I’ve spent the majority of the past three days foraging in the attics at home. Amongst the bird droppings, dead spiders and endless bags of moth chewed cashmere, I have found some gems. First up is a pocket sized book, Etiquette by Martine Legge who ‘covers first of all the problems involved in letter writing, sending out invitations and addressing the aristocracy’ and goes on to a ‘discussion of the etiquette involved in taking out a girl, and the girl’s responsibilities on such occasions.’
It’s set out in sections, some of which did cause me to raise a carefully groomed eyebrow. In particular, Approaching The Professions, which starts What is a professional man? And continues to refer to men only throughout the chapter (accountants, doctors, solicitors, barristers, architects).
Ms Legge also addresses several other burning issues of the hour . Here follow some extracts to help you deal with them:
The Girl Who Lives Alone
Today this need cause no rising of eyebrows, providing the girl is not too young, that her parents approve and she is ordinarily sensible.
Entertaining at Home
If you have a variety of animals at home, keep them out of the way of guests. Nothing is more disconcerting than to find a hamster poking about on the sofa.
If there is no servant, it is wise to start a meal with something cold like melon, avocado, cold soup or pâté.
The Sunday morning drink party is an excellent way for unmarried people of both sexes to return hospitality.
It is difficult for a single woman to entertain friends in a restaurant unless she is very mature and sure of herself but a man can return hospitality by giving a small luncheon or dinner party in a restaurant.
If the hostess says, oh don’t dress up, the men should wear dark suits but the women can wear a dark wool dress.
Guests for the Weekend
A woman guest will wash up her dishes if there is no help in the house, but a man can leave them to be washed by his hostess.
Always tell a guest at what time he can have a bath.
Clothes & Appearance
Younger women who have just had their hair done can go hatless to a luncheon in a restaurant or to an interview.
Women should only wear rings on their engagement fingers.
Women should always wear gloves when meeting others.
Clothes for a Country Visit:
You should have at last one skirt which has a deep pleat, so that you do not get stuck half-way when climbing over a stile or jumping a ditch.
Taking Out a Girl:
If going Dutch is agreed upon for the evening, it is much more courteous & less embarrassing if the girl gives the man her share of money beforehand. To scrabble about in her handbag isn situ is embarrassing & degrading for the man.
At dinner, it is expected that a man offers wine (it need be only a glass). A man chooses wine without asking the girl which she would like
Behaviour of the Engaged Couple:
They can spend all their time together but should not go away alone for a holiday or weekend, unless they do not care a hang for the feelings of their parents or acquaintances! Whatever the laxity of modern life, this is still an understood rule of behaviour.
Apart from Etiquette, (no 33) one could also invest in books 1-36 in the Everything You Need to Know in a Nutshell series, which include Your Refrigerator, Week-End Jobs, Budgerigars & other Cage Birds, Party Games, Period Costume, Committees, Woodwork for Pleasure, Cocktail Fare and Judo.
Everything a modern girl could need to know if you ask me.