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20-40-60 Etiquette: Is grooming OK at dinner table?

20-40-60 Etiquette addresses whether “mobile grooming,” as guest contributor Yvette Walker calls it, is appropriate at the table.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: March 3, 2013

I was taught by my mother, and also in early day sorority sessions, to comb my hair and put on makeup in private and never in front of other people. Most people still abide by that rule and consider it rude to haul out the compact when there are others at the table.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, Oklahoman night news editor and Media Ethics Chair, University of Central Oklahoma: No, the rule hasn't changed, but it bends a bit — a lady discreetly checking her toothsome smile at the table after a lunch of leafy salad greens is not a manners crime.

In fact, I recommend it.

Neither is discreetly reapplying a dab of lipstick. I said dab, not full liner, stain and gloss — excuse yourself and do all that in the ladies' room.

However, it's mobile grooming that has drivers up in arms these days. I'm talking about women applying full makeup at the wheel: foundation, eye, lip and cheek color and mascara! How can anyone apply mascara while driving and not look like a raccoon?

If you don't have the time to apply makeup in the morning on your way to work, nip into your office building and go to the nearest restroom you can find. You'll have a moment or two to “get presentable” before you head into your workstation.

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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