October 09, 2008
September 26, 2008
If applying make-up takes you so long that you can't possibly include it in your morning routine- why should you then put it on in transit or at the office? People don't want to know how much make-up your wear!
Restrooms provide an excellent opportunity to apply your face. Take advantage of the privacy, and let make-up work in your favor by discreetly high-lighting your natural beauty. When everyone knows how much goop you slap on - it really does defeat the purpose.
August 07, 2008
August 04, 2008
"The ideal necklace, the most universally becoming piece of jewelry ever created, and an indispensable accessory in every woman's wardrobe, is a string of pearls. Every woman should own a single strand pearl necklace and a second one of three or five strands. If she is a grande dame of a certain age, she can even wear seven or nine strands. Like roses in a vase, an odd number is more elegant than an even one."
Also, cultured and imitation pearls are perfectly acceptable. If you are lucky enough to have real pearls remember that they need to be worn often. Without contact with skin they gradually loose their luster.
From A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antione Dariaux
July 28, 2008
Seems the idea of men in skirts is now acceptable but questions remain.
-how the gentleman's legs look in the skirt
-what shoes to wear?
-(I can't believe I'm asking this but) above or below the knee?
from The Sartorialist
July 21, 2008
Can we forbid people from talking to us when we are having a conversation on the phone? These people become frenzied as they assume what the person on the other line is saying and begin talking over you, telling you what to say, and trying to answer their own imaginary conversations.
It is nearly impossible to hold two conversations at once. If the telephone conversation involves those in the room, say with directions for the group or a suggestion to meet at a restaurant, only the person on the phone should be engaged in the conversation. It is possible to put the caller on hold and address your present company, who should be waiting patiently.
This form of interrupting is incredibly rude and frustrating. When you encounter it, first hold up your hand to signal the interrupter to stop. If they persist, place the other person on hold while you explain to the interrupter that they are interrupting your phone conversation. They may have valid points to make but their way of getting them across is ill-timed.
Photo by Sophie Calle
How luxurious are fresh hotel sheets? To show your appreciation, and maybe receive an extra mint or shampoo, you should tip the hotel cleaning staff.
How luxurious are fresh hotel sheets? To show your appreciation, and maybe receive an extra mint or shampoo, you should tip the hotel cleaning staff.
The morning after your first night leave 1 or 2 dollars, or the equivalent, on each bed. Each night after your first you should leave 1 dollar on your bed, except the day you check out. You are thanking the staff for the previous night, and ensuring that they will now clean your room very well.
July 11, 2008
Unless you can afford your own private beach paradise, treat beaches as Public Space (foreign concept to some). It is easy to get along with everyone as long as you are respectful. Keep music low, avoid becoming drunk or those who already are, and be mindful of the space you are occupying.
Leave the beach cleaner than you found it. Picking up random garbage (and every last bit of your own) on your way off the beach will help ensure glorious Sun Days for generations.
Everyone likes to skip stones, but look before you toss! Never throw rocks at a crowded beach as you never know who is below the surface.
Heed warning signs placed by the beach, and respect your life guards. Completely stupid not to.
Naked babies on the beach: joyous, free, and darling. Still, if you are accompanied by children, they are your responsibility. Never count on other people to be keeping an eye on them.
It's OK to check other people out, but don't make anyone you are with jealous!
Acknowledge every few minutes that you are at the beach, you do not have to work, and there are many ways to play! How exciting!
Enjoy your weekend!
July 10, 2008
The Martini is the classy-classic American cocktail. It is also rich in formalities and custom.
Let us begin with pouring where the goal is to serve the coldest and purest alcohol. Daddy-o Bruce starts by pouring the liquids into a shaker with ice, WITHOUT SHAKING. You then get the garnish ready (typically a pimento stuffed olive) and take out your chilled glass. Garnish the glass, THEN shake the shaker and strain your cocktail into the glass. This will produce the coldest, water-free martini. Bruce usually goes a step further and swirls rather than shakes his shaker. This is to prevent Silver Bullets.
Many bartenders mark silver bullets, or small shards of ice, as an achievement. But in fact, your martini should never include ice shards or any other form of water. It is alright to refuse a martini with ice shards.
The contents of the martini are a personal choice aside from the basics Gin and Vermouth. Usually a martini has 1 part vermouth to two parts gin. Extra dry martinis have less vermouth and are just a preference, like dirty martinis. Dirty martinis have a splash of olive juice in them. Delicious. Vodka is a popular replacement for gin, and has led to the creation of flavored monstrosities like White Chocolate Cappucino Martini. But we are here to discuss the classics.
Let us end with drinking a martini. You should always hold the glass by the stem. If you can no longer balance the glass *stop drinking*. And the last sip has a prize - the olive. It has been soaking up the martini from the beginning and is your treat at the end. Even if you asked for extra olives (the cheap date appetizer), leave one until the end.
Special Thanks to Bruce Gelfand!
June 25, 2008
June 12, 2008
Thanking people for their efforts, favors, gifts, or services is the most fundamental element of proper etiquette. It is the base of polite conduct, and if you can't be bothered to behave nicely- you must at least say thank you, and you must mean it. Let us discuss saying thank you through hand written note; a formal, but always appreciated, expression of thanks.
The most important thing to keep in mind is timeliness. Your card should be posted absolutely no later than one week after you received the gift, or went to a friends house for dinner, or had a neighbor pick up your child from school.. etc. Princess Di would leave her stationary out on a small desk in her bedroom so that she could write out each days' thank you's before going to sleep. But then again, much better late than never!
Do not be shy if you think your hand writing is poor. Hand written notes have a personal touch that can't be forged. Take your time to print or write neatly. Sometimes it helps to draft your note before filling in your note card. Typed, unless with a typewriter, cards are tacky!
Men usually use a note card that is flat, small, and of heavy stock. This can be a simple white card, or you may personalize it with your name, monogram, or a border. Traditionally, women use a small folded card with their monogram or name on the front. These distinctions are blurred with many women opting to use a flat card.
And then the content of the card. There are no exact guidelines for writing a perfect thank you note. The nature of your thanks depends on the gift, your relationship to the giver, and your own personality. But generally:
- Thank the person directly for the gift or favor.
- Describe exactly why you like/appreciate it with details specific to the gift. Remember to make it personal.
- Explain how the gift or service will help you.
- Compliment the giver.
- Thank them again.
Finally, if there is anyone out there...
Thank you for reading my blog! I am surely not the best example to follow in etiquette, but I am glad you are with me on this adventure. Knowing I'm not calling out into a void gives me a sense of purpose. Also, you are helping me to find my voice as a writer. Thank you kindly for your support!
Wishing you graceful lives,
June 10, 2008
It is inappropriate to carry or wear alligator, crocodile, ostrich, or any other exotic leather after 5 in the evening. Such leathers are worn during the day only and specifically to sporting events.*
*A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antione Dariaux
But if you can afford it can't you wear it?
May 29, 2008
Try your best to keep your desk free of dirty dishes and food containers. If it is alright to munch at your desk, you shouldn't wallow in it. Other people in your office will be offend by such filth and a cluttered environment is a less productive one.
*Coming soon: More on the work place from guest blogger and (happily) unemployed Andre.
April 30, 2008
A great time can be had by all at a dinner party where the seating is random and loose. Games where you switch seats after each course, or draw numbers out of a hat to determine your place are spontaneous and help you to meet new people. But not every occasion calls for an informal seating plan.
The horror story: A young girl attends a wedding for her boyfriend's cousin. She has never met his extended family before, but feels quite at home. The reception has a buffet and no seating plan. After she has served herself, she wanders outside to find seats. As she sits, she smiles warmly and introduces herself to the people at her table. They say nothing back, but look past her... where The Bride is standing. And The Bride taps her on the shoulder and says "Excuse me, but you are in my seat!" The young girl is incredibly embarrassed. She has sat down with the wedding party, and taken The Bride's seat! She replaces her napkin, picks up her plate and slinks away. ((This is a true story from yours truly)) So there are certainly occasions for stationary on your table.
There are several different elements to consider when setting your table. They can be handmade or engraved, funky or elegant, creative or traditional; and each element serves its own purpose.
Escort cards seem to be a thing of the past, from when ladies always entered rooms on the arm of a man. A gentleman's name will be written on a small envelope and inside is a small card with the name of the lady he will escort.
Table cards are much more common and serve to direct people to the correct table, which is crucial at banquets and wedding parties. Could you imagine people circling every table looking for their place card? Here, there is another small envelope or folded card. The person or couples' name is written on the outside of the envelope, and inside is their table number. Sometimes favorite cities or restaurants replace table numbers, but regardless each table should then be marked.
A place card is left at each person's seat. It should have their title and last name on the card, for instance 'Ms. Wachnicki' or 'Mr. Blomberg'. All the table stationary can be printed or handwritten, or calligraphed if you can afford it.
Finally, some hosts include menu cards for the table. These can be shared with two people, a table, or given individually. If different wines are being served with each course, then they should be listed alongside the dish.
If your host has gone through all the trouble (and it is nothing but trouble) to arrange seating, then it is seen as very bad form to ignore her efforts and choose your own seat. This act sets off a chain reaction of confused guests who are unable to find their seats!
April 23, 2008
With confidence! There is nothing sexier, or that looks better on a woman than confidence. But really, can you wear a party dress anywhere? Yes!
A party dress is one that is special to you and that you glow in. It can come in any style or color (even black). Enjoy wearing it, and feel your best. For it to be a party dress it must elevate your beauty to the next level, not necessarily your formality. But there are formal party dresses where the occasion matters.
At a formal dinner the dress should look rich, but not too elaborate. The purpose of a dinner party is to eat and socialize, so your dress should reflect the mood of the party.
At The Ball wear the best dress you can get your hands on. It should be floor length and look great in motion. At The Ball you will be dancing and your dress should be made for it.
At a cocktail party do not be afraid to wear something besides that little black dress. Shorter shifts, fun colors, mixed and matched accessories. This kind of event has a more playful side to it.
At home, by yourself, eating chinese take-out... you have only to impress yourself so it better be great.
April 22, 2008
Bread and butter is a simple pleasure and compliments almost any meal. Breaking bread is a fundamental element of being social, in fact the word 'community' means to share bread. The way you prepare, eat, and use your bread and butter say a lot about your table manners.
It is no longer necessary to provide guests with a butter knife or a bread plate, and silly to provide only one or the other. But still, when in a formal dining setting you should know how to use them. Things not to do with a bread plate and butter knife:
- Do not cut bread with the butter knife.
- Do not butter a whole piece of bread at once. Tear off a bit sized piece of bread and butter it before you eat it, one bite at a time.
- Do not place your butter knife back onto the table, instead let it balance on the bread plate.
- Do not move a bread plate on top of another plate. Your bread plate is located on the right side of your place setting.
- If there is a communal dish of butter, use your butter knife to take a small amount of butter, and then place that butter onto your plate. Do not butter your bread directly from the butter dish. (And never dip your bread into the butter dish!)
It is common to receive bread and butter without specific utensils for them. This can cause confusion, but it is a simple part of casual dining. Keep your bread off to the right side of your place setting and use your knife to butter your bread. Hopefully there is not a table cloth if you must place your knife back onto the table.
April 17, 2008
Edible flowers are gorgeous sprinkled onto a salad, satisfying in a tea, and also make incredible candy. Not all flowers are edible! Only eat flowers who you know to be edible. It is also important to know the source of your flowers. Only eat organically grown flowers, and never from a florist, nursery, or garden center. Flowers picked by the side of a road are contaminated by car emissions, so keep driving! If you have asthma or allergies do not risk eating flowers.
When gathering your flowers remember to search in the early morning and to pick only flowers in their prime. Flowers, as we know, are perishable and will wilt in warm conditions. Place long stemmed flowers into water and short stemmed blossoms between sheets of damp paper towel or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It is best to gather them within 3 or 4 hours of dining.
Immediately before using, gently wash and check carefully for bugs. Some flowers are fragile, so test your cleaning method on one blossom first. Such flowers need extra careful insect inspection. Eat only the petals of flowers, discarding the pistils and stamens. For your enjoyment, this is how you candy flowers:
1 egg white
superfine granulated sugar
thin artist's paintbrush
violets (or other flower to be candied -- pansy, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea, pinks, scented geranium)
wire cake rack
In a small bowl, beat egg whites to a light froth. Add 1 or 2 drops of vodka, which helps the flowers to dry faster. Place sugar in a shallow bowl. Cover cake rack with parchment.
Hold the top of the stem between your thumb and forefinger. Dip the paintbrush into the egg wash and gently paint all the surfaces. Make sure to get between all petals. Next, sprinkle sugar on the flower, making sure to cover all the surface and between the petals. Place face up on the parchment. Now repeat!
When you have finished as many flowers as you can, place them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area so they can dry completely. They will be stiff and brittle when dry, and should be stored in an air tight container.
*adapted from Cathy Wilkinson Barash's book Edible Flowers - Desserts & Drinks.
April 08, 2008
If you are in rude company, or someone acts towards you in an uncivil way, it might feel best to retaliate. Or even try to elevate your own manners by putting down theirs. You might want to say something like, "you are behaving like an ass," or "your behavior is very rude." But pointing out someone else's rude behavior is not polite and lowers you to their level.
When faced with rude behavior you must maintain your poise. You no longer have to be amiable and warm. It is fine to be curt and remove yourself from the situation. Try to do so with as much grace as possible, and without causing a scene which might embarrass the people you are with. If you have clearly been slighted or recieved negative attention it will be evident to your companions and they will admire the way you handle the circumstances.
Your best revenge will be to bounce back and enjoy yourself!
April 03, 2008
Or, There Is Something In the Way OF Your Smile.
When faced with particles in your companion's teeth, let them quietly know without interrupting conversation or drawing attention to the situation. You can say whatever you like as long it is direct, and it is best to avoid wildly gesturing or miming. "There is something in your smile," or "You have something in your teeth," work very well.
If the tables are turned, first take a sip of water. Hold your napkin up to your face while you try sucking the bugger out, and depending on your relationship to your companion you can ask them if its gone. Otherwise go to the restroom and take care of the situation with the help of a mirror.
It is always best to let a person know and save them the embarrassment. But then again, it happens to everyone.
April 02, 2008
It is often said that Americans are slightly ignorant when it comes to international protocol. Whether or not we travel, we should all know how to address a letter going abroad.
It is such a pleasure to receive an interesting envelope in the midst of bills and junk, and a personal note is a gesture any culture appreciates. But there are rules we must adhere to in order to get that letter there. The most basic is to write your information legibly. Never use pencil to address an envelope, or place the postage and address on opposite sides.
If the destination does not speak English, you still must write the country's name in English. The US Postal Service can then sort your letter appropriately, after which point its the receiving country's issue. If you feel comfortable writing the town and postal code in English as well, write them below the line written in the other language. This is not a huge issue because most countries (China, Russia, and Arab speaking) can process mail written in Roman letters, so do the best you can.
The address should not be more than five lines; the top line should contain the most specific information - the addressee. Your address should work itself down line by line to the most general information - the country. The destination country is written out fully on a line all by itself, preferably in capital letters. Town, Province, and postal code go together on the line above country.
Miss Phoebe Phlower
Arts and Humors
38 HaveANiceDay St.
BrokenHearted 339 A47
And just in case, always include your return address! The USPS has some more suggestions for addressing mail.
March 31, 2008
Simply lower the toilet's lid when you are finished. Toilets are gross. There is a lid on it to help contain the essence of a toilet, and also to prevent items from falling in the pot (always tragic).
It should go without saying that men must always lower the seat when they have finished in the restroom. But still, it must be said again. And again. And additionally, Please Put a Lid On It!
March 28, 2008
Should men stand when a lady enters or leaves the gathering?
This formality smells like old cheese and old ways. However, it is appropriate for gentlemen to stand to either greet or to bid farewell a lady of significant age or importance. It is a courtesy paid with respect, but also lends the gentleman as a gregarious and charming sort of individual. But please, stand from a genuine desire to! Otherwise the action is meaningless.
Modern women may mock such a gesture as over the top, but it should be appreciated with a smile and a gentle nod of the head. Singling out a gentleman for standing could be seen as crass. On the other hand, it is not a custom we should expect. When a lady leaves in the middle of a meal, for instance, all the present gentleman standing would only add to the disruption of her exit and cause her embarrassment.
March 26, 2008
T.I.P. stands for To Insure Promptness, and was originally used like we now use "to grease" or "to slip (someone a twenty)". These days tipping has taken on a new role in the way we receive service and there are situations which require different approaches. These are the basics of tipping after a meal.
But first, when DON'T we tip? We are not expected to tip, unless given something for free, when the server is paid a wage. For instance, most behind the counter workers like Starbucks' baristas or your local deli guy are paid a wage. Your kindness may not even be felt some baristas, Starbucks recently ran into trouble by giving a share of tips earned to manager. To read further on this check out BBC. Still, it is nice to acknowledge people's work for you with money.
If you have never worked in the restaurant industry you may not know that waiters/waitress' work almost exclusively for tips. This means that they are paid only as much as you give them for the period of time you are sitting at their table. In America, it has become mandatory to leave gratuity after your meal, because restaurants do not pay a wage for service. It is standard to pay 15-20% of the meal you ordered. Any less could only be because of atrocious and audacious service, and not necessarily linked to the food itself.
Remember: If you can't afford the tip, do not eat out.
March 20, 2008
Visit a Museum With Proper Gusto
- never touch art you don't own, even if you could should you want to.
- delight in hushed conversation, but also relish silence
- children should appreciate artwork as their parents do, never interfering with other patrons' experiences.
- limit group size to three persons, leaving room for everyone.
- enjoy yourself, a little. its not an amusement park.
- when you don't know, ask the staff. making up stories will only get you into trouble.
- its not a church, but do wear clothes.
- yes, the guards are watching you.
- maybe some of the work your child could do. maybe they are genius children.
- approach artworks like you are meeting a new person: from various angles, openly, with polite respect until you gather enough history/gossip to ascertain its social relevance and whether you feel comfortable liking it. and remember: you wouldn't poke someone you just met, would you?
- if it is in a Museum, it is considered art by people more important than yourself.
March 17, 2008
The mail arrives, but sadly the bulk of it is not for you . The letters are addressed to former inhabitants or ex-lovers and you would rather not deal with them.
Return mail to the sender by drawing one line diagonally through the address. When you place the misdirected mail in the post-box, the post-people will know to deliver the marked mail back to its sender. Your hands are clean from with-holding or tampering, it is possible the addressees will eventually receive their mail, and you have gotten all $00.42 out of that stamp.
March 12, 2008
Public restrooms pose a quandary for some modern day ladies. Though stalls provide privacy, there is still a thick layer of 'public' that's best avoided.
To really prevent butt-nee, rancid moisture, or worse, lift the seat and squat. The deeper you squat the less spray is created, and the better work out for your thighs.
If poppin' a squat isn't your style, then by all means have a seat. It is perfectly acceptable to densely paper before descending to the throne. But beware the desperate sheet of toilet paper clinging to your shoe!
Gentlemen have a different set of issues involving eye contact, hand signals, and where to step up to bat. For more insight on these issues watch urinal etiquette.
Read about China's Crisis Over Olympic Potties