Miss Manners: What bridesmaids wear under dresses is private

August 28

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter is to be a bridesmaid for a bride who is buying everyone shapewear, which they are expected to wear, and her mother is buying everyone “a good bra.”

This seems to me to be a bit excessive, but as a woman in her seventh decade of life, perhaps I am just behind the times. How might one best handle this expectation?

GENTLE READER: If only Miss Manners could assume that members of the wedding party weren’t going to be checked, airport security-style, to see if they were wearing the issued undergarments, you would be right up with the times. Airports are now banishing these invasive X-rays. Unfortunately, bridal dictators do not inspire such confidence.

Still, if your daughter does not want to wear the underwear, she needn’t. If asked why not, she can simply say she tried it, it was uncomfortable, and she is happy to offer it back — only slightly used.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there an acceptable way for a gentleman to introduce himself to a lady whose acquaintance he wishes to make, in a public place like a museum, store, bar or restaurant?

GENTLE READER: You mean other than by social media, hook-up apps and offensive one-liners?

Miss Manners commends you on your desire to forgo these regrettable practices and indeed prove yourself to be a gentleman.

As you seem to frequent interesting places, you could endeavor to strike up a conversation that relates to them — an opinion or a recommendation — and see where it leads. Just please be aware of social cues indicating absence of interest or of a mate. It occurs to Miss Manners that unwanted attention and lack of social graces are likely what have made the other methods so prevalent.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Two days ago, my brother-in-law’s sister, whom I have spent only a small amount of time with, gave birth to twins, one of whom died in childbirth. I cannot imagine the grief felt by her and her family.

Normally, I would send a sympathy card for a death and a congratulatory card for the birth, but to do so in this case does not feel right. Sending one and not the other ignores one of the events, yet doing nothing also seems wrong.

What should I do? I am wondering if a sympathy card now and a congratulatory card later would be okay?

GENTLE READER: The parents are only too aware of their situation and the deeply conflicting emotions it brings. While Miss Manners sympathizes with your dilemma, she assures you that separating the letters will not make them more likely to forget either occurrence.

A sympathetic acknowledgment of the two events should be stated as simply as possible. “I am so excited about the arrival of the new baby, although terribly sorry for your loss. I look forward to meeting the little one as soon as you are ready for visitors.”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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