My mother says, “Never put on lipstick at the dinner table,” or for that matter — in public, because it is rude. Is that some sort of rule, or is she just old-fashioned?
–Annie, Newport, RI
Color me shocked. You apply lipstick at the dinner table? Etiquette keeps up with changing times. There are two sides here.
Once, it was thought inconsiderate to groom yourself in public. When you left your house your makeup and hair were supposed to be set for the day or occasion.
When with the older generation, don’t annoy them any more than you have to because they might consider you inconsiderate. With your parents, in-laws, older relatives, teachers, and superiors at work, don’t conspicuously apply lipstick in front of them. Wait for their gaze to drift in a different direction.
If you’re caught out of the corner of their eye, make sure the object of their objection is beautifully packaged. When you’re sixteen, you can get away with a bubble gum pink wand. Otherwise, Chanel, Clarins or some such touch of beautiful design is less objectionable.
When you sneak off to check for messages, you can touch up your lipstick. With your friends, discreetly whip out that lipgloss wand to wave across your lips and return it to your cosmetic bag. Do you really want to be known as the vain woman who takes out a mirror and touches up her makeup on a whim?
Discretion over vanity. The act of reapplying lipstick should be as smooth as removing a bit of salad wedged between your two front teeth. You feel it there and you get the job done swiftly.
There are, however, those who find watching a woman apply lipstick wonderfully seductive.
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