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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Reviving the Fur Coat

Thursday, October 08, 2015


Q.  At this time of year, women start to bring out their fur coats, ready for winter wearing. Younger women are usually wearing popular faux-furs, yet women over 50 still have the real things and love to take them out! I have a colleague who chooses not to store hers professionally, but rather has a cedar closet and – gulp – mothballs. All very well and good – but give her a hug at a social event and she reminds you immediately of hugging your great grandmother. That waft of mothballs is offensive — but it is also “aging.” So, other than professional storage what can you suggest?  –Mothballed, RI

A.  The first thing your friend needs to remember is that she should never let snow or rain water dry on her fur coat because it could create mildew. She should always dry off the coat as quickly as possible by shaking off the water and patting or brushing off excess moisture, but to never rub the fur or use an actual brush.

To expel existing odors, your friend should hang her coat in a vinyl garment coat bag and place fresh coffee grounds in the bottom of the bag. The coffee grinds will absorb the odor when the bag is tightly zipped closed. It may take a few days for the odor to be fully eliminated, but stirring the coffee grinds every so often should quicken the process.

After a couple of days, she can hang the coat outside to air out the smell of coffee before safely storing it in her closet. However, never store a fur coat in a plastic bag. When she needs to brush the fur, your friend should run her fingers through the fur instead of using a real brush.

Ideally, as you undoubtedly know, to keep a fur coat looking healthy and to prolong a youthful appearance, fur coats should be stored in a cool place; cleaning should be carried out by a professional furrier; cold storage is advised for expensive fur.

On the internet when you Google ‘how to clean a fur coat,’ you’ll find such suggestions as putting the fur coat in a tumble clothes dryer with pumice or walnut shells, but then you’ll need to use a glazing solution to restore the sheen.

Personally, I've never owned or worn a fur coat, but I understand their attraction. ~Didi

The mothers' dress code for their sons' wedding

Q.  I have a question regarding mother-of-the-groom attire for a gay wedding, taking place next July. Since there is no mother-of-the-bride to direct protocol, is the proper approach simply to discuss preferences with the other mother, while deferring to the grooms regarding color and formality of the dress? 

The time and venue of the wedding makes the issue of formality slightly tricky, as the ceremony will be held early in the morning, on a beautiful grassy knoll, near but not on a beach…whereas the brunch that follows will be held in a very high-end hotel. 

The grooms plan to dress formally in tuxedos. In these circumstances, would it be appropriate to wear a tasteful floor-length gown in a muted color, with a fairly high neckline, elbow-length sleeves and perhaps a matching jacket? Or would that be too formal? I have my heart set on a long gown, but don’t want to break the rules or appear, heaven forbid, too flashy!

Thanks very much for your help.

–Katie, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

A.  As you say, “the mothers” as they are called, should agree on the dressiness of their outfits. Think of the wedding photos and you’ll see why it is in your best interest to have you both dressed in the same length and style of dress, but not necessarily in the exact same color.

Although, you both could wear different shades of the same color, such as Turquoise for one and French Blue for the other; or one can wear Light French Beige and the other Ecru.

A morning wedding ceremony followed by a formal brunch, no matter how formally dressed the wedding couple, does not call for the wedding party and the guests to be donned in formal attire.

Only if the other mother wishes to do so, too, would you wear a full-length dress. Then again you should agree about the design, style and color. In other words, you would not want to be brazenly more fashionable or dressier than your son’s mother-in-law.

My best suggestion for both of you mothers is to go with a more modern and sophisticated look. That’s why I’m recommending that you both wear an exquisitely made special occasion jacket, in either a silk or linen, with either a solid colored skirt or slacks.

Look for an outfit that you will be able to wear for decades to come. Without knowing your builds or lifestyles, the taller you are the longer the jacket should be.

This is a dressy summer look extremely popular in resorts such as Palm Beach, Charleston, Newport, RI, Palm Springs, and Nantucket. It would be more appropriate for Vancouver Island than a full-length gown.

To illustrate the look I’m recommending, I use Maria Pucci’s website gramercy-atelier.com where you would click on ‘Mother of the Bride’ to view these popular favorites and much more.  ~Didi

Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi." If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location.


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