On Being Fashionably Late

In the rush of today's world we're each just barely making it from one place to the next.  We kiss one friend on the cheek after a lunch and then spin ourselves around, thrust our right arm into the air for a taxi and fetch our iphones out of our coat pockets with our left.  Not more than a minute has passed since we've said goodbye to our first engagement before we're zipping through our new emails, texts and missed calls.  How exhausting!  So its understandable when we're running a bit late.  In fact, it's even fashionable.  In the U.S., overpromptness can actually be considered rude!  

Here are the general guidelines to fashionable lateness: 

If you are attending luncheon or dinner with a person of the same sex: five to ten minutes.

If you are a woman attending a luncheon or dinner with a man: up to fifteen minutes.

If you are attending a luncheon or dinner with a married couple at a restaurant: not more than ten minutes for a couple older than you (a bit more if the married couple is a contemporary of yours).

If you are attending a dinner in which there will be fewer than ten guests: ten minutes.

If you are attending a dinner of up to twenty guests: twenty minutes.

At very big dinners (and especially buffet dinners), lateness up to a half hour is acceptable.

At a large cocktail party for which there is a specific time frame set forth on the invitation, arrive no sooner than fifteen minutes after the first hour mentioned in the invitation and no later than a half hour before the party is to end.

Please take care to note that the list above indicates that its fashionable to be late but not a flake.  It's not at all fashionable to cancel an engagement at the last minute, especially by text or email.  And for those of you being canceled on habitually in the new age of constant contact, remind yourself that last minute cancellations are not friendly behavior.  You'll do better to surround yourself with friends and acquaintances who are worthy of your time and respect - I promise they're out there - you'll find them in a New York minute.


Post script - The image today is a Cecil Beaton illustration that appeared in the March 1933 issue of Vogue.  Friends of ours recently gifted us a Cecil Beaton coffee table book authored by the Creative Director of The Museum of The City of New York.  (The museum featured a fantastic Cecil Beaton exhibit last winter (which was a memorable part of our wedding day!))  I spent lots of time over the weekend flipping through its pages.  Beaton had the most glorious life - traveling from city to city, capturing the most interesting people on film in the most authentic way.  I think his illustrations are wonderful and I've always wanted to decorate a guest room in an old house with his rose print wallpaper.  Prints of the featured illustration are available for purchase through the Conde Nast store here.

Post, post script - If you find yourself lucky enough to be visiting Europe (and as I've just learned, Canada!) you'll be expected to observe perfect puncutality.