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Dress code same for all proms

Dear Miss Manners: It has been brought to my attention that if you are to go to someone else's prom, you should wear a less attractive/fancy dress. This is because you would not want to outshine the graduates.

I used to go to this school, and although I have not been there for two years, I feel quite comfortable. So now I need your opinion. I can either wear a subtle dress, a fancy cocktail dress or my prom dress from two weeks ago. (I took down all the pictures so that my classmates will not have seen the dress online.)

Gentle Reader: It is not clear to Miss Manners which of your dresses is so dazzling as to be sure of outshining the graduates.

However, your concern is misplaced. The rule is only to respect the general style of the occasion, dressing neither more nor less noticeably formally. Within that limit, you may look as ravishing as nature and art will permit. Others will be the judges of whether you have shone so brightly as to dim all other young ladies present.


Suggestions for silver

Dear Miss Manners: My grandmother has offered my fiance and me a choice: either a wedding gift of a certain (very generous) value, or a check of equal amount.

I would love to ask her for a basic set of silver for formal entertaining. With the price of silver these days, I don't think there's any other way we're going to get it! My fiance is not sure the check wouldn't be the better option, but while we sort that question out, could you let me know what would be a good "starter set" for silver?

Gentle Reader: What a generous grandmother you have. Checks have a way of disappearing into other needs, but choosing a present -- and presuming that silver is within the budget she suggested -- it will always be a pleasure for you and for her, in that you think of it as "Grandmother's silver."

The basic starter set for table silver differs from what is generally packaged because unless your primary form of entertainment will be giving tea parties, teaspoons are much less useful than larger oval spoons. A truly basic setting would be: large fork and knife for main courses, small fork for salad and dessert, large oval spoon for soup and dessert.

You then have a lifetime ahead of you in which (if you are as crazy as Miss Manners) to collect specialized implements and serving pieces.

Send questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.