Vogue’s Book of Etiquette (1948): Thanks to a Stranger

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 While a lot of the social conventions of the 40’s were out of date by the time the 60’s happened, they are nonetheless fun to read about!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).

Thanks to a Stranger (p. 35)

Women must thank all those, including strangers, who do them little services.

This means that if someone holds a door for you or lets you skip the line ahead of them, a woman must always say ‘thank you’. If someone does something nice for you and you say your thanks, but THEN they try to start a conversation with you, you can politely and discreetly decline their conversation. However,

…it is more attractive to take for granted that the gesture was motivated by politeness only than it is immediately to suspect another motive. One should never be afraid to be kind, or to put a generous interpretation on the actions of others.

Always give the benefit of the doubt. Just because someone strikes a conversation with you doesn’t mean they are automatically a perv or trying to pull one over on you.

It is better to risk a little trouble than to risk a narrow, ungenerous habit of mind.

Ultimately a woman should never risk her manners in the name of “what-ifs” or general safety. Always give the benefit of the doubt because to do otherwise would be egregious.



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