Whether in a restaurant or at home, a lunch gathering is a pleasant pause – an oasis of cheer and delight amidst everyday toil. Intelligent women, women with good taste, understand that lunch is not the correct time to present magnificent jewels or delicate silk and lace gowns. For lunch gatherings in a restaurant we will always arrive clad in a suit or an elegant but understated wool dress. Suit should be topped with a felt hat – never a silk hat or one of velvet, which strictly belong with afternoon dresses or very fancy dressmaker suits of luxurious materials. Reasonably capacious leather handbag, leather gloves and walking shoes with low or medium heels complete the outfit. It is assumed that we arrive to lunch direct from our business in town, and afterwards continue with work or shopping, and thus silk dresses and other clothes that speak of leisure are not suitable for lunching. Glittering jewels and hanging earrings do not match our walking suit, and so we satisfy ourselves with simple metal or ceramic brooches or a single strand of pearls. Scarves can be of any colour and pattern, as long as they match our outfit.
Correct restaurant manners decree that hat must not be removed, even when the gloves are taken off for eating. A restaurant is a civilized public place, and it would not do to go hatless (of course the rules are different for evening, but we already understand that, don’ we?). Gloves are removed before sitting down, although the right hand glove can be taken off even earlier.
During the hottest summer months, a linen dress is permissible, but preferably not one with a loud print. A cheerful colour is, however, perfectly fine. A light-coloured suit of breathable material is certainly agreeable.
There is no ambiguity about what to wear for a lunch. Afternoon gatherings, with tea of coffee, are a bit trickier. We must figure out the expected level of fineness. For a simple afternoon coffee we will wear whatever we wold choose for lunch. For grander afternoon affairs we will wear our visiting dress, be it fine wool, silk or velvet. Black is always chic. A detailed dressmaker suit in soft lines is also suitable, especially when worn with a beautiful, slightly elaborate blouse.
In these events we will not be wearing the same hat as when buying vegetables from a market. We must – oh, we can – put on a pretty afternoon hat, which suits our visiting dress in style and colour. Fine, delicate gloves need not be removed for greetings, but the right hand glove is taken off before putting even the tiniest cookie or cucumber sandwich into one’s mouth. It is also permissible to remove both gloves for eating and taking refreshments, if it feels more comfortable. Please don’t stuff your gloves into your handbag, but practice holding them in the same hand that holds the handbag. Which, now that we consider it, should be finer and more elegant than the handbag we’d wear for lunch, but not a jeweled evening bag. Sturdy walking shoes are not suitable for more elaborate teas or coffees, we need something with a little more heel and sophistication. If the weather demands practical walking shoes, wool socks over silk or nylon stockings, and threatens to ruin your pretty hat, bring your afternoon shoes and hat in a tote bag and change in the foyer. This way you’ll be appropriately dressed for the weather outside and the occasion indoors.