Vogue’s Book of Etiquette (1948): The Ideal Attitude

The 1948 edition of Vogue’s Book of Etiquette contains over 600 pages of etiquette rules for daily life and special events. While a lot of the social conventions of the 40’s were out of date by the time the 60’s happened, they are nonetheless fun to read about! So Laura Petrie might not have followed all of these rules, but she certainly would have had parents that did (or at least tried to).

The Ideal Attitude  (p.33)

The ideal attitude which should underlie all women’s manners expresses kindness, gentleness, good will, sensitive understanding, self-respect and, when it is appropriate, deference.

So, the ideal woman is pleasant and submissive. When you read articles on the internet about how people need to stop telling women to ‘smile more’ (check out this art project called “Stop telling women to smile”) this is what those articles are attacking. While everyone should be pleasant and have others in mind, Vogue described manners for men a few pages earlier by declaring,

…noticeably good manners, according to the Anglo-American standard, are almost unattractive in a man. (p.25)

Instead, men should be discreet with their politeness and never be noticeably concerned for decorum.

The double standard in male and female roles during the 1940s was quite drastic (as is visible in this book). But let’s not forget that at this time it was completely acceptable to hold people to these standards.


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