Miss Manners: What do I do about a boss who dresses inappropriately in virtual meetings?

zoom stock meeting

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I love my new boss. He’s supportive, accessible and smart. Since the whole team works remotely, our meetings take place online. But how do you approach the boss about his being completely inappropriately dressed for a business meeting -- even a virtual one?

This otherwise great guy shows up on screen in his home office, which is filled with action figures, dressed in a very loose-fitting, sleeveless basketball shirt. It does not look good and it definitely does not seem appropriate for a business call.

I’m all for casual, especially when working from home, but this is next-level. Any ideas on how to broach this subject with him?

GENTLE READER: You could ask his advice about how he expects employees to dress for videoconferences, pointing out that you do not want to appear unprofessional or offend clients.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am hosting a destination family reunion. My children, their families and I are all traveling to the area where my sisters and their families live for the event.

As plans came together, I sent out invitations saying, “No plus-ones, please.” Yet my sister blithely let me know that her 16-year-old granddaughter is bringing her new boyfriend, as if it were the cutest thing.

Nothing against the innocent young man, as any added expense will be negligible, but I am fuming. There are four teenaged cousins in the family. The idea is to interact with each other, and maybe even with other generations.


The message to me is that she disdains the family’s company as unbearably boring. Is this as clear a breach as it strikes me, or just a modern trend that is futile and petty to resist?

GENTLE READER: Bringing the uninvited boyfriend, when extras have been explicitly excluded, is rude, but Miss Manners is unable to make the logical leap to interpreting it as a criticism and rejection of the family.

Would it not be more entertaining to let slip that you are so pleased to hear that the boyfriend is to be considered a family member, even if the announcement has not yet been made?

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: In recent months, the person who has been cleaning our house for more than four years, while charging a competitive price, has delivered disappointing service. We are two senior adults living in a modest 1,500-square-foot home. There is limited “people traffic” coming through the house, and we do maintain the house between cleaning appointments.

How and when should we approach her and communicate our current disappointment with her services?

GENTLE READER: Just as with cleaning itself, this is not a task made easier by delay. As to the “how,” Miss Manners trusts you will approach the cleaner with the same professional respect that you would extend to any employee.

Miss Manners | Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Miss Manners, written by Judith Martin and her two perfect children, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Marin, has chronicled the continuous rise and fall of American manners since 1978. Send your questions to