"The elevation of comfort above all other considerations, the flawed belief that informality equals conviviality, and downright laziness have resulted in a contradictory and illogical dress sense that would stump the most mondaine of time travellers beaming into a modern dinner party as he observed the crazy cocktail of sartorial semiotics about the table.
However, the tide - at least outside the shellsuit-wearing brigade - is turning. This is because of two fundamental human instincts that have been overlooked by the slobs. One is the ancient need of people to decorate themselves, which started long before the first murmuring of civilisation and continues today. The other is our very natural wish to please others, be admired by our peers and attract a mate. Add to this the security that a few unwritten rules can bring, and the enduring need for dressing up becomes clear
The first step is to forget the old British adage that it is ill bred to be overdressed. This guideline has outlived its shelf life, as it was conceived in a period when it was the accepted norm to dress up for any activity more than gardening. At this time overdressing meant being got up in a flashy, overly elaborate or embarrassing way and took no account of the modern invasion of sports-inspired clothes that has enslaved whole swathes of the nation into sweats and trainers
Now it is advisable and good manners to err on the over- rather than the underdressed when invited to a party. This is because by being seen to make an effort you are paying your host or hostess a great compliment, as well as making yourself look your most attractive. After all, the short time required for getting yourself dressed is negligible compared with the hours the hostess may have put in preparing the party."
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, by John Morgan