Manners from the Manor: Dressing Etiquette

Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, is sharing her “dressing etiquette” today for the second installment of our six-week “Manners from the Manor” series.  Myka is a dual American and British citizen who trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen, and has worked with members of the British Royal family. One of her most popular etiquette courses is  The Duchess Effect which follows a similar training that Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle went through when they joined the British Royal Family.  One of the key elements of The Duchess Effect is dressing etiquette, and I was delighted to learn Myka’s tips!

Overall tips

Myka’s two favorite quotes to dress by are: “Dress the way you want to be addressed,” and “Dress for the position you want” – both socially and professionally. When considering your style, Myka advises to remember you are a brand at all times! We often think of a shoe or a lipstick or computer as a brand, but you are a brand too! What does your brand say about you?

Myka Meier demonstrates the Royal wave in front of The Plaza Hotel in New York City where she teaches etiquette classes

Grooming: Fragrance and Manicures

If you wear a fragrance, make sure you keep it on your pulse points and not on your clothing where fragrance sticks and can be overpowering. Manicures do not necessarily mean painted nails.

While Myka usually does have her nails painted (she prefers Essie’s Ballet Slipper for a clean, polished and elegant look), the key is to never have chipped nail polish. Myka would rather no nail polish than chipped nail polish. If you don’t wear polish, make sure your nails are nicely manicured, your cuticles are in check, and your nails are not too long in order to maintain a more refined look. “I prefer my nails slightly squared at the top,” says Myka.

You will never see a member of the British Royal Family with brightly painted nails. Kate Middleton typically wears no nail polish or a very sheer baby pink such as Essie’s Mademoiselle.

Decoding the dress-code for a polished look from casual to black-tie

  • Casual – Relax! Comfortable and informal clothing, yet coordinated appearance
  • Business Casual – Professional appearance still required – no T-shirts, shorts or flip-flops
  • Cocktail / Semi-formal- Post 5pm – Little black dress, silky jumpsuit or cocktail dress that sparkles for ladies and a jacket with pocket square or jacket and tie for men pending the formality of event and venue
  • Black Tie – Post 6pm and very formal – Floor length gowns for ladies and tuxedo for men
  • Bonus – Resort/Island-elegant, beach chic, garden party, outdoor day wedding – Think cocktail party (usually during the day) with more casual materials – linen shirts and blazers for men and flowy dresses in florals in bright colors for ladies

Dressing for the gym 

You don’t have to look sloppy just because you are working out! Tips: Buy stretch materials that are comfortable and breathable but thick enough so that it doesn’t show underwear lines.

Matchy-Matchy – Buy sets that can mix and match together; Work out gear can be a fun time to play with color – bright pink shoes to keep you motivated? Go for it! If you wear something to the gym that makes you feel confident, you will probably have an amazing work out as a bonus. Myka’s go to is Lulu Lemon. If you’re wearing what is considered “athleisure” you can easily run an errand before your yoga session and still look fabulous.

We’ve even seen The Duchess of Cambridge in “athleisure” running errands… royals, see they really are just like us 😉 One thing to avoid? If you’re wearing the “athleisure” look while running an errand, no matter how amazing your abs are, wear a top that doesn’t show your belly for a more refined look.

Casual dressing (from a shopping trip to a simple lunch with your friends)

Just because you are dressed casually, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look your best. You never know who you will run into, where and when! The moment you run to the drugstore in your sweatpants is the moment you see your boss, client, president of the social club you just applied to or even the crush you’ve had your eye on!

Myka’s go to: A pair of cigarette trousers (for a super polished look, go with a material other than denim), an amazing heel or elegant flat, a brightly-colored cashmere sweater with amazing statement earrings or a Jackie O style three strand pearl necklace and an oversized pair of Chanel “sunnies” as she calls them.

Dressing caution: Beware of logos – having too many logos or too large of a logo on your body can look showy.

Dressing for the work day 

When in doubt, always dress more conservatively, and always dress for the industry you are in. If you work in marketing at a trendy makeup brand or ad agency, then you are more likely to dress in a variety of colors, creatively, and possibly more casually.

In formal business environments, try Myka’s “three jewel rule” — beside marital or religious jewelry, stick to three pieces of jewelry – a watch, earrings and bracelet. Having too much clutter in an outfit via jewelry often makes you look disorganized and less polished in conservative work environments. If you have to wear a suit to work, the darker the suit, the more formal. If you work in a corporate environment, remember to stick to closed-toe shoes. In formal business, Myka recommends having your shoulders covered.

Informal “business-casual” still means having a professional appearance.  No T-shirts (always a collar), or flip flops or shorts; Try a cotton dress, pair of capri pants or jeans instead.

Myka’s fool-proof go to: A white button down starched and collared long sleeve shirt tucked into an amazing pencil skirt or pair of slacks with a killer heel or elegant flat shoe.

What is one item Myka keeps in her office? A power blazer to slip over anything in case a client drops in unexpectedly. Myka also loves Urban Decay’s Alpha lipstick and a pair of statement earrings such as oversized pearls.

Dressing for day time networking and social events

The goal is elegance and sophistication, mixed in with a bit of fun and personality. “When you arrive at a social event, it should look like you had a ball getting ready!”

Myka recommends a conservative neckline for social day dressing to keep the look sophisticated. Find a style that makes you feel confident, and don’t wear something just because it’s trendy. “It’s always better to go timeless than trendy.”   

Use caution with hemlines and slits during day events. Slits are for function with day wear and the hemline check Myka recommends is to stand up straight and drop your hands to the side – if your longest finger comes above your hemline, it may be a sign it’s too short. Remember your clothing should be tailored, not tight.

Caution: In formal etiquette, wearing diamonds during the day can sometimes look showy, so in addition to marital or religious jewelry, try metallic jewelry like silver, platinum or gold, gem stones like sapphires or emeralds or pearls. Post 6pm: dazzle away in your diamonds! This is even a rule that the Duchess of Cambridge follows!

Jewelry Tips 

Myka loves mixing real pieces with costume jewelry. “I love going to estate sales, auctions and vintage shops looking for treasures! One of my favorite pair of gold doorknocker earrings I found for $10 at a vintage shop. It’s not what you wear but how you wear it! I recently went to a black-tie gala and had on a stunning diamond necklace with big emerald stones and everyone kept stopping me saying how lucky a lady I was, when really it was an old costume piece my grandmother bought in the ‘80s that my daughter sometimes plays dress up with!”

Remember if someone compliments you on a piece that is not real, you don’t have to feel obligated to say “Oh this? It’s not real!” Simply say, “Thank you! That’s so kind.” There’s no need to draw attention to price or value. If someone liked it before, that’s all that matters and they should like it no matter where you got it or what it cost.

Etiquette Tip: Never deflect a compliment and always say thank you!

Dressing for night time networking and social events 

Check the dress code of the event and stick to it. There are few more socially embarrassing things than showing up to an event dressed incorrectly.

Typically, for evening events you will be asked to wear cocktail, formal or black-tie, depending the formality of the event.

Cocktail / formal – A cocktail length, tea length or long dress is absolutely perfect for this category. Try my “follow one” rule, which is if you have open shoulders, go longer on the length of your dress. If your dress is longer, then play with an open shoulder.

Don’t wear wedge shoes. Wedges are for day wear only. Open toe is great for formal or cocktail parties, just be careful the platform on the shoe is not too high.

Black tie – This means floor-length gowns for ladies and tuxedos for men. Black tie is a time to play with sparkle, slits, a dip of the neckline is absolutely appropriate, and a bit of glamour is perfect for this style of event!

Myka’s final parting quote is from one of her favorite writers, known for style: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” – Oscar Wilde.

To learn more, you can check out Beaumont Etiquette’s 2019 Duchess Effect Intensive Course at the Plaza Hotel.  A discounted rate at The Plaza for the weekend of the course is available.  And stay tuned to The Glam Pad! Below is the timeline for our six-week “Manners from the Manor” series!

  • Introduction: Meet Myka (09.26.18)
  • Week 1: The Duchess Effect (10.03.18)
  • Week 2: Dressing Etiquette (10.10.18)
  • Week 3: Dining Etiquette (10.17.18)
  • Week 4: Afternoon Tea (10.24.18)
  • Week 5: Etiquette for Children (10.31.18)
  • Week 6: Holiday Etiquette (11.07.18)

To learn more about Myka Meier and her upcoming courses please visit Beaumont Etiquette, and click here for details on her online courses. Below I have selected a few items that I think Myka or a duchess would wear… Please follow @mykameier on Instagram for additional fashion inspiration she will be posting all week!


  1. Great reminders! I am curious that she said floor length dresses for black tie. Also that she says it’s ok to wear lulu lemon out and about. Interesting. I’d like her thoughts on stockings. I see she doesn’t wear them but lately I’ve noticed people seem to be starting to wear them again. Would love to know her thoughts. Great post as always!!!

    • Dear Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your note!

      Stockings should be worn in formal settings, such as at a formal business office or at a black-tie affair. I wear stockings to work whether I’m wearing a dress, skirt or pants, and with flats or pumps.

      The brand I recommend is Calzedonia.

      Best regards,

      • Thank you, Myka! The bare leg look is a little Sloppy/dirty to my eye recently but I really wasn’t sure what protocol dictated! Thank you very much for taking the time to clarify -and for the brand recommendation!

  2. I am enjoying this series! I have been following Myka for quite sometime and have always loved her posts on Instagram. Thank you for sharing this information. I so agree with you about being you’re own brand! That is so important. Appearances are so important whether people want to believe them or not. Thank you again!

  3. I just started following your blog, as recommended by a dear friend. I am so enjoying it, especially your post today. Myka has many good reminders for all of us, on our appearance. It seems we have gotten a bit too casual and lazy (pajama pants on airplanes, for example). Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more in this series!

  4. Are mothers no longer teaching their children proper table manners and other etiquette, and how to dress appropriately? My mother taught me, I taught my children and they are now teaching theirs. This isn’t about family wealth – even the poorest children were taught such in the past. If one does not learn such things as a very young child, one will never have a manner that is effortless, natural, and graceful – just second nature.

    I can fully understand that one must be taught Court etiquette if one was not born into the Royal family, but as for the rest? Well, to me it’s appalling that we’ve fallen to such.

    • The decline in good manners has been going on for generations now. The hope lies in the fact that people from all walks of life are still interested in etiquette and that classes are readily available. Cotillion classes – previously the bastion of country clubs – are offered in many areas and registration is usually offered through public schools.


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