Emily Post offers a fabulous site called etipedia (Etiquette + Encyclopedia = Etipedia) where the official answers are easily found. Click the link to be directed to the Emily Post Attire Guide: Dress Codes from Casual to White Tie
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The resources below provide simple answers to "what to wear?" Even when an invitation specifies attire, there still might be some mystery as to exactly what it means.
Emily Post offers a fabulous site called etipedia (Etiquette + Encyclopedia = Etipedia) where the official answers are easily found. Click the link to be directed to the Emily Post Attire Guide: Dress Codes from Casual to White Tie
And special thanks to Kleinfeld Men for posting this guide especially for gentlemen on their site! (Click on the image to make it larger)
Remember that the absolute best accessory is attitude! If in doubt about your choice of attire and it's too late to go back, hold your head high and flash your brightest smile! Confidence and personality can overcome a minor fashion faux pas.
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Oh, I simply can not wait for this event! The Gladney Center for Adoption is hosting a slew of events in honor of their 125th Anniversary and coming up on January 22 is the "Curiouser and Curiouser Mother Daughter Tea."
In addition to celebrating the 125th anniversary, this fun tea party will be a celebration of Edna Gladney's birthday! Just who is Edna Gladney? She was an amazing woman who campaigned for the rights of children, especially for adopted children, and fought to have the word "illegitimate" removed from their birth certifcates. As superintendant of the Texas Children's Home, she provided care and support for children and unwed mothers and helped to place children with adoptive families.
This event will run from 2-4 in the afternoon and includes a delectable afternoon tea menu, hat contest, amazing décor courtesy of Jenna Lee (you must check out Jenna's amazing site at www.splurgeeventdesign.com) and etiquette tips provided by moi! For more details on the event, please visit their Facebook page!
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Jacqueline Whitmore once tweeted a link to an entertaining article featured in the British online publication The Telegraph that referred to her as "one of those eerily well-groomed American women." The humorous article, on the topic of email habits of the Brits, went on to credit Jacqueline with her etiquette expertise, even though it was poking fun along the way. The fact that Jacqueline herself tweeted the link made me like her all the more, and those of us who received it caught a glimpse into her down to earth, witty character. This is just what you can expect from Poised for Success, Jacqueline's latest book, out today, November 8!
In Poised for Success, Jacqueline brings you back in time to learn how she grew up, not as glamorous an upbringing as you might imagine, and worked hard toward becoming the "Guru of Grace" she is today. Her impeccable reputation didn't happen overnight. She has carefully sculpted her brand with strategic vision. Jacqueline shares her success in the book, which you learn was the result of an intensely positive outlook, sharp business acumen, and a competitive edge, intensified by her charm factor.
The fact that I felt like I just had lunch with a long lost friend each time I finished a chapter is testament to how Jacqueline has mastered the art of making herself "likeable" (Chapter 13, "The Likability Factor"). This book is a treasure, not only for practical advice on attire for both ladies and gentlemen, grammar, social media essentials, and the "Seven Unwritten Rules Every Professional Needs to Know" (Chapter 15), but because it is absolutely inspirational. My heart is warmed by Jacqueline's advocacy of social graces, gratitude, and kindness. This will be a keeper, a reference guide, and a gift for friends and family. Thank you, Jacqueline, and nicely done!
Follow Jacqueline on twitter @etiquetteexpert
In the summer of 2010, I did something crazy. I left my well established career in hospitality and took a plunge into the public school system. I was a very little fish suddenly in a very big pond, and completely out of my element. I loved the kids and I loved walking into the classroom every day, but I also felt everyday was like a war zone and I was an ill-equipped soldier. Something was going terribly, terribly wrong...
Almost everyday I overheard adults say, “When I was young, children just didn’t act like this. They didn’t talk back. They were respectful, and they listened. They did what adults told them and they didn’t question it.” So what happened?
One of the most powerful moments came for me when I attended a workshop called “Understanding the Hip Hop Culture” produced by a company called Beyond the Classroom. We had an amazing speaker, Dr. Rashid Shabazz, a principal from a school in inner city Chicago, who shared with us the power and influence of music in education. With hip hop being the most popular genre of music amongst youth world wide, it made sense that we were looking for ways to incorporate it in classrooms.
Thank heavens for “Flocabulary” and "the week in rap." These became a regular part of my weekly lessons and the kids loved it. I can still hear it now, “Plot, character, conflict, theme, settinggggg, yes these are the five things that you’re gonna be needing when you’re reading and writing a short story that’s MAD exciting.” The kids sang it at recess. And you better believe they remembered the five elements of a story.
During the presentation, Dr. Shabazz said something along the lines of, “I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, the tables turned. And the kids who used to follow directions just because an adult told them to do something are now looking at the adults saying, 'what are you going to do for me?'” And everyone in the room nodded.
So what has changed?
Now I’m back in a corporate setting. I read about leadership, quality, and the pursuit of excellence, and everything keeps coming back around to the idea of employee engagement. The top down model is a thing of the past. And I find myself thinking, "I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, the tables turned. And employees who used to follow directions just because their boss told them to do something are now looking at the boss saying, 'what are you going to do for me?'”
They are waiting for it, whatever it is, to be made a little more appealing to their taste. If "it" is not communicated well enough, or made appealing enough, it will simply not stick. And I have found myself on both sides of the issue, both as the questioning employee, and as a supervisor searching for ways to engage coworkers at the peer level, as well as above and below my position. We need something like flocabulary for the workplace.
Why the shift? One reason could be the instant access to information and inspiration available online. Generation Y and many of Generation X (that’s me!) have grown up with the internet and the immediate gratification of finding anything you need in seconds, complimented by web sites that are becoming smarter and smarter at figuring out what type of results we want them to provide. Technology has become so intuitive that we almost don't even have to think for ourselves. And what wonderful gadgets and games we have to entertain ourselves. Why would we ever want to sit through a lecture or conference call when we could be multitasking with entertainment?
Other reasons could be the prevalence of corporate corruption that is the target of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the down economy, or simply the evolution of man. We want to be treated equally and fairly. Basic human rights long withheld from people based on race, religion, and gender have been granted over time as we move in the direction of truly accepting that we are all created equally. So it’s only natural that this expectation is extending to our youth and all of us in the workforce. The resistance to doing what we are told without question is a natural part of our evolution, and it's high time for a revolution in both education and corporate America.
So where do we begin? We, all of us, respect our superiors (teachers, parents, bosses) when we are treated with respect. We are craving strong, fair leaders. There is no time or room to place blame. It’s too late to be a pessimist. Whether you are the student or the teacher, the employee or the boss, treat those around you with respect and kindness. We can create a bridge between generations, learning styles, and knowledge gaps with respect. The power of love between human beings is a force that will never be overtaken by technology, and should always guide our actions as we adapt to changes in society.
This isn't complicated. Start with the basic Golden Rule, the "most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others” (wikipedia.com). We don't need an act of Congress or an epiphany. We just need to honor our basic human need to love and be loved. Change is stressful, and inevitable. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to accept our role in the evolution. When a system as large as education or the marketplace has cracks, it's only natural for individuals within the system to begin to resist. Both need to change and will. We influence when and how that happens, whether we step up to the plate or not. Our actions create a ripple effect…what does yours look like?
We communicate primarily through body language. It speaks sometimes before we have a chance to say a word. Research shows that 55 percent of our message is conveyed by our body (facial expressions, gestures, posture), 38 percent through our tone of voice, and only 7 percent via our verbal message. Intentional or not, our body language can reveal incongruence between our thoughts and our words; it can even uncover hidden agendas, and, perhaps, lies.
There are many ways in which our body language can betray our true thoughts or give our listeners false impressions. For example, in conversation, when we shift our eyes back and forth, failing to make eye contact, we may seem untrustworthy or dishonest. Especially in the United States, the avoidance of eye contact may indicate that the person is not being straightforward. If you wish to establish a favorable impression, focus your eyes on the “safety zone” of the other person’s face, the small triangle located in between the eyebrows and nose. But remember, cultural differences and exceptions may apply. In some countries, for example, Russia and China, people interpret direct eye contact as a sign of arrogance or disrespect.
In introductions, remember to respect the personal space of people around you. Never lean into their space by standing too close; this can make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t stand too far away either, as you’ll look awkward when you are ready to shake hands.
Our voice quality accounts for a significant part of the first impression, and so we must pay close attention to our pitch, speed, volume, and tone. A high pitch might reveal that we are nervous and overwhelmed, and a very low pitch might indicate that we are angry, unhappy, or cranky. Working on your voice quality and verbal delivery is very important and cannot be overstated. If you have an edgy, loud, squeaky, or robotic voice, you may want to work on it with a voice coach. Try recording yourself while engaged in conversation and see how you sound—you might be surprised!
Finally, your words do count. The art of skillful conversation involves knowing what to say and how to advance, or end, any discussion. People who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, narcissistic, and boring. You won’t get anywhere in business or social circles if you don’t pay attention to what you say and how you say it!
As much as I am inclined to say I am no fashionista, I do have a few words of advice for professionals wondering what to wear to their first job, or their new job. Ultimately, your choice really depends upon the environment where you'll be working, but you can take into account a few key recommendations regardless of where that may be...
Once upon a time ago, I found myself authoring a training manual for the catering department staff at The Fort Worth Club, a rather conservative 125 year old private business and athletic club. The stereotypical employee in my department was a recent college graduate and we were in need of identifying precisely what was appropriate for work.
As a matter of fact, I learned the hard way myself when I first began my role as Director of Catering in that fine club. I was in my late 20s and had come from a background in more casual country club settings. Once I realized both coworkers and clients were looking me up and down (and I mean women passing judgment), I figured out quickly I had better get my act together and take it up a notch with my professionalism. Your coworkers can be very tough critics and the last thing you want is to cause a stir with a short hemline.
So, for my employees in the department, we came up with four categories of dress code:
1. Business casual
2. Business professional
3. Evening professional
4. Black tie professional
We had no trouble detailing that "business professional" was slightly more formal and suits were encouraged. Evening professional could be slightly dressier, but should be conservative and dark colors were recommended. Black tie professional included a black dress or suit, at least knee length for skirts. The details we included in our description of appropriate attire came in handy when our charming new hostess showed up in a fuschia sleeveless mini dress, complete with a glittering silver sequined neckline and black bra straps showing (we gently sent her home).
The greatest mystery was in defining "business casual." Funny, business casual is the most common of all, but there are truly many, many interpretations of what is, or is not appropriate. We suffered over just how casual was ok (no denim), and which trends were acceptable. We wanted to make sure we maintained professional credibility amongst our coworkers (no short skirts) and could be ready on a whim for walk in appointments. Ultimately, it was one of my employees, Sharon Campbell, who summed it up best:
"Your appearance should inspire confidence."
So regardless of where you work, consider what others will perceive when they look at you. Err on the side of safety at first, and then check out what others are wearing. And remember the adage, "dress for the job you want." It's ok to show a bit of style, but keep in mind where you chose to work and whether or not it will be a distraction from the business at hand. Remember that a smile goes a long way in contributing to your wardrobe and if ever you find yourself feeling slightly out of place with your choice, put on your best impression of confidence and charm your way through with attitude! Personality can make or break any outfit.
Now, for a more thorough official description of "business casual," here are a few great sites:
Virginia Tech Career Services
Wikipedia - Business Casual
USA Today article
Nemesis - something that a person cannot conquer
Soup is my nemesis. As much as I love it, I can not conquer it. French onion with melted gruyere, poblano cream, chicken tortilla with avocado, and now...Bookbinder seafood with sherry. Why must the etiquette rules of soup eating torment me so? I deem following them to be a complete impossibility...
Lightly scoop away to collect the soup in your spoon. Got that part, no problem. Tip the spoon into your mouth...ok...but no slurping and do not place the whole spoon in your mouth and use your lips to clean it...darn (there is still so much good soup on the spoon?!).
Don't place a spoon you have used back on the table (of course). Place it ideally on the saucer under the bowl (but there is often no saucer) and only leave it in the bowl if you have no saucer. Don't make a mess (how can I avoid it when there's still so much good soup clinging to my spoon?).
Don't clink the spoon in your bowl or scrape goodies from the bottom (that's where all the delicious seafood lands). Don't allow the gooey melted cheese that tops your soup to create a bouncing string of deliciousness that stretches from your mouth to your bowl. And don't end up with a spoonful of avocado chunks and haphazard crispy tortilla strips that you can't gracefully slip into your mouth with a slight tilt of your spoon (yeah right, that's it, I give up).
I once taught a dining etiquette class to a group of adult professionals. I led them through the soup course, and then the salad course, and once the entree was served, I sat down to dine as a co-presenter stepped in to lead the group through an introduction to wine. As I listened, I enjoyed my soup thoroughly, and when I looked up, all eyes were on me, not the speaker, as I had the whole spoon in my mouth and cleaned it completely with my closed lips. Oops. Do as I say, not as I do.
I know there are plenty of fine ladies and gentlemen who do not struggle with these issues, but I do. One way or another I end up dripping, or splashing, or completely abandoning it (yet longing for it) for fear of a dining disaster. Soup, chowder, broths of many flavors, how I love thee, and I have learned that you are best enjoyed when no one is watching.
Oxymoron - a word, phrase, or expression with a seemingly self-contradictory meaning, like "cruel kindness"
Passive aggressive is an oxymoron. Here's the thing: passive aggression is not passive at all. It's a very direct way of communicating your not-so-secret feelings. Passive aggressive behavior is often displayed through body language, eye contact, tone of voice, or rhetorical questions. I find all of the above pretty awful! Why not just come out and say it?
Here is a common example: arriving late to meetings. If you casually stroll in late, or repeatedly find yourself arriving 5 minutes past the scheduled time (even if others are too), then you are sending a very direct message that clearly conveys how you feel about the meeting and the organizer. If a meeting is truly an inconvenience, respectfully decline or consider discussing how the time could be made more efficient, but do not simply let your feelings be known without showing the courage to own up to them.
Sure, mistakes do happen, and if you truly found yourself running late or simply couldn't avoid it, that is a different issue all together. Enter discreetly, politely excuse yourself or apologize if you can without disrupting, then move on like it never happened. Everyone else will forget about it if you show you can too. If you fuss and fret, you are perpetuating the disruption by accentuating it. Own the mistake, then let it go.
Just about everyone is the recipient of passive aggressive at some point or another. Here's a tip on how to handle when it comes straight at you: politely hit it head on. For example, I'll say, "The expression on your face is telling me you are not satisfied. Tell me what's bothering you." Or if someone comes in late to your meeting, you can say, "Good, I'm glad you're here - we missed you at the beginning," but make sure you are genuine and then move past it quickly without placing too much emphasis on the issue. If you find that you are angry and can't pull off a genuinely polite reply, try to refrain from showing your discomfort and just wait until you cool off to decide if you should address the issue at all. In other words, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all...but don't roll your eyes or huff and puff - it's simply not professional and you may lose respect from others in the room.
Last thought: a professionally polite, direct response to passive aggression is a great way to gracefully earn respect. Show you can handle it, won't be walked on, but maintain your composure by keeping your cool!
Remember this: BMW
BMW = Bread, Meal, Water
(In that order, from left to right)
So, that is your bread plate, there on your left. And that is your water glass, there on your right. Beverages are grouped on the same side, so you can feel comfortable knowing that is your coffee cup there on your right...
Somebody on your right is drinking from your tea glass? If a chain reaction has already occurred and nobody seems to notice, then just follow suit and take the drink from the person on your left. I know, I know, terribly confusing and some would absolutely disagree, but I think at times it's easier to go along than cause a ruckus and the last thing you want to do is show up your table guests by making them feel embarassed about their faux pas.
And someone on your left is using your bread plate? I would just place my roll on the side of my dinner plate and make no mention.
And the silver...all these forks and knives. Easy: work from the outside in. Silverware is placed in the order it is meant to be used. Service staff at a fine dining establishment may make things easy for you by bringing utensils as needed just before each course, whereas a typical banquet set up will have all necessary utensils on the table before the meal begins, so you'll need to know what to do. Sorbet and soup spoons are most often served with the item they should accompany.
So you have TWO forks but you've ordered an entree salad. Which fork should you use? Whichever you prefer. The size of the fork is really inconsequential and matters less than the placement, and in this case placement doesn't matter because you only have one course. I go straight for the entree fork if they're sized differently, or I choose the salad fork on the outside if they are the same...but I'm fairly sure no one at your table is concerned about your selection on this matter.
And that fork and spoon up above? They are for dessert. Yes, both of them. You never know which someone may prefer...a spoon for whipped cream, a fork for the cherries, OR fork for pie and spoon for coffee.
Incidentally, once the entree plate has been cleared along with all utensils intended for prior courses, you should go ahead and slide your dessert fork and spoon down to the sides (fork on left, spoon on right).
Enjoy and good luck!
Myth: Leaving your napkin on the chair at the end of a meal means you might sneak back to try to steal it.
Myth: If you crumple your napkin into a ball, you MUST be trying to hide something horrible.
Myth: If you lay your napkin neatly folded on the table at the end of the meal, it is a rude insult to your host, as it implies you think he may try to use it again without laundering it first!
These may be myths, but I wouldn't advise doing any of the above regardless. I'll cut to the chase and tell you this: at the end of the meal, leave your napkin loosely draped on the table, to the left of your dinner plate (not on the plate).
Now, back to the beginning! As soon as you are seated, the very first thing you should do is place your napkin in your lap. Chances are it is a large enough rectangle that you'll leave it folded in half once so it may lay neatly across your lap. The fold should be toward you and you should pick it up from your lap by the folded edge so it does not come open and spill crumbs. In a fine dining restaurant, your server will often place your napkin in your lap for you.
If you are in casual company, you may like to request a black napkin to avoid lint on your skirt or slacks. If you are with formal company, it will be best not to imply you are disatisfied with the option so accept what you are given. A very thoughtful server will automatically change the napkin color for you, if indeed he has the options available.
If your silverware is rolled in your napkin, unroll it immediately upon taking your seat and arrange it in the standard position for dining, then place your napkin in your lap.
Now that the meal has begun, kindly do not place your napkin on the table again during the meal. Your napkin should reappear on the table only at the very end. If you must be excused from the table, leave your napkin on your chair. Your server may move the napkin to the arm of the chair for you.
If you drop your napkin on the floor and have the means to discreetly retrieve it, do so. If it will be a disruption, quietly ask your server for a replacement. Kindly do not crawl under the table.
Dab your mouth carefully during the meal, and avoid multitasking, that is, dabbing your mouth with one hand while holding a fork or glass with another. Definitely do not blow your nose into the linen. Do not spit food into the napkin. Carefully removing pits, bones, or gristle is a matter of hand or fork, and the item belongs on the edge of your plate, not in your napkin.
Now let's be honest...you may have once found a way to avoid an awkward embarassment by slipping something that tasted awful into your napkin and although this is not recommended, it sort of falls into the category of what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Try not to do it again, and trust that a discreet removal of the undesirable item by hand may be best in the future and is certainly permissable.