Ask a Gentleman

Here is the new home of my new segment, Ask a Gentleman, where you can e-mail me your questions about Etiquette.

"Dear Nostalgically yours:

You are, of course, the epitome of great taste and flair – so I resort to you to ease my mind when making plans to attend an upcoming wedding. My sister is getting married. The setting will be in the deep south on a river boat. As you may know, it often gets to be over 100 degrees during that time of year. So, here is my dilemma. My sis has impeccable taste and an endless budget – it will be a very small but very tasteful wedding and I want to represent. I, on the other hand, have a very limited budget – really, I don’t even have a budget for a new outfit, seeing how it will cost us about $1000 for my family to get there. BUT, I want this day to be special for her, free of drama, and perfect – that is what she deserves. So, have a couple of choices of things I already own. My sis, BTW, is wearing a 1950 nostalgic throwback dress with a full skirt and small sweet bodice – I don’t know what it will look like – but, in my head I imagine something like what Audrey Hepburn wore when she receive the Academy Award for “Roman Holiday.” Anyway, you should know that everything looks good on her – she is very elegant, very chic, very stylish! The theme is “nautical, creams, blues and above all … stylish”. In thinking of things that are already in my closet (that would be appropriate for a smoldering summer day), I have a lot of long, flowing summer skirts and maxi sun dresses, one pair of black palazzo pants, but nothing in red, or white, or blue. What do you suggest? Oh, I almost forget, her son, who is a designer, will be giving her away – so… no pressure! The good thing is, of course, that all eyes will be on her – so that is wonderful – but since there will only be about 20 guests total, I want to make sure that I look elegant, and not embarrass her!

Perplexed by Panache"

Dear Perplexed,

Though I doubt you are truly as perplexed as you say, let me start off by saying that you already have the upper hand because you're aware of yourself. The first step toward an elegant countenance is to be aware of what one is working with - you have that down pat! Money has very little to do with elegance and sophistication. There are plenty of people dripping with money who can't hold an outfit together to save their lives.

See? Money can't buy class.

As Christian Dior once said: "Elegance is not dependent on money. Of the four things I have mentioned above [distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity], the most important of all is care. Care in choosing your clothes. Care in wearing them. Care in keeping them." And in the words of Diana Vreeland: "The only real elegance is in the mind; If you've got that, the rest really comes from it." You already have this Care, dear reader and I'm fairly certain the other three aren't far behind.

You know they ain't trippin'!

Unfortunately, because I don't know what is in your wardrobe and only what isn't, I cannot truly advise you on what, specifically, to wear. The good news is that no-one will be looking at you since you're not the bride, so a lot of the pressure is off. Think carefully about what is appropriate for the occasion, appropriate for the weather, and above all appropriate for you.

I hope this helped,

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E-mail me at with all your Etiquette questions! I'll feature a question and my answer in my blog and on this page every month, so be sure to include clever nicknames like "Drowned by Invitations".

Click here to see all the advice I've given so far.

Can't wait to hear from you!