BRIDGE THE DISTANCE

BRIDGE THE DISTANCE

Our world of modern social interaction has recently been challenged with everything we knew before it. Luckily, our Ms. Etiquette Expert, Sharon M. Schweitzer, J.D., is here to the rescue to solve the challenges that are happening at this very moment

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We have been reading so many different opinions. Just what is social distancing, and can I attend an outdoor event with eight people if it’s in the park with a breeze and lots of fresh air? What about after this situation resolves and we move to a new normal?

                                                                                                                                                       Confused in Texas

Dear Texas Curious,

Experts in the infectious disease community have defined these pandemic terms, and we follow their clear guidance. Even after the pandemic, experts predict that the new normal may require some adjusting to because individuals will continue to social distance until a certain comfort level returns. 

 

Social distancing means creating physical distance between individuals that don’t reside together. In society, it involves the closure of primary and secondary education facilities, non-essential businesses, and postponing large scale musical and artistic events. When in any public space, people must stay six feet apart and avoid all physical contact with people  whom they do not live.

 

Avoid the confusion about whether it’s okay to gather outdoors with less than ten people. Currently, everyone should limit close contact, indoors and outdoors, to family members only. Unfortunately, this translates to no birthday soirees, no dinner parties, and no playdates. When invited, graciously decline with:  While we would be delighted to attend, we are playing it safe until the current situation resolves, and we can all celebrate without social distancing. Thanks for your kind invitation, but we must decline.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We received an updated invitation to a password protected video wedding for a well-known philanthropist. We’re just not sure how to respond. It’s still scheduled for August 2020, only not at the original venue. How do we handle this change with social savvy?

                                                                                                                                                         Wondering Wedding Guest

Dear Well-Prepared Guest,

It appears as though the prospective partners have the best interests of their guests at heart. At times, the nuptials must go on. Is there an elderly grandparent, aunt, or uncle who wants to witness the ceremony? Perhaps the best man or matron of honor is undergoing medical treatment or chemotherapy, and end-of-life is near.

 

We never know what others are enduring, do we? Handle the change with grace by confirming your video presence, purchasing a gift from their registry, or contributing to their wedding fund. Best wishes and congratulations!

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,

We’re traveling to England to stay at the estate of friends of friends once all the travel restrictions are lifted. For someone who has everything, what in the world should we bring, or send, as a host gift as a gesture of thanks for their grand hospitality?

                                                                                                                                                             Travelin’ Light

 

Dear Light Traveler,

Social graces require house guests to learn and know the personal preferences of their hosts. As citizen ambassadors, give appropriate and thoughtful items that are made in the U.S. Elegant gifts for the home, especially from your favorite premium boutique, are always in good taste.

 

If your hosts enjoy spirits, bring a U.S. brand that they will recognize and appreciate, from a black, blue, red, or gold label. Avoid giving a gift made in England or the U.K. since they can purchase this themselves.

 

SELF ON THE SHELF

SELF ON THE SHELF

As the weather heats up, and the beach beckons, why not take a stylish tome or two beyond the usual summer read? Our bibliophile Lance Avery Morgan recommends the best books to while away the lazy, sunny days ahead.

the MUSSO & FRANK GRILL

by Michael Callahan

Celebrating its 100th-anniversary milestone, the Hollywood restaurant destination of choice for a full century is chronicled. It boasts its countless luminaries from the world of film, television, music, and literature running the gamut from the iconic frequent guest, Charlie Chaplin to movie shoots such as Quentin Tarantino’s recent film, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. $40. At Musso-Frank-Grill.MyShopify.com.

SUZIE ZUZEK FOR LILLY PULITZER
By Suzie Zuzek

Fashion mavens and design aficionados are drawn to the bright, colorful, and playful patterns that are instantly recognizable as Lilly Pulitzer. But perhaps the name Suzie Zuzek is not as recognizable as it should be. The majority of Pulitzer’s fabric designs from 1962 through 1985 were based on artwork by the Key West-based artist synonymous with Slim Aarons, Jackie O, and the Palm Beach crowd. $50. At RizzoliUSA.com

YVES SAINT LAURENT

By Roxanne Lowit

 

Whether Saint Laurent was surrounded by beautiful models or peeking at the catwalk from the wings, Lowit distinctively captured the famed designer, along with his striking creations with her camera. Here, she creates a vibrant portrait of this towering fashion figure. $34.95. At ThamesAnd HudsonUSA.com

POOLS: LOUNGING, DIVING, FLOATING, DREAMING
By Lou Stoppard

This celebratory ode to the joy and enduring allure of the swimming pool is packed with gorgeous photography and beautiful prose organized by theme, from the glamour of the pool party, the meditative pleasure of being submerged in water, the pool in fashion and film, and the seductive allure of the swimming pool. $65. At RizzoliUSA.com

THE LAND GARDNERS CUT FLOWERS
By Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld

This charming book provides vital information on everything you need to create your own cut-flower garden, from necessary tools and how to support health to what plants flourish in which seasons as well as advice on gathering, preparing, and arranging your blooms. In this gorgeous volume, the authors provide a plan for growing flowers in all four seasons. $60. At ThamesAndHudsonUSA.com

CHAUMET TIARAS
By Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni

Founded in 1780 in Paris, Chaumet became the most prestigious and sought-after jeweller in Europe. He designed tiaras that were social symbols and fashion accessories, popular throughout the centuries. The rarely viewed tiaras illustrated in this book are presented and examined in relation to the history and the role they played in fashion. $125. At ThamesAndHudsonUSA.com

THE CHANEL SKETCHBOOKS
By Jean-Paul Goude and Patrick Mauriès

For the first time, Chanel and Jean-Paul Goude reveal the drawings, collages, and sketches that inspired Goude’s iconic advertising campaigns for Chanel’s world-famous fragrances, from Eégoiëste and Coco to Chanel No. 5. A must-have for Chanel lovers, this also allows creatives and advertising enthusiasts to discover the imagination and creative process at work behind these unforgettable images. $50. At ThamesAndHudson.com.

PHILANTHROPY MISUNDERSTOOD
By Bob Hopkins

While the word philanthropy isn’t new, many think being a philanthropist is only about money. In Bob Hopkins’ new book, he assures us it is not. He and 100 of his friends define, by way of their good deeds, that philanthropy is about the love of humanity. This 256-page coffee-table book is sure to entertain and inform. $45. At PhilanthropyMisunderstood.org.

RALPH ‘LAUREN’S POLO SHIRT
By Ralph Lauren and David Lauren

This 544-page tome recounts the history and evolution of this classic shirt as well as the very lifestyle that it embodies. Gorgeous images, along with fascinating stories by celebrities and non-celebrities alike, illustrate this must-read for the Polo lover. $36.95. At RizzoliUSA.com.

AT HOME IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE: DESIGNERS AND THEIR DOGS
By Susanna Salk and Stacey Bewkes

Canine devotion and high style go hand-in-hand, don’t they? There is always a place at home for our four-legged friends in every room. This book shows how top English designers live a stylish and comfortable life with their dogs. So, travel across the pond to see how pooches can be spoiled anywhere. $50. At RizzoliUSA.com.

TAKING TIME
By Donatien Grau

Designer Azzedine Alaïa was famous for always welcoming his friends in his home and atelier on Rue de Moussy. He would invite them all to engage in fascinating discussions about the accelerated pace of time, its significance to each person and how to fight the destructive acceleration of our lives. $35. At RizzoliUSA.com.

MAKING LIVING LOVELY
By Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe

Focusing on how we best can use our spaces, this covers finding your style, cohabiting and design compromises, exploring your creativity, and rediscovering the fun in your interiors. Interior design is about much more than restyling rooms–it has the power to change your life. $34.95. At ThamesAndHudsonUSA

DIGITALLY CULTURAL

DIGITALLY CULTURAL

The best plays, musical performances, and exhibits in Texas are enjoyed by record number crowds, according to our cultural adventurer Leanne Raesener who shares our favorite recommendations from across the state.

AUSTIN

DEEP IN THE VAULTS OF TEXAS

Sixty From The 60s, an exhibit originally on view in 2015 at the LBJ Library, is now available online. It features iconic photographs, historical objects, and more related to sixty Americans who made an impact on this seminal, swinging era. At LBJLibrary.org.

ON IMAGECourtesy of The LBJ Presidential Library

GLOBAL SUCCESS REWARDED

The Harry Ransom Center, drawing primarily from its own collection of over 300 items, including numerous documents, photos, and videos never before seen in public, presents Gabriel García Márquez, The Making of a Global Writer. Márquez is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Through August 30. At HRC.UTexas.edu.

ON IMAGECourtesy of The Harry Ransom CenterTexas.

EXPLORE THE BLANTON. ANYTIME. ANYWHERE.

The Blanton Museum of Art has its assortment of digital resources available so that you can #MuseumFromHome. Explore their permanent collection, peek behind the scenes with Blanton staff, watch artist interviews, learn about Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, and more. At BlantonMuseum.org.

ON IMAGEEllsworth Kelly’s Austin. Courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin.

DALLAS / FORT WORTH

STAY IN. STAY DMA.

One of Alfredo Ramos Martínez’s masterpieces, Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art, is on display for the first time at The Dallas Museum of Art. The loan of this monumental painting inspired the exhibition. Online and on view through September 20. At DMA.org.

ON IMAGE: Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Flores Mexicanas, 1914-1929. © The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project, reproduced by permission. Courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art

ALWAYS DIFFERENT, AVAILABLE & FREE

The Dallas Contemporary has announced #dcfromhome—a digital hub to inspire creativity for all ages. Explore their website for family-friendly, and adult content programming such as curator guided deep dives into exhibitions, virtual studio visits, and more. Don’t miss their weekly Spotify playlist, Hang Tight. At DallasContemporary.org.

 ON IMAGE: Paola Pivi, Ma’am, 2016. Courtesy of Dallas Contemporary

MEET YOU AT THE FAIR

The Dallas Art Fair will present Dallas Art Fair Online, a new platform allowing collectors to preview, and purchase works digitally from participating galleries. The Fair has been rescheduled to October 2020. At DallasArtFair.com.

ON IMAGE: Isabelle du Toit, Casual Chat, 2020. Courtesy of Cris Worley Gallery, Dallas Art Fair

HOUSTON

ASIA SOCIETY: AROUND THE WORLD

The Asia Society will now be brought directly to you through its digital channels with content for all ages. Join the journey on social media via #AsiaSocietyAtHome and be a part of the adventure. Available online at AsiaSociety.org.

ON IMAGE: Courtesy of Asia Society

MFAH IN YOUR LIVING ROOM

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston has launched a new virtual museum experience, #MFAHatHOME, to share its treasures with audiences around the world. Online at MFAH.org.

 ON IMAGE: Painting by Richard Stout. Courtesy of MFAH

MUSIC TO OUR EARS

The Houston Symphony understands there is no substitute for a live orchestral performance. However, they will still bring you their transporting sounds on Spotify. Also, their broadcast programs are available both online and at Houston Public Media each Sunday. At HoustonSymphony.org.

ON IMAGE: Courtesy of The Houston Symphony

SAN ANTONIO

DREAMING OF SELENA

The McNay Art Museum pays tribute to the beloved 90s icon, singer, designer, and Texas legend—Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in its exhibition Selena Forever/Siempre Selena with five photographs by award-winning San Antonio photographer John Dyer. Online and on view through July 23, 2020. At McNayArt.org.

ON IMAGE: Selena, 1992. By John Dyer. Collection of the artist, courtesy of McNay Art Museum

SAMA CURATES TO YOU

SAMA remains committed to enriching lives through exceptional experiences with art. Discover through a digital landscape its permanent collection of art from around the world. Check out its exhibition Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art. Follow samuseum on Spotify to listen to the museum’s #SAMAJams series. Don’t miss kids’ story time with educators every Thursday or explore online learning and art-making activities for the kids. Available online at SAMuseum.org.

ON IMAGE: The Game, 2015. Photo by Terrell James. Courtesy of the San Antonio Museum of Art. Photography by Peggy Tenis

WITTE YOU WERE HERE, WITTE WHERE YOU ARE

Witte Where You Are provides engaging, interactive experiences that you can do at home. Investigate how the past connects to today and digitally explore Witte artifacts, take virtual gallery tours, and more. At WitteMuseum.org.

 ON IMAGE: Courtesy of the Witte Museum

 

NOW TRY THIS

NOW TRY THIS

With springtime, our appetites for something new are renewed, aren’t yours? Join our editors Lesa Rossick in Austin, Cynthia Smoot in Dallas, Jennifer Roosth in Houston, and Eleanora Morrison in San Antonio as they share their stellar statewide recommendations that are must-dines as the weather turns sunnier.

AUSTIN

IT’S A TEN

The new, modern Japanese restaurant, TenTen, recently opened downtown with fixtures made of stone and black walnut and art by Ysabel Lemay. The menu includes delicious, elevated dishes such as Hamachi Carpaccio with freshly, shaved truffle and Japanese centric cocktails in the hub of downtown. At TenTenAustin.com.

Photo by Letitia Smith

STRUT YOUR STYLE

The new Proper hotel has arrived in the hub of downtown, including Goldie’s cocktail lounge and the Peacock restaurant. In a vibrant interior and cozy patio atmosphere, bright and fresh Mediterranean dishes are served, such as Red Snapper Crudo to tempt your taste buds. At ProperHotel.com.

POWER DUO

The power team behind Emmer & Rye has opened a new restaurant and adjacent bar, with a cool European vibe like this city, has never seen before. Hestia focuses on live-fire meals while the bar, Kalimotxo, gives an experience with Spanish wine and cocktails. Both combine for a fun evening that you won’t soon forget. At KalixmotoATX.com.

Photo by Julia Keim

DALLAS / FORT WORTH

AVO GOOD DAY

Avo Eatery is the new source for culinary innovation and avocados from Mexico reign supreme.. The menu offers tantalizing American dishes with a fresh avocado twist. The decor features light wood accents and lush greenery meant toresemble an avocado grove. At AvoEatery.com.

THE COMEBACK KID

This iconic Uptown Tex-Mex restaurant shuttered in 2013 but has recently reopened in a modernized new space with a spacious outdoor patio. While the menu features mouth-watering dishes, fans of the original restaurant will be happy to find Primo’s legendary margaritas still on the menu alongside contemporary cocktails. As an added bonus, the restaurant will offer late-night eats on weekends. At PrimosUptown.com.

COCK-A-DOODLE-WHO?

Opening mid-March, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar will be a house of worship to farm-fresh ingredients, a hailed bourbon selection, and top-notch hospitality while serving up a fresh, inventive take on classic, regional Southern fare. The fan-favorite brunch with all the fixings will be dished up on the weekends. The décor draws inspiration from contemporary industrial details and the communal aspects of southern dining with lush indoor and outdoor seating. At RunChickenRun.com.

HOUSTON

INDIAN PASSAGE

No passport required for the culinary journey that you will experience at Musaafer. Located in Uptown’s business district, it specializes in authentic Indian cuisine with a contemporary flair, and the menu features classic Indian dishes served in an avant-garde presentation referencing opulent palaces and Spice markets of ancient India. At MusaaferHouston.com.

 

EXOTIC ALLURE

Loosely translated as “to Eat Well” Kin Dee is opening in the Market at the Heights and features a vibrant 2,500-square foot interior that skews contemporary with
custom furnishings. Inspired by a lifetime of culinary and culturally immersed travel throughout Thailand, Srasrisuwan, and Leotkhamfu guests will be taken on a culinary journey with authentic dishes showcasing regional and Royal Thai Family recipes. At KinDeeThaiCuisine.com.

WINE + CULINARY

The new Mutiny Wine Room boasts a boutique wine program, centered on the proprietors’ wine-country relationships, that comes to life in a Napa Valley-inspired space built from the ground up in Houston’s historic Heights neighborhood. Plus, the culinary program is based on freshness and seasonality in the wine-country culinary style. At MutinyWineRoom.com.

SAN ANTONIO

BE YOUR OWN MAVERICK

Situated in the historic Lockwood National Bank building downtown, Maverick Whiskey’s second-floor restaurant and bar offers unique cuisine and cocktails crafted with extraordinary taste. With lunch and dinner menus updated seasonally, Maverick Whiskey offers fresh recipes inspired by the season with choices from an assortment of entrees, such as colorfully tossed salads and savory southern-inspired plates. At MaverickWhiskey.com.

IN WITH THE OUTLAWS

A cozy kitchen in the heart of historic Alta Vista, Outlaw Kitchens is an enchantingly inviting neighborhood café where they offer a nightly dinner of the chef’s choosing. Elevated farm-to-table cuisine with a rotating pre-fixed menu and an intimate atmosphere that feels like a dinner party makes for a memorable experience with every visit. Add wine and beer and friendly cheer to the perfect recipe that is this quaint, unique eatery, and it’s no surprise that it has quickly become a local favorite. At OutlawKitchens.com.

SOUTHERN CHARMED

An intriguing, southern-inspired destination for relaxing suppers, slow weekend brunching or a meeting hub for business lunches and happy hour, Ida Claire has opened a San Antonio location across from the Quarry that is drawing foodies from all around town. Our favorite feature? Outdoor seating in a whimsically decorated air stream that’s picture-perfect for Instagram enthusiasts. At Ida-Claire.com.

CULTURAL ADVANTAGES

CULTURAL ADVANTAGES

The best plays, musical performances, and exhibits in Texas are enjoyed by record number crowds, according to our cultural adventurer Leanne Raesener who shares our favorite recommendations from across the state.

AUSTIN

HERE’S TO THE CROONERS

While Harry Connick, Jr. is the definition of a multi-talented star, the foundation of his art has always been his music. Enjoy an evening with this bayou renaissance man and his band for an intimate performance of songs from his impressive new record, True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter, as well as classics from his remarkable career. March 10. At TheLongCenter.org.

Courtesy of the Harry Connick, official website and The Long Center

LOOKING FASHIONABLY FORWARD…

The Fashion Forward exhibit at the Bullock State History Museum explores the evolution of style and how we think about clothes, all through a Texas lens. Discover the historical and cultural context of garments from some of the fashion world’s biggest names. Create your own looks at a fabric draping station and strike a pose on the runway. Through April 12. At TheStoryOfTexas.com.

Evening Dress, Valentino Garavani. Photo courtesy of the Bullock Museum in collaboration with the Texas Fashion Collection, College of Visual Arts & Design, University of North Texas.

SOMETHING TO WISH FOR

Discover a whole new world at Disney’s Alladin; the hit Broadway musical. This timeless story is a thrilling new production that is filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. March 11-22. At TexasPerformingArts.org.

Photo by Deen van Meer.

DALLAS / FORT WORTH

EXTRAVAGANTLY SEDUCTIVE

The special exhibition, Flesh and Blood, will feature nearly 40 masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. These incredible paintings are a journey through the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods. Such extraordinarily beautiful scenes can be moving or imposing, violent, extravagant, or even seductive. On view March 1―June 14. At KimbellArt.org.

Guido Reni, Atalanta and Hippomenes, c.1620―25, oil on canvas. Photo courtesy of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. “

MASTERFUL CLICKS

Looking In: Photography from the Outside takes an in-depth look by six influential twentieth-century artists: Richard Avedon, Morris Engel, Laura Gilpins, Dorothea Lange, Danny Lyon, and Paul Strand, who navigated their role as “outsider” differently, raising complicated questions about perception, representation, and power. Through May 10. At CarterMuseum.org.

Freida Kleinsasser, Thirteen Year Old, Hutterite Colony, Harlowton, Montana, 1983, Gelatin silver print, Richard Avedon (1923–2004). Photo courtesy of Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

REVOLUTIONARY SCULPTOR

The Meadows Museum and The National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) present Alonso Berruguete: First Sculptor of Renaissance Spain (c. 1488–1561), the first major U.S. exhibition dedicated to the Spanish sculptor who emerged as 16th century Spain’s most innovative artist, revolutionizing Spanish art. March 29―July 29. At MeadowsMuseumDallas.org.

Alonso Berruguete (Spanish, c. 1488–1561), The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1526–1533. Painted wood with gilding. Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid. Image © Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid (Spain); photo by Javier Muñoz and Paz Pastor.

HOUSTON

LET FREEDOM RING

Perfect as a reminder for these political times, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents Norman Rockwell: American Freedom, an exhibition devoted to Rockwell’s iconic depictions of FDR’s Four Freedoms—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. Houston is the fifth venue for the acclaimed exhibition’s seven-city tour organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum. Through March 22. At MFAH.org.

Photo courtesy of Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Freedom of Speech,” 1943. Illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” February 20, 1943. Photo courtesy of the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum © 1943 SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved.

SHE ALWAYS GETS WHAT SHE WANTS

R. Strauss’s compelling psychodrama Salome returns to the Houston Grand Opera for the first time in 20 years in a production directed by Francisco Negrin. The revolutionary score reinvents Oscar Wilde’s biblical drama of a deeply disturbed princess who has fallen in love with Jokanaan (John the Baptist). April 18―May 1. At HoustonGrandOpera.org.

 

Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

COME FROM AWAY AND STAY AWHILE

Broadway’s Come From Away is a Best Musical winner across North America. This New York Times Critics’ pick takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of 9/11’s 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. March 3–8. At TheHobbyCenter.org.

Courtesy of Michael Murphy

SAN ANTONIO

RUNWAY READY

The McNay Art Museum’s new exhibit, Fashion Nirvana: Runway to Everyday features iconic and innovative garments plus video art from the 1990s—a decade that’s known for revolutionizing the fashion and art worlds. It features designers including Oscar de la Renta, Gianni Versace, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, and more. Through May 17. At McNayArt.org.

Victor Costa, Wedding Dress, 1992. Silk satin, net, rhinestones. Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas, Gift of the Estate of Doris I. Dixon, 1996.016.002.

THE MAGIC OF CLAY AND FIRE

This ongoing focus installation, The Magic of Clay and Fire: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics, is now in its second rotation, featuring sixteen new works that showcase unique shapes, techniques, and glazes. Through April 22, 2020. At SAMuseum.org.

Miyashita Zenji, Japanese, 1939-2012, Ki no jôshô (Rising Air), 2004, Stoneware and colored clays bands with clear overglaze; h. 19 ¼ in. (48.9 cm); w. 12 ¼ in. (31.1 cm); d. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm), Collection of Susan L. and C.J. Peters, Photography by Richard Goodbody.

A HEAVENLY GIFT

Shen Yun invites you to travel back to the magical world of ancient China. Experience a lost culture through the incredible art of classical Chinese dance, and see legends come to life. Shen Yun makes this possible by pushing the boundaries of the performing arts, with a unique blend of stunning costuming, high-tech backdrops, and an orchestra like no other. Be prepared for a theatrical experience that will take your breath away! March 27-29, 2020. At TobinCenter.org.

Courtesy of Shen Yun.

WHY GOOD TASTE MATTERS

WHY GOOD TASTE MATTERS

As we begin the spring social season, it is the perfect chance to master more social opportunities. Our Ms. Etiquette Expert, Sharon M. Schweitzer, J.D., is always on the scene to lend stellar insight into any modern conundrums that may arise.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
What’s the best way to pay a genuine compliment to a colleague without it seeming like I am too friendly, or worse, a participant in sexual harassment?
Gent at The Office
Dear Gentlemanly Behavior,

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
What’s the best way to pay a genuine compliment to a colleague without it seeming like I am too friendly, or worse, a participant in sexual harassment?

Gent at The Office                                   Dear Gentlemanly Behavior,

An unintended consequence of the #MeToo movement is that many men are unsure of how to interact with women in the workplace. The headlines highlight all the wrong behaviors without mentioning any positive actions. In a perfect world, men will compliment women for their work accomplishments, as opposed to their appearance. Until we reach that pinnacle, the workforce is left in a conundrum with questions about whether it’s appropriate to compliment a new hair design or jacket. So, consider this approach: “Great plaid coat.” or “Slayed that new haircut.” It’s best to avoid commentary about someone’s body, wardrobe suggestions, or your emotions and feelings about their looks.

 

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
Since its spring gala season, can you please settle a bet? I say that if we are guests at a host’s table at a non-profit event, we are obligated to buy a silent or live auction item to support our host’s cause. My wife says no. What say ye?

Gala Going                                                          Dear Gala Goer,
One theory supports your wife’s position that hosts invite guests to charitable events with the hope that they will develop an interest in the charity that blossoms into building a donor relationship–without an expectation, that guests will buy an auction item or write a check that evening. When a host invites someone, there isn’t a fee for accepting. The host’s gala table covers all guest costs unless a prior agreement is made to purchase the table seat. The charity may request a contribution with an auction or compelling verbal appeal. However, a substantial portion of their revenue is earned through table sponsorships. As a guest, if you’re feeling generous, contributing will please your host. Consider the alternative: if an auction item purchase is always expected, then potential guests may be tempted to decline fundraising invitations, or worse yet RSVP yes and then decide to stay home the night of the event.

The alternative position is that accepting an invitation obligates the guest to donate at the charity event. Some argue that the donation was already made, and the guest is offered the tickets as a “gift” because a percentage of the ticket price covers the event costs. Therefore, the host has the right to expect the guest’s support with a donation for the ticket value (or an amount they can afford.) These hosts believe that the guest’s contribution demonstrates the guest’s thanks and good faith and allows the guest to secure a reciprocal opportunity to call in the favor later for their own cause. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Dear Ms. Etiquette Expert,
My dear friend, who is on a tight budget, yet loves to support the community, often asks to borrow and switch gowns. Not only do I not want to, since we’re close, yet different sizes, but also want to retain my individual style. How do I politely refuse?

Gowned & Ready                               Dear Gowned For Glory,
Setting healthy boundaries with friends and family is a life-long endeavor. New requests seem to arrive daily to borrow clothing, attend expensive soirées, or host events. Remember that people-pleasing is also known as “the disease to please.” Saying yes when it’s healthier to say no can cause resentment that undermines a friendship. Avoid doing this disservice by saying no since gowns are investments to you. By declining, one can protect the gown’s investment. A stained gown can ruin a friendship. Consider responding to her request with “thanks for the offer to exchange gowns, what a compliment. However, I don’t lend my clothing to anyone.” Offer an alternative such as shopping online or going gown shopping together. Avoid implying a lack of trust–instead remind her that you’re typically a generous lender of sporting equipment (“Yes, absolutely you can borrow my golf clubs”), but gowns and clothes are off-limits.