Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for bringing back old world manners and adhering to traditional etiquette but every now and then you come across some ideas that just don’t suit our modern day lifestyle.
The following 5 old-fashioned etiquette examples are examples of outdated and typically unnecessary rules.
While not always a complete no no, in general they are rules that are not a major faux pas to disregard. If you’re feeling traditional or even in a passing traditional mood it’s completely acceptable to follow these guidelines, it’s simply not a must.
1. Letting your date finish his meal first.
There’s an old-fashioned rule that states a lady should observe her date’s eating habits and refrain from finishing her own meal before he does. It was not only deemed polite to avoid causing him to feel rushed but helped you to appear more ladylike, not gobbling down every morsel faster than a beastly man.
Today this is beyond ridiculous. If you see it as a sweet gesture and it doesn’t bother you to patiently time out you food intake than by all means take part. But if you’re not the type to stave off your hungry grumbles than eat at your own pace finishing when you so chose.
Of course it’s wise to keep note of the general pace at which others are eating as you don’t want to finish 30 minutes before they do, but you certainly mustn’t wait for you’re husband or date to finish first.
2. Letting a man order your meal.
It’s lovely when a man opens a door for you or pulls out your chair at a restaurant but when it comes to ordering your meal it’s no longer necessary or even desired. Food is personal and everyone has their preferences, not to mention dietary restrictions. By all means if he has a suggestion then be gracious and consider it but it’s not compulsory.
3. Don’t introduce your employees.
In Vogue’s 1948 Book of Etiquette it states…
“No guest or member of the family, except a very small child, should ever be introduced to employees. ‘This is my husband, Norah,’ or ‘This is my daughter, Miss Rosalie, Hardy,’ is impossibly wrong. … After such an introduction, it is not customary to shake hands.”
Now maybe this rule had it’s time and place but today there’s absolutely no harm in introducing family or friends to your employees. In fact, it can appear downright rude not to, especially if they will be spending extended time or coming into close contact with the person.
However, if you happen to be visiting someone with help follow the host’s lead. If they don’t initiate an introduction don’t do so yourself. Each household may adhere to a different degree of formality.
4. Avoiding politics and religion at the dinner table.
It’s very obvious why this rule originated. Politics and religion are two of the most sensitive subjects and who wants to ignite a tension fueled fight at the dinner table.
That being said, if you and your guests are able to conduct yourself as civilized respectful humans, which if you’re following the general rules of etiquette you are, then you’ll have no problem discussing these topics without causing a brawl.
A dinner party is prime opportunity to connect with friends and family and these so call touchy topics are touchy for a reason, they’re important to people. While this can be volatile it provides a chance to discuss things that actually matter, to learn what a person believes and what makes them tick.
It would be a pity if we let etiquette get in the way of expressing oneself or forming deeper relationships. After all isn’t that the whole point of gathering for dinner, besides the food.
5. Wearing white on your wedding day.
Before Queen Victoria’s trendsetting decision, wearing white on your wedding day was not the typical choice. Most brides opted for various other colors including red, yellow, blue, black and grey.
But throughout the years the color white has cemented it’s place as the go-to color for wedding dresses, embracing the associated symbol of purity and innocence. Since this is no longer a typically ahem… “relevant” symbol there’s really no point keeping the tradition alive, except for the sake of tradition.
If you have a preference for an alternative color, whether it suits your skin tone or you’re going for a unique look, it’s time we feel the freedom to select a fresh color.
If a bold vibrant hue it too daunting, consider a blush pink, light blue, or pale yellow. White is always a classically clean beautiful look but it should no longer be a must.
HOMEWORK: Do you agree that these rules are outdated or are you happy to follow them? Let me know it the comments.