Here She Comes, Miss America

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Dear Miss Manners:

We are taking a vacation to England this fall, and I have a tiara I wore with my prom dress. What places can I wear it out in England? I know they use them a lot there.

No, not a lot. Not nearly as often as Miss America wears hers, for example.

Elderly British duchesses have been known to get fed up waiting for an opportunity to wear theirs, despairing that when their saucy daughters-in-law inherit them, they will pluck out the gemstones to use for heaven knows what. Probably bellybutton decorations.

This is because tiaras are worn only for full-dress occasions, which nowadays pretty much means only grand state banquets or ceremonies, and the occasional full-scale royal wedding. Perhaps Miss Manners had better explain that full dress means something more than prom wear and the full-scale wedding means something more than a royal second wedding you may have seen on television. In any case, the days of private balls and grand opera nights where tiaras were worn seem to have faded away. Furthermore, tiaras are not supposed to be worn by unmarried ladies, with the exception of those who are being married within an hour of placing them carefully in their hair.

Miss Manners hopes she hasn't spoiled your vacation. You may find there a daring young lady or two who doesn't care about the rules governing tiaras as a sign of rank and wealth and plops something sparkly in her hair to go out dancing. It is just that you are no more or less likely to do so than in the United States.

Besides, tiaras are a nightmare to pack.

Dear Miss Manners:

What is the proper response to people who ask when my boyfriend and I will become engaged?

"We haven't set the date."


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