From Chapter 2 — Getting Undressed
If you were sentenced to spend nine years of your life working at one job for eight hours a day— Sundays included— you would think harshly of the judge. At best you would be forced to consider him a meanie.
Statistics prove, however, that the average one-family man, with a life span of seventy years, spends this amount of time taking off his clothes and putting them on again.* The amount of time similarly spent by the average woman can be measured only in light years.
Being condemned to the slavery from birth, one would think people could learn how to do the job with a little finesse. On the contrary, clothes seem to be like a delicatessen salad. In the store window they are a thing of beauty. Once start to take them apart and—
|Avoid the habit of getting undressed by gravity!|
To most people undressing is not so much an art as it is coming to pieces. This is a mistake. Failure to correct it has been responsible for the development of a good-sized city in the West, composed of exiled husbands. If the average ignorant bird should hurl his feathers around the nest in imitation of man, there would be no more eggs.
Some of the principle sins against good breeding are committed in the process of removing the clothes. In putting them on most people are conferring such a favor on the sensitive eye that lapses of etiquette are more pardonable.
Whatever you do, avoid the habit of getting undressed by gravity. The appearance of puddles of male or female clothing on the bedroom floor never caused a tremor of love in the most sensitive person. Our researches show that women are particularly prone to this moult-and-walk off process. They have one strange garment they call a step-in. All of them might be called step-outs. They also have a rubber fabric strait-jacket called a vassarette. Getting into it is a job for a contortionist. Getting out of it is a bit easier, if your grandmother was a snake and you inherited the knack of shedding your skin.
Most men are partly sloppy undressers. One group practices what is known professionally as the drop-kick. This consists of allowing the sub-waist clothing to slide down the legs, lifting one foot out of the resulting nest, and propelling the entire mass at the nearest chair with a toe. Avoid it.
An even larger school spends futile years throwing odds and ends of clothes at bedroom chairs. These men argue that bedroom chairs serve no other useful purpose. No one has ever been known to sit on them. We advise against it, however, even if it is done in the purest spirit of sportsmanship.
Regardless of how clothes may be worn they should be taken off unostentatiously. Once off, they should not be treated like Christmas tree decorations. Get them out of sight. Far better to shove them under the bed with the foot than to wake up each morning to the sordid contemplation of their wilted forms. The seeds of many fashionable divorces have been sown by these early-morning vistas. What man can shave with a loving heart while contemplating a bedraggled brassiere hanging on the bathroom scales? What woman, lying in bed because it is too cold to get up, has not wondered sadly how the handsome lad of yesterday can possibly fill out a pair of unions like that?
This brings us to the question of getting dressed, which is so buttoned up with a number of other things, that we will treat it somewhere else, if the matter should come up.
*These figures do not include Nudists, Esquimos (sic), Bedridden People, or Fan Dancers.
Contributor Maura Graber has been teaching etiquette to children, teens and adults, and training new etiquette instructors, for over 30 years, 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 the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia