Advice Columns

Miss Manners: What to do when undergarments are exposed?

Q: Why have women become unconcerned with how much of their bra and/or bra straps are uncovered?

I saw a young woman with a cute top that covered all in front, yet the entire back of her bra was fully uncovered. The label was visible, and I was tempted to tell her that she wore the same size as my wife. Of course I did not.

A: How very restrained of you.

But while Miss Manners agrees that ladies should be taking care to cover their undergarments, she warns that failure to do so does not constitute an invitation to get as close as you must have done to read that label. She will work on keeping ladies looking respectable, if you will kindly work on keeping a respectable distance.

Q: I was invited to a friend’s second home for the weekend with my kids. I called to ask what can I bring. She told me five pounds of dog food for her dog and five pounds of bacon.

I did bring the bacon, but I thought the dog food was rude. What do you think?

A: That you are assuming that the bacon is for the guests.

Miss Manners is amused by the distinction you draw between supplying people and dogs. While it might have seemed an odd request, the subtext of your rejection is that you find it rude to ask to provide for anyone other than the guests.

You did not have to ask what to bring (although for a weekend stay, a present is polite), but as you did, you should acknowledge that something for the general use of the hosts and residents of the house is not unwarranted.

Q: I finally have a home where I have enough room to invite people over for dinner, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I like to cook and offer the hospitality of a meal, and I enjoy the company of my friends.

However, over the last few years, it seems that everyone I know has some kind of food allergy, or thinks something is just “bad for you,” whether they are medically intolerant of it or not, and won’t eat it.

I have known I am lactose-intolerant since I was 22 or so, but I offer food made with dairy because I know others can enjoy it. Lately a lot of people I know who ate gluten in the past say they can no longer do so. Then another friend says he can’t eat gluten OR nuts. Another just doesn’t like to eat fowl.

I remember when people just used to eat food. It has become quite a challenge to create a menu everyone will enjoy without creating individual dishes for each.

Would it be less than generous to ask people with such restrictive diets to bring their own dish to make sure there is something they can eat?

A: Yes. But it is not that Miss Manners does not sympathize. If you make a variety of foods with a reasonable effort at addressing the most prevalent — and popular — restrictions, that is the best that you can do. And Miss Manners will work on getting everyone else to eat what they can and otherwise, for heaven’s sake, to keep quiet about it.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.