Slow Abby Gives Way to Miss Manners

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Not so much in the Dear Abby column lately to write about, so I turn to Miss Manners. I sometimes feel like Miss Manners is a bit of a fuddy duddy (oh, heavens to betsy!) with her ever-so-proper responses, but, as I learned from my ex-wife’s collection of vintage etiquette books, there’s never a bad time for good manners.

Today’s fare wasn’t all that incredible except for how the woman descirbed herself. Apparently, she was upset because friends often poke at her for being overdressed. This does seem rude until you read between the lines…

I am at a loss to understand why it is acceptable to criticize someone for dressing “too well,” while the opposite is totally unacceptable. Let me explain.

Last week I attended a retirement party for my husband’s co-worker, which was an outdoor Mexican fiesta. I wore a festive peasant skirt (no pantyhose), sandals, a simple top and some ethnic jewelry. As soon as we walked in the door, the host literally yelled, “Hey, you were supposed to dress casual for this event! What are ya doin’?” I was speechless.

Let me just pause for a moment. Ok, you were invited to a casual outdoor Mexican fiesta. No biggie. Sounds fun. But, the description of a “festive peasant skirt, sandals, a simple top and some ethnic jewlrey” leads me to believe you took not only way too much time putting this outfit together, but coming up with the words to describe it. You even added “(no pantyhose)” to emphasize how casual it was, but the description is incredibly formal.

I surprised she didn’t start by saying, “I have a bee in my bonnet, Ms. Manners!” It’s like she just walked off a Georgia plantation from the 1800’s. And I love how she turns all Mark Twain when she denegrates the host’s manner of speech by saying he “yelled” the words “What are ya doin’?”

It’s as if Queen Elizabeth showed up at a hoe down with Jethro and Ellie Mae and the Queen is bitching.

But, she continues…

Last month, a co-worker chided me with “Why are you so dressed up?” I was wearing a skirt, with a matching cardigan and, yes, pantyhose and heels. Later in the week, when I was dressed more casually in cropped pants and a logoed polo shirt, she expressed her approval of my attire. I regret to say that I did respond with a very sarcastic, “I’m so glad my clothes meet your approval today!”

Ok, so now she’s being “chided.” What’s funny is she remembers her outfit in very great detail from A MONTH AGO!?! Are you kidding? If you remember that much, you probably worry too much about it. Then, she says that when she dressed down in “cropped pats and a logoed polo shirt,” everyone approved. A “logoed” Polo? I don’t even know what the hell that is.

I’m sitting here today in my…er…pseudo cargo shorts I got at Target for like $12 and a New York t-shirt with no shoes. Now, THAT’s casual. Cropped pants and a logoed Polo…just to remember all that makes me tired and I like cool clothes.

Methinks this woman is a bit of an annoyance, but let’s find out for sure.

There have been other occasions, as well. In fact, this happens to me often enough that it has really begun to irk me. Should we all just dress in our sweats and pajamas? I’m certainly no fashion plate, but I do enjoy dressing in stylish clothes. And to be fair, I am often complimented on my choice of clothing.

What response can I give to such boorish statements? The one I long to give is “Why are you dressed like such a slob?” But I know that would not meet with Miss Manners’ approval.

Oh, woe is her. But, I think the previous paragraphs confirm my suspicions that this woman really, seriously needs to re-evaluate her priorities.

First, she takes the extreme of asking if we should all dress in “our sweats and pajamas.” Clearly, this is what we all want. Duh! Not only is that a ridiculous overstatement, it is condescending to those she thinks are taking umbridge (yeah, I said umbridge!) to her clothing choices.

Second, she tries to demonstrate some humility by saying she isn’t a fashion plate, but IMMEDIATELY follows with how she enjoys stylish clothing and, my favorite, “And to be fair, I am often complimented on my choice of clothing.” Instant pain-in-the-ass alarm going off full blast.

Finally, she uses the word “boorish,” which automatically makes me think she needs time away from reruns of Masterpiece Theatre, and then thinks that she should return an insult about the slovenly dress of the people who clearly joke about her overdressing.

Look, I’m not saying people should run around and critizice someone for overdressing. It is an assanine thing to do. But, I’m going to pose a thesis about this particular fashonista.

I believe that this is a woman who lives for her clothing and ANY compliment she may get. I also believe she is someone with very little sense of humor and probably spends way too much time worried about what other people think both in the positive and the negative. Lastly, I think she is very likely just as snarky with folks, but defends it by saying something like, “Well, they just don’t know any better, so I have to help them.”

If I were Miss Manners (thankfully, the X chromosome has kept that from ever happening), I would say something like:

Get the stick out of your ass and tell people to kiss your well-adorned hiney if they don’t like it. Perhaps a tastefull 3-inch heal to the groin or a kitchy patton leather handbag to the side of the head next time will change the mind of your detractors. At the very least, they’ll notice your clothing is more than just pretty, it’s also functional.

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