We live in modern times where the art of subtlety and gentleness, dignity and mystery has almost all but been lost. The way we over-share on social media and the longing to be accepted among our peers, the easy access to compliments, make us seem desperate; it’s a platform that shouldn’t be abused, but often is. I might exaggerate a tad since it’s not quite that extreme in most cases, but let’s pretend for a moment it is.
Great style and fashion is made null and void if you don’t have the grace and class to wear your clothing and attitude accordingly. I’ve seen many woman who wear rich and beautiful clothing, but their attitude and overall social dispensation reveals a facade. Inside they’re as poor and needy as they are rich on the outside. All these things can be mended with a good attitude and happy face and heart. As our style mother Audrey Hepburn said, “Happy girls are the prettiest”. It’s important firstly to relax and have fun.
Here are 10 basic etiquette tips to get you through any social situation:
1. When entering a room, walk upright and with poise, greet the host or hostess first while maintaining eye contact and flash a gorgeous smile shaking or taking a hold of their hand gently. Greet guests openly and warmly and give sincere compliments.
2. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, endeavor to make conversation that’s light, witty and kindhearted. Avoid controversial topics and heavy or sad news. You want to keep the atmosphere around you light and bubbly, like champagne. The first impression that people have of you is the one that matters the most – this is the one they’ll remember. Always be uplifting in your conversations, gracious in compliments and have some knowledge of popular culture. Don’t talk too much about yourself. If talking to people makes you nervous, ask questions about their life, job, hobbies and interests. If questions are asked of you, don’t ramble on, keep it on point, short and sweet. Don’t be overly loud or brash; the attention seeker in the room will be remembered but for all the wrong reasons.
3. Be helpful. Having a kind heart is a sign of a true lady. If your host or hostess needs something, offer to help or take initiative if appropriate.
4. When you are sitting down, keep your legs crossed at the knees or ankles and place them to the side. Keep your shoulders straight and don’t slouch. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, keep them folded in your lap. If you are standing and you drop something, bend at the knees to pick it up. Your derriere sticking straight up in the air is uninviting.
5. When you are at a dinner party or with acquaintances it is vital that you keep your phone in your bag and not on the table or in your hand. You want to be attentive and open to conversation. You want other people to know that you’re interested in connection and that you are present. If you must take a phone call, excuse yourself and take it outside.
6. This might be a shocking one, but make sure your clothing is neat and clean. A sloppy or slouchy appearance is the antithesis of wanting to appear put-together and dignified. Make sure when entering someone’s home that you are conscientious about mud being on the bottom of your shoes. You don’t want to trek dirt all over their clean home. Wear appropriate clothing for the season. If it’s clearly cold outside, don’t, for the sake of “fashion”, wear something that’s for spring or summer weather. Dress appropriately for the occasion and especially, if they requested certain attire.
7. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’. Don’t reach awkwardly but ask for something to be handed to you, for instance, “Could I have the salt please.” “Would you mind passing the pepper.” Say “pardon” or “pardon me” if you misheard something or need to move past someone. Don’t be rude.
8. Say “excuse me” if you need something and need to make your appearance known. Don’t blurt out your request, ask nicely. Kindness and good attitude will yield more results than a bossy temperament.
9. When eating, don’t gobble up your food, you aren’t starving. Take smaller bites and chew at a normal pace. A whole section could be written on proper table etiquette and for that I suggest Tiffany’s Table Manners; it’s comprehensive and a fun read. Keep elbows off the table, eat with a knife and fork and sit up straight. Never talk with your mouth full of food and compliment the host/hostess on the delicious meal. If something is not to your liking, don’t make a scene of it. Just eat around it. At the end of your meal, place your knife and fork parallel to each other with the handles closest to you, to signal that you are done.
10. When walking, keep your head high, shoulders back, legs long and back straight. Try not to trudge even if you’re wearing flats. If you can’t walk comfortably in heels, practice at home until you can. If you manage to trip (as I have, many times) just carry on and laugh it off, no one will remember it the next day.
Style and poise is not something that everyone is born with; it’s something that is learned and acquired through patience and practice.
Hope these basic tips can help!