A Lesson in Etiquette

dear miss vanderbilt

dear miss vanderbilt

dear miss vanderbilt

1. Hand-Embroidered Etiquette Napkins | 2. Amy Vanderbilt | 3. Animal Cocktail Napkins | 4. Vintage Wedding Napkins | 5. Tea and Toast Butter Dish | 6. Beast’s Feast Tureen | 7. Very Fond of Food | 8. Marcella Plates | 9. Canister Labels | 10. Glass Pedestal Stand & Dome

Amy Vanderbilt, author of the famous etiquette books Dear Miss Vanderbilt and later a cookbook illustrated by the famous pop artist Andy Warhol, is considered the go-to girl on all questions about etiquette since she published her first edition in 1952. Some of the questions her readers wrote in are absolutely hilarious, hilarious to think that some of these social rules were actually mainstream. Yet, in all their hilarity, there is a tinge of sadness to see how quickly her etiquette rules have been ignored–or all but dismissed– in pretty much one generation.

These quotes are some of Amy’s responses to a few “Dear Miss Vanderbilt” letters written to her about table manners. I found them irresistible and had to share. My favorite? “Ladies no longer have to pretend a disinterest in food,” when asked by a young woman whether it was proper for a lady to admire the food, rave about a recipe, or cheer over a morsel of dinner that a hostess provided. Apparently, before the 1950’s, ladies just pretended not to eat…because, you know, eating is sooooo vulgar. For overturning THAT myth, Dear Miss Vanderbilt, I am eternally grateful.

– <3 A. 

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Plain Jane

Plain Jane: “Life seems to be a quick succession of busy nothings”

Jane Austen in Mansfield Park

By Tuesday, this feeling has definitely gotten its tight grasp upon me. I guess it is not a new phenomenon though, for Jane felt it as well. She seemed to find joy and contentment in her busy nothings however, or, at least had the lightheartedness to laugh at them.

Plain Jane

Plain Jane: “Beware of fainting fits…though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable, yet believe me they will, in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your constitution…Run mad as often as you choose; but do not faint.”

Jane Austen in The Juvenilia of Jane Austen 

Today I am beginning quite the week of busy-ness. It’s all excessively agreeable but nonetheless makes me rather tired just thinking of it. Jane says I may run mad though, as long as I do not faint, so that’s what I shall do…