V. Sackville-West, The Edwardians
“Since one cannot have truth … let us at least have good manners.”
V. Sackville-West, The Edwardians
“Well-bred people might drop you if your behavior [becomes] offensive, but they [do] not try to reform you.”
Robert Westbrook, Intimate Lies, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham, Her Son's Story
Image Credit: Society in Vogue
“Good manners are the lamp of beauty.”
Iké Udé, Style File, The World's Most Elegantly Dressed
What Ike Udé means by good manners has less to do with slavish devotion to esoteric rules and everything to do with thoughtfulness. Emily Post would have agreed. The early 20th Century arbiter of etiquette hewed to the four S’s: sincerity, simplicity, sympathy, and serenity. Such behavior cannot be selectively applied. For Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, that meant if she observed someone being rude to the waiter, that person better be rude to her too.
Babe Paley, like Onassis, was one of the most admired women of the 20th Century. She was a master of Emily Post's four S’s. Consider her 1973 journey to China with her husband, Bill. This was an era when almost no Americans traveled to that country. There would be no modern conveniences. She must have wanted to be prepared for anything. Yet, upon being told that the luggage carriers there were older, possibly frail women, she brought only one suitcase that she could carry herself. That might explain the simple black ensemble in the above photo. But (as that photo makes obvious), even limited to one bag, Babe remained the epitome of chic.
As Annette Tapert notes in The Power of Style, Babe Paley was a trendsetter. "[W]hen Babe, who was then in her fifties, decided to let her gray hair show, masses of women followed suit. When she wore a pantsuit to lunch at Quo Vadis, it became acceptable.” Sometimes, it was accidental. She once wrapped her scarf around her handbag because she was too warm. Regardless of temperature, that too became a fashion trend. Yet, what so many of these proudly gray, pantsuit-wearing, scarf-on-handbag Babe Paley admirers failed to realize was that the only means by which they could truly resemble their idol was in their behavior—by treating people of stations with respect and kindness.
Image Credit (Second Photo): The Original Bill Paley
“If a dog barked at me in the street, I would be foolish to get down on all fours and bark back.”
William Randolph Hearst, The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
“I believe every woman over fifty should stay in bed until noon.”
First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies
The person who made sleeping-in possible for Mrs. Eisenhower was her loyal and hard-working social secretary, Mary Jane McCaffree. McCaffree died last month at the impressive age of 106. She and Mrs. Eisenhower comprised a formidable team. Commented the former first lady’s granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, “My grandmother loved efficiency, and Mary Jane epitomized it.”
Building upon her work with Mrs. Eisenhower, McCaffree returned to government service in the 1970s, as Chief of Protocol for the State Department. In 1977, McCaffree put her years of on-the-job training to good use, writing a detailed book, The Official Handbook of Diplomatic, Official, and Social Usage, which is now back in print. Per her obituary in the New York Times, which of the following was not one of McCaffree’s dictates?
The answer is after the JUMP.
"Fair play is like a jewel, but so many people can't afford jewelry."
Noah Lott, The Silly Syclopedia
Image Credit: Le Bon Ton, 1910-1950, Mode, Theater, und Gesellschaft
“If there is one thing that a really well-bred man cannot overlook, it is cheapness of behavior [which has] nothing to do with lack of money.”
Emily Post, Etiquette, The Blue Book of Social Usage
Image Credits: Swann Galleries, Illustration Art, January 28, 2016 and LaChapelle Land
“Up at [her summer home on] Squam Lake, Babe took pains to have an abundance of local produce on hand, including corn picked just before it was tossed in the pot. Babe kept toothpicks at every place and challenged the guests to see how many ears of corn they could eat with just one pat of butter…. After the meal, Babe would say, ‘Okay, now everybody can pick their teeth.’ When a friend once asked, ‘How could you do that?’ Babe replied, ‘It’s better than having everybody sitting around talking to each other with corn between their teeth.’”
Sally Bedell Smith, In All His Glory: William S. Paley and the Birth of Modern Broadcasting
Image Credit: Vic Vicini
“Central heating is still regarded, in England, as not quite ‘nice.’ If you say airily to most English country people that you have central heating, they colour slightly, and quickly change the subject, as though you had mentioned that you suffered from some complaint which was not normally offered in polite society.”
Beverley Nichols, A Thatched Roof
Image of Allways Cottage via The Blooming Garden
“Americans frequently tell me that they consider London to be the most civilized city in the world. Possibly it is, but we must never forget that politeness is a way of dealing with people whom you do not like.”
Quentin Crisp, How to Go to the Movies
Image Credit: The Golden Age of Couture, Paris and London 1947-57