Q: I recollect that you cited only two occasions on which you can wear tiaras — the opera and visiting with royalty.
Lately the subject has arisen in connection with a guest wearing her tiara to a wedding. Can you enlighten me on this pressing issue?
A: In theory, Miss Manners is all for the return of the tiara. Traditionally, ladies always “dressed” their hair, with jewels or flowers — hence the surviving term “hairdressing.”
So she will overcome her resistance to seeming flexible and add that she is amused and even mildly charmed by ladies who top off evening clothes with those lovely objects that have been neglected for decades. Indeed, she will add that some tiaras can be adapted to be worn below a chignon, to the side of a French twist, or as necklaces.
But even royalty doesn’t wear tiaras on all occasions. Never to brunch, for example. And noblesse oblige requires not wearing a headdress that might seem to mimic that of the chief figure. So one may wear a tiara in the presence of a queen, but not an actual crown; and not a tiara in the presence of a bride who might use one to secure her veil.
Q: I am a uniformed security officer in a high-rise office building lobby. Part of my job is to greet tenants and visitors with, “Hello, how are you today?” or “Have a nice day.” At night, I say, “Good night. Drive safe,” or a similarly upbeat greeting. I am a people person and love this part of my job.
Am I being rude or intrusive if the people are talking on cellphones or reading text messages? My boss wants all lobby patrons to know that a security officer is present, and greeting folks is what she told me to do.
A: As a security guard, you are undoubtedly called upon to exercise discretion. Miss Manners supposes that you must be constantly judging whom you need to keep watching and who legitimately belongs there.
Your greetings need not be standardized, either. Some people will welcome a spoken greeting, some may be acknowledged merely with a pleasant nod, and some may notice your presence only when you step forward to usher them out. Your boss asked you to greet people, not to annoy them.
Q: I have a shower invitation to send out, and it states cocktails and light fare. But we are having nonalcoholic beverages and finger foods (hors d’oeuvres). What is the best way to word it so everyone understands?
A: Call them crazy, but everyone thinks that an invitation to cocktails involves — well, cocktails. And “light fare” is what Miss Manners seeks in an airplane ticket, and she is not referring to the pretzels.
What you are giving sounds like a tea. That is what the invitation should state. And while the same truth-in-advertising rule still applies, tea need not be the only nonalcoholic drink that you serve.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.