Sunday, August 31, 2014

Etiquette and the Wearing of White After Labor Day

Tres chic? Or Tres yuck? Coco Chanel's suit is very chic, however the cigarette hanging out of her mouth... words fail us at Etiquipedia.  French fashion designer Coco Chanel in one of her signature white suits that she wore year 'round.

Just Why Can't We Wear White After Labor Day? 

The post–Labor Day moratorium on white clothing and accessories has long ranked among etiquette hard-liners' most sacred rules. As punishment for breaking it in the 1994 movie Serial Mom, for instance, Patty Hearst's character was murdered by a punctilious psychopath. But ask your average etiquette expert how that rule came to be, and chances are that even she couldn't explain it. So why aren't we supposed to wear white after Labor Day?

Mary, Queen of Scots in white mourning attire. The entire rhythm of dress etiquette and conventions could be disturbed by deaths, which did not bother to obey the dictates of any calendar or seasons. The color of deepest mourning among medieval European queens was white. This royal tradition survived in Spain until the end of the 15th century. It was revived by the Spanish-born Queen Fabiola for the funeral of her husband, King Baudouin I of Belgium, in 1993. And in 2004, the four daughters of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands all wore white to mourn their mother's death at her funeral. 
One common explanation is practical. For centuries, wearing white in the summer was simply a way to stay cool — like changing your dinner menu or putting slipcovers on the furniture. "Not only was there no air-conditioning, but people did not go around in T shirts and halter tops. They wore what we would now consider fairly formal clothes," said Judith Martin, better known as etiquette columnist Miss Manners. "And white is of a lighter weight."

But beating the heat became fashionable in the early to mid-20th century, according to Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion. "All the magazines and tastemakers were centered in big cities, usually in northern climates that had seasons," he notes. In the hot summer months, white clothing kept New York fashion editors cool. But facing, say, heavy fall rain, they might not have been inclined to risk sullying white ensembles with mud — and that sensibility was reflected in the glossy pages of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, which set the tone for the country.

White is the customary color for mourning in many religions and cultures, like Hinduism and Buddhism. This photo from 1914, shows Gandhi wearing white, to mourn the deaths of Indian strikers killed in police firing.

This is all sound logic, to be sure — but that's exactly why it may be wrong. "Very rarely is there actually a functional reason for a fashion rule," noted Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. True enough: it's hard to think of a workaday downside to pairing your black shoes with a brown belt.

Instead, other historians speculate, the origin of the no-white-after–Labor Day rule may be symbolic. In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life. "If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," says Scheips, many scurrying to their jobs. By contrast, he adds, the white linen suits and Panama hats at snooty resorts were "a look of leisure."

"And every day of his life he put on a clean shirt and a full suit from head to toe made out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it."— from Huckleberry Finn about the aristocratic Colonel Grangerford. Although written by Mark Twain in 1880, it would be another 26 years for Twain to adopt the white linen suit look himself. By the 1930s, it was the must have outfit for men of leisure, who could leave the winter's cold and pop down to Palm Beach for warmer weather. Whites during the Autumn and Winter months were for the wealthy, leisure class.
Labor Day, celebrated in the U.S. on the first Monday of September, marked the traditional end of summer; the well-heeled vacationers would stow their summer duds and dust off their heavier, darker-colored fall clothing. "There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry," says Steele. "You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall — and so you have a new wardrobe."

By the 1950s, as the middle class expanded, the custom had calcified into a hard-and-fast rule. Along with a slew of commands about salad plates and fish forks, the no-whites dictum provided old-money élites with a bulwark against the upwardly mobile. But such mores were propagated by aspirants too: those savvy enough to learn all the rules increased their odds of earning a ticket into polite society. "It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out," says Steele, "and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules."

Some etiquette buffs don't buy this explanation, however. "There are always people who want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery," protests Martin. "There were many little rules that people did dream up in order to annoy those from whom they wished to disassociate themselves. But I do not believe this is one of them."

Light colors, like white, were more suited to warm weather and those who had a lot of money to pay to keep the clothing clean. More people in the Midwest and Northern U.S. simply follow the "no white after Labor Day" rule, due to the practicality of keeping clothing clean from rain and mud, etc... Even the late Princess Margaret, upon a visit to Texas in the mid-1980s, made the evening news for wearing white shoes at the wrong time of year. Buckingham Palace quickly issued a press release, stating that Princess Margaret had done no wrong, as there are no such fashion rules in Great Britain that regulate when to wear white.
Whatever its origin, the Labor Day rule has perennially met with resistance from high-fashion quarters. As far back as the 1920s, Coco Chanel made white a year-round staple. "It was a permanent part of her wardrobe," says Bronwyn Cosgrave, author of The Complete History of Costume & Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day.  The trend is embraced with equal vigor by many of today's fashion élites. Cosgrave notes that Marion Cotillard accepted her 2008 Academy Award in a mermaid-inspired cream dress. Fashion rules are meant to be broken by those who can pull it off, notes Cosgrave, and white "looks really fresh when people aren't expecting it."

Much to the chagrin of sartorial purists, that skepticism of the Labor Day law has seeped into mainstream America. From 1960s counterculture to the present day — when would-be fashionistas get as many ideas from blogs and friends as from magazines and Fashion Week — more people than ever are breaking the rule. Even Emily Post's Etiquette, 17th Edition, gave the go-ahead for wearing white after Labor Day. Which may explain why some who abide by the custom themselves are now willing to compromise. 

Scheips, for one, "would never be caught dead wearing a white suit after Labor Day." But neither does he completely write off those who do. "I'm sure the Queen of England at Christmastime puts on white ermine once in a while. So if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for everybody else, right?" he says. "You don't have to be a fascist about it."

Much of this article is from TIME Magazine, September 2009

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The "Princess Diana Factor" in Royal Etiquette and Protocol

Two pictures in stark contrast ~ Kate Middleton was carefully brought into the royal fold and was taught the protocol and etiquette she needed to know to fit in to the British royal family properly. Princess Diana, on the other hand, was left to fend for herself after marrying the Prince of Wales. Little wonder that she always appeared so uncomfortable, whenever she was pictured with the Queen and the Queen Mother.
The palace made a great effort with Kate Middleton, prior to her marriage to Prince William and ever since, helping her to fit in smoothly as a British royal family member. They refused to make the same mistakes they did with Diana. Because of this, Kate's progress as Duchess of Cambridge continues to be managed with huge care. How starkly all this care and consideration compares with what happened to Diana when she arrived in the Royal Family.

Diana was just a mere 20 years old, while Kate was 30. Diana was 12 years younger than Charles and they had very different tastes. Kate, however, is actually a few months older than William and they share everything. Supposedly, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge even share the household shopping. Again, in stark contrast, no one was on hand to advise or teach the very young, and inexperienced, Diana. She had to learn royal protocol from scratch on the job, as Prince Charles failed abysmally to aid Diana in learning the royal ropes.

Not wanting Kate to become another version of Princess Diana, the British royals have engaged in very fine image polishing at the highest level. It is something the Queen firmly believes could not be accomplished by Charles and his advisers at Clarence House, nor by William either, for that matter.

There was astonishment in many royal circles that the Queen and Philip chose Kate to accompany them on a visit to Leicester to launch the 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour of the country, while William was away. They were expected to take Princess Beatrice or her sister Eugenie, both of whom had expressed a deep desire to have a royal role. But the Queen’s private secretary contacted Prince William’s private secretary to say that Her Majesty wanted Kate to go along. There could be no clearer indication that the Royals viewed the new, young Duchess, as the vital ingredient in their future popularity.

Being swept up by the Queen and Philip while her husband was away never happened to Diana. As a result, the young Princess trembled before engagements. Diana was visibly shaking when switching on the Regent Street Christmas lights, at her first solo engagement, back in 1981.

Diana had no guidance whatsoever from Charles, other than when he expressed his irritation — for example, admonishing her for putting on a black dress for an evening function, saying that "black is for funerals."

Instead of encouragement from her husband, Diana bore the brunt of his envy when crowds flocked to her on their first foreign trip to Australia in 1983. To Charles’s chagrin, the crowds groaned when, instead of his glamorous wife, he approached them. William is completely different. He takes delight in his wife’s popularity. ‘He is so protective of her in everything they do,’ says an aide.

Some palace aides revealed they are uncomfortable with the inevitable comparisons which will be made between Diana and Kate. They were said to have regarded as a "big mistake" Kate’s decision to wear to an event, a strapless black dress by Alexander McQueen, due to the fact that it was almost identical to a gown worn by Diana, some 30 years earlier. "The Diana factor is one that has to be watched," claims a royal family friend. "It does trouble the Royal Family." 

But, fortunately for the British people, there are aspects of Diana’s approach to her position that seem to be encouraged, such as her increased involvement in charities and her visits to sick children. In that respect, Kate could not follow in the lead of a better young woman than Diana.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Etiquette and a Prominent Royal Flag

The flag draped coffin carried past mourners.

In its worldwide coverage of the shocking, early death, of Princess Diana, the press missed some subtle nuances of British regal etiquette and protocol regarding the flag draping her coffin.  

Wrote Kevin Harrington, of Scarborough Ontario, and publisher of Flagscan, "Never has a flag figured so conspicuously in the minds of millions as did the Royal flag draped over the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, in her funeral procession." adding, "This Royal flag, commonly but not correctly, referred to as a Royal standard."
Diana's personal coat of arms 
Of the variations in the real Royal standard, Harrington elaborated, "Prince Charles has a personal standard, or banner, with different markings and additions as Prince of Wales." 
The late-Queen Mother's flag draped coffin is brought past mourners.

The late-"Queen Mother," had her coat of arms added to the coat of arms of the sovereign. The late-Princess Margaret had, and Princess Anne has, the white bar across the top with specific markings. On the other hand, Harrington explained, the flag that had been draped over Diana's coffin, "had a quite prominent wide white border with tiny black markings, which represent the heraldic fur, ermine." That particular flag designated one's membership in the royal family, but who was without a personal standard. 

Harrington advised reporters who need help understanding their standards, to contact any vexillologist, adding one "would be happy to make calls on the flagpole near you."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Small Sampling of International Flag Etiquette and Protocol

The National Flag of the Republic of South Africa
Having emigrated from England to South Africa in August of 1992, my family arrived amidst much upheaval and change. The apartheid era was drawing to an end and the country was preparing to welcome Nelson Mandela as the nation’s first African president.    
The previous flag of South Africa, flown from 1928 to 1994
Part of the process in building a new South Africa was changing the design of the flag. The choice of a new flag that would incorporate all the attributes of a new South Africa, was not an easy decision to make. The decision was initially put to the public and a competition held in search of the perfect design. I remember well the excitement of this competition as we all discussed the designs at school and decided which ones we liked best; we even had the opportunity to design our own flags.

The competition proved fruitless, and with less than four months to go before the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela, they called on the talents of State Herald Fred Brownell. It was a high pressure task, but one that he met with little time to spare. The flag was initially intended to be used on an interim basis to be reviewed after five years however since being unveiled at the Presidential inauguration on 10 May 1994, the design has been well received.

South African National Flag Etiquette and Protocol

At all times the National Flag must be respected by adhering to the following etiquette and protocol:
  • The flag must never touch the ground, nor be used as a covering for tables, statues, podiums, railings etc.
  • The flag must never be flown upside down. To do so would be a sign of surrender.
  • The flag should be hoisted in the morning and lowered before sunset. It should not be flown at night unless illuminated.
  • When a flag is being hoisted or lowered one must stand respectfully to attention, remove ones hat and place their right hand over their heart.
  • The flag must be kept in good condition and is not to be defaced in any way.
  • When flown on South African soil amidst the flags of other nations it must take pride of place (furthest to the right) and no flag must exceed it in size.
  • The flag must always be displayed on the right hand side during gatherings of any kind.
  • The flag must never be dipped to any other person or object.
  • The flag is half-masted as a sign of mourning. This is on instruction from The Presidency only.
  • To dispose of the flag in the most dignified manner it should be burned.   
The Union Flag of the United Kingdom

The Union Flag of the United Kingdom

One of the most common things you hear from people who are possibly trying to look clever by knowing about the Union Flag, is that it is only ever known as the Union Jack when flown at sea. While a “Jack” does traditionally refer to a flag being flown by a warship, there is much debate regarding whether this is a true statement regarding the flag of the United Kingdom.

According to the Flag Society, “It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea. From early in its life the Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that Their Lordships had decided that either name could be used officially. In 1908, a government minister stated, in response to a Parliamentary question, that "The Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag.” So please don’t feel too badly if someone corrects you. It is a very small point that seems to provoke much debate.

After the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801 a new flag was designed which combines the red cross of St George for England, the white saltire of St Andrews for Scotland and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland. There is no official Flag Act in the UK and the Union Flag is our national flag more by tradition and practice than governmental decree.

Union Flag 
Etiquette and Protocol

  • Ensure the flag is the right way up. The top most diagonal stripe must be the wider white stripe, situated above the red stripe and resting against the flag pole.
  • Do not use the flag in an undignified manner such as a table covering or to cover a statue or podium.
  • Flag shoulder patches on uniforms are worn on the left shoulder.
  • When draped over a coffin the flag’s top left corner should cover the deceased’s left shoulder.
  • The flag should be situated to the right of the speaker during a gathering of any kind.
  • During a salute the flag is lowered so that the flag pole is horizontal.
  • The flag is flown at half mast following the announcement of the death of a senior member of the Royal Family until the funeral.
  • The flag is flown from Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle when the sovereign is not in residence.
  • The flag is flown from government buildings on the Sovereign’s birthday.
  • When in disrepair the flag must be disposed of respectfully by burning or cutting so that it no longer resembles the flag.
The Royal Standard was the only flag to fly from Buckingham Palace until a break with protocol and etiquette took place after Princess Diana’s death in 1997.

The Royal Standard

The only flag that takes precedence over the Union Flag is the Royal Standard, the official flag of the reigning British sovereign. The Royal Standard was the only flag to fly from Buckingham Palace until a break with protocol took place after Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
The Royal Standard of the United Kingdom
Royal Standard Flag 
Etiquette and Protocol

  • The Royal Standard is only flown when the sovereign is in residence.
  • The flag is never flown at half-mast to indicate that the throne is always occupied.
  • The flag is never hoisted or lowered when the Sovereign is passing in procession.
  • Westminster Abbey is the only church permitted to fly the Royal Standard whether or not the Sovereign is present.
  • The flag accompanies the Sovereign when traveling.


Shipshape Flag Etiquette

It is law that when at sea you must display your proper national colours. It is most common to see private vessels and merchant ships flying the Red Ensign whereas the white Ensign is reserved for the Royal Navy.
The White Ensign Flying at Sea. The ensign is flown from the stern of the vessel.

Etiquette and Protocol at Sea

  • It is a criminal offence to fly the incorrect flag at sea.
  • When visiting a foreign company you hoist your host’s flag as a “courtesy” flag. It is displayed prominently and is superior to any other flag. Visitors to the UK by sea use the Red Ensign as the “courtesy” flag.
  • Do not hoist a tatty and dirty courtesy flag. This can cause great offence to your hosts and may even result in criminal action being taken.
  • It is polite to salute passing vessels by dipping the ensign (lowering it by one third).
  • The Union Flag should only be flown by the Royal Navy when alongside (side by side at the pier or another vessel), or else under very special circumstances.
  • Flying the Union Flag on a civilian vessel as an ensign is illegal.
  • The ensign is flown from the stern of the vessel.
  • Ensigns are flown at half-mast upon the death of a member of the Royal Family, and again on the day of the funeral. The flag only remains at half-mast in the intermittent period between death and burial for the Sovereign.
  • The White Ensign is flown at the stern while alongside and from the main mast when under way.
  • Traditionally, lowering the ensign was a mark of surrender.   
The Australian Flag was first flown in 1901 and is made up of a blue background that plays host to the Union Flag, the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross.

The Australian National Flag

My mother’s family immigrated to Australia soon after the war, and much of my extended family is Australian. As a little girl I spent some time there, although I was too young at the time to have paid any attention to the particulars of flag protocol. I was far too busy accosting the wombat in our back garden and climbing the steps of the giant pineapple in Queensland.

The Australian Flag was first flown in 1901 and is made up of a blue background that plays host to the Union Flag, the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross. It is a symbol ofnational pride for the Australian people and is permitted to be flown on any day of the year.

When thinking of the Australian flag it brings to mind a particular scene in an episode of Ladette to Lady, a questionable and somewhat disturbing reality television show, which purported to turn troubled ladettes into perfectly formed young ladies. There was an Australian girl who was selected to ride with the Hunt and when she was galloping along, supposedly representing her finishing school, she pulled out an Australian flag and let it fly along behind her. She was admonished quite severely and one of the tutors remarked, “Wars have been fought over less!” Talk about an over-reaction, 
that poor girl... However, it is a stark reminder that there are certain protocols that need to be observed particularly when you are visiting another country and particularly where national flags are concerned.

Australian Flag Etiquette and Protocol

  • The flag takes precedence over all other national flags when it is flown on national soil and no other flag should exceed it in size.
  • The flag is flown at half-mast during a period of national mourning.
  • The flag should only be flown during daylight hours, unless illuminated.
  • The flag is flown at half-mast from 10:30 AM to 11:03 AM on Remembrance Day.
  • The flag must not be allowed to fall to the ground.
  • The flag should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The public are encouraged to fly the flag on public holidays.
  • The flag should not be flown if it is damaged or defaced in any way.
  • Never fly the flag upside down, even as a sign of distress.
  • The flag can be used to cover the coffin of any Australian national. 
  • The flag must be removed before burial or cremation.

Compiled by contributor Rachel North. Rachel is an etiquette and afternoon tea enthusiast with a love for anything ancient and historical. You can visit her here:

Rachel's Sources: British Flag Protocol 

Royal Northumberland Yacht Club: Flag Etiquette

It’s An Honour: Australia Celebrating Australians

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Etiquette for Navigating the Minefield of Friendships at School

Cliques and gangs (carried to an extreme degree) offer love, approval, protection and support, and sometimes bullying. Low self esteem can cause bullies to seek power over other teens. The more the clique puts people down, the cooler they feel.

Friendships, and just plain dealing with other students in school, can be difficult. Do your teens ever come across students who put others down for being smart, well-behaved, industrious and moral?  Bullying behaviour is done to devalue those traits that others have, but they don’t have themselves. They can often reflect the low self-esteem of the person doing the bullying. Help teens navigate through some of these challenges of this “minefield” called "school" that they might encounter.

Cliques, and Why do cliques form?  

Cliques form because teens can feel unsure of themselves socially. They lack confidence and social skills. Cliques and gangs (carried to an extreme degree) offer love, approval, protection and support. The more the clique puts people down, the cooler they feel. Help your teen to decide on whether being part of a clique is worth the time or if it is that important.  If it is not that important, encourage teens to politely ignore or avoid a troublesome clique, and develop their own friends based on those who are warm, interesting and inviting.

According to Alex J. Packer who wrote, “How Rude: A Teenagers’ Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and not Grossing People Out” when teens choose to practice good manners with peers, they can avoid that suffering and anxiety that exists in school corridors.  They will enjoy closer and more rewarding relationships with friends. They can still act cool but without the attitude. 

Peer Pressure

Friends may become involved in questionable activities… just politely, and assertively, say "NO."  No is the ultimate self-control.  “No, thank you,”  “I’d prefer not to,”  “Count me out.”  No further explanation is required – stand firm.  Responding with an explanation can put you on the defensive. Saying it aggressively can send the wrong message. Besides, once your teen says "No," others may follow their lead.

Back Biting

Person A tells you your friend has been saying nasty thing about YOU.  What should you do?  Did Person A hear it from your friend or has it been passed on from person to person.  Check out backbiting rumor with your friend – give him or her the benefit of the doubt.  Tell him or her what you heard and how it made you feel.


For no reason, friends start to avoid your teen… stop talking, don’t return calls, etc.  Your teen feels sad and lonely.  Suggest that your teen ask him or herself some questions – have I changed?  Have I done something that might be causing problems?  If nothing comes to mind, chat with one trusted friend alone.  Hopefully, he or she will shed some light. If it’s a misunderstanding, then it can be set straight.  Sometimes, friends break up for no reason.  If this is the case, remind your teen to hold their head high and make new friends.
"Am I good company? - This is largely a matter of disposition, cheerfulness, kindness, that old ability to put others at their ease and make them feel good. But, believe me, it's also a question of common courtesy and good manners. Before we hit the teen age, the law of the jungle is apt to prevail. It is socially acceptable for one friend to hit another over the head with his "tinker toys" if things don't go his way. But by the time we reach the teens we've discovered that our relationships at parties, school, home, between each other, in the little things as well as big ones, just won't stand this jungle type friction. If we are the ones who create friction, we are squeaky wheels and not at all attractive. Courtesy (and this includes consideration in such areas as use of the telephone, borrowing, please and thank you, table manners) - all courtesy is simply the oil we use to keep the machinery of friendship running smoothly." Pat Boone on Teens and Friendship

Taking Sides

If two friends are at odds with each other, let your teen know to refrain from taking sides even if they enlist his or her support.  Don’t let either person badmouth the other to your teen.  However, your teen could relay good information like, “If only Sue would apologize, I’d forget the whole thing.”  Report that information to the other friend in the hopes that there can be a reconciliation.

Telling Secrets

Keeping secrets can be difficult because information is POWER.  The friend may not be acting with malice.  He or she may think that they’re passing on a secret to a trusted friend.  But then that friend may tell their “trusted” friend and so and so on.  One sure-fire way of not having secrets revealed is never tell any in the first place.
"Manners ... are different from etiquette because they are not put in a closet, like fancy clothes, for special occasions. Your speech, actions, posture, attitude toward friends and neighbors, behavior at home and at school, driving habits, and telephone habits all call attention to the general way in which you think about yourself in relation to the rest of the world. These are your manners." Dick Clark on Teens, Manners and Friendship


Teach your teen to be happy for their friends’ achievements.  Never feel jealous or compare themselves to others.  They are different and your teen has many talents, too.  Focus on the positive.

By Canadian Contributor Maria Doll ~ An etiquette coach, Maria has been conducting personal consultations, workshops, camps and seminars for children, teens and young adults since 2009.  Her etiquette program and company Leadership Matters has been featured in print, radio & television media. 

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

Amy Vanderbilt on Etiquette Books

Amy Vanderbilt had style and exhibited a grace rarely seen today. The fact that she referred to herself as an "Etiquette Adviser," and not an "Etiquette Expert" (as so many people deign to do today) makes her special to those of us at Etiquipedia. Though we have all taught and studied etiquette for many years, and in some cases, many decades, the majority of us consider ourselves "Etiquette Enthusiasts." Even Amy Vanderbilt admitted that she had to  occasionally use her own book for reference, as there is just so much information one retains and she could remember, "only those details that have, or have had relevance to" her own way of living.
"Who needs a book of etiquette? Everyone does. The simplest family, if it hopes to move just a little into a wider world, needs to know at least the elementary rules. Even the most sophisticated man or woman used to a great variety of social demands cannot hope to remember every single aspect of etiquette applying to even one possible social contingency. 
The human mind is so constructed that even if a person were to read through a book such as this from cover to cover he could retain only that information that had interest for him at the time of reading. Consciously, at least, the rest would be discarded as irrelevant to his way of life. But let some new way of living open up for him a move from city to country, a trip to a new part of the world and his etiquette book becomes his reference book, ready to piece out his own store of information.  
You might imagine that the writer of an etiquette book would certainly know everything in it and therefore have no need for it as reference or guide. But even this is not the case. After ten years as an etiquette adviser, four years of writing this book four years of interviewing dozens of authorities in their own fields for material to be incorporated here I, too, can remember only those details that have or have had relevance to my own way of living. If you asked me, for example, some detail of a wedding in a faith other than my own, I might have to refer to my own book. The information is here the result of my research but in the writing of such sections I made no attempt to memorize all these details. However, in this book, I, like you, have such information in simple, complete form all in one place, and it can be readily found if needed.  
The word "etiquette" for all the things I have tried to discuss is really inadequate, yet no other will do. It covers much more than "manners," the way in which we do things. It is considerably more than a treatise on a code of social behavior, although all the traditional information still of value has, I feel, been included in a way that is simple and concise, shorn of mumbo- jumbo and clearly learnable. For we must all learn the socially acceptable ways of living with others in no matter what society we move." Amy Vanderbilt

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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Amy Vanderbilt on Etiquette's Importance and the WWII American Military

Amy Vanderbilt
"During World War II the Government understood the importance of teaching our military men and women some of the subtleties of proper social behavior in foreign lands. Proper American social behavior was not enough. Our soldiers and sailors learned to remove their shoes before entering a Japanese home, or a Mohammedan mosque, or a Buddhist temple. They squatted or sat cross-legged at table and ate out of communal dishes in Mohammedan lands and in various Oriental countries.
They tried to remember certain shibboleths and taboos and what English words could not be politely used in English drawing rooms "bloody" and "fanny," for example. They noted that in England "napkin" or "nappie" often meant diaper; "flannel" meant a washcloth, and "serviette" meant a napkin as it does on the Continent. 
Our truck became a "lorry" or a "van," and our trolley was a "tram," a closet was a "cupboard," and molasses "treacle." "Tea" could be just that or the equivalent of our Sunday night supper. A shower was a "douche" and a tiny toy, a "dinkie," a boutonniere, a "button-hole." To charge something was "to put it down," and to do an errand was "to run a message." Shortly, under military instruction and because it was more convenient, our men and women learned to do in Rome as the Romans.  
If this works under the stress of war, it will work in peacetime. As much as possible, while still identifying ourselves as Americans, we should behave as those we visit behave, not try to take the freest manners and language of our Main Streets abroad." Amy Vanderbilt
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 
Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The 8 Ps and Qs of BYOB Etiquette

It’s up to the patrons to reciprocate that courtesy by following some basic manners when participating in the BYOB practice.
    Have you carefully stored a special bottle of wine for an anniversary or birthday? And are you planning on popping its cork at your favorite dining spot? If you are, please do the restaurant a favor by minding your Ps and Qs while you BYOB.

    Most diners, myself among them, feel that the customer is usually right. If I want to eat my dessert first and appetizer last, that’s my business. The restaurant’s business is to serve me what I order, in any order I wish. But when it comes to bringing in a bottle of wine or champagne, the restaurant gets to call the shots as they are under no obligation to do so, and the laws vary wildly from place to place. 

    Generally, the restaurants in states, counties, provinces, or countries where it is legal, will usually allow their patrons to bring their own wine into a restaurant as a courtesy. And it’s up to the patrons to reciprocate that courtesy by following some basic manners when participating in the BYOB practice. The following is a list of etiquette to keep in mind: 

  1. Call ahead of time to check with the manager regarding bringing your own bottle, or check online. Some restaurants may not allow BYOB, or may not have a license to serve alcohol of any kind, or may not have a permit to sell their own, but can serve you yours. This gets very tricky, so if you are traveling, always check ahead of time.
  2. Don’t cause a scene or make a fuss if the restaurant doesn’t allow you to bring your own wine, even if their local ordinances allow the practice. Different insurance companies will advise establishments of possible liabilities and restaurants will take these in to consideration when making policies regarding alcohol, so if you’ve made a reservation and would like to go back to this particular restaurant, keep the reservation.
  3. Ask  about any corkage fees so that there are no surprises when you are handed the bill. Fees in upscale restaurants can go as high as $25.00 or more, per bottle, and will vary from restaurant to restaurant. Some restaurants charge nothing at all. Fees can sometimes change with the time of day and with the day of the week with slower and less busy hours offering the best rates. Ask when you call ahead, to find out if this is a policy that they practice. 
  4. Ask if the particular bottle of wine you would like to bring is already on the restaurant’s wine list. If it is something the establishment normally offers, then don't bring it or choose another wine to bring. It would be extremely gauche to bring something they offer just as it would be to bring your own burger to Mc Donald’s to enjoy, along with their fries and a shake. 
    BYOB if your wine is somehow unique. Don't BYOB just to pinch pennies.
  5. Don’t BYOB simply to save money. BYOB because because you have a special bottle that you’ve always wanted to open, or maybe you have a bottle from your birth year and it you are celebrating your birthday, or you have a bottle that’s more interesting than anything the restaurant offers. BYOB if your wine is somehow unique. If you think the restaurant charges excessive markups on wine, skip that restaurant. 
  6. Tip well, especially if you have made special requests regarding your bottle/s. This might include asking the staff to have the bottle uncorked prior to your arrival to allow time for your Cabernet to breathe, or keeping your White Burgundy chilled to a specific temperature an hour before serving.
  7. Don’t be snobbish if the restaurant’s Cellar Master, Sommelier or Wine Steward wants to chat with you about your wine. If you thought it was special enough to bring in to drink, it will probably arouse curiosity or possibly be a conversation starter. The most gracious of patrons will offer him, or her, a taste.
  8. This shouldn't need to be said, but I have to repeat it often: Please follow all basic dining etiquette while you dine out, especially if you have made special requests of an establishment. It is simply good manners!

Compiled by contributor Maura Graber, who has been teaching etiquette to children, teens and adults, and training new etiquette instructors, for nearly a quarter of a century, as founder and director of The RSVP Institute of Etiquette.  She is also a writer, has been featured in countless newspapers, magazines and television shows and was an on-air contributor to PBS in Southern California for 15 years. 

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