Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Proper Carriage and Posture

One of the first lessons the young girl learns in fashionable deportment is how to stand correctly. If 10 or 20 girls are asked to take a standing position in a drawing room with nothing to occupy their hands, there may be two or three out of the number who will fall into graceful and attractive positions.
The Charm of Gentle Manners

Deportment is a gentler course in the training of young girl than physical culture. Physical training, however, forms a large part of the foundation upon which good manners are built. The girl who carries herself gracefully on all occasions is like an accomplished actress— has mastered the art which conceals art. Her rhythmic movements, her attractive poses have been so carefully studied that they seem to be perfectly natural. 


One of the first lessons the young girl learns in fashionable deportment is how to stand correctly. If 10 or 20 girls are asked to take a standing position in a drawing room with nothing to occupy their hands, there may be two or three out of the number who will fall into graceful and attractive positions. The others will lean on one foot, drop the arms awkwardly at the side, hold the head at an unbecoming jangle or illustrate any one of the countless other “don'ts” which the young girl must learn to avoid before she is ready to make a good favorable impression in the drawing-room and ballroom.  

Even a wallflower may be decorative if she knows how to stand and sit without expressing in her pose the anxiety of her mind. She can not be an ornament if she is the least bit awkward. The correct standing position, whether one is chatting with a friend in the street in class or in the ballroom, is to balance easily on the balls of the feet, with the body poised in such a way that a quick movement backward or forward can be made without, causing discomfiture to one's self or one’s neighbor. While resting in this position one should always be on the alert for change of position. Do not stand with one knee slightly bent, as so many girls stand unconsciously. They think that standing first on one foot and then on the other, rests them, but it makes them grow tired quicker than if they stood twice as long, balanced evenly on both feet.

Standing on one foot gives the figure a one sided appearance. It makes one hip look larger than the other, one shoulder seems to droop below its mate, and altogether the position throws the body into unsymmetrlcal lines and curves. Keep the knees stiff. This will prevent the one sided effect. One instructor told her girls: “Stand on your bones,” meaning that they should stand with the knee joints rigid and the whole weight of the body evenly distributed on the two feet. As soon as you shift the weight from one foot to the other, you begin to tire yourself and look awkward. Almost any girl will be able to stand in this correct position for a long time without feeling fatigued in the least. And for classwork, this point is well worth remembering, if it has not already been brought to your attention. The girl who is restless when she stands is a burden to herself and a worry to her companions.

Sitting is more of an art than the average girl imagines. The untrained girl drops into a chair and gets out of it any way, but the trained girl becomes a part of the chair when she is seated. First, she learns how to walk up to it, facing the chair, how to swing her body as on a pivot while changing her position, and after her feet are properly placed so that she can sit down gracefully, she gently lowers herself into the chair. When preparing to rise the feet should be placed firmly on the floor, one in front of the other, and the body brought upward by balancing it on the balls of the feet again. 

It more difficult to lift the body to a standing position when the feet are placed side by side, than when one foot is advanced slightly. This position prepares one for the first step in walking to another part of the room or when taking one’s departure. The awkward girl shifts her weight first from one foot to the other and usually has difficulty in getting under way when she could avoid it all by placing her feet in the correct position when she prepares to rise from the chair. After a few lessons, the position becomes quite simple.  – 1911

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Vacation Etiquette for Americans

This turtle doesn’t need this bag, as he certainly won’t be doing any seaside shopping. “Multiply your left-behind paper plates and cups, soft drink bottles, etc., by the hundreds who will use that picnic area in a given week and you see why some areas look like one big garbage heap. Crews eventually will pick up after you, but you’re not thinking of the others who want to enjoy the outdoors, nor of the multi-million dollars of taxpayers’ money spent on cleanup alone.”  –Photo source Canadian Wildlife Federation


How Are Your Travel Manners? 
Check Yourself
A tourist is judged by his travel manners and the better they are the better the impression made on strangers at home and abroad. The better also you will enjoy your trip if you exercise the rules of courtesy. Good manners add to good service you get too from the motels, hotels, roadside eating places, airlines, trains and buses. Those catering to the vacationer if pinned down could give you a list of gripes that long for correction. They are tolerant, because they are seeking the tourist dollar. But, from talking to various persons in the travel industry, we have compiled –

“Pauley’s Easy Guide for Testing Your Vacation Etiquette”
  • Do you hog two seats in the bus, train or plane by deliberately placing your coat, purse or other paraphernalia on the second seat, hoping thereby to seal it off? 
  • Do you on planes hang assorted cameras, coats or other accessories including flight bags in your area so that they overlap and create a hazard anyway discomfort for the person behind or in front of you? 
  • Do you light a cigarette, pipe or cigar without asking whether smoking bothers the person sitting next to you? 
  • Do you use the ash tray nearest you or prefer to lean over and use one of your neighbor, dusting ashes as you go?
  • Do you march up to the reception desk of hotel or motel and elbow others aside who are in line ahead of you to register? If you've pushed your way past others a little more patient during a busy tourist season, you’ve just won a top award for crudeness. 
  • Do you adapt, if the conditions are not as perfect as promised ? Some of the overseas countries are just getting into the swing of seeking you as guest for a holiday and the shower may not always work, the soap supply not be ample. But point out politely that flaw in the service. Creating a scene does not create a favorable impression of Americans. 
  • In motor travel, especially in the United States, do you trash the roadside picnic areas as if litter did not hurt? Multiply your left-behind paper plates and cups, soft drink bottles, etc., by the hundreds who will use that picnic area in a given week and you see why some areas of the United States look like one big garbage heap. Crews eventually will pick up after you, but you’re not thinking of the others who want to enjoy the outdoors, nor of the multi-million dollars of taxpayers’ money spent on cleanup alone. 
  • Do your driving manners show in reverse? Tail-gating or nudging out of your lane at a stop light for a quick getaway when the light turns green? These invite disaster. 
  • Do you remember to say thank you to the filling station attendant, the policeman or anyone else who acts as a free guide? There are a dozen times a day the tourist has a chance to say “thank you,” and make traveling a treat instead of a trauma. – By Gay Pauley, Women’s Editor, (UPI) New York , 1963

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Victorian Diplomacy and Precedence

“The waves of the tempest in the samovar have subsided and the bits of lemon float serenely upon the placid surface of the brewing in eggshell cups. The new matrons, debutantes, daughters and belles may not have known it, but they need never to have fluttered a single flutter or puzzled their pretty brains for a moment... In this glorious country of ours, which we are proud to call absolutely democratic, and to whose private, and semi-private social functions, no rigid lines of dogmatic court etiquette are known, we have declared with vaunting vanity, the social gospel of the national capital is made, hammered, riveted and clinched with fastenings more stern than steel, by the chieftains who surround the President.”

Precedence: The Burning Topic of the Hour at Washington D.C.
Aroused by the Fact That Lady Pauncefote Led the New Year's Reception at the White House – Cabinet Dictates; Society Dare Not Disobey –By a Woman in Official Life at Washington

QUITE a tempest in a teapot it was while it lasted, to certain matrons, debutantes, daughters and belles newly launched upon Washington society, and a flutter of agnation deeper under the surface than it appeared outwardly was the result of considerable nervousness that followed the first official function of the season. That Lady Pauncefote should have led at the New Year's reception in the White House seems a slight incident, but that it overthrew or waved aside the very gospel of Washington society became apparent in the not too silent attitude in which it was subsequently regarded. But it is all over now. The waves of the tempest in the samovar have subsided and the bits of lemon float serenely upon the placid surface of the brewing in eggshell cups. The new matrons, debutantes, daughters and belles may not have known it, but they need never to have fluttered a single flutter or puzzled their pretty brains for a moment.

In this glorious country of ours, which we are proud to call absolutely democratic, and to whose private, and semi-private social functions, no rigid lines of dogmatic court etiquette are known, we have declared with vaunting vanity, the social gospel of the national capital is made, hammered, riveted and clinched with fastenings more stern than steel, by the chieftains who surround the President. The Cabinet dictates, and society dare not disobey. More than that, the Cabinet has swayed its social scepter these many years, and is, in its turn, compelled to defer to the rigidly established rules laid down by court chamberlains in other parts of the world.

If Mrs. Senator doesn't know how her diplomatic guests are to be placed, like as not, they will attend to that matter themselves. For they know, and their courts insist that they shall know, just how to fall in line at the functions. In order, however, that Mrs. Senator may not betray her quandary as a novice, she has merely to read the Cabinet's order and to consult the diplomatic list, which is compiled by the Department of State, in accordance with precedence established on the lines adopted at the Vienna Congress of 1815. 

Herr von Holleben, the German Embassador, has had some little difficulty in explaining that Lady Pauncefote should have assumed first place on the New Year's reception in the White House in the absence of her husband, the dean of the Diplomatic Corps. The suggestion that she occupy the place that Lord Pauncefote would have been in did not meet the approval of diplomats, who would as soon violate an international law as the ironclad rules of their social training and instruction. The idea that the representative of a country really does represent the regimes in power, is apparently quite forgotten at times, in what we may call our national desire to have things “go smoothly.” 

There is a story told of a dinner given in Washington when the wife of the English Embassador was taken in by, or rather assigned to, the escort of the young son of the house, the reason given being that he was the only “heir apparent.” Like most of the stories about precedence, this cannot be verified, but it serves as a capital anecdote to relate. It will be remembered that at the time of General Grant's funeral, there was a most serious discussion anent who should lead, the English Embassador or the Vice President, and it was said the only way to set the difficulty was to let the Embassador ride on the hearse.

 The rule that the foreign Embasaador who has held his office for the longest term of years is the dean, and ranks first, has simplified matters somewhat, for none can be found to cavil at so practical a rule. The rule as to the wife of each Minister is carried out in the same order. The rule that an Embassador or Minister shall always take in to dinner the wife of someone of rank is rarely ever broken. Another of the Washington stories is to the effect that one daring young hostess gave a Minister a place between two young and pretty girls, and when sharply called to task for having done so by some of the women present, replied that she thought “the poor man had had such a hard winter of it, without any fun, she was unwilling to have him go back to his court without one enjoyable dinner, and she “had sent for him before the dinner and asked him what he wished.”

Every hostess needs to know her “Washington” now, for the sharp eyes that are watching the newly launched, especially, are very tenterhooks to she who may inadvertently “put her foot into it.” Social precedence is the grammar, the arithmetic, the algebra of the woman who would, or who must, entertain. ‘Must,’ sounds a bit harsh, perhaps, to the lay mind, but “must” it is, for the laws of the Medes and Persians were no more impregnable than the inflexible edict, backed by the Cabinet, to which even the “First Lady” must yield. Mrs. Roosevelt must hold just so many public receptions; the wives of Cabinet members must entertain at intervals. None has dared defy, or will ever one ignore this requirement.   

The formal, official entertainments are past; but there still remain the semi-official functions, and in these must the statute of social precedence be regarded no less scrupulously. At even a private entertainment, must the rights of diplomatists be observed with the nicest delicacy. Indeed, in the light of the adequate means at the disposal of a hostess for her guidance, an error in this matter would seem to be inexcusable. Of course, the “newly launched” are not supposed to know, offhand or intuitively, the exact seniority of service upon which depends the precedence of members of the Diplomatic Corps. That they may learn, the Department of State in this Government, under which democracy of social relations is fondly supposed to be absolute issues a little book for limited circulation among those who may be called upon to face what would, without its aid, prove to be a dilemma. – San Francisco Call, 1898



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

23 Victorian Dining Rules

Though catalogs and shops in the 1870’s, 1880’s and 1890’s featured the newest and latest designs in tableware, knowledge of the “correct fork” to use is nowhere on this list of good table manners for guests, and hosts, alike. Knowing all of the correct utensils is wonderful, but the premise of good manners being based on kindness towards our fellow man, remains the same. 


Dining at the 19th C. Table

True politeness has its origin in Christian charity and kindness. All standard rules of etiquette were founded for the greater convenience and happiness of all the members of society. Although the reasons may not be obvious at first sight, they exist, and will be apparent on a careful consideration. 
  1. Do not keep others waiting for you, either at the beginning or at the close of the meal. 
  2. Do not sip soup from the tip, but from the side of the spoon. 
  3. Be careful not to drop nor spill anything on the table cloth. 
  4. Keep your plate neat; do not heap all sorts of food on it at once. 
  5. In passing your plate to be refilled, retain the knife and fork. 
  6. When asked for a dish, do not shove, but hand it. 
  7. While drinking, do not look around. 
  8. Instruct the servant to hand the cup at the left side, so that it may be received by the right hand. 
  9. Do not drink your tea or coffee without first removing the teaspoon from the cup to the saucer. 
  10. Use the knife for cutting only; never put it to the lips nor in the mouth. 
  11. Break your bread into small pieces and rest them on your plate while spreading. 
  12. Do not eat too fast. Besides giving one the appearance of greed, it is not healthy. 
  13. If you find anything disagreeable in your food, put it aside as quietly as possible, without drawing the attention of anyone to it. 
  14. Do not open the lips nor make any unnecessary noise in chewing. 
  15. Do not touch the head. 
  16. Do not rest the elbows on the table. 
  17. Do not speak with the mouth full. 
  18. Brush the table neatly before bringing on the dessert. 
  19. Be thoughtful and attentive to the wants of those about you. 
  20. Converse on pleasant subjects with those sitting near you. 
  21. Do not say anything not intended for all present to hear. 
  22. Leave your plate with the knife and fork lying parallel, the handles pointing to the right. 
  23. Never leave the table before others, without asking the lady or gentleman who presides to excuse you. — Russian River Flag, 1871

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Phone Etiquette for Teens

Back in the mid-1960’s, Sally Field’s boy-crazy, surfer-girl “Gidget,” seemed to spend more time on her pink Princess phone, than she did in the ocean. If memory serves, Gidget’s phone manners could teach teens a thing or two today.

Miss Debb Gives Sound Advice to Teens in 1964 

Q. How do you handle a phone call gracefully, if a boy calls when you're entertaining another date? What if you like the guy on the phone better than the one in the living room? 


A. No matter who you like best, it’s a matter of basic dating manners not to chat on the phone when you have a guest. When the phone rings, be brief. Tell him you have a guest and can talk only a minute. 

And remember—the same principle holds if that guest is a girl friend. – Madera Tribune, 1964

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Amy’s Teen Etiquette Q & A

Amy Vanderbilt on Teens and Dating... 
Q. My brother is 17 and I am 16. He says that it is not right for sister and brother to double-date. What do you think? E.T., Beaumont, Tex. – A. Your brother is right. 

Teen Topics

Etiquette concerns itself with the forms required by good breeding. The necessary judgment to act appropriately in any situation develops slowly and needs guidance. Here are some relevant letters: 

Q. I confided something to a friend and found that she repeated what I said to the very people we discussed. Now she comes to my house every day and seems happy that she has caused a break in my friendship with these people. D.S., Clayton, Mo. 
A. Why not meet the issue squarely? Explain the situation to the hurt friends and apologize for the trouble this girl caused. Then stop seeing her. 

Q. My brother is 17 and I am 16. He says that it is not right for sister and brother to double-date. What do you think? E.T., Beaumont, Tex. 
A. Your brother is right. 

Q. I am a girl of 13 and am going on a week-end trip with five girls. Our chaperon is 21 years old. Do you think it would be all right to have boys along? D.F., Portland, Me. 
A. No, it would not. A young, unmarried woman is not a suitable chaperon for a mixed group. 

Q. I am a girl in my early teens. Is it proper to give a priest who has been very kind a gift? If so, would cookies or something I have baked myself be suitable? A.C., Elko, Nev. 
A. Yes, to both questions. 

Q. At what age should a girl be referred to as “Miss”? Do you think a girl of 11 or 12 should let a boy hold her hand at a show? C.B., Springfield, Colo. 
A. On an envelope, a girl is addressed as "Miss" from infancy. At 16 she may officially use the title “Miss” on calling cards. From 16 on she should receive the courtesy of that title from strangers. A little girl of 1 1 or 12 should not be holding hands with a boy at a show and should not be there at all except perhaps in the afternoon with a group. 

Q. I would like to know how many dresses, skirts, sweaters, blouses, shoes, etc..., a girl of my age (15) should have in her school wardrobe. N.D., Hanna City, Ill. 
A. I cannot answer this. It is wise for a girl to gear her wardrobe in style, but not necessarily quantity, to that of the girls with whom she associates. 

Q. I attend a high school which is very large, and has a number of social sets and clubs. In my club there are some very nice girls and yet I feel I would like to be with a more popular crowd. I know I could get into a club more to my liking because the girls in it have told me so many times. But most of these girls are very wealthy and have different ideas on kissing, dating, etc... I would not like to endanger my high-school career. What do you advise? D.J., Newark, N.J. 
A. Stay in the group that you now are with. You will feel more comfortable. –Amy Vanderbilt for Parade Magazine, 1956


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

In Praise of Old Etiquette Books

“You don't happen to remember your name, do you?” 

Even dusty old etiquette books are nothing to sneeze at!

It was on a crumbling page of a 100-year-old etiquette book that Miss Manners came across the solution to that enduring problem: What to say when confronted with a person whose name you know you are expected to know, but don't. The answer comes to us from an anonymous Victorian, apparently a Hero of Etiquette but described merely as “a good-natured eccentric.” 

Beaming a jovial smile at a vaguely familiar face, he would inquire in a pleasant, oh-by-the-by tone, “You don't happen to remember your name, do you?” Miss Manners is given to perusing aged volumes for just such forgotten devices to ease the difficulties of life. Vintage etiquette holds up remarkably well. The human body may have changed, as anyone trying to squeeze into vintage clothing may discover, but the situations into which it manages to get itself, are not all that different. In some cases, whole sets of manners may simply be retrieved and dusted off. – Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, 1988


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia