Miss Manners: Our friend dresses casually no matter the occasion

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Dear Miss Manners: My wife and I are part of a close-knit group of five couples. We all socialize often, whether in our different homes or through recreational activities.

One of our gentleman friends is really a very likeable person: friendly, considerate, humorous and a lover of animals (cats, anyway). However, at all of our social functions, his attire consists of shorts, a sloppy t-shirt, and tennis shoes, usually without socks. It would be fine for a backyard barbecue, but it’s her uniform for all occasions — birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and even big holiday dinner parties where I feel like something “nicer” is in order.

On special occasions, host couples go to great lengths to prepare a festive dinner on beautiful tableware. I think her dress is insulting – not only to the host, but also to the honoree or the occasion/party itself. When we dine at a restaurant—not an old-fashioned “coat and tie required” place, but still semi-upscale—he’s in shorts and a t-shirt again, and I feel self-conscious again.

In every other way, like I said, he’s a great guy. I wouldn’t want to hurt him or insult him. Suggestions for a benevolent approach? Or should I just ignore this?

You can’t tell an adult you are not related to how to dress. And unless the event is black or white tie, you can’t even put it politely in your invitations (“festive” is not a dress code).

Miss Manners is afraid you have to learn to live with it. Obviously, the other half of this gentleman did.

Dear Miss Manners: My son will soon be getting married to a woman I haven’t met yet, even though we’ve spoken on the phone several times. My problem is that I don’t want my new daughter-in-law to call me “Mom”.

My son was very briefly married once before (now divorced), and this daughter-in-law called me “Mom” without an invitation to do so, at least not from me. I think my son may have asked him to do it. When we met, I said, “Hello, I’m Mabel Jo” so she would understand that I didn’t want her to officially address me as “Mrs. X.”

How can I tactfully ask that his new wife not call me “Mom?” It has nothing to do with her, I just don’t like the practice.

Talk to your son. It seems to Miss Manners that he may have been the one who planted the idea of ​​”mummy” with the first wife. Explain that you would like the honor of asking his future wife to call you by your first name. He would surely not dream of depriving you of this family moment.

If he protests that he finds “Mom” more intimate, you can gently point out that there were a lot of things that didn’t work the first time around. You generously spare him one.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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