Q. My husband's employer and his wife have a rude habit of giving people the "look-over" when greeting them. It isn't a subconscious thing -- it's quite obvious and intimidating.
I resent the arrogance of the so-called upper class. Human beings are more important than the clothing they wear. Am I supposed to feel less valuable because I choose to dress a certain way or because I have less money?
I don't measure success in financial terms. I measure it in altruistic terms. I refuse to succumb to such shallow tactics. Missrr Manners knows of no upper class whose function it is to add up the price of the dry goods people hang on themselves.
Nor does she understand why an employer would judge his own employes on their financial status. If your boss looks down upon you for not having enough money -- well, he has a simple solution at hand, doesn't he? Let him fix up your income to a level he respects, and you'll both be happy.
But are you quite sure that the question is not whether you are appropriately dressed, as opposed to richly dressed? Dressing properly, which is to say with the degree of formality the occasion requires, is a symbolic sign of respect, unrelated to the actual value of the clothing. Refusing to do so, no matter how philosophical the explanation, is a sign of defiance.
Miss Manners is always suspicious of people who carry on about human beings being more important than clothing. What a silly comparison that is -- like saying that it is more important to be honest than to have clean fingernails. Why should moral virtue cancel the necessity for observing the superficial niceties? She assures you that it is perfectly possible to be an altruistic person and wear a suit at the same time.