Business Etiquette

Are the Rules of Etiquette Outdated?

I just finished reading an article on wedding etiquette that has my pulse racing and my blood pressure rising. The impetus for the article was wedding attire—specifically, is it acceptable for wedding quests to wear white?  It should come as no surprise that this was celebrity driven. It seems that Jennifer Lopez invited all her guests to wear white to the ceremony. I have no problem with that. It was her wedding so it was her choice.

The other issue involved Dua Lipa who wore white to the wedding of fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus and his partner, Marco Maestri. It was reported that jaws dropped over Dua’s all-white attire. It has long been believed that it is inappropriate for guests to wear white to a wedding out of respect for the bride.  

In another online article I read about the brouhaha created when the sister-in-law of the bride wore a white top to the wedding. In the wedding pictures the affronted bride photo shopped the sister-in-law’s top so she did not appear to be competing with the bride by wearing white. I can’t imagine how that family relationship will play out.

Family feuds aside, it is now back to the question of should you, could you or would you wear white to a wedding?  One lifestyle and etiquette expert was quoted as saying that the two stars were simply being fashion forward. She cheered the fact that people now feel free to push the boundaries. Does that mean that we should throw all caution to the wind and from now on behave as we like?

Are the rules of etiquette outdated? Those of you who have followed me for years know that my mantra is “It’s not about the rules; it’s about the relationships.” There are definitely rules of etiquette, but those rules are not set in stone. They are, to be more realistic, set in sand. They evolve over the years. I could go on by citing examples, but you could no doubt match me.

Etiquette and manners exist to make life comfortable for everyone. We follow certain rules of behavior out of respect and consideration for those around us. When we decide to break with tradition, it is important to think how our decision affects others. In the case of the sister-in-law who wore white to the wedding because she wanted to, she was not being considerate of the bride. Her action put a stain on a day that is one of the most special in someone’s life.

Before you decide to push the boundaries and exercise your right to behave as you wish, think about how your actions might affect others. Ask yourself, “Am I being kind, considerate and respectful?”  The rules of dress may change, but kindness, courtesy and respect never go out of fashion.

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey is a leading business etiquette and modern manners expert who offers seminars, keynote speeches, webinars and individual coaching. She works with corporations, associations, colleges and universities as well as individuals.

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