Stop for a moment and think for a moment: What exactly does etiquette mean to you? More specifically, what does it mean to the modern woman who can no longer run home to refer to her dog-eared copy of Emily Post? What does it mean in a world that is rushed, stressed and pushed to the brink of exhaustion? These are the questions I began to try and answer a few weeks ago when a friend introduced me to an acquaintance as an “etiquette expert”. Fascinated, the individual began to ask me all kinds of questions about where her fork should go and if she should wear white pants before Labour Day. This is what led me to question what it meant to me: was etiquette really just where forks should go, where to stand and what to wear? A series of strict rules you have to follow? Things your mother told you you HAVE to do?
Etiquette as an institution has existed for as long as societies have; cavemen needed the rules as much as Medieval Kings and Queens. Emily Post, considered the expert on all things etiquette, wrote her first book on the subject in 1922. Yet in a world today is much different than that of 1922 – we have indoor plumbing and women can vote – and the rules that were once considered unbreakable are not appropriate any longer. Today, change happens so rapidly that it’s crazy to think a rule written 100 years ago could still apply. If you don’t believe me, head to your library and flip through a vintage etiquette book.
There is an appalling lack of etiquette and manners – not to mention class, a different thing all together which we will discuss at a later time – in today’s world. Many female “role models” flaunt disregard for the decorum of etiquette. There is no debating that you can survive in the world without etiquette, there are plenty of rude people we can point to – but at the end of the day these are not the types of people that others want to be around. On the other hand, if all we did was judge people for not following the rules of etiquette to the law, we’d not be making friends either. You need a combination of the rules and the modern je ne said quoi which you, and only you, can bring to the table.
This is why I believe modern etiquette, the Refined Side girl etiquette, has gone beyond a set of guidelines and rules. It’s become a combination of the traditional guidelines coupled with with the modern values of self-confidence, thoughtfulness and poise. It’s taking the rules and using warmth and kindness in their application – it’s becoming more around taking a situation at face value and then making decision on how you want to approach it. Is it the kind and thoughtful thing to do to tell someone they are using the wrong fork at a dinner party? Probably not. If we want to boil it down, modern etiquette is knowing when to follow the traditional rules … and when to ignore them.
That’s the beauty of etiquette. It helps you be confident.- Peter Post, Emily Post’s great-great grandson
How are you supposed to know how to navigate these difficult situations for everyday, ad hoc, real life situations? Well, that is where the Refined Side is here to help you. We are here to take etiquette to the next level and in helping you add your personality, morals and joie de vivre into the traditional behaviours to make it something magical – and all your own.
If you’ve read our About page, you’ll know that we define luxury as something that is inessential, but conducive to pleasure and comfort. This is how we see modern etiquette. It’s about being in a situation and deciding what the kindest thing to do is and doing that – something you don’t have to do to survive but that brings pleasure and comfort to those around you. This is why etiquette, modern etiquette, is a tenet we hold near to our hearts on the Refined Side. Don’t be afraid – if you bring your compassion, kindness and generosity to the table you’ll be assured to be well equipped for living la vie en luxe.