IT IS SOME years since the extraordinary notion got abroad that summer clothing should be less restrictive than winter clothing, because the weather tends to be warmer in summer. Before that, people looked crisp and correct in the heat, although of course they were dropping like flies.

Now look at them. Good taste in light clothing now means not wearing a T-shirt on which a licentious invitation to the general public is spelled out across the chest.

Miss Manners misses white gloves.

There is little use in pretending that white gloves are still alive. Even those who loved them best have only to open their glove boxes and look at all those gloves one used to have to have, lying there in limp but dignified silence, to know that they will never again lead the merry, busy, flirtatious life of old.

For those who missed this era, it may be necessary to explain that white gloves were a hand-covering. There were white gloves of various lengths for various occasions, but the ones for summer were what was called wrist length, and they were properly worn every time one stepped out one's house, except possibly to go to the beach.

Then there was the matter of when the gloves were to be worn, when they were to be carried, and when it was appropriate to do one each. This fascinating and complicated problem kept a great many people worried and anxious who might otherwise have applied these emotions to such problems as "Am I really happy?" or "Is this the true me?

People who had a literary turn had an advantage in this matter because "Little Women" contains the formula for dividing one clean pair or gloves and one dirty pair between two women so that each is wearing a spotless glove and carrying in that hand something that cannot be examined.

Properly gloved, there was no situation that a lady could not carry off. Miss Manners saw this demonstrated some years ago at a fashionable bull-fight in Madrid, when a triumphant matador tossed his trophy, a freshly severed ear, to Grace of Monaco. That lady, who is not called Serene Highness for nothing, was wearing her Minnie Mouse gloves, and thus was able to receive a hairy, bloody ear of bull as a lady should.

Now, isn't that better than being comfortable?

MISS MANNERS RESPONDS

Q: I know that peas should not be eaten with a knife, but how do you eat them? I have trouble getting them on my fork. Should I mash them first?

A: Peas are unique in that they are the only vegetable with a herd instinct. Thus it is easily possible to catch them when armed only with a fork, if they are crowded together and feeling safe; but impossible by conventional means to catch one or two that have strayed from the herd and are therefore on their guard. Don't even try. You will only work yourself into a rage and end up with one or two peas dancing around the rim of your plate, laughing at you.

Q: I would like to strip in front of my boyfriend in class but don't know when. Should it be right before lunch or during Sustained Silent Reading? Which should I take off first, pants or shirt?

A: Miss Manners is not amused.

Q: I am looking forward to my divorce and to my marriage to a man who has given me hope, happiness and joy through the knowledge of Jesus. Now, how should I approach my write-up of me second marriage on my invitation which will be a home wedding. I want the women in dresses (no slacks), reception following (no R.S.V.P.) first come first served.

A: Even Jesus could not get everyone to behave, and Miss Manners suggests you not try. You concentrate on writing you invitation properly, and let them worry about responding and getting themselves dressed.