Category Archives: Attire

Off with your kit

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Is this going to be the theme of my next dinner party… How to follow the etiquette of nude dining?

For the Huffington Post 18 Mar 2014

by by Ruth Wertzberger Carlson

Once upon a time, etiquette was important: One needed to know which fork to use, which glass to sip from. Those days, my friends, are over. Now, questions of etiquette mainly revolve around how many Instagrams each guest is allowed to take during dinner.

But there remains one corner of the world where table etiquette remains a vexing and important issue: at nude resorts. And it’s a problem for a growing number of people.

“We’re seeing a rise in ‘nakations,’ especially among people in their thirties,'” says Sue Nerud, spokesperson for the American Association for Nude Recreation. Exact statistics are hard to come by, however, since many nudists prefer to remain anonymous. (In fact, several nudists in this article spoke only on the condition their names not be used.) And while Nerud said recent studies show that nakations are great stress relievers, there remain those pesky etiquette issues — which we are about to solve for you!

1. Towel On: “Naked butts at the table are a big no-no,” says travel writer and photographer David Lansing, who likes to take off his press hat (and everything else) at nudist resorts around the world. For reasons of basic health and safety, everyone brings a towel to sit on. More proof that, as fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know all too well, a towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker” — or hungry nudist — “can have.”

2. Just Because We’re All Naked Doesn’t Mean We’re All Friends: “You should wait to be invited to a table,” says Lansing. “This isn’t like going on a cruise; even though there may be eight or 10 people at a large table, they usually all know each other, and there will be a very uncomfortable pause in the conversation if you just sit down at a table uninvited. That said, nudists are some of the friendliest people I’ve met and invariably you’ll be asked to join one group or another for lunch or dinner. But do wait to be asked.”

3. Listen to Your Mother — Use a Napkin! “As a matter of etiquette,” says advice columnist April Masini, “covering your private parts with a napkin while at a nudist event is good manners the same way not chewing with your mouth open is. We all know it’s there; we all know what’s happening; we don’t need to see everything at dinner. Just because you take your clothes off doesn’t mean you should strip yourself of manners.”

4. Some Don’t Like It Hot: “Most nudists resorts will hold traditional barbecues, and first-timers need to be careful around the ‘weenie roast,'” says Tom Mulhall, who owns the Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs, California, and blogs about nudism on The Huffington Post. Nor is the grill the only danger — the dinner table, too, can be hazardous. “Don’t allow your waiter to serve you a bowl of hot soup. He can spill into your lap,” notes photography instructor Eugene Louie, who visits clothing-optional resorts for self-reflection.

4. Listen to Your Mother, Part 2: “Sit up straight,” says Masini. “Good posture at the dinner table is always a way to show good breeding and good manners, but when you’re nude, slouching and elbows akimbo are not only more noticeable — they create a silhouette that is less attractive than if you have clothes on. Sit up straight!”

5. No One Will Pardon Your Reach: “Don’t reach — even if you think it’s not a reach,” says Masini. “Nude or naturist dining requires a greater margin of coordination and control. Without a bra, and with a well-endowed chest, reaching — even a little — may result in your breasts in the marinara sauce.”

6. There Is Such a Thing as Too Casual. “Casual dining doesn’t mean you can put your ankle across your knee, or your feet up on the coffee table — even if it’s an outdoor barbecue with paper plates,” says Masini. “Reconsider the view others will have while eating.” Of course, if you keep a napkin in your lap, this won’t be an issue.

7. Eyes Up Here, Buddy! “I’d say the most important table etiquette for nudists is no staring,” says Lansing. “It’s not unusual for nudists to just wrap a gauzy sarong around them as they go straight from the pool (or beach) to the table, so you want to try really hard to maintain eye contact.” Instead of discussing people’s bodies, it’s safer to talk about the food.

8. Food Porn, OK. Real Porn, No Way! Go ahead and Instagram your dinner if the resort allows it, says Nerud, but don’t shoot other guests unless they sign a photo release form.

9. Chill Out: If you’re nervous about dining in the buff, don’t be. The resort owners I spoke to all said concerns about being naked usually go away after 15 minutes. Nude dining seems naturally relaxing: You don’t have to think about what to wear (or dry-cleaning bills), and you never have to loosen your belt if you overeat. Although, actually, I can’t think of a better motivation to lose weight than the fact that everyone can see your gut (and everything else).

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Cropped

Crop top

 

There really is nothing good about a cropped top. I don’t know how Olivia Newton-John did it, but she made it look fun in her music video Physical. Or Madonna in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. But that was in the early 90’s.

Today, too many young ladies are baring their midriff.

So when is it appropriate to wear them?

First of all, let’s define the crop top as a t-shirt that, in essence, looks like it has been cut to reveal your torso from as high as your belly button. They seem to have no other purpose than to attract the passerby’s eyes to the girls waist. Obviously, this is to publicise what she deems a physical highlight.

Rule 1: Never wear them to work. It doesn’t matter how svelte you think you are. Even if you work in a surf shop, or at the beach. It is unflattering, and definitely not elegant. You can’t possibly be taken seriously if you walk around amongst your colleagues with your midriff bare. It is better to wear a t-shirt that is snug (note, not tight), than to wear a cropped top. If you think of restaurant chains like Hooters, you can imagine the type of client you’re going to get. They aren’t going for the quality of food, but for the display of bodies.

Needless to say, never wear them in an office environment.

Rule 2: Never go on a date wearing a crop top. Even if it’s to meet up with your boyfriend at the gym, or to the beach. Even if you want to grab his attention, you will likely get the attention of other men, and this is inconsiderate, and tactless.

Rule 3: Never go dancing in nightclubs in cropped top. It really does scream “skank” (It’s not a word I use freely… but is the only one that comes to mind). All the women will think you’re asking for trouble, and all the men will too. Sadly, they may oblige.

Rule 4: Never wear them to formal events, even if they are part of a matching skirt, pant or jacket.

Rule 5: If you absolutely must wear such a top, the only place to wear it, is going to the gym, on top of another layer of workout wear (see picture above). Or, in the privacy of your own home!!!

The other day, on a hot Sydney summer day, I watched a young girl, about 15 years old, wearing a stripey cropped t-shirt, over a fluorescent bra, and tight denim cut-off shorts. She checked her reflection as she passed shop front windows. She was attractive and her body was neither ample or skinny. She seemed rather like a healthy teenager. I just thought that she is trying to get attention, but for all the wrong reasons. She is too young to know what’s at stake.

Of course, if you your religion or cultural background requests it, then it is rarely, if ever, confused with Western etiquette on fashion and attire.

And if you’re going to a fancy dress party from the 80’s, then it’s possibly the most integral piece of clothing that you’ll need. Along with tight capri pants, lots of thick chains around your neck, a chunky head band, and lots of bright makeup, whilst chewing gum.

Maybe if you’re in Ibiza, at one of the wild nightclub parties. But then you’re unlikely to be reading my blog. Nor worried about etiquette.

I always wonder with all the hundreds of fashion styles available to women today, why do they get it so wrong? Maybe my next career will be in styling. For today, I watch, I listen, I see, and I pass these observations to you, and especially to my young teenage daughter, and hope that she will always be making choices about her appearance based on what makes her feel confident and safe.

 

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The excess of excess

the excess

It’s happened all over the planet, and it’s happening to a woman I know.

Her world of excess, and the lack of modesty about her excess, is getting her more publicity than she probably desires.

It seems that the Eighties and Nineties (that’s the 1980’s and 1990’s) were years of overt wealth and excess. We, if you were establishing your careers during that time, enjoyed a world with less social and economic consciousness, and rarely any environmental conscience. Just watch the movie Wall Street to get a taste of the extreme perversion of wealth.

Curiously, this woman I know would have been a toddler during those times, so it’s been interesting to watch her plough head first over all the current concepts and practices of social, economic and environmental awareness. She has made a career of publicising and promoting brands and products that are expendable. Luxuries to some, definitely not a necessity. She attends, or appears to host, many of the most sought after social events in Sydney, and even Melbourne. Her reach extends to London too.

I’m wondering why then do people, a few people, live without humility?

Her baby, now, at 18 months old, has her own blog, written by her mum. It paints a very decadent picture. Dressed in the most stylish and expensive clothes, traveling in private jets. It is odd to think that any mum would want to depict her daughter as so tasteless and indulgent. I have raised my children spoiling them as much as I could, but I can’t imagine proclaiming the details on their behalf. Especially when they don’t yet have their own voice. What’s to come of this little baby when she becomes a young lady with her own sense of self, and looks back at the portrayal her mother has given the world.

Is it not enough that this woman spends most of her waking hours basking in the whirlwind world of press events, launches, red carpet moments and rubbing shoulders with local and international stars? Is it not enough too that her husband is currently getting himself lots of press over his alleged insider trading and could face time in prison.

I’ve always thought that talent should be indulged. If fame or notoriety follow, then it will either be embraced or shunned by the individual. Fame has become a product on its own, as with the likes of Paris Hilton and the Kardashian’s. It humours me, and entertains me (especially at the hair salon where I tend to read most of my trashy magazines). But to pursue recognition for a baby. It feels ugly to me. I feel that this baby is unjustly exposed.

I do think of women who have not had the success or fame in their lives they yearned, who push their children to succeed in artistic talents. That somehow seems understandable, not terrific, but understandable. But why would a woman who already has such a following?

I think that this little baby is going to have an interesting journey.

I’ve yet to find any past or present etiquette that encourages any such behaviour. So, speak only for yourself, not for others. Especially not for those who have yet to form their own opinion.

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Keeping your own secret garden

secret garden

In France young ladies are taught by their mothers and grandmothers about decorum. We learn about seduction by watching other women behave. We watch how they tilt their head a certain way, how they sit with their legs crossed at an angle, and how poised they are, when engaging in the art of flirtation. This may seem old world, but if you observe the interaction between men and women in France, or most European countries, you will notice the seduction plays out before your eyes.

One thing that does not happen, and will never happen, is to share everything with your mate. Even if a woman is with her partner for life, she will keep some secrets, le jardin secret (fr), from her mate. These things will include things like farting, shaving, plucking hairs from unfortunate places. These secrets do not limit themselves to physical things either. They can include past secrets, yes, the obvious past lovers, where such history could directly interfere with the success of your current relationship. It can also be some things about herself that she shares with no-one at all, a book of poems that she needs to keep private, a talent that she doesn’t want to share.

Some of these can be embarassing, or humiliating, or if divulged could affect the outcome in the new relationship.

One of the most wondrous experiences a couple can share is to know without a doubt that the bond of the affection is solid, and yet that they each have secrets that neither need to know, as it won’t affect their love and it actually makes you feel strong.

Mystery is powerfully attractive. Sometimes knowing someone too well also breeds over-confidence and, sadly, complacency in your relationship.
It’s a fine line to have the confidence of a solid romantic relationship, without knowing absolutely everything about them.

Leave some mystery.

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and God created woman (part 2)

bardot

Yesterday, as I walked in the city after an early theatre performance, I was commenting to my male friend how people were dressed. It was a warm Saturday night and people were very casually dressed. Yes, we live in a city by the sea, and the culture is a relaxed beach-type culture. More importantly I noticed how skimpy were women’s clothes. It seems that women are displaying all their wares for males, and women, to see. There’s nothing new here, it’s natural to try to attract the opposite sex with visual cues. But have we gone overboard? What is the right dress etiquette to stay attractive without being vulgar?

My friend admitted that women who show too much have no appeal to him. Men are still after the challenge, and a woman who bares too much also leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing for the chase.

There is etiquette on the lengths of skirts, but I do think that it’s really determined by the tightness of the clothing. And, sadly and unjustly, by the shape of a woman’s body. A dress that is worn too tight and short on a portly frame is going to more unsightly than a hugging dress on a very skinny girl. This does not mean that women with curves are unattractive at all. We all just need to learn what is attractive for our body shapes.

Cleavage also is predetermined by the shape of the body. Voluptuous women with ample breasts can sometimes have a sex appeal that a skimpily clad busty woman can not muster.

So, there are a few basic rules of attire etiquette. Most importantly, if you’re going to show off your legs with a short skirt or shorts, then cover your breasts. It’s one or the other… not both. In any case, rare is the woman who has fantastic legs and cleavage, so stick to your most favoured feature, and highlight it.

Unbeknownst to most people, your posture is most likely to by your best asset. Think of people who slouch. They send a message of weakness or sadness. Whereas a person who stands tall, with their shoulders back gives off an air of confidence and strength.

Smile. Yes, I can’t tell you the number of times a man has approached me and told me that he was drawn to my smile. Joy is very seductive.

Clothes that are clean and well pressed are much more attractive than crumpled dirty clothes. And least of all smelly ones.

Wear clothes appropriate to the season. It is ridiculous to see women in skimpy clothes in winter months, and just silly seeing women in thick winter wear during hot summer nights. It doesn’t matter that the clothes figure as the latest craze in the northern hemisphere.

If you’re going to wear men’s clothing (for effect), then make sure that you mix it well with a feminine piece. Great accessories, or fantastic high heel shoes. Or inject colour and contrast.

If you wear white, it invites trouble. You’re either going to display cellulite (easily masked if you had chosen black) or display more than you intended when lighting hits it at the right angle (recall Lady Diana’s early photo shoot in long white flowing skirt).

Oh, and my pet peeve. Never, ever, (ever… though a past write-up offers one recent occurrence for this etqt author), take off your shoes when going out at night and wander with them in your hands. If you can’t bear to walk, then take a pause and recover a while. Walking in high heels, like any skill, must be learnt. Practice wearing them at home for lengthier periods each time. Choose the right shoe for the event you will attend. Extremely high heels at a dinner party is fine when you’ll find yourself seated for most of the evening. Not so fine if you’re going to be dancing or standing all night. Cocktails are tricky. It’s always more appealing to see legs lengthened by heels, but sometimes it’s a painful price to pay. Once, again, practice it over several days, weeks if possible.

As to alcohol and it’s effects on appearance and attractiveness, I recall driving passed a pub with my pre-teen daughter a year ago, and thanks to the perfect timing, a very drunk, scarcely dressed, woman with smudged make up (I think you get the picture),  meandered in front of my car, with sandals in her hands. I pointed out to my daughter that this woman was “cheap” (yes, I was being extremely harsh and judgmental, but please bear with me as I extoll the virtues of this tale), and sadly that this girl would only attract one of two men; a cheap man (slovenly and without virtue) or a fine man who was seeking a temporary fix (ie not a good man either). The moral to this tale is that you get what you put out. This applies to men too. Women are least attracted to drunks, bullies and overtly loud, obnoxious men. It served as a great learning device for this mum. Now, my daughter makes a point of showing me “cheap” girls all the time. Goodness, have a created a monster?

On a more contemporary note about attire for modern woman; if you’re confident that you know what message you’re sending with your appearance, and do not shy away from comments that could be made, then wear what you like. Good etiquette, above all, is about being confident without offending those around you. And fashion is all about expressing yourself on the outside.

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Keep your top on

beachwear

 

I go to the beach. I go because I want a swim, or to lie down and get a bit of a tan, read a book, or to hang out with my friends or family.

What I don’t go for, is to watch topless women flaunt their breasts.

I wonder why women today feel that they have a free pass on topless sunbathing at public (family style) beaches.

I dare think any man really minds seeing bare chested women. But that’s really applies to any place, any time, right?

I understand that women don’t want to have strap marks on their shoulders. But makeup has come a long way, and if that’s such an issue, then wear the strapless suits.

I’m not going to rave on about the damage that our sun is doing to our skin. It’s one of the worst things to come out of our Lucky Country. I do think that most beaches do not tolerate topless bathing, at least in most major cities in Australia.

Make sure to find out what the local expectations are when traveling. It’s disrespectful, and sometimes illegal, to bare your body in some countries.

If you are going to dare to bare your breasts at beaches, then you will have to accept that men, and some women, will leer and jeer.

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Loss, and the etiquette of Loss

funeral

I am at a loss. Yesterday a friend lost her husband to cancer. I am close enough to her to want to show her how sad I am for her and her children, and that I am available for her to ask me to help her or her children with anything, but not close to her husband, and don’t know what is the right behaviour in the coming days and weeks.

I trusted my gut instinct and called her this morning, and thought I’d get her voice mail. To my surprise, she picked up the phone. She was, understandably very sad and emotional. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was so moved that she even picked up my call. We shared the injustice of his illness, and how he was taken so quickly, and she shared with me how fortunate she was to have spent 30 years with this man.

But what happens next? It is such an uncommon occurrence, so I just don’t know what is the right protocol. Again, I lean on those who know, and find myself guided by their experience, and then want to apply my sensitivity and closeness to her and her family.

Yes, I have experienced loss before. Mostly when I was much younger as aging relatives died, and was mostly guided by my parents behaviour.

Now, I must firstly check their religious faith, as I don’t know what is customary; does one wear black, or should I send flowers, or do people select worthy causes for donations?

Secular ceremonies have various forms of honouring their family and friends, and this note by no means aims to standardise mourning and loss. But, after doing some research, it seems that there are changes to some of the past behaviour that I thought still in practice.

It seems that it is no longer expected to wear black to funerals. Tasteful attire, covering up shoulders (though bare arms seem acceptable), and skirt or dress length need be at least above the knee or longer. Pants are acceptable, though shorts are not.

Offering up condolences are acceptable, and it seems that as long as the message is sincere and thoughtful, then it can be by phone, by mail, in a condolence card or note, or even by email. It’s not wise to send a condolence by text.

It’s important to reach out to people you may know that are close to the family of the departed. They will let you know if there is a funeral, which is often kept for close family and friends, and if there is a memorial service for the extended friends, colleagues and other people who want to show their sympathy.

Gifts, such as wreaths and other flowers, are still thoughtful gifts, to add gaiety and colour to the ceremony. If a donation is preferred, the family will let you know in the lead up to the service.

It is however, considered most important to attend the service, whether at the funeral, the cemetary, memorial or the wake, and to offer a kind word to the family of the deceased. Though they will be wrought by sadness, they will still appreciate the kindness of those around them.

Rushing to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while after the service should be muted to a respectful murmur.

From the UK etiquette experts – Debrett’s – taken from http://www.debretts.com/etiquette/rites-of-passage/death/miss-debrett-on-funerals.aspx

Miss Debrett’s Top Tips

  • Take your lead from the chief mourners and never outdo them.
  • Switch off your mobile, don’t whisper during the service and maintain an air of dignified discretion.
  • Keep your behaviour sober and restrained at the post-funeral gathering; remember this is a wake, not a party.

Loss in death is the worst grief one experiences in life. Offering up any small gesture of kindness will aid the grieving process.

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What’s with the caps indoors?

cap1

Tonight, at dinner with friends at the local ribs joint, we were enjoying that etqt is raising awareness for modern day issues.

We heartily ate our ribs with our hands, watching each others faces quickly become fodder for all the sweet and sticky sauce. Our bibs were collective messes, or “Rorschach” ink blots – easily translated as a great meal. I’m sure that there’s an article here somewhere about proper eating etiquette.

We were each running through a list of behaviour that always surprises us. However, most of the topics we seemed to differ on the correct etiquette.

One topic where we were all in absolute agreement is about the correct etiquette with caps, the baseball cap, the truckers cap, actually any cap.

They are to keep the sun out of your eyes, obviously for playing baseball, and for driving your truck. We agree that they are recommended for shielding eyes from the sun for lots of other occasions too. But where they are not acceptable is indoors.

So why do people still choose to wear them indoors? I guess it’s a vanity or ego thing. Men losing their hair seem to think it’s a substitute for hair, or maybe they actually think we will think that there’s a full head of hair under the cap.

So, after some research on what’s the correct etiquette here, it is unanimously declared that caps indoors are unacceptable. There seems to be a limited number of places where they are acceptable, like in elevators, where you may find that you can’t remove your cap as your hands are full carrying packages.

One American online source on Hatequette (http://www.manyhattyreturns.com/2010/08/10/etiquette-of-hat-wearing-for-men/) states that all hats must be removed in the following places:
As a general rule men should remove their hats when indoors, as follows (not necessarily comprehensive):
-In a home (particularly in another’s home)
-Indoors at work (especially in an office). This rule would not apply of course to protective headgear such as construction helmets.
-At a movie or other indoor theatrical performance.
-In a Christian Church (or perhaps in another place of worship depending on the rules applicable) except for the priests. There are different rules for different religions and they also relate to the type of headgear to be worn. For example, Jewish men wear a yarmulke, skull cap, as a sign of humility before God. Some Jewish men wear the yarmulke all the time except for swimming or bathing at least.
-In a court of law (wearing a hat has often been treated as a contempt of court).
-In a restaurant ( sometimes it is deemed acceptable to keep a hat on while at the lunch counter of a diner or café
).

The biggest question today is what to do with one’s cap when it’s removed? The hat-check room would make a great revival.

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