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Newport Manners + Etiquette: Summer Wedding Dress Codes

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Where does one draw the line between casual and "Newport Casual"? And how do you coax a teenager into formal wear?

Big changes in wedding étiquette with many more same-sex marriages and the RSVP plus one. How to drop an untimely call? The dress code "Newport Casual" for a Newport Mansions party? How do we get our 15-year-old to dress for his sister's wedding? Questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners spot trends this week.

Forever changing phone etiquette

Dear Didi,

When someone calls and you take it, but you're not in a convivial place to talk, how do you get off gracefully? Sometimes the caller just won't let go, but I answered the call because I didn't want the caller to think I was ignoring him. Alexis, Newport

Dear Alexis,

The rules of phone etiquette are ever-changing. It used to be that the person making the call was the one who ended the call. Now, nobody knows the rules. It's O.K. to say, "I'm at the head of the checkout line at CVS, I've gotta go now." Just be real. Say you cannot talk and you will get back to him soon. ~Didi

"Newport Casual" dress code

Dear Didi,

What is "Newport Casual" attire? We have been invited to an August outdoor party at one of the Newport Mansions. 4-7PM. Attire is Newport Casual. J.P., Manhattan

Dear J.P.,

Four to seven is 'cocktail attire' at the mansions. Summer cocktail dress code in Newport during the summer means a Jacket & Tie for the men and and for women either a knee-length summer cocktail dress or a linen or silk tunic or jacket with a skirt or slacks. Ties are not required before six, so it is up to the man to decide whether to wear one. Usually the older the man, the more important wearing a tie is.

To get the picture of "the look" for women, go to mariapucci.com. Ladies hats with a summer cocktail dress are always a big hit. To see a few, go to lilohats.com.

The man's jacket can be a light-weight navy blue blazer (brass buttons are out unless you already have them, bone are in) or a colored linen jacket with trousers; either a dress khaki, off-white or colored trouser with a collared shirt. Socks are not required, but he wouldn't wear sandals. ~Didi

Big changes in wedding etiquette + the plus one

Dear Didi,

My husband can't attend my cousin's August wedding with me. Is it okay to substitute my daughter in the reply card to the invitation? Do I need to indicate this on the RSVP? A.M, Wickford

Dear A.M.,

Carefully read the invitation. When the dress code is Black Tie or Formal Attire, the reception includes a seated dinner, and it is not a same-sex marriage, the seating could be girl-boy-girl-boy. You wouldn't want your daughter–and the two women she would be seated between–to be put in what could conceivably be an awkward situation when everyone else gets up to dance. Think about who your daughter will dance with?

If you want your daughter to attend and you are unsure of whether she would be welcome, then call your cousin, the mother-of-the-bride, and ask her directly. That way your daughter will be seated with people her age. Don't just assume that you're allowed to invite anyone you choose as your escort in place of your husband.

On the other hand, if your daughter knows the bride, your cousin may invite your daughter to attend. So, it is worth a phone call. If they are short on single women guests, they may welcome your daughter with open arms. ~Didi

Teaching a 15-year-old to dress his age

Dear Didi,

Our oldest daughter is getting married on a Friday evening in August. Our middle daughter is the maid-of-honor. Our youngest child, our 15-year-old son, is not in the wedding and does not care to have a part at all. The fathers are wearing tuxes as well as the groomsmen. The bridesmaids are all in peach knee-length dresses, each one wearing a slightly different style and different shade of peach. Kind of a rustic/country type look.

What should our son wear? He'd really like to wear cargo shorts with a nice shirt. He's an athlete and really does not enjoy dressing up. Any suggestions? P.H., Duxbury, MA

Dear P.H.,

Traditionally, when a boy turns to the double-digit age of ten, he wears trousers. At the very least your son should wear khaki chinos or off-white trousers to his sister's wedding along with a blazer or light-weight jacket. By fifteen, he should be able to dress in trousers, a collared shirt, jacket, tie, and slip-on leather shoes–out of respect for his sister on her wedding day.

Your son can wear cargo pants all the time every day, but for his sister's wedding he should dress like a fifteen-year-old, otherwise guests will think he is immature. Tell your son that many famous athletes wear tuxedos, trousers, blazers and ties when they attend grown-up parties. Remind him that this is not a children's party. A wedding is a seriously grown-up event and he should dress like a fifteen-year-old and not a nine-year-old. By the way, if the dress code for the men in the bridal party and the fathers is tuxedos, this is not a 'rustic/country' wedding.

Take this opportunity to teach your son about how a young man dresses for very special occasions, even if the groom or your husband has to take him shopping. ~Didi


We like hearing from you at NewportManners.com and if we use your question, we can withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book, "Newport Etiquette." Or ask it on Didi Lorillard's Facebook page or Twitter. Prior weekly GoLocal columns are listed below and can also be accessed through search.


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