DEAR MISS MANNERS:
We are taking a cruise that has a “Royal Ascot Ball.” Now a tux that you would wear to the Ascot Day in England is just that during the day. The tux is a day charcoal gray/striped/with an ascot. And hat, the hat being worn only outside.
So finally the question: Does my husband still wear the “day” tux with hat even though it’s at night inside?
GENTLE READER: There is a whole world of gentlemen’s formal clothes out there, should you wish to explore it. “Tux,” short for “tuxedo,” known to the fastidious as “black tie” or “dinner jacket,” is only one version, and is not worn for Ascot Day, which, by definition, is held during the day. Rather, it is the second level of formality, after white tie and tails, for evening.
There are also two levels of formality for daytime, the most formal being morning dress, which is more or less what you describe (oddly, ties, rather than ascots, are worn to the Royal Ascot races), and the less formal sack coat or club coat, which is similar but lacks the tails of the more formal cutaway.
Of course your husband should wear evening clothes in the evening. A gentleman attending the races would naturally change before going to a ball. And probably take a shower.
DEAR MISS MANNERS:
I received an invitation to a brunch baby shower at the swankiest restaurant in the city. The invitation does not indicate that the hostess intends for guests to pay for our portion of the brunch, so I’m inclined to assume the hostess is generously paying for the meal, but you know what they say about assumptions. The price of the brunch ($49), on top of a baby gift, is way out of my budget, so I’m not sure I’m willing to go on a wing and a prayer that I won’t be presented with a bill I’m expected to pay at the end of the shower.
Would it be appropriate to e-mail the hostess to confirm who is footing the bill, and if so, how should such a question be worded? Or should I avoid a faux pas altogether and politely decline the invitation?
GENTLE READER: This problem should not exist, but Miss Manners is well aware that it does. Many a person is left with the impression of being a guest when the person who styles himself as host is actually only suggesting that people meet at a certain time and place to buy themselves meals. It is indeed awkward to ask someone who has not made this clear, but it is even more awkward to be stuck with an unexpected bill.
As the misunderstanding is the organizer’s fault, you should not be embarrassed to ask, “Is this a cooperative party? Are we each paying our own way?”
Depending on the answer, you can then say, “How kind of you to invite me; I’d love to attend” or, “It sounds like great fun, and I’m sorry to have to miss it.”
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