Miss Manners: My bartender friend has to wear a tuxedo to work

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Dear Miss Manners: My dear friend has a job as a bartender and works a lot of banquets at the moment. At work, he is expected to wear (and does) a tuxedo, even if the event is during the day. Today he told me he started work at 9:30 in his tuxedo.

Should management ask him and his team to wear something different to events before 6 p.m.? And if so, what? What is the female equivalent for other people who work in these places and events? Or is everyone just wearing tuxedos?

What about the banquet guests: when they see the tuxedos, won’t they worry that they are poorly dressed? If some people wear formal wear, shouldn’t everyone do it? Do you think situations like this erode the formal mystique of the tuxedo?

American diplomatic history contains examples of the confusion between formal clothing worn socially and that worn by the military. When court dress was expected at European state functions, Americans considered it unbecoming for representatives of a democracy, so American diplomats had to wear ordinary evening dress.

The answer is yes, there is something odd about the similarity between the now-customary evening attire and that worn by waiters. And if the men are confused, it’s worse for the waitresses. For a long time they were not hired for formal service at all. Later, the solution was to dress them as men, which seemed demeaning to Miss Manners – although, of course, women’s formal evening wear would be a disaster for someone handling sets.

Servers wear black clothes for the excellent reason that they don’t show stains, a plus for those who attend black-tie dinners as well. Whether this dress code erodes what you call a mystique depends on whether you believe much of the mystique remains after high school prom goers and adult movie stars show off their bizarre interpretations of the formality.

It would be nice if a dignified formal unisex uniform was designed for service in formal restaurants. In the meantime, should the rule prohibiting evening wear before dark for those who party apply to those who work hard? If they’re going to wear dinner suits during the day, Miss Manners won’t require them to change from the daytime equivalent – with cutaway coats – at sunset.

Dear Miss Manners: From what age are parents no longer responsible for paying for child weddings?

It will come as a shock to the engaged couple, but while the parents are responsible for feeding, clothing, housing and educating their little ones, they are not responsible for financing their weddings.

Many do nonetheless, which Miss Manners hopes their children will be grateful for.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

About Wesley Williamson

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