DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our whole family is traveling to an out-of-town wedding. The invitation requests “Cocktail attire, ties required for men and dresses for women.”
My teenage granddaughter doesn’t like to wear dresses, and though she has worn them in the past, said she doesn’t wear dresses anymore and will wear a suit.
I would understand if she was transgender, bi or a lesbian, but I don’t feel it is something I can ask about if she is not ready.
However, if she is not any of these, then I don’t think this is a good time to rebel against the dress code when the attention should be on the bride and groom. I should mention that we have friends and relatives who are gay and bi. So is a suit a reasonable alternative for a middle school girl?
GENTLE READER: George Sand may have raised eyebrows when she wore men’s clothing in mid-19th-century Paris, but it is Miss Manners’ observation that any correlation between sexual orientation and suits for ladies is, if it ever existed, long gone. She allows that your granddaughter may wear a dressy suit without violating the spirit of the dress code or attracting unwanted speculation as to its purpose.
Fearing undue attention at a wedding is a fruitless pursuit. There will undoubtedly be other guests attracting it away from the bridal couple in the form of unusual dress, alcohol overindulgence or general adorableness, factors that seem to be ubiquitous at any social gathering.
Still waiting for a response
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How quickly should one respond to personal email?
I seem to remember a snail-mail rule that one was supposed to have a reply ready for the next post. Does a similar guideline exist in netiquette?
I’m asking because I have a list of several dozen far-flung friends to whom I send a group email every week or so. I do this not only to let them know what my wife and I are up to, but also to stimulate some sort of reply so I can keep up with them.
Alas, relatively few respond. In fact, the biggest response came when I was sick recently and could barely lift my head, let alone dash off a witty communique. The brief absence of email prompted several folks to write in, saying they missed my missives.
I suppose it’s nice to be missed, but I’d rather receive the email responses. I should hasten to point out that I respond swiftly to personal and work-related emails.
GENTLE READER: There was a moment when Miss Manners wondered if all those people who never look up from their devices were merely trying to be polite by responding instantly to their correspondents. But the requirement to respond instantaneously to every instant message would unfortunately remove the polite from the gene pool.
As you have discovered, etiquette rules based on technological limitations (such as how long it takes the mail carrier to cross the road) have as short a shelf life as modern electronics. Miss Manners requires only that business and personal correspondence (from which definition she excludes group emails, no matter how witty or well-intentioned) be answered reasonably promptly.
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.
© Universal Uclick 8/19