DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My husband and I recently received a wedding invitation that states "black tie preferred." We have never encountered that before on a wedding invitation. Should my husband wear his tux? I thought that only the bridal party groomsmen should be in tuxes. Would a suit and tie be appropriate? Does it mean that the female guests should be in floor-length gowns?
-- FLUMMOXED BY FORMAL WEAR
DEAR FLUMMOXED: Your hosts prefer their gentlemen guests to wear a tux, and lucky for you, your husband has one. Unlike black-tie optional, a suit and tie would not be appropriate for your husband. If a guest does not comply and does wear a suit instead of a tux, he is not going to be turned away from the reception or seated in a corner by the kitchen. However, consider the note on the invitation a clue from the hosts to what attire is expected.
Ladies have more choices in what they wear but nevertheless should be more over than under dressed. That does not mean flashy or cheap. Keep in mind the invitation is for a wedding and not a Miss USA pageant or the Oscars. Your outfit should be age and body-type appropriate. Even if it fits, forget your daughter’s or your own prom dress. Cocktail suits and dresses or floor-length gowns, especially if they are accessorized appropriately, make stunning outfits. Most major stores have personal shoppers who can suggest and guide customers through the rigors of selecting an outfit for a formal wedding or social event.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I work for an air-conditioning contractor. Every day I try to stay upbeat and positive. This is not as easy as you think. Some days start with other technicians complaining before we make our calls. Then some customers yell and overreact if their air conditioners are not working. Dealing with bad attitudes has become the hardest part of my job.
-- NOT AS COOL AS I WANT TO BE
DEAR NOT SO COOL: Negative attitudes and bad colds are contagious. Try not to catch the germs. Some people yell as a pattern of behavior to aggressively control situations. Be empathetic but keep perspective when a customer vents. Repairing cooling systems in 90-degree weather is stressful, so remember you are a technician and not a magician. Do not focus on or rehash your worst service calls with co-workers. An irate customer should not predicate the rest of your day. Maintain professionalism to shield yourself from absorbing negativity and crown yourself with an imaginary reward for situations well-handled.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.