Yesterday I was in the library and stumbled upon a copy of Miss Manners in the fashion section. Its interesting to me that a million-dollar fashionista can’t go waltzing out the door without her inner person “dressed and pressed” to go with it. And we inherently know this, or else Miss Manners wouldn’t be sitting next to Fashion 101.
But wait a minute! Isn’t etiquette and “good manners” something snobby rich people do?
No, actually. Etiquette is not a boring subject that rich, snooty people participate in.
BBC Period Dramas are notorious for making the antagonists “proper,” as if their etiquette is the reason they are snobby. That is a myth. Social grace is just that: grace. It’s a skill. You can use it at work, to further your career, your relationships, and gain approval from others. Its the act of respecting other people. It’s the study of being humble, self-disciplined, and serving others in public situations. Everyone likes a polished lady (or man.) You will stand out as an authority, well-liked, with people buzzing all around you. If you apply proper social graces in a manner that’s snobby or degrading, you’re missing the point. #dontbemissbingly
The secret to timeless charm is proper etiquette (Grace Kelly, Princess Kate, Audrey, etc…) It’s a lost art, really. We understand basic ideas like “please, thank you, and don’t interrupt.” But how to we treat an ex-spouse’s new wife at a wedding? How do we write a response to an RSVP? When do you give a hostess gift, and what do you include in a thank you note (yes, it’s still in style to write those.) I believe a way to relieve social anxiety, and even boost confidence, is to revisit etiquette and common-sense rules that haven’t been passed down from past generations.
We stopped teaching advanced etiquette and manners after pre-school. Today we teach kids “please and thank you” but forget to teach the social skills like wedding etiquette, a simple two-step, and how to go on a date. Back in the last century girls went to finishing school to learn social grace, but today girls don’t know how to write notes, accept gifts gracefully, what to say in awkward situations, how to treat annoying people, which fork to use at a six-course table setting, or simply walk across the room in high heels without clomping like a cow (I hate it when that happens to me.) Self-improvement isn’t a grade school class that’s required anymore, and it’s sad because our world is full of girls who struggle socially. Etiquette is an area you can help boost your confidence in so many ways!
There are three areas to social grace that stump everyone: appropriate fashion, social etiquette, and the messy dating scene. Below I‘m going to share with you three phenomenal resources to help you learn these skills. Best part is, you can find them for free at any local library!
You know how little kids absorb everything like little sponges? Well, when I was a little kid my parents only let me watch older films if I wanted to watch something unsupervised. I absorbed all the social settings, like how to look like a woman, how to act like a woman, and how I expected a man to treat a woman. I loved how fancy, pretty, and collected classic actresses looked. It’s empowering! So I started applying the ideas I saw on television into my life, and as I got older, I started to study the art of social grace on a more formal level besides just films. In my journey, I found three books I love the most and have helped me overcome social anxiety and walk confidently into any social situation.
I’m sharing them because it’s hard figuring out how to be a charming woman sometimes. Seriously, I wish there was a finishing school in America that girls could go to in their last year of high school. That would have helped. I remember being an awkward teenager transitioning into womanhood and feeling like I had no guidance about social rules and graces and appropriate clothing. I honestly felt flat, unimportant, and desperate. It effected my confidence that I wasn’t as polished as other women. I wanted to be, but figuring out how was the hard part. Thankfully there were books to help rescue us, which are the next best thing when you can’t go to school. Any woman can benefit from these books. If you are married, single, engaged, or a transitioning teenager all of this information is applicable to every class, status, and age.
So, if you are a woman searching for answers, here are three books I highly recommend to up your game 100%!
- Miss Manners: Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior
I love the satire, and the way Miss Manners takes you into the heat of social situations. She’s both hilarious and educational, which is nice for people who feel that etiquette is boring and tedious.
For introverts who hate social situations, try this book. You might find that the social rules help you approach public places with the same amount introversion but more grace and ease. Which, grace always leads to more confidence. Which leads to less anxiety. Which keeps you from lying in bed agonizing over the awful things you think you said. Which leads to more sleep. Which….you get the idea. Etiquette is just less stressful.
- The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets For Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right
Dating. The best part of it is the chase. And this book teaches you how to accomplish that with elegance, thoughtfulness, and with correctness. It’s a real game changer if you feel awkward around men. It’s even helpful for married women who want to keep their relationship exciting.
How do you “play games” the right way, why should you, and what are the rules to keeping yourself mysterious and interesting? Surprisingly, it’s an ability girls naturally are equipped to do but we’ve forgotten how in our fast-paced world. It’s okay to want to get married and stay married for the next 50 years, but first you have to catch him. How do you do that?! HOW DO YOU REMAIN MYSTERIOUS FOR 50 YEARS? (That was dramatic, but it’s how I feel about it.) What is appropriate, sexy behavior and what is an awkward scene from How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days?
Dating is one of the most intimidating social situations on the planet, but surprisingly there are dried and cut, simple, old fashioned rules to guide you through so you don’t lose a guy in 10 days! The book is based off of physiology, observation, and secrets our grandmothers have been trying to share with us for years! It’s not a gimmick book, just a plea to the mysterious creature lurking inside all of us.
I personally found these rules to come naturally once they were fully explained to me. The book is built on the premise that, psychologically, women like to be chased. But to be chased you have to run a little…but without playing shameless games. If you make yourself too easy, annoying, assuming, and disrespectful the man you like won’t feel interested enough to pursue. This book explains that dating is less of “playing games” like we perceive it to be, and more of applying common sense rules to maintain a healthy relationship. The chapters include topics on: what to do if a celebrity or a very popular person should happen to ask you out, how to walk into a room, how to give your number to a man, how to treat yourself, how to be a creature unlike any other, how to write an interesting dating website profile, and many other rules!
- The One Hundred: A Guide To The Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own
Fashion comes naturally to many women.
The rest of us have to learn it.
Not everyone can hire a fashion coach, but for those of us who need help this book is the bomb! I like it because for one, it’s not about trendy clothing. It’s just a list of timeless items that have never, and will never, go out of style. You save money by buying these items once and you won’t have to keep going back to the store in desperate hopes of randomly finding your style.
Two, it’s compact. It’s not a giant book with millions of ways to pair clothes. It’s straight forward with 100 items, easy to apply to the busy girl who is overwhelmed by fashion and all that jazz. It’s also amazing for the girl who isn’t into fashion but has to look on point for her career. Nina Garcia gives you a list of must own items and teaches you how to wear things (and how not wear) like animal print and fishnet. She teaches how to walk in stilettos and the proper way to wear red lipstick. She teaches you about the proper pajamas, and how to comfortably ditch sweats and tee shirts. She shows you where to buy classic items. For example, she shares where to buy the original brand of ballet flats Audrey Hepburn wore in Funny Face. She even covers objects like champagne, passports, iPods, and music to help you feel like a million bucks! The illustrations are gorgeous and by the end of the book you have this warm fuzzy, confident feeling like your Audrey, or something.
Well, that’s all for now, folks. If you found this helpful, please share it to spread the word and give all those girls social confidence!