Why? Do you ask? Simply because I believe clothes are like our, shall we say covers. They are the book covers of our personality and albeit a book can look beautiful, with amazing font, a fantastic picture or illustration, and an incredibly catchy title (much like the self-proclaimed social titles we bestow upon ourselves) they do not necessarily tell you much about an individual. Their behaviour and etiquette, does.
Now for the traditionalist and aristocratic 'bourgeois' the handbook of elegance and etiquette has been handed down by someone of title with archaic beliefs of how a 'lady' should act. The book 'A Guide to Elegance: For Every Woman Who Wants to Be Well and Properly Dressed on All Occasions' by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, is a perfect example. I purchased this when I was 16 or so, so a good nine years ago and read it in a matter of hours.
It was filled with "don'ts". Don't wear black before midday (oops); Match your underwear (double oops); Never make a man feel inferior to you - this doesn't mean play the bimbo but be diplomatic with intellectual conversations (ok this I have mastered). Never wear 'TOO much' jewellery (uh oh - bye bye chunky rings). Diamond studs are a staple (What about faux diamonds? I have some plastic ones i whip out every so often when I'm lazy, does that count?). Don't chew gum; Don't eat everything off your plate; Don't be drunk in public; Don't let a man know you're too interested in them; Don't be impolite ever; Don't yell; Don't have chipped nail polish; Don't wear flats with a dress or skirt; etc etc.
After reading it, I felt like the most minimal of behaviours had to be controlled.
I should explain, I never once purchased this book because I felt I was lacking in decorum. My mother drilled it into me since I was able to walk and talk. There's a day I remember we went out to dine and she sat me down infront a multiple-course meal setting and educated me on each utensil. She always taught me to keep my knees together, elbows off the table, never cross your legs whilst out dining and eat as if you are a delicate bee who carefully hovers over your food.
I was kind of conflicted after reading Madame Dariaux's book and thought to myself, well 'Why is my etiquette meant to be dictated by restraints?'. Can't I just be polite, be delicate, and exercise proper mannerisms and be done with it all. The Madame would probably scorn me for wearing all black, in different textures, almost every day. But alas, I'm not having Tea with any Queens anytime soon so I placed the book at the top of my wardrobe, it was more useful as a dust bunny collector than as a 'Guide' in my opinion.
Then of course, in our contemporary society, being in the 'naughties' as the mass media calls it, with Generation X and Y and iTech I wonder, when do these mannerisms change? When are they unacceptable?
For example, a friend of mine pointed out that she went out on a date and the man split everything 50/50 and his reasoning was 'if you want to be equals, this is a good place to start'. I thought that was rude. You are in no way treading on my rights as a woman or my freedom by offering a kind gesture of paying for a drink, or dinner; On the contrary you're flattering me because it is SO rare to come across someone who is willing to exercise this courtesy. Well, now it is considered a courtesy because before it was compulsory. When did these mannerisms change?
The counterpart to this argument is the neo-feminist who would state that it's an illustration that a man thinks a woman cannot look after herself, how dare you buy me dinner, I'm more than capable of purchasing my own food, I'm not an inept just because I have a vagina, and I'm not your property to maintain. etc etc - I understand this view, but I don't necessarily agree with the logic that finances it. BUT, I haven't got a problem with it either.
Which brings me to the main purpose of this piece - Gentlemen and technology. The least romantic topic that could possibly exist because lets face it, we tie in romance with chivalry and chivalry is meant to evolve and flourish through the conditioning of 'proper mannerisms' and 'etiquette'. The ever so proud John Bridges (http://johnbridges.com) wrote a book on it too. It's counterpart being 'The Game' by Neil Strauss which would be and can be considered the ultimate manipulation manual of bed-hopping for the unstable man. (I do not regret the later sentence and stand by it).
Having said that, and acknowledging the array of YouTube videos where men have filmed their attempts of the different techniques on different women and then prod them into the bedroom as if they were cattle on an electronic conveyor belt, we have the stupid self-help books for women. My personal favourite 'The Catch' - I don't mean that in a sarcastic way either. It's the MOST realistic book for women out there and doesn't talk about hating men, or changing them, but talks about a woman focusing on herself, learning about herself, and knowing when to put up with bullshit and when not to, despite the generic profiling of certain 'types' of men (which again I disagree with).
Samantha Brett does a really good job at helping a woman empower herself by focusing on living a life where she learns that men are not necessary elements to overall happiness. One of the favourite bitchy remarks she slips in there reads to the effect of, 'big whoop, he didn't call, haven't you got better things to do?'. That was a personal favourite of mine. As I recall myself having said this to a few friends who have obsessed over the 'he hasn't called me' or 'he hasn't message me' dilemma they seem to amplify and dramatise out of insecurity. But hey, I can't say I have never done it, I have, like once. We all do. It's part of the growing process I imagine and what not. I'm a bit nicer when explaining this to friends though, my approach is to the effect, 'If he wants to see you or talk to you, he'll call you, if not, who cares? Don't chase him, you can't make a person want to see you or talk to you, it's like asking a brick wall to move.'
If the remainder of the title hadn't been 'How to find the man of your dreams' I would've immediately hoarded it off to any and all female friends.
On that note, I've gotten a little off topic but that's perfectly ok because it helps me tie in the texting concept with the internet. Ahh, the INTERNET, one of the most amazing inventions along with the mobile phone, where you now carry your entire social circle and existence - in, your, pocket.
Who needs independence and space when you have a device with you, with 24/7 accessibility, stalkability (sic), sociability, and for some love-ability.
Gone are the days of the landline phone call and posted letter, and in are the days of IM-ing, BBing, Facebooking, Twittering, Tumblring, Instagraming, Pinteresting, Blogging (mobile style), Emailing, and even internet dating.
So, where and when did we develop the etiquette for this kind of technology?
Should there be guidelines? Perhaps to the effect of the following:
- Don't message someone all day, every day, unless you're truly long-term friends - as in, they've seen you in your underwear at some point or with your face shoved in some sort of fast food container followed by the digestive aftermath.
- Don't internet bitch about people - it makes you look pathetic. If you need an outlet, phone a friend. OR even better, do it in such an obscure fashion it is in the form of a 'SomeeCard' or 'MEME' where you get heaps of likes and feel socially validated through strangers behind a computer- WRONG.
- Don't blog/write articles about your exes, friends, relatives, co-workers, or in fact ANYONE. This is a HUGE thing that's going around at the moment, people 'getting even' or try to attain some sort of justification in regards to their personal problems by making someone else look bad, by embellishing or even outrightly lying about them. It's like you've gone out and run into mutual friends and strangers, and shortly after commenced a bitching spree throwing verbal shit everywhere to taint another individual's image. It makes the writer look unethical, indecent, and un-honourable and chances are the people who read it will pick up on that.
Again, there's no kind of regulation as to how someone should conduct themselves online, yet, it seems men and women fall victim to their own impulsive stupidity. Women publicly scorning a man for whatever it is they did and oh, my favourite, seeing men post up images of women when they are in mid-hook up with them in the middle of a nightclub where the woman is in a completely compromising position. (Cheers to your mates for snapping that one up) - Good for you, sir, good for you. I'm sure the public humiliation of that girl is more than enough to determine how much of a 'man' you are. You go Glen Coco.
On this topical note of sexual escapades, Helen Fisher had an amazing thing to contribute to the discussion and that is concerning adulterous men.. because up to this point, I'll admit it, I've painted guys in a pretty dim light (sorry dudes, unintentional and I'll redeem myself here).
When asked, why are men more adulterous than women? I always ask the person, why do they think men are more adulterous? Who do they think these men are sleeping with? - Helen Fisher
In fact tying into social decorum and etiquette is this idea that women were at one stage considered vulnerable and hence we needed to act like 'delicate flowers' and men would be I guess, bees that would buzz around and use us for reproduction, they'd help us maintain ourselves and all we needed to do was look pretty.
In modern times women are closing the gap, and I think there are always going to be social deviants or traditionalist as people now refer to them, banging on their pots and pans indicating certain ways that should be adopted for proper behaviour but at the same time we're entering a time where social interactions do in-fact need new rules. No, wait let me rephrase, we need new guidelines.
New guidelines need to be considered for what is proper conduct especially given the fact many people hide behind their phones and computers and at times believe that decorum need not transcend there because there's limited accountability and a lot of anonymity.
Since I've laid the foundation thus far on this topic, how can you be 'Fashionably Etiquette'? With things like the social revolution, the sexual revolution in full swing, and the economic and financial changes where the double income household is now the normative situation for both hetereo and homosexual relationships.. how can we continue to tell people how to conduct themselves in the current social climate.
Clearly reflecting on archaic behaviours, no black before midday is well, as dead as the Madame Dariaux. Not to mention those rules of how many dates before you sleep with someone is so highly subjective it's become non-existent for many.
So how about this... Consider, one simple guidance to your social interactions with strangers, lovers, ex-lovers, friends, family, co-workers, learned colleagues, what if we tried exercising the basic kindergarten code of conduct of:
Treat others how you would like to be treated
Hear me out, because it can and will apply to everything. Take the following examples into considerations:
1. The Best Friend - Your 'best' friend, is called this by you for a reason, they know all (if not most) of your secrets, inhibitions, weaknesses, desires, ambitions, quirks and they still love you. It's the friend you can call no matter how busy you've been and you pick up right where you left off, yes? I know I want my friend to respect me, be honest with me in the most tactful way possible, accept me for who I am, so for my friend to treat me this way, shouldn't I exercise the same behaviour? Even if they insist on liking a TV Show I despise. You also need to know when to shut up, I mean this in terms of if they are entering a relationship and you are a bit weary, just gently advise them to be weary, you don't need to enter into a full blown verbal monologue of why this person is bad for them etc etc etc. You aren't dating the individual, they are, and chances are they like them. Would you listen if they bombarded you? Chances are no.
2. The Hot Individual at the Nightclub/bar/event - I don't know about you guys, but I for one, tremble when this person approaches me, because I exercise a Miss Bitch attitude - not intentionally, it's a face I pulled once and the wind changed, I've been waiting for the wind to change ever since. Be nice? What's wrong with being nice, even if they are a complete tool, just be polite and walk away? No need to shout out verbal abuses, if anything you'll end up looking like a tool. Remember your thank yous (sic) and excuse me, and it was nice to meet you and be on your way.
3. The Ex-Boyfriend/Girlfriend - Ok, have you got a pen handy? Good, write this down. DON'T EVER BITCH ABOUT AN EX. This is something you CAN do with your closest friends, right. That's it. But DO not make it your mission to ruin or taint another individual ever. It's un-becoming. It's dirty and makes you look really bitter. This doesn't mean the other person won't bitch, but hey, you can't control that, but you can control yourself and at least you'll be living by your 'Treat others' motto.
4. The Partner - Your current partner, this should incorporate the approach taken with the best friend and then some. You're being intimate with this individual obviously and spending time with them, (hopefully not TOO much time) - Compromise with them but mainly accept them. I'm sure you have annoying traits too, and I'm positive they disagree with the way YOU drive, who cares? Honestly.
In closing, of this somewhat gargantuan essay/article/rant remember conduct can unravel the most stylish of outfits. Having said that, a man in a suit reveals a great deal about himself, as does a woman who looks effortlessly chic, but if you can't exercise or haven't grasped the niceties that come with looking fabulous perhaps you should re-evaluate your 'book cover' because the content may read trashy and boring, and a lawyer could argue 'false advertising'.