Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Etiquette - 1860s style

I love google books.  It's always a great place to go for research or just to do a bit of browsing.  Today I've been brushing up on my etiquette via Cassels elementary handbooks. The particular book in question was The hand-book of etiquette published in 1860.  Here are some of the more interesting excerpts for ladies and gentlemen :)

For Ladies

If a lady has been shopping, she may accept a gentleman's offer to carry any small parcel she may have in her hand; but she must not load him like a pack-horse, nor, in order to be the sooner in possession of her purchases, consent to let him carry any cumbrous things that should be brought home at night by the shopman. 

If you are short, avoid very wide crinolines. They would make you look even shorter than you are, and you tempt people to say you are " as broad as you are long."

Whether you are tall or short, never have your stays or dress laced tight. Compression of the waist, by affecting your health, is sure to injure your appearance.

Whether in negligee or full dress always aim at neatness. No splendour of costume in the evening can make amends for disordered hair, an untidy dress, or slip-shod shoes, in the morning.

Fashion allows of great variety in the mode of dressing the hair. If your face is round, you will find ringlets most becoming. If long, it will look better in bouffes or hands, rather full on each side of the face.

Nets of one only colour, or dark ribbon head-dresses, are better suited for the morning; and gold or embroidered nets, or light-coloured ribbon head-dresses, for dinner parties, small evening parties, or concerts.

Flowers are more appropriate for balls and very large evening parties.

Jewels are more worn by married ladies than by young ladies, who never appear to greater advantage than when attired with elegance and simplicity. It is, however, in perfect accordance with etiquette that young ladies should wear ornaments in moderation, but, while unmarried, they do not generally wear diamonds.

For Gentlemen

It is the law of introductions to introduce the inferior to the superior.

Before you introduce persons, be sure that they will not object to make each other's acquaintance; it is better to ascertain the fact beforehand. If you feel convinced that a gentleman has no objection to make the acquaintance of another gentleman to whom you wish to introduce him, you may proceed to do so without asking permission; but, before presenting a gentleman to a lady, make a point of obtaining her leave.

We remarked, it was difficult to know how to avoid introducing persons to each other, when you know the wish for acquaintanceship is not mutual. In such a case, you may always decline on the just plea of your own insufficient intimacy. 

Avoid everything unusual in your mode of greeting; it is sure to offend. For shaking hands, never offer two fingers, unless the others are maimed. Never offer your left hand, instead of your right, excepting when your right hand is disabled from some unlucky accident, rheumatism, &c.

In a general way, gentlemen cannot, according to etiquette, take ladies to public places, or on excursions, without these ladies' chaperones, and these chaperones should pay their own expenses, and those of the ladies under their care.

In entering public places, or going up crowded staircase, always precede the lady, to "clear the way" and remove difficulties; otherwise, it is a gentleman's province to follow.

On meeting your acquaintances, ladies especially, do not nod, but remove your hat from your head; and do this with your left hand, on meeting friends, in order to leave the right free for the cordial shake of the hand, so indicative of friendship and goodwill in England, and now so often adopted abroad.

Very mistaken ideas exist about the necessity of taking off your gloves to shake hands with a lady. The rule is as follows:—If the lady is ungloved, take off your glove before shaking hands with her; but if she has her gloves on, you need not remove yours.

A young man who is inattentive to his dress is likely to become a sloven as he grows older.

If your hair is red, use red oil; it will shade it down to an auburn tint. If, for temporary loss of hair, you wear a
wig, mind it is one that will completely cover your head; and, if possible, procure one of those ventilating peruques that do not close the pores of the skin of the head. As the wig attracts dust and smoke almost as much as the human hair, do not forget to keep it constantly combed and brushed.

If you wear jewellery, avoid being loaded with it. A brooch or studs, a handsome gold watch and guard, and a ring on the second, third, or fourth finger of either hand, is quite sufficient ornament.

Be particular to have your things made to fit well, but not to fit tightly. In fact, the loose, easy fit, is in accordance with the good taste of the fashions of the present day.

Coloured ties and coloured gloves belong to morning dress. Select those that are of delicate and becoming colours, and avoid those that are glaring and gaudy.
Black dress-coat, black silk tie, or white cravat, silk or black cloth waistcoat, white kid gloves, and black trousers, and thin patent leather boots, are the principal component parts of full-dress costume, suitable alike for dinners, evening parties, balls, and operas.

For out-door costume, avoid cloaks or coats of so light a colour as to contrast too strongly with the other part of your attire. The contrast formed by snow-white linen with the dark waistcoat or coat is a pleasing contrast. Otherwise, endeavour to establish harmony in the colour of your garments.