Choosing was the best etiquette options for yourself isn’t a difficult decision. Our trusty Ms. Modern Manners Sharon Schweitzer, JD, considers it liberating to know the options and is on the scene to enlighten your very finest behavior possible

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

I have inherited several of my father’s and grandfather’s cufflink and studs sets, yet they only have three shirt studs in each set due to the style of that era’s shirts. Any suggestions on how to make it work since now there are four studs required in a tuxedo shirt?

Black Tied

Dear Fit To Be Tied,

What a blessing to receive such an heirloom as an inheritance. First, determine if the fourth stud-hole may be covered by the cummerbund. Second, I suggest you purchase a three-stud shirt or a shirt with a placket covering the buttons, which will not require festooning. Third, you may wish to research on-line antique luxury auction sites in an effort to locate matching studs sets. Fourth, you may also wish to mix and match studs from the same era.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

This is a sticky one, especially as we see our political candidates doing it. How should I deal with a friend who makes offhanded racial, ethic, or religious affiliation comments that are inappropriate?

Sensitively Speaking

Dear Sensitive and Thoughtful,

Since you know your friend best, consider one of the three options. Understand that another moment like this will likely occur, so prepare and have a response in mind beforehand. Identify the behavior by calmly asking open-ended questions such as: Tell me what made you say that? or How did you develop that belief? This usually stops the racist comments.

Another approach is to candidly point out the behavior by repeating the statement so the person hears exactly what they are stating Billy-Bob, what I hear you saying is that all blondes are stupid (or an inappropriate ethnic slur), or TJ, you’re classifying an entire race in a derogatory manner. Am I hearing you correctly?

In a situation where you have a relationship, such as family, friend or colleague, appeal to their higher principles and ask, Ginger, I have always thought of you as a fair-minded individual, so it stuns me to hear you make what sounds like such a racist comment. You cannot control another person. But you can set limits by politely asking them to refrain from making inappropriate comments in your presence. Then follow through if needed. Lead by example and inspire others to do the same, as always.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Since it’s gala season, how do I decide between wearing a short or long gown? I think going short is more youthful. Thoughts?

Gloriously Gowned

Dear Gowned & Dangerous,

Our mothers taught us that the invitation always provides the first clue when deciding what to wear. Yes, it is crucial to abide by the dress code after you’ve accepted the invitation. For black tie events, business occasions, galas and weddings, it is best to not tailor the dress code to suit your personal taste. Keep in mind that failing to show respect to the dress code, means you’re not going to be invited anymore. So read the invitation carefully, and wear a long gorgeous gown, darling.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

My dream of attending a fundraising ball in Europe has come true. What sort of gift do you recommend we give our hosts who are making a large donation to the organization, to thank them for this remarkable experience they are sharing with us?

All Dressed Up

Dear Dressed To The Nines,

Above all, I recommend that you understand your audience, as philanthropists they will expect the best of the best. As citizen ambassadors, it is your job to give appropriate and thoughtful items, Made in the U.S. gifts for the home from your favorite luxury store are always elegant. If your hosts enjoy spirits, be sure to bring a U.S. brand that they will recognize and appreciate, from a black, blue, red or gold label.