How to address work emails, Tinder cameos and Facebook flirting

Tell your friend her husband is on Tinder with a non-judgmental screen grab, etiquette expert says

Imet a cute guy at a bar. Will I come off as a stalker if I friend him on Facebook?

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Imet a cute guy at a bar. Will I come off as a stalker if I friend him on Facebook?

What’s the proper way to address an email to my staff? “Hi folks?” “Hey all?” “Colleagues?” Nothing seems quite right. I don’t want them to think we’re friends. I might have to fire them.

Well, big boss, you can take some liberties with how you address the staff. In fact, you don’t need a noun at all. Controversial, I know, but you can just start an email with “Hello” or “Good morning,” slap a comma beside it and get on with it. You’re right in not wanting to be too colloquial, as it is still a professional environment. That said, you can still address your colleagues, as well, people. You don’t need to address them with the formality that would have went out in a 1980s inter-office fax. Nor do you need to pretend to be chummier than you actual are. If you walk into the office and say, “Hey guys” because it feels natural for you, then you might feel comfortable using that language in an email. Exercise your good judgment, which as a boss, I’m sure you have in spades.

My friend’s husband is using Tinder. Should I swipe right as a match so he will know I saw him, or will he think I’m game for an affair?

Nooooooo do not swipe right! He might very well think you are game for an affair, and I’m going to assume that you are not keen to sleep with your friend’s husband. But do use your phone for something else. Take a screen grab of him and send it to your friend with a non-judgey comment, like, “Hey, is this your husband on Tinder?” For all you know, they have an open relationship and she’s also on Tinder, swiping her heart out. Or, you’ll have just given her a crucial piece of information that will prompt a very important conversation between them. Either way, don’t make any assumptions, but don’t hide your discovery. Honesty is, as they say, the best policy.

I met a cute guy at a bar. Will I come off as a stalker if I friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and add him on Instagram?

Yup, but you’ll do it anyways, won’t you? Because you’re human. And when we meet someone we’re into, we want to know everything about them as quickly as we can, so that we can text a friend and say, “I KNEW it! His profile picture is from the same part of Italy that I’ve been to, so we’re totally destined to be together!”

Try not to get too caught up in this. You will be looking for information that has no context. You might see something and give it too much weight, like photos of him with other women. And you’ll immediately want to know what their deal is. Nothing good can come from this. Give his social profile the requisite glance to make sure there is nothing alarming (you did say you met at a bar…) or off-putting, them move on. Assuming you exchanged contact information, save getting to know him for in real life.

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing

(Originally appeared in the Toronto Star, September 2015)

Manners 2.0: My mother-in-law wants help with her online dating profile

My mother-in-law wants my help writing an online dating profile for Match.com. Should I do it? What if she meets a cyclops on there?

Good on your mother in law for embracing new ways of dating! You must have a special relationship if she feels comfortable asking you for advice.

Before you whip out your iPad and start swiping right, take a step back and have a good chat, in real life. It’s good to recall that while the forums for dating have evolved, it is still plagued by its old analogue issues. People can be less than kind, truthful or responsive. Is your MIL aware that some people are truth-y about their profiles? Does she know that there are some serious creeps out there? Does the term “hook up culture” mean anything to her? Is she aware of how shallow and crass some sites are (swiping, like shopping for shoes, “looks good, I’ll try ’em out!”). If yes, great! She’s a grown woman and might be on the cusp of having a ball. She’ll likely meet lots and lots of cyclops, but she just might meet a gem, too.

The ratio of jerks to gems online is likely comparable to that of a cafe, anyways, it’s just a new medium for meeting them. Help manage her expectations that she’ll likely have to go on some snooze-worthy dates in addition to some fun ones. Such is dating. Help her pick out some photos for her profile and find a great date outfit or two. She’ll likely need a few in the rotation!

I saw a good guy friend on Tinder. I’m not interested in him romantically, but should I still swipe right?

If you saw that same platonic friend at a bar, would you flirt with him out of politesse? An excellent gauge of whether to do something online is to ask yourself if you’d do it offline. Don’t feel pressured into courtesy swiping. Sure, you might fluff his feathers, but what if he’s been in love with you for years, and your innocuous swipe is the sign he’s been waiting for? Or what if he has no feelings for you, and thinks you’re coming on to him? That would mess with a friendship.

Swipe left, then text him to tell him he has a huge booger in nose in his profile photo. That will instantly diffuse any awkwardness and put you firmly back into the friend camp.

Of course, if you’d like my opinion to swipe left or right, please send me his photo — strictly for my professional opinion, of course.

I only accept friend requests from true friends on Facebook. How do I tell my boss and everyone else who wants in to politely f— off?

Do you only go for coffee with “true” friends? I’m curious why you’ve drawn lines around acquaintances versus friends. Do you share extremely intimate content on Facebook? If you do, then I applaud you for being so fastidious with keeping your content congruous with your audience. It is when those things get funky that issues arise.

Don’t feel compelled to accept every friend request that you receive. In fact, you don’t need to accept or even decline them. You can leave them in request purgatory, if you’re worried about hurting feelings. If a colleague, not a “true friend” by your measures, sends you a Facebook friend request, hop on over to LinkedIn and add them there. Include a short message explaining that you’re awful at keeping up on Facebook, but that you look forward to keeping in touch on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: if you’re taking this course of action, check that your profile privacy settings are such that no one can nose around your profile, to call your bluff on your alleged Facebook inactivity.

I was creeping my ex-boyfriend online and accidentally clicked on his LinkedIn profile. Can I somehow change my settings so he doesn’t find out?

Busted! Well, it happened and you’ve been caught clicking red handed. The bad news is that no, you can’t undo your snooping. But if you plan on future espionage, yes, you can make yourself anonymous on LinkedIn. Hover your cursor over your photo in the top right-hand corner, and the Account & Settings menu will drop down. Click on Privacy & Settings, then scroll to the bottom for Privacy Controls section. Click on the “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile” to edit your settings. Le voila, you can make yourself virtually invisible.

Now that the tech support portion of this column is complete, can I ask, why the creeping? No one ever feels better after creeping their ex online, ever. So when the temptation to see what he’s up to strikes, channel it somewhere else. Update your own profile, make a new playlist, scheme an amazing vacation, enjoy some excellent cat videos, what have you. Instead of googling his name, Google “best hiit at home workout.” Much more cathartic than looking at his mug.

Each week, etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing

(Originally appeared in the Toronto Star, September 2015)

Best to just ignore mother-in-law’s annoying posts on Facebook

Best to just ignore mother-in-law’s annoying posts on Facebook

Enthusiastic, ALL-CAP comments will give your other Facebook friends a chuckle

Our new online etiquette columnist, Karen Cleveland.

Our new online etiquette columnist, Karen Cleveland.

Wondering whether to like, block, pin or post? Our new online etiquette columnist, Karen Cleveland, will be answering your questions about life online. She believes manners make the world a better place — and your virtual life is no exception. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing

Help! My mother-in-law friended me on Facebook. Now she comments on every single thing I post, in ALL CAPS, all the time. How do I get rid of her and still get invited to Christmas dinner?

How great for your mother-in-law — and for all of your other friends on Facebook who might get a giggle from her enthusiastic commenting. It’s sweet that she’s taken an interest in your social life (see what I did there?).

Are her comments harmless and simply abundant? Is this really something worth addressing, at the risk of ruffling some delicate feathers? The comments you’re sweating speak for themselves. Anyone else reading them likely knows who is posting them and will likely laugh them off with an “aw shucks” lightheartedness.

Speaking of lightheartedness, you might want to steal a page from that playbook. You could also just consider posting less on Facebook. Or posting this advice directly on your Facebook wall.

What is the appropriate way to sign an email? My contact’s “warm regards” make me feel moist and clammy.

Emails without any sign-off are the worst — talk about leaving someone hanging. An email sign-off is great and an appropriate one is even better.

“Appropriate” is the operative word here, depending entirely on who’s going to receive the email.

On the scale of familiar to formal, Xs and Os must be reserved for your closest friends and family. “Sincerely” belongs on messages that would otherwise be most at home on paper, handwritten in ink. When I read a message signed with “cheers” or “ciao,” I pray those words are part of the sender’s everyday vocabulary (otherwise, it comes off as trying too hard).

The tone of “best” switches, depending on the punctuation that follows. “Watch this. Best, Karen” — looks nice, right? “Best. KC” — looks a bit bitchy.

The final consideration is that the sign-off should match the message. Plans for meeting up for a drink, ended with “sincerely” is incongruous, just like a job offer ending with “xoxo.”

Is it OK to Photoshop my Instagram photos? Lindsay Lohan does it.

Whatever Lindsay Lohan does is often a very good gauge for what not to do. The better question here is: Why Photoshop your Instagram photos? The friends who follow you will know that your waist has been whittled or your gams lengthened, so why bother? You’re not pulling any fast ones. Now, touching up a blemish is another matter.

Perhaps the better gauge is that, if a product can fix it up, then let tech do it for you (red eyes or a nasty pimple, for example). But photo modifications that would require surgery or a diet of fish and greens for four months aren’t fooling anyone. If you treat your photos the way Lindsay Lohan does, you just might welcome the sort of comments that are on her feed — and the eyerolls she gets offline, too.

I just got engaged. Should we be using a hashtag for our wedding tweets?

Congratulations! Of course you can use a hashtag for your wedding. You can also serve anchovies for dessert, it’s your party.

A hashtag helps consolidate all your guests’ photos for the night, so it’s a smart idea for the social-media savvy. However, not everyone will share your enthusiasm. In fact, for every guest hashtagging your beautiful centrepieces, two more might roll their eyes.

Who cares? If you plan your wedding with the intention of making everyone happy, you’ll be serving 100 different entrees and finding a gluten-free vegan paleo organic dessert. As a traditionalist (though of the modern variety), I think hashtagging your wedding takes an intimate event and turns it into something really, really public.

But hey, it’s your party. Hashtag if you want to.

Each week, etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing.

(Originally appeared in the Toronto Star, May 2015)

How to Pull Off Leather at the Office

Here, 10 of the new wearable leather silhouettes showcased on the runways you’ll want to add to your wardrobe workwear now. We’re talking strictly business

NOVEMBER 27, 2014

As soon as fall merchandise started rolling into stores, leather shot to the top of my shopping list. But not the teen-pop legging look I saw on racks everywhere. I was more drawn to its grown-up sisters: lean sheath dresses, beautifully cut skirts and refined fitted jackets.

I’ve flirted with leather over the years: A favourite pair of leather jeans, long since sold on consignment, a well-loved collection of bomber jackets, biker jackets and a knee-length coat all had their places at some point in my closet. But leather for daytime just seemed too much. To ease myself in, I stuck to my cardinal uniform of black and found a few key leather pieces to gussy up my wardrobe of basics.

But first, some important reconnaissance. Susie Sheffman, fashion creative director and consultant, has sage advice for making leather look professional: Wear one piece at a time, and mix it with tailored pieces, like a well-cut blouse or tweed blazer. This, she points out, “takes the toughness down.” She advises me to remove anything too clubby or vampy from my outfits, and when wearing leather pants, to keep the stomach, waistline and bum covered up. She also recommends keeping shoes simple—skip the sky-high heels in favour of a flat, a mid-heel or an oxford to keep the sexiness in check.

Fortunately, on the day I wanted to brave leather pants, the weather was perfect. I wore skinny black leather pants from Ann Taylor with a crisp white collared shirt, a favourite black J.Crew “schoolboy” blazer and nude flats. I felt completely comfortable, as the outfit was a small upgrade from my usual black wool skinny trousers. I got a few compliments on the pants (they fit really nicely), and it felt office appropriate but with a little something extra. This outfit will indeed be in the rotation on the regular.

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Ann Taylor pants, $116, anntaylor.com

On Fridays, without fail, I wear some variation of the skinny jeans and blazer combination. I subbed out one of my go-to blazers in favour of a moto-style jacket from Banana Republic with an ink-blue body and black fabric sleeves. Marissa Webb, Banana Republic’s new creative director (and J.Crew alumna), has already put her mark on the fall and winter line, with a ton of leather and mixed-medium pieces.

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Banana Republic jacket, $310, bananarepublic.ca

One week, I wore it with a white collared shirt (yup, again), black skinny jeans and ankle boots. It felt like a cooler, fresher version of my casual Friday uniform. Another week, I paired it with a knit black pencil skirt, black tank and simple black pumps. Both times, I received lots of compliments (especially from the young ones around the office).

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Here’s the thing: When you introduce a beautiful leather garment into your outfit, it instantly makes it more special or interesting, even in a subtle way. So as someone with an admittedly basic wardrobe, I felt good wearing leather to the office.

 Danier skirt, $250, danier.com

(Published originally for The Kit, November 2014)

Taking the Coloured Eyeliner Trend Out For a Spin

Coloured eyeliner: Etiquette expert and fabulous business lady Karen Cleveland tests out wearing bright hued eyeliner in a corporate atmosphere

AUGUST 29, 2014

The notion of coloured eyeliner conjured up the worst of the ’80s for me: Remember Joan Cusack in Working Girlher lids lacquered with a garish swipe of shimmery cobalt? But on the fall 2014 runways, we saw electric blue cat eyes at Kenzo, orange and green flicks at Chanel and winged-out iridescent turquoise lids at Dior. Cue Duran Duran! I was curious: Could I pull off this look as a grown woman in 2014, working in a corporate environment?

RELATED READ: Trend to try: Matte red lips

With a routine that’s equal parts lazy and minimalist (touch of concealer, bit of bronzer and well-curled, mascara’d lashes), I was skeptical. So much so that I sneakily popped a makeup remover wipe into my bag before heading to meet Stila Cosmetics’ national trainer, Melissa Ortins, for some coloured liner education. My assignment: an evening liner look in bold blue (her work) and a daytime look in rich green (my work).

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I met Ortins on the hottest, rainiest day of the summer—challenging conditions for testing a bold makeup look. She expertly swiped Stila’s Stay All Day Liner (the brand’s best-selling product) in Indigo across my upper lash line in a perfect cat eye. Pro tip: Start from the outside and angle the tip toward the outer edge of your eyebrow for precise symmetry. The more pressure you apply, the more dramatic the line will be.

RELATED READ: Jeanne Beker talks bold summer makeup

While working her magic, Ortins explained that coloured eyeliner has come a long way. Rather than adding pigment for pop (as we did so gratuitously in the ’80s), the goal now is to shape the eye, using a complementary shade. People should notice your irises, not the colour of your makeup. The result was a pretty, interesting swoop that was less harsh than black.

I bounded out into the rain and headed straight to a rum-tasting party. I expected my fella and my friends to notice my makeup (quite bold, by my standards) but had to prompt them for feedback. The consensus was that it looked nice, if heavier than I normally wear. Nary a mention of the colour, but one friend, who wields a liner like no one’s business, thought it made my baby blues appear darker.

The next morning before work, I attempted to replicate the look using Olive, a greyish green. To keep things office-appropriate, I didn’t extend the line past the end of my eyes. Throughout the morning, I was nervously aware that I was sporting more makeup than usual, and in a bolder shade. But when I checked the mirror in the ladies’, I instantly chilled out—the line defined the shape of my eyes and made them look a little more grey, without screaming, “This is green liner!”

Surprisingly, at no point from my 9 a.m. meeting to the end of my marathon workday (hair in a bun held with a pencil, pounding on the laptop at 10 p.m.) did my coloured eyeliner and I feel the least bit Working Girl. Though the ’80s were pretty fabulous, weren’t they?

Would you wear an electric blue cat-eye?

 

LAURA MERCIER CRÈME EYE LINER IN ENVY, $28, AT HOLT RENFREW; ESSENCE GEL EYE PENCIL WATERPROOF IN BLUE LAGOON,
$3, AT SHOPPERS DRUG MART; MAKE UP
 FOR EVER AQUA LINER IN IRIDESCENT FUCHSIA, $27, AT SEPHORA.CAVASANTI LIQUID EYELINER IN CALM, $18, AT SHOPPERS DRUG MART & REXALL; STILA STAY ALL DAY WATERPROOF LIQUID EYE LINER IN INDIGO, $26, AT MURALE

(Originally published for The Kit, in the Toronto Star, August 2014)