The Ladies’ Rule
“The sound of...came with me wherever I went. My manners, my palate, my accent, my appreciation of humidity,” Allison Glock quotes. As she explains, southern etiquettes take place in southern people’s lives as long as they can remember. For women, especially in the south, it was more than just a simple ‘etiquette’, it was their way of life. Women’s southern etiquettes explained how to dress, proper behaviour in dinner parties, and conversation etiquettes.
A southern woman should dress with neatness, adaptiveness, harmony, proper fashion, style, and comfort. “No better advice can be given to a young person than to dress always according to her circumstances. She will be more respected with a simple wardrobe, if it is known either that she is dependent upon her own exertions for support, or is saving a husband or father from unnecessary outlay,” (Hartley) The dress that a proper lady should wear should always be clean, with neat collar and sleeves. The nice dresses in the closet should be hung up by a loop on the inside of the waistband, with the skirts turned inside out. Cloaks should hang in smooth folds from the loop on the inside of the neck. "Let each dress worn by a lady be suitable to the occasion upon which she wears it," (Hartley) The dresses should be in harmony, meaning that clothing should never go out of seasonal, and avoiding extremely odd or eccentricity. They also should fit perfectly, not too tight or not too loose. Paying attention to details are important, like choosing plainer fabric for dresses, with tidy stockings and polished shoes. This will look proper and not too attention-seeking.
The dinner party etiquettes are different for guest and hostesses. "If your husband is giving a party to gentlemen only, he will have a card printed or written for the occasion, but your duties as
hostess, if he wishes you to preside, will still be as arduous as if your own friends were included in the invitation" (Hartley) The wife should prepare the food, and wife should also clean the rooms and furnish early for the company. The table should spread in a room that will accommodate all the guests comfortably, the room is comfortably warmed, and if the dinner is late, have the apartments well lighted. "You should enter the house of your hostess from a quarter to half an hour earlier than the time appointed for dining. Proceed at once to the dressing-room, and arrange your dress and hair, and then enter the drawing-room," (Hartley) The guest should always speak to the hostess before talking to other guests. In dinner conversations speak loudly enough to be heard by those around, but, at the same time, avoid raising voice too much. If the company is large, then have a conversation only with the person near, but speak in a distinct and low tone, so other couples won't find this actions annoying.
A proper lady should speak in a certain way. "You must originate, and you must sympathise; you must possess at the same time the habit of communicating and of listening attentively. The union is rare but irresistible,” (Hartley) A Lady should never answer a remark or question made to another person in another group. The conversation with peers is an exception. Then confine remarks and attention entirely to the peer. She should never use any other language vocabulary than English unless she is very fluent in that language. "Be careful in conversation to avoid topics which may be supposed to have any direct reference to events or circumstances which may be painful for your companion to hear discussed; you may unintentionally start a subject which annoys or troubles the friend with whom you may be conversing," (Hartley) When an uncomfortable subject comes up in a conversation, she should immediately apologize to her peer and ask for her or his forgiveness. Also, do not interrupt when someone is speaking as well. She should also use elegant vocabulary and never use unprofessional words. When the peer used incorrect grammar or usage of words, she should kindly and respectfully correct him or her with an explanation.
There are a lot of rule required to be a proper lady, and there are many steps to achieve that title. However, by having a nice dress etiquette, knowing how to host and act in dinner parties, and also knowing how to speak properly, ladies can reach the title of being a proper lady.
Works Cited#1- Sarah Kim
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