Wicker sofas and mosaic tabletops are also no-nos.

London - Your choice of garden furniture could make you a social outcast.

For eating outdoors is the latest battleground for keeping up with the Joneses, according to a new guide that sounds a cautionary note for those who favour ‘outdoor living’ ranges over more down-to-earth “patio furniture”.

The guide is on the popular Middle Class Handbook website.

Topping its tacky scale are white plastic armchairs. “Alfresco eating is about beauty, nature, lightness of touch. These are the opposite,” it says. “To completely destroy the mood, attach tie-on cushions.”

Wicker sofas and mosaic tabletops are also no-nos, and dark green cast-iron tables should strictly be reserved for pub beer gardens.

On mosaic tables, the guide says: “Your parents may wish they were retired and living in the Med. Please tell them they still live in Hertfordshire.”

While it recommends “oiled hardwood” furniture as “elegant and solid”, it remarks that the addition of a white canvas umbrella can look colonial.

If you want to appear sophisticated and trendy, showing “you have taste with a capital T”, the guide says you should consider powder-coated aluminium furniture.

If you prefer a rustic look, a white ornate cast-iron table also gets its seal of approval. “Doily-like, they conjure up cream teas and scented herb gardens, chilled wine and English roses.”

For those who want to go the extra mile to impress, “a garden pod” – ‘the modern, and slightly warmer, version of the gazebo – is the thing to go for.

The guide says these spherical glazed structures are “eye-wateringly expensive” and “popular with those whose gardens back on to a river and have their own mooring, but also with those of us who like to sit in them in the showroom and dream”. - Daily Mail