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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Party Etiquette, Friendship Dilemmas, Resort Wear + Anorexia

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


In the heat of July handling friendship dilemmas, party etiquette, what to wear and body shaming, were all questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.

When not invited

Q.  My husband's half-brother is hosting his 50th birthday with a formal dinner dance for 150 of his closest friends and family that is being held at a luxury resort event space. It is also a fête to celebrate his recent marriage to a younger man. It will be a formal seated dinner with lots of entertainment. The dress code is Black Tie. I know this will be the party of the year because he always entertains in the grandest style. 

The week before the party I learned that my only son and his wife were not invited. We've always thought of the birthday boy as part of our extended family and I feel terribly hurt that they weren't sent an invitation. I immediately phoned the event coordinator, to whom the reply card was addressed, to ask if there had been an oversight. He said there was no mistake and my son was not on the invitation list. I mentioned that my husband was unable to attend and I would like them to accompany me. He simply repeated that they weren't on the guest list. It is humiliating for me that they were omitted and I'm thinking of not going myself.

What would you suggest? The party is this weekend.  Name Withheld


A.  Go and have a glorious time celebrating your half-brother-in-law's milestones. Forget about the slight that you feel was made toward your son and his wife. If they weren't invited, they weren't invited. They're adults and can handle it. It could have been an oversight, which could have been dealt with weeks ago, but by now the seating plan has already been put in place. You would be making a nuisance of yourself if you made a fuss. Go to the party and have fun! Be a fence mender. By not attending the fête you will only be widening the gap.


Friendship dilemma

Q.  My thirteen-year-old and her best friend eat like small birds. Their goal was to look good in bikinis this summer and they've succeeded. I phoned the best friend's mother to say that I wanted to talk about the possibility of our daughters being borderline anorexic. She suggested that I talk to my family therapist. Well, we don't have a family therapist and our insurance wouldn't include the coverage. I naively thought she and I could work together on what's going on with our daughters. Now I feel the door is closed and that I should intervene to make sure the girls don't spend as much time together. Is there an alternate solution?  JP, Glen Cove, NY


A.  We don't know who is influencing whom. Who is doing the body shaming? Is there a family member whose comments are leading doing one friend to body shame the other. It sounds as though they are feeding off of each other's insecurities. Focus on the issue of body shaming. Sites such as Psychology Today have articles that may give you insight into what could potentially be a huge problem for you and your family.

Monitor what you and other family members say about weight, being fat, overweight, or underweight, etc. and eliminate all body shaming from your home. Asking the girls' school to put them in different classes in the fall would create distance without you having to tell your daughter that she can't hang out with her friend. Encourage your daughter to take cooking lessons and do sports, or join a robotics or science club, where she'll have access to information about nutrition. In the meantime, consulting a family therapist wouldn't be a bad idea, if you can figure out how to pay for a couple of sessions. There are actually therapists who specialize in teen anorexia.

Look for other signs, such as eating a pint of ice cream and then throwing up in the bathroom.

Turncoat neighbors

Q.  We thought our neighbors across the street from us were our friends, but we've fallen out over greed. They asked us to sign a petition that wouldn't allow outside music at a new local cafe opening in our neighborhood. We had been sent the petition previously and trashed it because we believed the cafe would provide jobs for college students and was good for the local economy. Our neighbors practically begged us to sign this petition against the variance the second time they sent it to us, and reluctantly we signed it.

At the same time we were objecting to a new construction project that was totally out of scale in our neighborhood. It was supposed to be built on the other side of our small house and would lead us in shadow for much of the day. In writing a letter to the city to protest the out-of-scale new construction, all of our neighbors signed the petition but our neighbors across the street. Tit for tat we thought, but it wasn't the case.  Even though they agreed that the project was out of scale, they didn't want a precedent set for future building, because it might lessen the value of their property.

It is a tiny tightly condensed neighborhood where everybody knows your name and we have copies of our neighbors keys in case of an emergency. We haven't been able to even say hi to these turncoat neighbors whom we inevitably see nearly everyday. How do we ask for our house key back without having to talk to them? We don't want to have to pay to have our locks changed. Name Withheld


A.  As the saying goes -- good fences make good neighbors. Assuming from what you've said, you probably have a key to your neighbors' house. Take that key and place it in an envelope and put it in their mailbox or slip it through their mail slot, after printing their names and address on the envelope. Your neighbors will oblige by doing the same. Personally, I would forget it and not initiate rebuilding the bridge to the other side of the street.

Trending resort fashion

Q. In packing my bag to spend ten days in Newport visiting friends, I'm wondering about resort evening wear, as well as daywear, and what resort wear actually is. Can you give me examples of how women in their 20s and 30s will be dressed.  AT, Chicago


A.  Resort wear is designed to be worn from spring, throughout the summer and into fall. To get an idea of this season's evening and daywear, go online to view designers such as Narisco Rodriguez to catch the feel for what classics are trending. 

On the cooler side, checkout Rosie Assoulin, Valentino and Coach to see lots of ideas. You'll find tea dresses, wide-legged slacks with tops that glide to the side. Think stripes in contrasting bands and pastel tartans, parrots and other tropical birds, palm trees, and flowers, and lots of sailboats. Madras and denim return perennially, decorated in more and more elaborately creative configurations.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her book Newport Manners & Etiquette.


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