Refinement was not only about observing the outer forms of proper behavior and surrounding oneself with tasteful objects; refinement involved a state of mind–it contributed to the formation of personal and social identities. To be refined was not only to be polished and genteel, it was to occupy a different mental sphere, separate from the less elevated sphere.”A Place in History: Albany in the Age of Revolution by Warren Roberts, ebook location 260
This passage was written talking about how early American colonists transformed themselves from the lower-class frontiersmen who settled the colonies into a class system that included an elite upper class. Roberts’ point is that the elite began to see themselves as above others as they grew richer. That is NOT what I am advocating.
My reason for including this quote is to say that your mindset is as important to incorporating everyday luxury into your life as your clothes, car or home. Manners includes things like table etiquette and concern for others but also how you speak, sit/stand, walk into a room, all of which are influenced by your mindset.
Back in the day, both boys and girls learned manners growing up from parents/governesses and for girls, finishing schools and depending on where they lived, cotillion/debutant balls. I was very lucky to attend both an etiquette course called Pretty as a Picture when I was like eight and also Barbizon modeling school when I was a pre-teen (I can’t believe they still exist!), both of which taught me how to be a lady. I lost a lot of my skills during my teen years as I tried to fit in like all the other girls (and then later with a courser crowd), but I’m actively trying to bring them back into my life. And as I do that, I want to share the wisdom with you.
If you are interested in manners guides I recommend forgetting Emily Post and Miss Manners and going with something more modern. But if you want to go WAY back, here’s one first published in 1860. (I’m a history buff; humor me.)
Unfortunately, the Pretty as a Picture book is out of print (however you can buy it used on Amazon), but these seem to cover the same ground:
- How to Raise a Lady Revised and Expanded: A Civilized Guide to Helping Your Daughter Through Her Uncivilized Childhood by Kay West
- How to Raise a Gentleman Revised and Expanded: A Civilized Guide to Helping Your Son Through His Uncivilized Childhood by Kay West
- 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know: What to Do, What to Say, and How to Behave by Kay West, John Bridges, Bryan Curtis
- 50 Things Every Young Gentleman Should Know Revised and Expanded: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why by John Bridges
- A Kids’ Guide to Manners: 50 Fun Etiquette Lessons for Kids (and Their Families) by Katherine Flannery
- Panache That Pays: The Young Professional’s Guide: How to Outclass Your Competition by Maria Everding (she taught the Pretty as a picture class, so I know she knows her stuff.)
- The Unwritten Rules of Professional Etiquette: Building a Positive Reputation in Graduate School by Ryan Sharma
- As a Lady Would Say Revised and Expanded: Responses to Life’s Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations by Sheryl Shade
- How to Be a Lady Revised and Expanded: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy by Candace Simpson-Giles
- A Lady at the Table: A Concise, Contemporary Guide to Table Manners by Kay West, John Bridges, Bryan Curtis
- A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up Revised and Expanded: What to Wear, When to Wear It, How to Wear It by John Bridges
- A Gentleman at the Table: A Concise, Contemporary Guide to Table Manners by Kay West, John Bridges, Bryan Curtis
- Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top by Dorothea Johnson
- 50 Essential Etiquette Lessons: How to Eat Lunch with Your Boss, Handle Happy Hour Like a Pro, and Write a Thank You Note in the Age of Texting and Tweeting by Katherine Flannery
- Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers by Walter Hoving
- You can also buy a newer version of the Barbizon Modeling Handbook (mine is from 1992 and literally falling apart) on Amazon.
- Notoriously Dapper: How to Be a Modern Gentleman with Manners, Style and Body Confidence by Kelvin Davis
- A Gentleman Walks Down the Aisle: A Complete Guide to the Perfect Wedding Day by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis (I hope they make a female version of this someday; maybe it will prevent Bridezillas.)
- Modern Manners for Moms & Dads: Practical Parenting Solutions for Sticky Social Situations by Evie Granville
This site uses affiliate links. If I recommend a product, I may receive a small commission if you use the link on my site to purchase it. I am not being paid to endorse any product. All recommendations are my own.