- Nov 26, 2016
- central NC
Dressing for Dinner:
For the Ladies:
Do not dress above your station; it is a grievous mistake, and leads to great evils, besides being the proof of a complete lack of taste.
Do not expose the neck and arms at dinner. (The lady in the pic above is in trouble. )
For the Gentlemen:
The unvarying uniform is black pants, waistcoat and jacket, with white tie, shirt and gloves.
It is customary for the host and hostess to be seated opposite each other, at the side of the table, in the center.
Husbands and wives should sit as far as possible from each other. Society is the enlargement, the absorption, and, for the time being, the breaking up of all private and exclusive engagements.
The Before Dinner Interval:
At some point before dinner is announced, the hostess will discreetly point out to each gentleman the lady he will escort to dinner. He shall serve her throughout the meal.
The guests find their places by the names on the place cards and everyone sits down in a gay flutter of talk and laughter.
The Delicate Art of Dinner-Table Conversation:
The conversation should be easy, playful and mirthful.
The rules of politeness are never at variance with the principles of morality. Whatever is really impolite is really immoral.
Do not mention at the table anything that might not properly be placed upon it.
The Etiquette of the Dinner Table:
Eat slowly; it will contribute to your good health as well as your good manners. Thorough mastication of you food is necessary to digestion.
Be moderate in the quantity you eat. You impair your health by overloading the stomach, and render yourself dull and stupid for hours after the meal.
The After-Dinner Interval:
Contrary to the custom of low society, civilized gentlemen do not remain at the table after the ladies have retired, to indulge in wine, coarse conversation, and obscene jokes. The more enlightened practice is for the ladies and gentlemen to retire together from the dining table.
It is expected that guests will linger for two or three hours after the dinner. In any event, no one may politely depart until at least one hour has passed.
After the Dinner:
Within one week, pay a brief "dinner call" to express thanks to your host and hostess, and to briefly reminisce over the delights of the evening. Do not stay for less than ten minutes or more than twenty.
Typical Thanksgiving dinner, right? Yikes! This doesn't even include the obligations of the host and hostess, the proper table settings, the proper behavior of servants and much more.
Source: "The Essential Handbook of Victorian Entertaining" adapted by Autumn Stephens.