Just about everyone is familiar with the term “fashionably late.” Everyone knows that one person who is never on time; you can count on her to keep you waiting at least 30 minutes for every event, so you and the rest of your friends have taken to telling her that events start 30 minutes earlier than is true. You also have those friends who are consistently on time. If you have a party that starts promptly at seven, you can count on your doorbell to ring not one second late. This is the couple who considers being fashionably late to be a fashion faux pas; your other friend uses the concept to excuse her poor behavior and lack of etiquette. That said, what does fashionably late really mean and is it acceptable?
Many people consider fashionably late a term that they use to describe being 10-15 minutes late. Their belief is often that showing up on time makes them look bad (because party start times, movie start times and dinner reservations are merely a suggestion?). When the invitation says an event starts at seven, they show up 15 minutes late to avoid being the first to arrive. Their mindset is that being the first to arrive makes them look like they have no life.
The truth is, when a host or hostess puts a time on an invitation it is not acceptable to keep them waiting. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, according to Miss Manners. If you are invited to a formal dinner, event or have reservations for a specific time it is unacceptable to arrive fashionably late – or at all late. If you are invited to an open house or a casual gathering, it is acceptable to arrive within 30 minutes of the start time; though anyone with good manners and proper etiquette never keeps her hostess waiting.
Furthermore, when you become aware that you will be late to an event or gathering, it is always considered good manners to inform the hostess of your tardiness prior to being late. While everyone has a different opinion of what is considered fashionably late, they really should ask whether being the first person at the party is really more annoying than being the person that everyone is forced to wait on before the festivities begin. Make Miss Manners proud; be on time.