Archive for November, 2009


Dressing for the Office Christmas Party – Do’s and Don’ts

With the holiday office festivities upon us, people of both genders and of all ages ask us what is the appropriate attire for such events. Here are some tips:

Appropriate Male Dress

 Suit worn with a collared shirt and tie.
 Dress slacks and sport coat worn with a collared shirt and tie.
 Dress shoes
 Festive – Tuxedo or dressy suit. A collarless formal shirt may be worn with the appropriate outfit.

Male Dress DON’TS

 Jeans of any kind
 Tennis shoes or sneakers
 Ski type sweaters
 Baggy pants
 Hats of any kind
 Pants worn below the waist
 Sweatshirts

Appropriate Female Dress

 Suits, dresses, skirts with dressy sweaters or blouses
 A matching suit or blazer with slacks
 Little black dress – can attend both a cocktail party or a semi-formal event
 Dress shoes and bag
 Dress boots only if worn with a long skirt that covers the top of the boot
 Dressy separates
 Dressy overcoat
 Metallic shoes and evening bag with a black dress
 Wearing hose at a festive event is not required

Female Dress DON’TS

 Tight clothes
 Sleeveless tops worn without a jacket
 Deep cut blouses that expose the cleavage
 See through tops
 Hats of any kind
 Shirts and tops that show any skin in the midriff area
 Skirts shorter than the top of the knee
 Tennis shoes or sneakers
 Plastic flip-flop type shoes
 Jeans of any kind
 Casual sweaters


• Wearing too much glitz

Shimmer, beading and metallic are all fine for holidays, as long as you don’t display too much shine. This can be overwhelming, especially if you wear it in areas that you don’t want to accentuate (like a beaded shiny belt for a gal with a larger midriff area)

• Being Under or Over Dressed

Designations as ambiguous as “Dressy Casual or Cocktail Attire” confuse many people. You wear jeans, everyone else wears silk. You wear a gown, others wear a business suit.
The little black dress for her and a dark suit for him, are great choices for a festive or semi-formal event.
The rule of the thumb is, if you wear the shoes and the clothes when you walk the dog, or when shopping for groceries, it’s probably not a good idea to wear them at a party.

• Showing Too Much Skin

It is possible to dress sexy while leaving lots to the imagination. The secret here is to highlight your best features with a suggestion: a small slit on a skirt gives a glimpse at great legs, a lace trimmed top under a jacket hints a spectacular cleavage.

• Over Accessorizing

Many women feel the urge to wear that beautiful chunky necklace with matching earrings. The result? Too much competing detail around the face, that takes away from the entire look.
Instead, try wearing one gorgeous piece of jewelry that will reward you with many compliments throughout the evening.
Bring the focus on the areas you want to highlight, and remember that less is more.

Stay tuned for next week’s Office Party Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts!


New Moon Manners – movie theatre etiquette

Very few of us are in the dark when it comes to the excitement surrounding the hugely successful Twilight series of books and movies. The release of New Moon, the second film in the saga on November 20th, is dominating headlines worldwide and lines of fans will be forming outside theatres in eager anticipation.

After the movie there will inevitably be animated chatter and lively discussion of the newest twists and turns in the tale. There will also be complaints. Yes. Complaints about the offensive and rude behaviour being shown by exuberant theatre-goers who have tainted the experience for other viewers.

A Movie Manner Primer for review before heading to New Moon or any other of the new Blockbusters of the season:

1. Remain in your seat. Unless nature calls urgently, plan to stay glued to your seat for the duration of the film.

2. Enjoy your snacks quietly. Arrive early enough to have most of the noisy scrunching and tearing of packaging done before the opening scenes. Loud slurping of drinks and open-mouthed chewing or gum snapping is rude wherever you are. Don’t think that the dark gives you permission to abandon those manners.

3. At the end of the show make an attempt to gather all your garbage and drop it in the bins provided outside the door of the theatre. Though there are crews dedicated to tidying once the theatre is empty, it is still important to clear the path so others won’t have to trudge knee-deep through your waste as they make their way out.

4. Should someone need to pass in front of you to reach his or her seat, stand to let him pass. Don’t create a jungle gym for others to scale on their way by.

5. Most important, while the movie will no doubt be filled with great drama and plenty of opportunities for swooning always keep in mind that others are trying to hear the dialogue and to enjoy the movie themselves. Feisty squeals, cat calls and high pitched giggling are not welcome when they become annoying and disruptive. It isn’t possible to rewind a movie to hear what you’ve missed.

6. Enjoy the company of those who’ve joined you at the movie but keep your chatting to before and after the event. Talking and even whispering can be as irritating as loud noises.

7. Modern cinema seating is usually quite comfortable and the rows are fairly spacious. Please avoid draping your legs across the seat ahead of you. Do not tap your foot on the back of the seat in front, even if the soundtrack is dance worthy. Grasping the seat in front of you with both hands as you go to get up or when you are overcome with excitement will inevitably anger the person seated in front of you.

8. Most movie theatres issue a reminder before the movie reel asking that cell phones be turned off. Texting should also be avoided. The light shining from your cell phone can be a distraction to others.

Have fun and savour the atmosphere but do remember how your behaviour can impact the experience for others, in a good or bad way. Make it good!


Royal Carribean and Tipping Etiquette


Tipping etiquette varies across the world, from being mandatory in some cultures to being seen as patronizing in others. It depends on the culture you are visiting and the customs practiced, so careful consideration before opting to tip or not is the key. A little cultural awareness can save you a lot of confusion, time, money, energy and especially embarrassment.


Believe it or not, tipping is a hot-button topic that is currently provoking strong reaction among cruise passengers.
Richard Fain, the chairman of the board of Royal Caribbean Cruises, suggested that he would examine his company’s gratuities policy as they approach more U.K. and European passengers. The fact is they don’t tip as much as their American counterparts. While other major lines automatically add daily gratuities to your bill, on Royal Caribbean ships you have to stuff tip money into envelopes for the staff at the end of the cruise.
The situation will only become worse. Royal Caribbean expects that the majority of their customers to be international in the next few years and there are many countries where tipping is simply not part of the culture.

What do you think Royal Caribbean should do?


1. Apply a mandatory tipping fee or increase the cruise fare to be inclusive of tipping.
2. Pay staff more wages and leave tipping optional.


Most other cruise ship lines recommend tips totalling about $9-$13 a day, and most automatic tipping programs are in this range. Here are average tips for each crew member:

Dining Room Waiter $3-$4 a day
Assistant Waiter or Bus Boy $1.50 – $3 a day
Dining Room Maite D’ $.50 -$1 a day
Dining Room Head Waiter or Head Server $.50 – $1 a day
Room Steward $3-$4 a day


In North America tipping is expected and comprises a major component in hospitality wages. Tips are applied to almost everything so when you are travelling and not used to incurring these extra costs it can be a shock to your wallet if you don’t remember to factor it in. In many parts of Europe tipping can be considered ostentatious, arrogant or wasteful. This is mainly because in many European countries, laws were passed that made it mandatory to include service in the bill. This ensured adequate wages to employees and relatively well paid service industry professionals don’t rely on tips. But hospitality workers such as waiters, bartenders and concierges will generally appreciate any tips.


Poppies for Remembrance

Royals with two poppies

A photo in this morning’s paper of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla caught my eye. The couple are visiting the East coast of Canada at the moment and the photo shows them dressed finely and sporting not one, but two poppies on their left lapels. I noted, having lived in the UK that one of the poppies was of the paper style worn in England while the other was the plasticized, flocked version common in Canada.

Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day is a day designated by Commonwealth nations to show respect for those who died in war. November 11th is selected in honour of the Armistice at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to end World War I in 1918. This ceremonial day has been in effect since 1919 when those soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War were first honoured. A number of nations outside the Commonwealth also participate in similarly themed memorial events.

The poppy as a symbol itself was inspired by the Canadian John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” in which he references the wild poppies growing in the battle fields. The concept of wearing a poppy was presented by Moina Michael, an American school teacher, in 1921. Crepe paper pins were produced in the United States while silk poppy lapel pins began to be produced in France by soldiers’ widows and orphans. To this day in England and in the United States, the disabled, war veterans and their dependents work to manufacture the poppies. Canadian veterans made poppies until 1996 when manufacturing moved to a private contractor. In all cases, the proceeds from poppy sales are directed to the rehabilitation and support of veterans of not just the First and Second World Wars but of subsequent wars as well.

The most likely explanation for the visiting Royals wearing both English and Canadian poppies? A symbolic gesture of support for the communities of veterans in both the UK and Canada and for the disabled veterans still making the poppies in the UK.



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