Open Thread

by epi on October 26, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Nadine October 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Does formal always mean a long gown


Winifred Rosenburg October 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Yes, it does.


Chocobo October 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm

It depends. Formal dress depends upon the time of day. A longer dress is more appropriate at night, but a shorter dress is appropriate during the morning or the day. Both are formal. For men, dinner jackets/tuxedos are only acceptable at night, and morning jackets with striped grey slacks are the correct formal dress in the morning. Again, both are formal.

In general, formal dress codes restrict what men can wear much more than women. For example, formal evening dress is synonymous with Black Tie, meaning men should wear black or very dark blue dinner jackets (also called tuxedos) with matching trousers, a white dress shirt, a cummerbund or waistcoat, a black bow-tie, and black dress shoes, which are usually patent-leather. Men don’t really get to be creative when it comes to formal evening dress.

Women have a lot more freedom:
In the morning: floor-length dresses are not acceptable. Ankle-, tea-, and knee- length are all acceptable lengths. Fabrics are lighter in color, and made of daytime blends like cotton and chiffon, etc. The dresses rarely have anything that sparkles attached to them, they may have sleeves. Shoes are lighter daytime shoes. If a woman wears a hat, it is a more structured hat, as well as gloves.

At night: floor-length dresses are acceptable, but so are tea- and sometimes knee-length dresses. Longer is always more formal, however, so shorter cocktail dresses are riskier. The fabrics are often darker or richer in color and use more formal fabrics that may be shinier and heavier. The dresses are traditionally sleeveless or have short sleeves worn with long white gloves (if gloves are worn). Dress shoes, which are usually heeled and made with similar evening fabrics, are worn. A hat, if one is worn, is smaller and usually made of feathers, beaded, or somehow sparkles.

But even with these rules, generally women may get away with a dress that is daring whereas a man in a different suit cannot.


Country Girl October 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Hi friends,

My husband and I were traveling this week when a slightly uncomfortable situation presented itself. We were sitting in a row on a plane with a gentleman who, towards the end of the flight, started to converse with us. (This was a very public conversation since the plane was fairly silent. We even later heard from a couple a few rows back who had listened to our conversation.)

After an introduction and a few friendly sentences the man said he would like to give me a gift.. a ‘religious book’. My husband and I know of this religion and don’t particularly agree with it, so I simply replied “Oh no thank you.” He said “Oh ok,” returned the book to his bag, and went silent. It was pretty awkward. Whether right or not, I felt accepting this book was acknowledging that I either was ignorant of the religion or agreed with their beliefs, which I do not.

I’d like to know how you all feel:

Was I inappropriate by turning down his “gift” since I didn’t agree with it?
Should I have taken the book and just discarded it later?
Did I owe an explanation for why I didn’t want the book?
Do you think he broke any rules of etiquette by offering this in the first place?


Just Laura October 26, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I know you didn’t do anything wrong in this situation, nor do I believe he did anything wrong (as long as he didn’t press you). I certainly wouldn’t offer a stranger a book on my religion, but that’s because my religion doesn’t encourage spreading the word.


Winifred Rosenburg October 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

I don’t think you did anything wrong. I do think he did something wrong. Generally one isn’t supposed to bring up the subject of religion, and this qualifies. That rule can be bent in the case of good friends, but you just met this person. You successfully ended the subject. If you hadn’t, he probably would have continued to tell you how great the book was, and you would have had a more uncomfortable time trying to change the subject.


Jerry October 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Neither of you did anything wrong. He was acting within the accepted morays of someone with his religious beliefs; you were not rude in politely refusing something that you didn’t care for. No harm, no foul. That you may have offended someone by disagreeing with his religious beliefs cannot be helped.


Jody October 29, 2012 at 11:09 am

Jerry is correct, neither of you did anything wrong. Your polite “no thank you” was perfect; his “oh OK” response was also good because he did not press the point.


Shannon Medlicott October 29, 2012 at 11:45 am

I coordinate events for a health system – both fund-raising and PR events. When mailing out a formal invitation to an event, AP style dictates that the month is abbreviated, however this goes against my experience in creating formal invites. Please advise – should the month be abbreviated (Nov.) or spelled out (November)? Thank you, Shannon


Ruth Peltier October 29, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Personally I would spell it out. I think AP applies more to journalism than formal writing.


Just Laura October 30, 2012 at 12:20 am

AP style is for the media. It has nothing to do with personal invitations.


Brockwest October 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

1) For the religion discussion on the plane, neither party was in the wrong. In some religions it is required or advised to seek out new people to spread the word. This places no obligation on you to receive their word or opinions or information.
A simple “no thank you, I’m not interested” would suffice on your part. If they proceed, I would politely repeat “no thank you, I’m not interested” up to one or two more times, then after that I would not respond but read the airline magazine if they attempted to continue.
2) For the formal invitation, I think writing the invitation formally makes more sense.


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