The Social Graces

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time that we women were given some clear rules to guide us so we can get our lives back under control. Obviously we don’t know what the heck we’re doing. Why else would so many politicians be interested in telling us what we should or shouldn’t do?

With that in mind, I would like to take a few moments to share some selected gems from Ruth Louise Sheldon’s book Social Silhouettes, published in 1907. Because, after all, social etiquette never really does go out of style.

The Social Graces - 1

1. A lady on meeting a gentleman bows first.
2. Well-bred women never ignore acquaintances in public.
3. A cold stare is a very unladylike way of refusing recognition to an acquaintance.
4. In street cars a lady does not stare at a certain man as if she expects him to rise and relinquish his seat to her.
5. It is a woman’s choice to decide whether she shall wear a hat or not in public dining-rooms, but it is customary to wear one.

The Social Graces - 2

6. At restaurants women do not dine alone.
7. Ladies when appearing on the street are inconspicuously dressed.
8. A husband has more right than his neighbors to see his wife neatly dressed.
9. A lady never accepts the shelter of an umbrella from a stranger.
10. Young ladies need not expect expressions of pleasure from men at the first meeting.

The Social Graces - 3

11. Women do not introduce themselves to men. Men do not do so to a woman unless she be their hostess.
12. At a cotillion ladies do not dance with strangers.
13. It is very bad form for a lady to withdraw a promise to dance with a certain gentleman.
14. A lady does not dance more than twice with the same man.
15. No young unmarried woman attends public balls without a chaperon.

The Social Graces - 4

16. A lady while dancing does not drop her partner’s left hand in order to hold up her skirt.
17. No woman returns the calls of masculine friends.
18. In formal society, young ladies with chaperons leave to their chaperons the matter of invitations to masculine friends.
19. A lady wears her hat, gloves, veil, and wrap, not stormcoat, into the room.
20. No wife accepts an invitation and sends regrets for her husband who may not be able to attend.

The Social Graces - 5

21. Avoid slang and coarse expressions.
22. Satirical expression show a bad disposition.
23. A good listener is harder to find than a good conversationalist.
24. One story well told is better than six that are hacked and hashed.
25. Cramming with literary information before going to a social affair is not recommended.

There you have it . . . not all, but certainly some choice words to live by. Live well and prosper, my friends. My work here is done . . . Happy Mother’s Day!

2 thoughts on “The Social Graces

  1. #22 regarding satirical expression, all this time I thought I was witty. Seems I’m just a crabby person :oP

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