As the weather warms and in the heat of the moment, good behavior can sometimes be an afterthought. Not so, according to our empress of etiquette Sharon Schweitzer, JD, who is on the scene to help smooth the rough spots in life.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

It’s happened again this year. In viewing all the award shows, I am seeing a plethora of white dinner jackets way out of season. I wear white, and especially a white dinner jacket, only between Memorial and Labor Day. Doesn’t it seem like the rules have changed except in Hollywood where stylists perhaps don’t know or haven’t heard of them? What gives?

Have Black Tie, Will Travel

Dear Black Tie Traveler,

Men’s evening wear evolves subtly over time, but it has essentially remained unchanged for many years. At these award shows, when guests look similar, you always notice who has done it properly and who hasn’t. Knowing the difference between white tie and a white dinner jacket is crucial and the season in which it’s worn. A white dinner jacket is appropriate in the daytime, during summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and/or if you’re a military or ship officer. Avoid wearing one in the evening and in winter, even in Hollywood.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

How do we encourage the host of a dinner party to not seat couples together? Way too often my spouse and I are seated together and we’d rather mix up the conversation a tad with other guests. Any advice?

Seating Chart Conundrum

Dear Savvy Seated Guest,

Hold your tongue with the host, first and foremost. Sophisticated hosts split married couples because they either chat together exclusively, or interrupt each other’s stories. Dinner parties are designed for us to be with guests we don’t see all the time. Newly dating, engaged couples, and newlyweds are seated still together, though.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

I am traveling to Dubai this spring with business partners, and will have a few days post-business for leisure with my family. As a modern professional female what should I pack for professional wear and the Dubai nightlife; what about my husband?

        Destination: Dubai

Dear Dubai Visitor,

Research the organizational culture of the company you plan to visit, in addition to Dubai culture. Consider packing business professional attire; suit and tie for men, and a conservative suit or modest dress with a jacket for women. Dubai trends are normally more formal than Western countries; business casual or business formal on leisure days may be fine. Having said that, the heat is often blistering, so pack loose linens, collared short-sleeve-shirts, with wraps and hats for beach days.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

I am invited to a business dinner party on Cinco de Mayo, where alcohol will be served. I view these dinners as networking opportunities, and plan to remain professional. What is a tactful way to decline beverages even if this is a large part of the Cinco de Mayo festivities?

          Celebrating Mexico

Dear Celebrating With Flair, 

A gracious way to decline an alcoholic beverage is to say, “No thank you; Topo Chico with lime please.” Alcohol consumption doesn’t dictate your success; having a beverage in hand and engaging in conversation with others is key. Feel free to order a non-alcoholic beverage; what’s in your drink is irrelevant.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

For Father’s Day I want to do some recreational activities that coincide with our dad’s creative personality – suggestions?

Proud Son & Daughter

Dear Loving Sibs,

Father’s Day is a great opportunity to spend valuable time with your dad, and there are countless ways to celebrate. To honor the creative dad, here are four ideas for a memorable Father’s Day.

       Explore a new site together. Whether it’s a museum, restaurant, park, somewhere neither of you have been before. Maybe take a picnic basket if the activity is outside.

       Attend a cooking class or school together. You can learn how to do cook, roast or BBQ…then enjoy a well-earned meal together.

       Set up two blank canvases in the garage or yard and get to work. Splatter paints on the canvas with different colors for a fun night, while creating the next Picasso diptych.

       If he is adventurous, offer to take him on a hike, or pack up the gear and head out to the wilderness for a weekend camping trip.