The Lady Guide to Modern Manners: 16 June

The bride wore beige – and so did her best friend… Thomas Blaikie on wedding attire and the ultimate fashion faux pas
Dear Thomas
My best friend (64) is taking the plunge and getting married in London in September.

I have lots of stuff in my wardrobe, but of course most of it is for summer weddings. Here’s the dilemma: I’ve heard from my English friends that green and various derivatives of green, such as turquoise, are bad luck for a wedding. Is this true?

An alternative is beige lace, but would I upstage the bride if she decides to wear beige? (I have tactfully not asked what she’ll be wearing, as she’s widowed.)

Please do advise when you have a moment.
Janey Curran, Denver, USA

Dear Janey
We’ve heard a lot about clothes in general recently. Samantha Cameron, the former prime minister’s wife, has shared her top tips with Sunday Times readers: plan months in advance, avoid short skirts, try on many different ensembles, check fabrics for crease resistance, remember prints are great concealers, see how you look in photographs beforehand as well as in the mirror. But at the Queen’s 90th birthday service in St Paul’s last year she wore a sun dress.

Before that, there was a whole rash of same-outfit clashes: just about everybody turned up at the Badminton Horse Trials in May in the same Tokyo Laundry £40 yellow puffer jacket (well, 17 people). There was a spat when both presenters and their guest were all in white on an Australian TV show recently. One of the presenters was curtly told by the other to acquire a black jacket immediately, which really spoiled the striking effect of three women in different white get-ups. Finally, some TV presenters in different countries were found to be wearing the same top. This was described, as all such clashes are, as a fashion faux pas. But why? And what can be done about it?

There is a superstition that green is unlucky for a wedding, except in Ireland (it’s the national colour) where the bride may wear it but not anybody else. I see that at least three guests wore green at Princess Anne’s first wedding, so maybe it is a curse. But, mumbo jumbo aside, I don’t think green is a very ‘wedding’ colour; try mauve, silver, lilac, dusty pink or apricot.

Since you live abroad, you may not be aware that September counts as a summer month in Britain. The weather can be lovely. If it does turn out cold, have a duster coat or fun- fur stole to hand. I rather share your doubts about the beige lace. The bride may well be aiming for a Grade 2 white bride look, so will be on the cream-beige spectrum. But I hope she will be more towards sumptuous cream or ivory, which is quite a different thing from beige. Older women are not invisible – but if they wear beige…

Please send your questions to or write to him at The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ER

WHAT TO ABOUT...A fancy man 

On a visit to Scotland recently, my friends and I were wondering about fancy men. These days, women either have a husband or a partner. Only young women have a boyfriend. Fancy men are no longer seen. What became of them? A fancy man was some decorative male, possibly rather dubious, perhaps without visible means of support, to whom a lady had taken a fancy and whose exciting attentions she was enjoying for as long as it suited her.

He was very definitely not a husband, or indeed, a partner. Nowadays there are only these rather grim partners. Quite a few women of a certain age in my acquaintance have partners, but they aren’t partners at all – they’re boyfriends (although not boys) or fancy men. Only one woman I know, over 50, exclaimed joyously just last week: ‘that man you were talking to – he’s my boyfriend!’

A partner is exactly the same as a husband in all but name. They fill out forms together and take it in turns to book holidays. A fancy man doesn’t do any of these things. That isn’t the point of him at all.