I am puzzled at funeral fashions these days. Whatever happened to tasteful subdued dignified attire for funerals? I behold now the advent of funeral “flair” with a combination of puzzlement and dread.
Like you, Etiquetteer is sometimes puzzled by what passes at funerals and memorial services these days. Unfortunately most people are too stupid to understand the original color code of mourning clothes, from deep mourning (all black with no ornamentation) to half mourning (black, white, gray, purple, brown, and sometimes green). These days a lady wearing black is more likely to be mistaken for a bridesmaid than a widow! Appearing all in black now is more likely to initiate the Question of Humorous Intent “Who died?” Humor is seen fleeing the room when the deceased is identified. Etiquetteer’s point is that mourning clothes are supposed to prevent stupid questions, not prompt them.Etiquetteer blames this Sad State of Affairs on Sally Kellerman, whose character in the 1980 sex comedy Serial wore white, with ostentatious spirituality, to a memorial service. (Actually, Etiquetteer really blames Coco Chanel, who famously designed the Little Black Dress after her lover Boy Capel was killed in a plane crash).These days Etiquetteer feels fortunate if everyone attending a funeral shows up neatly dressed without athletic shoes/clothes and without denim. One should be somberly dressed: no skin visible from neck to knees, no ostentatious bling (that’s redundant but Etiquetteer really wanted to make the point), nothing that looks fussy. And it seems necessary now to point out that one's shoes should be CLEAN!What one does see more of these days is mourning buttons or T shirts with the picture of the deceased on them. You may be surprised to find out that Etiquettteer rather likes this custom. It hearkens to the mourning ribbons and badges that used to be handed out when presidents were assassinated. Some beautiful examples from Abraham Lincoln’s funeral observances may be found at the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History at http://www.gilderlehrman.org/collection/docs_archive/docs_archive_lincoln.html Last week Etiquetteer saw in the press a bolder example of the memorial T-shirt. At the sentencing of convicted murderer Daniel Tavares, the families of his victims, Beverly and Brian Mauck, all wore T-shirts with pictures of the deceased underneath the legend “Among the Angels.”
Obviously this was not a funeral, but Etiquetteer was moved by this visible call for justice. To some, however, such attire might not be appropriate in a court of law. What do you think, readers? Please share your opinion at query (at) etiquetteer.com.In case you needed more proof that “low riders” are not Perfectly Proper, seacoastonline.com reported February 21 that a young woman was tossed off a bus because the driver could see her, ahem, rear cleavage – enough of it that he was offended. The young woman in question gave her address as a homeless shelter, and appears to have been in and out of trouble with the law over the last few months. Now if Etiquetteer was going to be flippant (which is easy to do) he would declare that it’s a good thing the look of the early 1960s is coming back and why isn’t Grace Kelly her role model anyway. But it seems clear that this young woman is what is called “acting out,” seeking negative attention. Apparently she is being helped by a mental health center in her area. So without flippancy, Etiquetteer can only turn to the title of that Victorian tearjerker “She Is More to Be Pitied Than Censured,” and hope that she will choose Perfect Propriety for her lot in the future. Have you had enough of that revolting troll checking you out in the locker room? Feel like a prude but just don’t want someone’s, uh, business in your face while you’re dressing? Sick and tired of workout benches glistening with the sweat of another? Etiquetteer is preparing a simple guideline for a future issue on Perfect Propriety at the Gym and is eager to hear from you at query (at) etiquetteer.com.