The object of your marigolds. And may no yellow chrysanthemums or tulips grow in your gardens.

The object of your marigolds. And may no yellow chrysanthemums or tulips grow in your gardens.

The House Party in Camp


“ROUGHING it” in the fashionable world (on the Atlantic coast) is rather suggestive of the dairymaid playing of Marie Antoinette; the “rough” part being mostly “picturesque effect” with little taste of actual discomfort. Often, of course, the “roughing it” is real, especially west of the Mississippi (and sometimes in the East too); so real that it has no place in a book of etiquette at all. In the following picture of a fashionable “camping party” it should perhaps be added, that … most of the women really think they are “roughing it.”

At the same time there is nothing that a genuine dependent upon luxury resents more than to be told he is dependent. It is he who has but newly learned the comforts of living who protests his inability to endure discomfort.

The very same people therefore who went a short time before to Great Estates, women who arrived with their maids and luggage containing personal equipment of amazing perfection and unlimited quantity (to say nothing of jewels worth a king’s ransom), and men who usually travel with their own man-servants and every variety of raiment and paraphernalia, on being invited to “rough it” … are the very ones who most promptly and enthusiastically telegraph their delighted acceptance.


The men all rummage in attics and trunk-rooms for those disreputable looking articles of wearing apparel dear to all sportsmen; oil soaked boots, water soaked and sun bleached woolen, corduroy, leather or canvas garments and hats, each looking too shabby from their wives’ (or valet’s) point of view to be offered to a tramp.

Every evening is spent in cleaning guns, rummaging for unprepossessing treasures of shooting and fishing equipment. The women also give thought to their wardrobes—consisting chiefly in a process of elimination. Nothing perishable, nothing requiring a maid’s help to get into, or to take care of. Golf clothes are first choice, and any other old country clothes, skirts and sweaters, and lots of plain shirt waists to go under the sweaters. An old polo coat and a mackintosh is chosen by each. And for evenings something “comfortable” and “easy to put on” in the way of a house gown or ordinary summer “day dress.” One or two decide to take tea gowns in dark color and plainest variety.

All the women who sew or knit take something to “work on” in unoccupied moments, such as the hours of sitting silent in a canoe while husbands fish.

Finally the day arrives. Every one meets at the railroad station. They are all as smart looking as can be, there is no sign of “rough” clothes anywhere, though nothing in the least like a jewel case or parasol is to be seen. At the end of somewhere between eight and eighteen hours, they arrive at a shed which sits at the edge of the single track and is labelled Dustville Junction, and hurrying down the narrow platform is their host. Except that his face is clean shaven and his manners perfect, he might be taken for a tramp. Three far from smart looking teams—two buckboards and an express wagon—are standing near by …


People do not “dress” for dinner, that is, not in evening clothes. After coming in from walking or shooting or fishing, if it is warm they swim in the pool or have their guides bring them hot water for a bath. Women change into house gowns of some sort. Men put on flannel trousers, soft shirts, and flannel or serge sack coats.

In the evening, if it is a beautiful night, every one sits on steamer chairs wrapt in rugs around the big fire built out doors in front of a sort of penthouse or windbreak. Or if it is stormy, they sit in front of a fire, almost as big, in the living-room. Sometimes younger ones pop corn or roast chestnuts, or perhaps make taffy. Perhaps some one tells a story, or some one plays and everyone sings. Perhaps one who has “parlor tricks” amuses the others—but as a rule those who have been all day in the open are tired and drowsy and want nothing but to stretch out for a while in front of the big fire and then turn in.

The etiquette of this sort of a party is so apparently lacking that its inclusion perhaps seems out of place. But it is meant merely as a “picture” of a phase of fashionable life that is not much exploited, and to show that well-bred people never deteriorate in manner. Their behavior is precisely the same whether at Great Estates or in camp. A gentleman may be in his shirt sleeves actually, but he never gets into shirt sleeves mentally—he has no inclination to.

—from Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, by Emily Post, 1922.

The Ultimate in Human Communication

handwritten letter

Long before telephones, Mailgrams, or television, people had to put pen to paper if they wanted to express themselves to someone who lived elsewhere. Today the easiest and best way to communicate with one another is still that written word. The letters left to us by the great figures of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries constitute a treasure trove of history and sociology. (One may well shudder to contemplate the reactions of our descendants in the year 2500 if they judge us by our TV tapes, records, telexes, and computer printouts!) We are not living in a culture of letter writers, but rather of fast communicators, with no motivation to pursue the beauty of expression.

I often wonder when writing a letter to someone I haven’t seen for a long time and to whom I have much to relate, “Will he or she possibly save this letter?” If I think the person might, I tear it up and start over again, paying attention to the manner in which I express myself and the organization, punctuation and style of the letter… . I would hate anyone in the year 2050 to come across one of my usual hastily written, careless letters, and to judge me on its merits.

There is nothing more pleasant than receiving a beautiful letter. It can inform, console, thank, express love, indignation. It can persuade, dissuade, congratulate, chide, cajole, inspire, or say very effectively “I’m sorry.” There is nothing within the range of human emotions that cannot be expressed by the reflective written word. It is sad that the world of instant communications has made us so lazy that we are losing the ability to communicate our real selves to each other on paper. It is easy to communicate information via computers, but the computer cannot convey the emotions of the heart.

It is often easier to write our deep feelings than to verbalize them face to face or on the telephone. We should try all through our lives to develop this gift of writing, to form good habits with our pen and paper, and never to short-cut our friends and the people we love by ignoring the one most sensitive tool of communication we share.

—from The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: A Guide to Contemporary Living (Revised & Expanded by Letitia Baldridge), 1978.

Pink and Blue

The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.

—from Earnshaws’ Infants’ Department, June 1918 (via Smithsonian magazine)

Sex Among the Moderns

There are three new phenomena under the sun; economic independence for women, the gulf between puberty and mating, and the logic of contraception.

There are three old phenomena under the sun; the economic dependence of women, puberty as the time of mating, the logic of fecundity.

A study of these contrasting phenomena will illuminate the two outstanding humanistic realities of our times: the psychologic breakdown of marriage and the compensatory prevalence of the new freedom in the love-life.

Marriage was stabilized on the basis of two important urgencies: economic need and reproductive anxiety. The woman either had to depend upon the man or was his profitable associate in enterprise. Both man and woman, more particularly the latter, felt the necessity of legitimate parenthood and honorable (because clean and socially approved) procreation.

The overshadowing fear of woman’s life has been the fear of pregnancy. Under the ancient logic of fecundity, there was no help for it. Sex, mating, marriage, reproduction were all interlinked in a continuous series of behaviors wrapped around with the mystic cord of sacred duty. Procreation was naïvely accepted as the aim and meaning of life.

The overshadowing fear of woman’s life has been neutralized and marvelously set at rest by the technique of contraception. A nice question for the metaphysical dabblers in ethics is this: does the disappearence of fear leave woman with any ‘moral’ restraint on the impulse to mate?

One problem and only one troubles the minds of the younger generation: the problem of freedom in matters sexual. How should it be otherwise? Financial self-dependence, educational equipment stressing personality fulfillment, erotic enlightenment, the blessed certitude of prevenception, the emergence of informal comradeship between the sexes, and most significant of all, the shifting of the marital status from puberty to adult-maturity, have all conspired to elevate to a position of the first importance the problem of sex-expression in youth time.

Static morality has been repudiated in favor of dynamic experience. Fear yields its sovereignty reluctantly to fun. Virginity is sacrificed to felicity. Virtue, being its own reward, is bartered away in favor of love. Passion’s coming of age heralds the dawn of a new orientation in the life of the sexes.

We may sum up the quintessence of the sexual revolution by saying that the center of gravity has shifted from procreation to recreation.

—from Why We Misbehave, by Samuel D. Schmalhausen (Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1928)

Conversing with Ladies

A gentleman should never lower the intellectual standard of his conversation in addressing ladies. Pay them the compliment of seeming to consider them capable of an equal understanding with gentlemen. You will, no doubt, be somewhat surprised to find in how many cases the supposition will be grounded on fact, and in the few instances where it is not, the ladies will be pleased rather than offended at the delicate compliment you pay them. When you “come down” to commonplace or small-talk with an intelligent lady, one of two things is the consequence; she either recognizes the condescension and despises you, or else she accepts it as the highest intellectual effort of which you are capable, and rates you accordingly.

—from A Guide to the Manners, Etiquette, and Deportment of the Most Refined Society, by John H. Young, A.M. (New York: W. C. King & Co., 1879)

Women Must Preserve Civilization

In the coming years we shall need all the charm, aplomb and philosophy we can get. It will be the task of women to keep the world from despond, to keep the prettier gestures of good living going with meager materials. Women will not, for many a year, perhaps never, descend again to the status of toys.

Under the most trivial, be-curled, made-up and high-heeled female, there burns a desire to be needed. All the talk of our softness and laziness will fall meaningless, blunted on the fact that close under the surface of the average woman is more strength of purpose (when it isn’t needed, it’s called stubbornness), fierce loyalty (no lioness can equal it), and capacity for comradeship than the modern man even suspects.

WE WILL NOT FAIL IN ANY CRISIS TO COME. To the extent of our ability we will keep the torch of civilized home-life burning. We will create beauty with whatever materials are at hand. We will fan the embers of kindness in a brute-stricken world. We will hold high the gains of learning, decency. We will heal and hold to our hearts the wounded, the young, the needy. It is a great privilege to be a woman today.

—from The Woman You Want to Be: Margery Wilson’s Complete Book of Charm (Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1942)

The Woman Your Husband NEARLY Married Comes to Lunch


Engage a charwoman the day before to come in and rub up the brasses, clean the silver, etc.

Make special efforts over the flowers.

See that a bright fire is burning cheerfully.

Interesting magazines lying about.

Volume of Proust, complete with paper-cutter, in prominent position on the table.

Children on view in their new and spotless smocks.

Numerous invitations propped up on chimney-piece.

Wear your most becoming frock and your husband’s latest present.


Cocktails—Dry Martini with Olives



Lobster Cream en Coupe

Fried Chicken à la Marengo

Merveille aux Marrons

Cheese Wafers

Coffee and Cigarettes

—from The Perfect Hostess, by Rose Henniker Heaton (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1931)

May a Young Woman Go Alone to a Man’s Apartment?

This question is more often asked and harder to answer than any other question of the present day. Considered solely from the point of view of etiquette, the answer is NO. Considered in regard to a girl in her teens or to a young woman who is not very worldly-wise, the answer is No. In fact, it is a question that had not even a proper place in the earlier editions of this book. But times have changed, and the point of view of the modern world has turned from the consideration of etiquette as applied to society, and exacted that young women with professional careers—young women of new independence—be considered too. Therefore, this greatest question that has followed the disappearance of the chaperon must be included in a chapter such as this [Chapter 16: “The Vanished Chaperon and other Lost Conventions”]. And yet—any attempt to apply the rules of propriety to a young woman’s going alone to the apartment of a man would be the same as attempting to give directions for applying a flame to a high explosive. Plenty of explosives can be approached with a flame—so they say. Plenty of young women do dangerous or foolish or stupid things and suffer not the slightest effects—either ill or otherwise. And yet that doesn’t alter the fact that being shut in behind the latch-locking door in a man’s rooms alone is, from every angle, as flagrant a reversal of propriety as is possible to describe—that is, granting a certain element of attraction between the woman and the man. If there is not the slightest personal interest further than stone-cold liking, would she be going to see him? True, she might dine with him on an evening when she has nothing else to do. Or perhaps they are old friends from the same home town and both more or less lonely strangers in an unaware city. The situation in either case is in no way a deviation from convention.

But how can this question be brought down to a particular case, and how is it possible to say definitely “no” or “yes” with any degree of accuracy of judgment or fairness? Each girl and each man and each background presents a different problem, requiring almost as many different answers as there are young men and women.

However, let us take yourself for an example. How are you to know whether you very well might—or positively shouldn’t—go alone to dine in the rooms of a certain man? Why not ask yourself a few plain questions? Would you be embarrassed should someone see you going in or coming out? Do you think your going is not anything to be talked about? Would you call your mother from his apartment and tell her where you are? In short, will it be an adventure, or will it be nothing at all except for having dinner with Tommy at his rooms instead of having it, as usual, in yours? You really know the answers much better than anyone else can, because you know all of the elements that enter into your personal situation.  …

But now let us say you want to dine with the fascinating man you met the other night. You know perfectly well you shouldn’t go. Why look for the answer here? In any case, why not make it a dinner of four? Objection to a dinner of four instead of two is just that much weight added to the “no” side of the scale.

It is not necessary to add that a silly or emotionally inclined young woman who in pursuit of thrills accepts about any invitation from almost any man is certainly more likely than not to be shopworn or tarnished or otherwise marked down in value.

How late may you stay? If you dine alone, you should leave before ten, which is the hour that the servants in most houses are supposed to go off duty for the night. If you are four, you need not closely watch the clock. But even so, you should remember that past midnight is too late for a well-bred young woman—even two together—to be leaving Bachelor Flats.

The difference between going to a man’s apartment and seeing him alone in yours is much the same as that which certain small boys find between the flavor of cherries eaten in the highest branches of the tallest tree and those same cherries on the dinner table. Even though the unchaperoned situation be precisely the same—there is a flavor of adventure in going to a man’s rooms in contrast to the commonplaceness of receiving him in yours, probably because you are hostess almost every day in the year and it is likely that he is host but seldom.

—from Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage, “New Edition, Completely Rewritten and Reset, Including Military and Post-War Etiquette,” by Emily Post (Mrs. Price Post) (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1945)

Wallflowers Take Note

While you’ll never be able to trade in your basic character for a new model, scientists are predicting the perfecting of pharmaceuticals by the year 1992 which could not only change your personality but maintain it at any desired level as well. This is extremely interesting to speculate about, but in the meantime you will have to be content with the personality which nature gave you. Of course, if you are a girl who is never asked out or a boy who has trouble getting a date, there are small personality adjustments you can make in order to become more attractive to others.

There may be many little reasons why people may or may not like you. Perhaps these questions might help you to “see yourself as others see you.”

Answer “Yes” or “No.

1. Are you popular with yourself—do you like what you are?

2. Are you careful not to carry grudges?

3. Do you take the initiative in thinking up unusual parties?

4. Are you interested in a wide variety of things rather than just books? or sports? or cars? or girls? or clothes?

5. Do you stay true to your ideals regardless of group pressure?

6. If you are in the wrong, do you admit your mistake and apologize?

7. Have you thought up a catchy nickname for yourself which you enjoy?

8. Can you keep your emotions under control?

9. Are you always supplied with pencils, carfare, or loose-leaf papers so that you’re not considered a borrowing pest?

10. Do you stay home when you have a sniffly cold?

11. Do you always resist the impulse to point out to someone that he made a social error?

12. Are you careful not to impose your opinions on others while expecting everyone to think exactly as you do?

13. Are you willing to give longhair concerts and art exhibits a try?

14. Do you support the team even if it is losing?

15. Are you careful not to pry into other people’s affairs by asking personal questions?

16. Do you cultivate hobbies?

17. Can you resist snubbing someone who has an inferior social position or someone who has offended you?

18. Do you make sure that you never brag about where you live or what your father does for a living?

19. Can you make yourself smile when you feel like crying?

20. Are you honest in taking examinations?

21. Are you well-groomed?

22. Can you take advice and constructive criticism without getting your “feathers ruffled”?

23. Can you accept others’ successes and never be green-eyed about someone else’s popularity?

24. Are you careful not to do anything which would annoy others such as crack your knuckles, whistle or hum constantly, snuff, blow bubble gum, or use one finger nail to clean your others?

25. Are you careful about bodily cleanliness?

26. Are you genuinely interested in others?

27. Do you have a pleasant, happy disposition?

28. Do you excel at something?

29. Do you have a sense of humor?

30. Can you be pleasant to someone you dislike?

31. Are you a good sport when you get teased?

32. If you arrive at a party and find you are over-dressed, can you relax and have a good time rather than feel that people are singling you out to look at and perhaps secretly laugh at?

33. Are you careful not to boast of personal possessions or achievements?

34. Can you be trusted to keep a secret?

35. Do you let people finish what they are saying rather than break into the middle of their sentences?

36. Are you content with the praise that comes your way naturally rather than feel you must always “fish” for compliments?

37. Are you willing to stand up for a friend when slighting remarks are being made about him?

38. Do you always show appreciation for things done for you?

39. Can you face difficult situations instead of running away from them?

40. Do you have good manners?

If you have forty “yes” answers, you are too good to be true; if you have thirty-five affirmative answers, you are above normal; if you have but thirty “yesses,” you need to do a bit of checking up on yourself; whereas if you have twenty-five or less affirmative answers, you’d better inaugurate a “get tough with me” campaign.

—from What Do I Do Now?: A Book for Teens with Questions, by Barbara T. Jacobs and Dorothy M. Bowen (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1963)

(MARGINALIA: Found dedication, endpaper. “Merry Christmas 1964 to Bonnie and JoAnne from Steve and Bette. Dear Bonnie and JoAnne, We are giving you this gift with the intent that you read it and enjoy it. You are young ladies now, and not children anymore. And as your sister and brother-in-law we want you both to know how proud of you we are. We hope this precious book will become one of your dearest treasures. We love you, Steve and Bette.”)