Vintage Manners & Etiquette: Are they dead?

August 5, 2016admin
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Not a usual topic for all things vintage but please stay with me, it will all become clear.  When researching photos for my #ThrowBackThursday Vintage Photography board and my penchant for the 1950s it got me thinking about etiquette in 1950 versus modern day dilemmas.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of etiquette is “The customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group.”  Etiquette experts Debrett’s was established more than 250 years ago and was the go to resource for British etiquette and manners.  Their publications were read with extreme interest and gave advice: be courteous at all times, form an orderly queue in a shop or for public transport, say excuse me, please and thank you, when meeting someone for the first time shake their hand – a hug or kiss was a big no no!  Certain questions were also frowned upon such as asking someone’s age or whether they were in a relationship or not.

While the Debrett’s publication was well received it was the case that a lot of rules regarding etiquette were unwritten, being passed down from mother to daughter or father to son and in some cases girls would be sent to finishing school to assist them in acquiring a suitable husband!

While I just adore vintage fashion and vintage accessories, I really do not envy the formal and somewhat overbearing system of etiquette, not to mention how these forms of etiquette contributed to gender inequality and reinforced the class system.  Change in etiquette usually comes slowly but with the current pace of technology we all appear to be playing catch up.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not asking for us all to read through Debrett’s and start acting as though we are part of Downton Abbey high society but I do think taking account of ‘vintage’ etiquette and manners will help us deal with the modern-day dilemmas we can sometimes face.

So while ‘vintage’ etiquette and manners may not hold much influence today, it would seem etiquette isn’t as dead as I thought as we continue to write the rules for how we communicate via email, text and all forms of social media.

But let’s not forget that we still interact with people so please consider ‘vintage’ etiquette and manners, they are as important as Netiquette!

For those wanting to read a little bit more etiquette by Debrett’s I would recommend their book on the A-Z of Modern Manners.






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