Having busy social lives means alternating between being both a good host and a good guest. That is why our Ms. Modern Manners, Sharon Schweitzer loves helping smooth the bumpy road of modern behavior questions like elevator etiquette, appropriate attire and introductions, and standing on ceremony.

Dear Ms. Manners,

What is the best way to make introductions? Older to younger, men to women? And what about gloves while being introduced? 

Introduction Inquirer

Dear Someone Who Needs No Introduction,

How wonderful it is to realize that beautifully performed introductions put people at ease and draw new acquaintances into a smoothly flowing, cohesive conversation. Failing to make an introduction is a social faux pas reflecting on an unmannerly you. Instead, remember to start with the full name of the person you want to honor; the most important person’s full name is always said first. So introduce grandparents, parents or those older than you to your peers or a younger person. Introduce a woman to a man, a friend to another family member, an adult to a child and your guest of honor to others attending the gala. Individuals including a governor, mayor, judge, nobility, professor or doctor are all introduced to your contemporaries. When being introduced, stand up, smile, make eye contact and greet the person. If appropriate, extend your hand for a handshake. A firm (but not bone crushing) grip signals confidence. We could go on forever darling – we won’t.

Regarding glove etiquette, men and women remove their right glove to shake hands in warmer climates in the winter. However there are exceptions where gloves are not removed, such as below-freezing climates and when wearing padded sport gloves like ski mittens while you are on the slopes in Gstaad, for instance. Remember, gloves are not removed indoors at very formal occasions and when going through or standing in a receiving line like a Consular Ball. Gloves are always removed before eating.

Dear Ms. Manners

How can I correct a friend’s inappropriate attire and deal with friends who fail to dress appropriately for special occasions like a luncheon, baby shower or wedding? It seems life has become so casual.

Perplexed In Pemberton

Dear Pembertonian,

As the etiquette doyennes quip, “Never correct anyone’s manners unless you are paid a fortune to do so.” It is a poor reflection on you, and makes everyone present feel uncomfortable. At the gala, it is too late to share your opinion that their attire is too staid for the occasion. However, prior to the event, you may subtly inquire, “Are you wearing that gorgeous blue Dior dress?” Finesse it by glancing at the invitation and murmuring ‘Formal Attire’ and swoop off with a glass of champagne exclaiming, “Shall we go look in your closet?” or “Why don’t we go shopping together?” Yes, life is more casual. But it is still in fashion to make a mannerly offer. Soon enough she (or he) will surely get the hint. If not, then know that you have tried your best.

Dear Ms. Manners,

Is there a proper order for exiting an elevator – women first, our elders first? If crowded, is it last in, first out?

Elevated Consciousness 

Dear Ellie in the Elevator,

In prior years, men showed deference to women with small courtesies such as holding chairs and doors, and allowing them to exit elevators first. It seems like something only seen in a classic movie, doesn’t it? After the women’s movement, many women found these acts unnecessary. What’s a gentleman to do? Welcome to gender-free chivalry. Modern manners dictate that all able-bodied people, regardless of sex, should hold the door for the next person. If you are not sure if you should open the door, hold the chair or exit first, ask “May I get the door for you?” This is especially true if you are alone in an elevator with the disabled, elderly, someone carrying packages or an infant. A polite reply from that person (male or female) is “Yes, thanks” or “No thank you, I have it.” Without special circumstances, the “proper order” to exit an elevator male or female, is the person closest to the door should exit first. When the elevator stops and it is your stop, exit the elevator and move quickly. If the elevator is crowded and this is not your stop, yet you are standing at the front of the elevator, exit anyway and step aside to allow others to exit without delay. You may also put your arm across the door to hold it open for those exiting, as described above. 

Dear Ms. Manners,

When a friend approaches a table at a gala or restaurant, does the man get up for a woman, for a man, does he remain standing during the conversation, etc?

Gala Going Gal

Dear Gala Goer,

Yes, yes and yes. Tradition states that women remain seated while men rise, and certain generations follow this rule. Modern manners today say that when a friend approaches a table at a gala or restaurant, it is mannerly for both sexes to stand and greet the friend. It does not matter if you are a man or a woman. Remain standing as long as the conversation lasts. Remember gender-free chivalry in most social settings is always best.