Q: Is it proper etiquette to wear your jeans tucked in your suede boots in May? I know if I were riding on the back of my fiance’s motorcycle, it would be totally appropriate :) ! However, I’m just going out with the girls :) !
YOUR SPEEDY REPLY WOULD BE MOST APPRECIATED :) !
A: WHY? ARE THE GIRLS GOING TO LEAVE WITHOUT YOU? :) !
Miss Manners is amused and befuddled by your question. Is it the tucking in of the jeans that you are afraid will offend? Wearing suede in May? Or somehow the combination?
While unseasonable to wear suede boots in May, it is not the breach of etiquette that is wearing white before Memorial Day (cue the maelstrom of dissent).
The rules of etiquette are not at stake here (unless it is a formal event, but Miss Manners feels pretty certain that it is not), but rather your reputation for fashion sense among your friends. If that is the case, try it and see.
Q: As I’m sure you’re aware, there is a trend toward decluttering and minimalism. This has resulted not only in the idea that it’s rude to give a gift that wasn’t specifically asked for, but also that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the prospective giver for “experiences” instead of things — e.g., gift certificates for dinner or a spa visit, or cash toward a vacation.
I feel that it’s rude in any case to make such requests, but what if the prospective giver asks what you’d like to have? Is it acceptable to answer honestly?
A: Yes, unfortunately, Miss Manners is all too aware of yet another manifestation of greed in the name of “gift-giving.” (And the irony that people are being covetous to avoid appearing covetous is not lost on her.)
That it should be considered rude to give a present that was not previously demanded is not only an affront to manners, but also to syntax. What else is a gift, but something that is given willingly?
But as you seem to be the rare creature who understands this, Miss Manners will help you to be honest and to demur, if the demurring is executed correctly.
Only when asked (preferably repeatedly), a celebrant may say, “Oh, I just have so many things, I’m really just looking to relax a bit after the graduation/birthday/wedding. Do you know any good places?”
If done correctly, this will appear to be merely conversation aimed at gaining expertise. However, smart listeners who are presumably on the alert for present ideas will see that they can facilitate the delivery. And you will have achieved your goal — without making rude demands.
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.