DEAR MISS MANNERS: How many strands of pearls is too many? I had always heard that a lady should never wear more than three at one time. Now I see so many starlets and even Michelle Obama wearing five or six or more. It still looks trashy to me. Have times changed?
GENTLE READER: Of course times have changed, but what do pearls care? With their innocent look, they don't have to obey the rules that restrict their flashier peers.
Miss Manners supposes it is technically possible to wear too many pearls. But five, seven or even nine strands (in a choker worn on a very long neck) have never been considered trashy.
Notice that the possibility of four, six or eight strands was not mentioned. That is because pearls do not lead a totally unrestricted existence. As Miss Manners' dear grandmother took care to teach her, "A lady does not wear an even number of strands of pearls."