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Miss Manners, Judith Martin, Published April 06 2013

Miss Manners: Friends don’t let friends drink while wearing gloves

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In a popular televised British period drama, the ladies were shown at a ball accepting cups of punch and drinking them while wearing long evening gloves. The time was about 1925.

Was eating or drinking while wearing gloves proper then, and is it now? And if not, how and when does a lady remove her gloves in order not to make a spectacle of herself? I gather that she does properly wear gloves while dancing.

GENTLE READER: The only place where it seems to be traditional for ladies to eat or drink with gloved hands is in costume dramas. In real life, it was always considered crude, not to mention yucky, but in every period film, television show, play and opera, it is evidently intended to add a touch of what passes for “class.” Miss Manners pities the laborers who were taxed with cleaning those gloves afterward.

You are correct that gloves are worn during dancing, but they had to be removed before touching any refreshments. This was a good argument against drinking when dancing.

It would serve Miss Manners right if, after obeying her strict command to remove your gloves, you handed them to her. You might reasonably point out that ball dresses unaccountably lack pockets, and are cunningly constructed so that gloves placed on them when the wearer is seated slip off the lap, thus requiring the wearer’s unfortunate dinner partner to crawl under the table to fetch them.

If you cannot cram your gloves into your tiny evening bag, where we hope there is no makeup on the loose, you must hold them with your free hand when eating or drinking while you are standing. At dinner, she suggests surreptitiously sitting on them, but please don’t tell anyone she said so.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.