Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Edwardian Women's Etiquette

Tsk, tsk! Sprawling over the dinner table is neither graceful nor refined behavior for a young woman! She must be located in steerage. She certainly certainly won't be found here in 1st Class.


The table manners of the twentieth century woman are being widely criticised and the worst thing said of them is this—they are not up to the standard of dress and cleverness exhibited by up-to-date femininity. It is true that women have made rapid strides in improvement, but there are those will declare that development has been one-sided. 

Women have learned to dress becomingly and take care of their bodies. They go about a good deal, which gives them self-possession, and read to give them a smattering that passes as smartness. But they are backward in real knowledge and lack the rudiments of politeness which every child used to learn. 

I have occasion to eat often in public places and there I meet instances of ill-breeding that are in marked contrast to the personal appearance of those responsible for them. It ought not to be necessary to be informed that is the first rule in eating and that small mouthfuls are better in more ways than that of comfort. 

Modern etiquette allows women to lean upon their elbows whenever they sit, but sprawling over the dinner table is neither graceful nor refined. The other night I saw a well-dressed woman powder her face with the addition of a tiny mirror before she left a public dining table. Another combed her front hair and others did things quite as baffling. 

It was at a fashionable restaurant where the bad manners were exhibited, and the young women were good-looking and well-dressed. Imagine their home life when they can be so careless in public! If mothers are careless—that is the first cause of bad breeding. They are too busy and too worried to consider the little things of life, they say, so girls grow up without any desire to remedy the maternal faults. 

Their only desire is to have pretty clothes. Generally they must earn them—and while as imitative as monkeys in matters pertaining to dress, they never attempt to copy the marks of good breeding which must come under their notice every day. 

It is so easy to teach little ones the simple manners of refined eating, and habits formed in youth remain so persistently with man or woman that it is unfair to deprive them of so valuable an equipment. One can never tell what piece of good fortune the future has in store, and being prepared to receive it saves both time and uneasiness. 

Good society is rather a stickler for forms, but the fine points of etiquette can easily be added to a bedrock of common rules, their manners should be as fine as our clothes, at least. — Betty Bradeen, Sacramento Union, 1911

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, the Site Moderator and Editor Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia


  1. Replies
    1. That’s a shame. As Betty wrote, “One can never tell what piece of good fortune the future has in store, and being prepared to receive it saves both time and uneasiness.“