though we are laid back and from the midwest. Am I just naive or is proper etiquette regarding social situations (or anything really!) a generational thing that mine just doesn't care about?

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Hmmm...I think it has to do with the micro-culture in which you are raised. I know this stuff, not because my parents taught it - they are clueless about this type of thing - but because I was a piano performance major at a tier1 LAC and they taught us all of this because we were oft times hired to provide music for this type of society event. Dh knew it because his dad once held a job in which he had a wardrobe that spanned everything from "proper" golf attire to wear at the country club to white tie formal. Dh's brother was very thankful that his dad did know it because his first vice-president of a university job, thrust him into the middle of these kinds of situations and it was nice not to have the learning curve. Dh has two tuxes leftover from my performance days since he often wanted to tag along.

 

In this modern society, most people will not have that many occasions in which they need to know the ins and outs of this. The culture has become much more casual as a general rule. However, since we don't know where life will take our kids, we've opted to teach this and we've made sure each boy has had at minimum one occasion in which a tux was required, and the minute they were too old for "clip-on", dh taught them how to tie a full and a half windsor. The one thing we haven't mastered is the tying of bow ties. Those things are not so easy to make look right. We keep the "cheaters" around - on a band and clip together. We made sure dd had several evening gown occasions (and by that, I mean true evening dress events and NOT the prom which is a crazy animal in and of itself). (My mom and I made all of her gowns in order to save a lot of money.)

 

We make sure they have lots of occasions to wear coat and ties.

 

But, it's kind of a dying out custom. It's sooooooo expensive for families to own this kind of clothing. With three teen boys that are all tall and lean so boys' suits do not fit anymore, it's getting increasily more difficult to keep formalwear and suits around for them. Ebay is my savior in that regard, but still it's quite difficult to find suits that fit well. Middle ds is a 26 waist 31 inseam, needs the sleeve length of a long, but has no shoulders. So, the suit coats bag, and the dress shirts are men's 14's with 34/35 sleeves that I have to take buckets of fabric out of the sides and then make him keep his coat buttoned because the shirts don't hang right with those kinds of alterations. I don't blame any parent for choosing to shun all events that require them to dress themselves or their kids likes this. It's hard! However, I also understand that some people really want to experience a formal event and choose to host that kind of banquet or wedding. There is nothing wrong with that either so long as one understands that some people can't do it.

 

We have eight members on our rocket team, and only our three boys knew that "congressional breakfast" at the Russel Building should probably indicate business dress clothing. The other kids were completely clueless in this regard and wondered why they couldn't just wear "tourist" clothing which would mean sandals, denim or sports shorts, and t-shirts for them. Hmmmm....meeting the president of AIA, the Deputy Secretary for the Science Research at the Department of Defense, a Senator from the Virgin Islands, numerous NASA officials, and Senator Carl Levin for a private audience in his Senate offices....hmmmm...no, dress up please.

 

But, for all of the kids that didn't own dress clothes, we borrowed from others and came up with nice outfits for each one without their parents having to spend much money. Unfortunately, skinny 5'11" son of mine couldn't wear his suit from last year - high water pants now - and I had to scour three cities to find a singular pair of dress pants that were long and skinny and not priced similarly to a PORSCHE!

 

Faith

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showing respect for other people does seem to have gone by the wayside. My mother seriously didn't give a darn about any of it, and didn't teach us anything. I'm rather sore about it, as there were times I didn't know any better and was made uncomfortable becasue of it. she did what she wanted when she wanted and didn't care about anyone else. she got mad when the rehab facility she was at insisted she wear clothes during the day - not pjs. to her pjs were dressed. she didn't sleep in them. (she was miffed at me for something similar. I insisted she get fully dressed in clothes before I'd take her to my house, especially as I'd have other non-family guests present.)

 

oh, and I just giggled at the tux before 6pm. I would find it pretentious if the bride was insisting males guests rent one. (and I wouldn't blame them one bit if they considered that their gift. if the country club requires tuxes - well, the bride could have chosen a different venue for her reception and ceremony.)

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I don't think it's generational. It has more to do with the environment one grew up in. The only places I've been where men were in tuxes were prom and weddings, and even at those events not all men/boys were in tuxes. I asked my own dad to wear his boots and jeans in my wedding because I knew that's how he's most comfortable. Also, dad in a tux would of just been weird to me. I had one of those weddings someone mentioned in the other thread as being bothersome. I would have hated for all guests to show up in dressy clothes. I loved that is was casual. So, I wouldn't know these things unless they're spelled out for me (and I usually choose not to go to most events that require more formal attire/behavior).

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Oh, and at my wedding, my grandmother wore a tea-length, all white, lace gown and a hat with a veil on it!

 

I think that was rather tacky. But, this was my dad's mom, the one that until the day she died at 82 years of age, felt she looked like a Hollywood Starlet and routinely dressed outlandishly for all occasions! I loved that woman, but man could she put on a show!

 

At my grandfather's funeral, she wore a hot pink sundress with wide brimmed hat ala Camilla Parker Bowles, rhinestone studded shoes with bright pink nail polish, flowers painted on her toes, corsage that she purchased for herself, and enough perfume to effectively tax the breathing powers of everyone present. She made quite the statement! We had to talk her out of the Hawaiian Muumuu she was going to wear with the straw hat and leis.

 

One was hard pressed to miss any of grandma's social entrances!

 

Faith

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I think it's a regional thing more than a generational one. I grew up in New England, and while my folks are just regular upper-middle-class, a fair number of the kids I grew up with were from "old money". I'm very tail end of Gen X, almost Gen Y, but because of the social norms where I grew up, I tend to be much more formal than most Gen Xers and Baby Boomers out here in CA. I find myself inwardly cringing on a regular basis at the stuff I see around me.

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Some of us are just etiquette junkies. I've read all of Miss Manners. More than once.

 

But it is also regional, to an extent. Not that it's okay to be rude some places but some places are just a lot more formal than others. I'm from New England and have pretty much always lived on the East Coast. My one year living in the Midwest or visits to my dad in CO always leave me sort of rattled from an etiquette standpoint :)

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Some of us are just etiquette junkies. I've read all of Miss Manners. More than once.

 

But it is also regional, to an extent. Not that it's okay to be rude some places but some places are just a lot more formal than others. I'm from New England and have pretty much always lived on the East Coast. My one year living in the Midwest or visits to my dad in CO always leave me sort of rattled from an etiquette standpoint :)

 

the south is very formal. I've a great-aunt who always *always* wore designer skirt-suits. I don't think she owned a pair of pants. and you could always find dressy dresses in the store - here they're frequently seasonal. I hail from the NW, birthplace of grunge. yech. you get the entire gamit here. grunge jeans and evening dresses at the very same function.

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I think it's a little of both. I grew up in the east, and my parents were part of the country club set. I actually went to "charm school" as a child, where we wore little white gloves and learned which fork to use first in our place setting. I was also a debutante and went through everything that involved (do they even do that any more?), so proper etiquette of all sorts was drilled into me. To this day, I will never wear white shoes or spectator pumps before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. The same with white pants or seersucker. And yes...I judge those who do. ;)

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I think it's a little of both. I grew up in the east, and my parents were part of the country club set. I actually went to "charm school" as a child, where we wore little white gloves and learned which fork to use first in our place setting. I was also a debutante and went through everything that involved (do they even do that any more?), so proper etiquette of all sorts was drilled into me. To this day, I will never wear white shoes or spectator pumps before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. The same with white pants or seersucker. And yes...I judge those who do. ;)

 

I'm curious too! Does anyone do the debutante, coming out, cotillion thing? I'm from the midwest and though very aware of what these are, it's not something one experiences around here.

 

The prom...there is a lot of insanity surrounding the prom and most of it has nothing to do with etiquette or elegance.

 

For what it's worth, here in the greater "I can't be bothered to change out of my barn jeans and mucking out boots for a funeral" capitol of the United States, we occasionally have a Derby party and dress up with gloves and hats, derby pies, and to make my tee happy, non-alcoholic mint-juleps!

 

Faith

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Yes, there are still debutante balls. At one of my DH's previous positions, a senior partner at the firm was married to some socialite, and their daughter was a debutante. The wife had offered to make an introduction on DD's behalf when the time came, but I wouldn't have wanted to suck up to a bunch of snobs just on the slim chance they would've deigned us worthy.

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Yes, yes they do! My son called Jr. Cotillion "boy torture."

 

 

My middle boy would consider it that too! He begged not to dress up for his sister's wedding and if we ever tried to teach him to dance, I'm pretty sure he'd have a mental break down. As it was, he ended up in black pants, black coat, white shirt, and peach tie for the wedding, no dancing involved and the coat was off and on the back of the chair within 10 seconds of arrival at the reception.

 

IF he ever marries, and I predict this is not likely, it will be jeans, western shirt, western boots, barbecue at the riding arena (he wouldn't care if we even bothered to muck out first), and I do's with the horses present. A honeymoon would probably entail cataloguing lizards in the rainforest or something. As I said, not likely!

 

Faith

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At this point, most people are clueless, which makes things even harder since one will say something without realizing its meaning (e.g. formal attire or black tie). I have had more frustrating moments trying to figure out if something written on a wedding invite means what it says (like the "black tie" before evening time) than I care to count. Do they REALLY mean black tie or do they just want men to wear black ties....yes, someone I know made this mistake and was perplexed as to why people were grumbling over black tie attire for a 10am wedding. She thought that all men wearing black ties would make the photos more "matchy." She took it literally....wear a black tie. Yikes. Same goes for all of the envelope addressing and what it means as to who is or is not invited from your household. You cannot assume anything anymore. I have given up and just call the wedding couple every time to get the real story and intent right from the horse's mouth.

 

I grew up in the midwest during the 1980's and my public school required all students to take a semester-long etiquette class in the 8th grade. We learned everything from formal introductions, to table service mapping, to skirt lengths, to handling awkward situations. I think it may have been the most useful class I took.

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Do they REALLY mean black tie or do they just want men to wear black ties....yes, someone I know made this mistake and was perplexed as to why people were grumbling over black tie attire for a 10am wedding. She thought that all men wearing black ties would make the photos more "matchy." She took it literally....wear a black tie.

 

:smilielol5: Sorry, that tickled my funny bone! I guess that this generation has never heard of the rule, "If you don't actually know what it means, look it up first before attempting to use it in conversation or written word."

 

Faith

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IF he ever marries, and I predict this is not likely, it will be jeans, western shirt, western boots, barbecue at the riding arena (he wouldn't care if we even bothered to muck out first), and I do's with the horses present. A honeymoon would probably entail cataloguing lizards in the rainforest or something. As I said, not likely!

 

 

One of my cousins and his groomsmen all wore black button down shirts and black jeans, plus black cowboy hats for his wedding. The pictures of him with his wife are absolutely adorable. They did a pig roast too. It sounds like a good wedding to me! ;)

 

I wonder if the etiquette generation gap isn't unlike the gradual decline in cooking skills where so many people were just never taught what to do because mom always did it by herself. You're going to wear this outfit because that's what your mom picked out.

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Well, this is a funny topic, since it's grad week here in NY. The school here has seen it's share of inappropriate outfits, so they've spelled out what attire is acceptable

for the girls high school graduation, they spelled out what was acceptable behavior. of course, the ones who most need to hear the message are least likely to follow the message and still engaged in boorish behavior that was quite distracting for everyone else.
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In terms of outfits during a graduation...it hardly matters under the gown thing. I'm kinda kicking myself that I bothered to spend money on something. It's not like anyone saw what I was wearing. I could have worn nothing and nobody would have known.

 

Lol........ so true. The only thing you can see are the shoes.

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Jr Cotillian is somewhat popular around here. It's a two year program with classes and several formal dances. Mostly popular among upper-middle income families, rather than upper income families. Parents are trying to give their kids an edge in etiquette they may help they move up in the world, from what I can tell........

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I don't think it is a generational thing in the sense some generations have etiquette and others don't. I think that generations have a different idea of what constitutes rude/acceptable. Some people will claim otherwise and claim to be an authority. That strikes me as rather insulting and arrogant.

 

Can I like this one hundred million times?

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In terms of outfits during a graduation...it hardly matters under the gown thing. I'm kinda kicking myself that I bothered to spend money on something. It's not like anyone saw what I was wearing. I could have worn nothing and nobody would have known.

 

Ha, ha. My HS the colors were white and blue. Blue gowns for guys. White for girls. White cheap poly - it was like wearing a sheer curtain.

 

We were instructed to wear "light colored" clothing under it. Some girls disregarded that and wore deep colors like red (which turned it pink) or even black (which made it an icky grey). Did they honestly own no other clothes? It was bizarre.

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Gowns are only for 12th grade.

 

8th grade and elementary grad ceremonies are also held; no cap/grown, but yes dress nicely, shake the board member, superintendent, and principal's hands and receive your paperwork. Many parents seem to need instruction on what constitutes proper attire, so that is spelled out for them at each event.

 

I guess my rule of thumb is that if the student is wearing dress clothes, the family should be in business casual, but most people seem to go with 'come as you are'. I just can't do shorts/ sneakers/tank top w/advertisement at a grad.

 

I wore a gown for preschool graduation. There are pics. I saw pics of friends kids graduating from pre-k, k, and 6th, all had gowns.

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I dunno if it's cultural or not.

 

I think a lot of it now is ignorance, and I don't mean that in the "you're stupid' kinda way, but just that people have not been taught. Remember when the olympian athlete --girls gymnasts? --wore flip flops to the White House?

 

Everyone was up in arms, and she truly didn't know why because they were expensive flip flops? That's what I mean. Why didn't her mother stop her? Or was she the one that bought them? They truly didn't know.

 

Anyway, I put my kids in those situations purposely because I believe they need to know. I mean, we are relaxed, but had I walked out of the house on flip flops on the way to the White House my mother would have brained me. My kids are relaxed, but they know that in certain situations, you dress appropriately and always use your manners (which I have taught them, so my Nana wouldn't haunt me).

 

The lobbyist down the street? The manners of his children are *impeccable*. I mean, wow. He taught them well.

 

My daughter is graduating 12th grade tomorrow (the one that had to go back to PS full time for her license) and she got a very cute dress for under her gown. We are all dressing up, ironing stuff. After the ceremony, the school is taking the whole class out to dinner at a very nice restaurant, and then they are having a 'lock in' night at an amusement building with rock walls, bumper cars and all that.

 

East Coaster, here.

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Generational? Yes to the evolving standards thing.

Regional? Probably.

 

As far as dress clothes are concerned? We don't own any because we have zero need for them. And yes, I would wear jeans to my child's graduation ceremony. Dh wears a uniform for work so even he doesn't need any. If we absolutley must (and there's no way out of it) then we either won't attend (if the budget is tight) or we'll go business casual.

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I think it's a little of both. I grew up in the east, and my parents were part of the country club set. I actually went to "charm school" as a child, where we wore little white gloves and learned which fork to use first in our place setting. I was also a debutante and went through everything that involved (do they even do that any more?), so proper etiquette of all sorts was drilled into me. To this day, I will never wear white shoes or spectator pumps before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. The same with white pants or seersucker. And yes...I judge those who do. ;)

 

You'll be pleased (? :lol:) to know that cotillion is still alive and well in this area. I have friends whose children have suffered through it!

 

I must admit, white shoes "out of season" still bother me. I have taught the girls The Correct Way :D

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My family wasn't big into forml events, but when something came up they would consult Emily Post. It is really not that surprising, that one might need to dress a certain way to visit a Senate building, The White House or go to a wedding. I understand that many/most people don't know exactly what to wear, but you can look it up. It is not that hard. The library or google both work.

 

Looking stuff up is not just for clothing. If you are going to an event where you are unfamiliar with te standards look it up. Find out the behavioral expectations ahead of time. Not doing so suggests a bit of laziness and being lazy is disrespectful.

 

I've heard there are etiquette programs that specialize in college students because so many students today have no idea how to behave at interviews and business functions.

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Does anyone do the debutante, coming out, cotillion thing?

 

Only from watching the Gilmore Girls :laugh:

 

 

I think that etiquette and manners are two totally different things. Etiquette is probably variable and dependent on a lot of factors. Manners are universal.

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I think some people haven't been taught etiquette but more (IMO) people just don't care. I know I don't. Etiquette was drilled into me as a kid (Emily Post, not Miss Manners). I know the rules forwards & backwards. I just don't care. I do my best to treat people with respect as well as offer each occasion the right amount of reverence & I think that's what's needed. I don't need a rule book to tell me what to where when, certainly not if everyone else around me has any manners themselves.

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Where I live we have summer weather from April to October. I still can't wear white shoes before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. And I don't care that it is 85 degrees in October, I just don't feel right wearing sunny, summer clothing (I wear fall colors). I also don't allow DD11 to wear flip-flops except to the pool or a quick trip to the grocery store or if we are driving a long distance and are making a quick stop for a restroom break.

 

DS19 was on the debate team in high school. At tournaments most of the students are in business clothing. I purchased two suits for my son to wear (love the buy one, get one free). For a tournament that involved a long-distance drive the coach told the students that they were not allowed to wear pajamas or sweatpants because they would not look professional. One of the moms of a female student was complaining about this rule stating, "Girls need to take longer to get ready and this is not fair!" I kept my mouth shut but had to wonder why it would take her daughter longer to pull on a pair of jeans then it would a boy.

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I wouldn't have bat a lash over the flip flops. It's not that I can't imagine some people getting their panties in a twist over it. It's not that I'm unaware that it isn't prim and proper. I just don't care.

 

I'm an east coaster too...so I do get it. Glad to have moved a little farther from the coast though!

 

I would never, ever think of meeting the President in flip flops. Ever. I would never think of formally meeting of any head of state in flip flops, unless I was friends with them and the occasion warranted it.

 

That would be akin to being introduced to the President and saying, "Hey bud, what's up?"

 

I may not like the person, but I have utter respect and gratitude for the office.

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At their core good manners and etiquette are not about enforcing a set of rules or judging people for not knowing something. They are about making other people feel at ease and comfortable. I find nothing less gracious than someone who accosts another over some rule of etiquette or another.

 

In more than one of Miss Manners' books she tells the story of a very fancy dinner party. The hostess was some stripe of royalty. One of the guests, from a different country, picks up his soup bowl and drinks from it. The other guests stare. The hostess, without skipping a beat picks her soup bowl to drink her soup to make everything less awkward.

 

I think that too often it is less about gracious behavior and more about sticking it to people about what is right and wrong. The main rule with manners, as with life, boils down to basically "don't be a jackass."

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At their core good manners and etiquette are not about enforcing a set of rules or judging people for not knowing something. They are about making other people feel at ease and comfortable. I find nothing less gracious than someone who accosts another over some rule of etiquette or another.

 

In more than one of Miss Manners' books she tells the story of a very fancy dinner party. The hostess was some stripe of royalty. One of the guests, from a different country, picks up his soup bowl and drinks from it. The other guests stare. The hostess, without skipping a beat picks her soup bowl to drink her soup to make everything less awkward.

 

I think that too often it is less about gracious behavior and more about sticking it to people about what is right and wrong. The main rule with manners, as with life, boils down to basically "don't be a jackass."

Yes. This is why I can't stand etiquette. The people who tout it the most seem to be the most un-gracious. I feel like it's one of those things that's great in theory. In practice, not so much.

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I would never, ever think of meeting the President in flip flops. Ever. I would never think of formally meeting of any head of state in flip flops, unless I was friends with them and the occasion warranted it.

 

That would be akin to being introduced to the President and saying, "Hey bud, what's up?"

 

I may not like the person, but I have utter respect and gratitude for the office.

 

When DD22 was a senior in high school she won a trip to Washington DC. She got to meet the President (Bush the second)and got a wonderful tour of many of the monuments. The organizers of the trip had everything planned down to where the students would be every minute to what they should wear. It was so nice to pack for the trip and know exactly what DD needed to wear to each event. Thankfully, she was on the debate team so we had collected a few business outfits that were perfect for the trip.

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Yes. This is why I can't stand etiquette. The people who tout it the most seem to be the most un-gracious. I feel like it's one of those things that's great in theory. In practice, not so much.

 

It's all some people have to make them feel superior. Needing to feel superior is far worse IMO than using the same fork for dessert as you did for your salad.

 

That said, I make my sons learn to set a table and practice social graces. I don't think that good manners come naturally to everyone and with a son with autism that is doubly clear to me. I've read so much Miss Manners primarily because of the humor but because she also usually gives no nonsense, straight forwards don't-be-a-dumbass advice. The various customs and norms and traditions are also interesting to read about. I consider her part advice columnist, part humorist and part cultural historian.

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I must admit, white shoes "out of season" still bother me. I have taught the girls The Correct Way :D

 

It bothers me as well, but the stores here don't sell girls' dress shoes in any color except white starting about Easter time. It is warm by April out here but it bugs me no end to put the white shoes on my girls before Memorial Day.

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At their core good manners and etiquette are not about enforcing a set of rules or judging people for not knowing something. They are about making other people feel at ease and comfortable. I find nothing less gracious than someone who accosts another over some rule of etiquette or another.

 

In more than one of Miss Manners' books she tells the story of a very fancy dinner party. The hostess was some stripe of royalty. One of the guests, from a different country, picks up his soup bowl and drinks from it. The other guests stare. The hostess, without skipping a beat picks her soup bowl to drink her soup to make everything less awkward.

 

I think that too often it is less about gracious behavior and more about sticking it to people about what is right and wrong. The main rule with manners, as with life, boils down to basically "don't be a jackass."

 

I don't disagree, and, noting anyone has pointed out is actually disagreeing with that, either. Because the other side of that coin is to be the best guest you can be. No one would expect Ghandi to show up at the White House in a suit and tie.

 

Once when I was with a young Swedish girl and we were dining at someone's house, she started to eat her dessert before the hostess sat down. The host was NOT happy, and I dug right in with her on purpose.

 

But again, that's not being an *American* and visiting the capital of your country and being introduced to the President. There are degrees, here.

 

Let's just have all the military wear blue jeans and wave. Graduate college and why bother with those stupid sashes and caps? None of it matters, right? I really wish wedding dresses would just go away. I mean, we can keep going on with this idea.

 

So, if manners are a part of ceremony, and established so that people can meet on equal footing, having none would be?

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It bothers me as well, but the stores here don't sell girls' dress shoes in any color except white starting about Easter time. It is warm by April out here but it bugs me no end to put the white shoes on my girls before Memorial Day.

 

This summer DD11 finally grew enough to wear adult shoes. I was so glad because now we have a better selection of "non-white" sandals. I bought her two pair of sandals that will match all of her outfits and both are not white!

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See, where I come from you just didn't wear shoes after Memorial Day. White schwhite. With the exception of my First Communion, I don't think I have ever worn white shoes. :blushing:

 

When my mom was a child my grandpa would cut the toes out of her school shoes for her to wear in the summer. No fancy sandals! Just cut the toes out to make sandals and so her toes would not be cramped!

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I don't disagree, and, noting anyone has pointed out is actually disagreeing with that, either. Because the other side of that coin is to be the best guest you can be. No one would expect Ghandi to show up at the White House in a suit and tie.

 

Once when I was with a young Swedish girl and we were dining at someone's house, she started to eat her dessert before the hostess sat down. The host was NOT happy, and I dug right in with her on purpose.

 

But again, that's not being an *American* and visiting the capital of your country and being introduced to the President. There are degrees, here.

 

Let's just have all the military wear blue jeans and wave. Graduate college and why bother with those stupid sashes and caps? None of it matters, right? I really wish wedding dresses would just go away. I mean, we can keep going on with this idea.

 

So, if manners are a part of ceremony, and established so that people can meet on equal footing, having none would be?

 

 

I think we agree, though I admit I have a different view somewhat. I am not fond of slippery slope/well then nothing matters does it type arguments.

 

All I am saying is that we all should generally always focus on what we can do better rather than on the minor slips of others.

 

Having manners is about far more than formality- it's about day to day kindness and respect. Some people like formality and protocol and live lives that call for it/require it. That is fine. I don't and that is very much by design. Neither is a better or worse way to live. But when people seem to actually get off on pointing out the faux pas of others? They aren't polite. They aren't nice. They're just jerks. And when they do this while spouting off on etiquette? They become hilarious jerks. Often times they are enforcing the wrong or incorrect "rule" anyways.

 

Example: We did handwritten invites for our brunch wedding at a beautiful garden club. We were having a small wedding, my husband is a gifted calligrapher. We like saving money. Per tradition, Miss Manners, Emily Post, the Cookie Monster this is the most formal type of invite. Yet a self appointed etiquette expert in the family (I must point out HIS family, lol) thought this was a faux pas. Silly, eh? We had a wonderful celebration that was focused on our families and guests, none of this "it's our day" nonsense. We wanted simple, relaxed, elegant setting and tasty (we love our food) and we made it happen. We were complimented on everything from the simple flowers to the non-cake to the directions I included on how to get there. We didn't even register as I don't like the idea of telling people what to give me, if they chose to give a gift at all.

 

I still write people letters. Like on paper even. I have a ridiculous collection of stationery. I have revealed myself here to be that woman who reads etiquette books as a hobby. :leaving: We host dinner parties where I cook all day. I don't think these things called manners don't matter, I just apply them to my life as my life is and not in any contrived or social status oriented way. That would be uncomfortable for me, given my background and values.

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Etiquette is generational, regional and cultural. While I have to "toe the line" in my own extended family who is more particular about etiquette, I don't have negative feelings towards anyone who don't follow the same rules. I have to wait for the elders to be seated to start lunch or dinner, my hubby's extended family don't have that rule.

Comically my "etiquette" is so "proper" that I had escorted members of parliament when they were VIPs at school functions when I was a teenager.

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Etiquette is a little social contract that helps to insure that everyone can be comfortable in any situation. And part of that task is *absolutely* to *not* point out faux pas, but make everyone comfortable.

 

For example, the flag code was changed several years ago. It used to be you were to stand at attention when the national anthem is played, *not* put your hand over your heart. Now, everyone is supposed to salute during the national anthem (a military salute or putting your hand over your heart). So, there is some confusion, not everyone gets it right. For that reason, the understanding among Army wives is that you so whatever the senior lady present does. If you all look the same, then nobody looks wrong.

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