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It might not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty Cher but, to be fair, she is a million feet tall and has a big fire in her hands at all times, you’re not gonna mess with her. Us mere mortals, however, do have rules and we have them for a reason. So, today I want to talk about cancelling/crashing party etiquette. Because, seriously, people seem to have forgotten basic manners in their quest to be like-so-chillaxed and while I am all for calmness and coolness, I cannot get behind rudeness. So, here’s a little quiz to see if you’ll ever be invited anywhere again.

You are invited out. (You popular thing.) What do you do?

 a.) See the invite, shrug and go about your life, never thinking of it again.

b.) Realise that you can’t go, think “eh I’ll tell them later” and never do.

c.) Realise that you can go but can’t be bothered to mention that and so turn up unexpected.

d.) Decide that they probably don’t really need to know, it’s not like they are waiting exclusively for you, what’s the big deal? You’ll go if you feel like it.

e.) Realise you can’t go and tell them, or realise that you can go and tell them, or realise that you’re not sure and tell them.

Points system: a.)-2 b.)0 c.)0 d.)0 e.) give yourself 10 points!

You have replied yes to an event. You big party animal. That morning you wake up feeling ill, have an argument with your flatmate, can’t find your shoes, spend an hour and a half on the phone to your recently dumped sister and cry at a Dove advert. Do you:

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Image“Now…. dance!”

Today I want to talk about deportment. I know, I know, it’s a old person thing to say,  but the more I observe people (and since I appointed myself Lord and Mistress of how everyone should behave, I observe people A LOT), the more I realise that looking good is 1 part your physical appearance and style and 2 parts how you carry yourself. I’ll often find myself admiring someone for their great outfit or beauty only to find, when I really look at them, that they are wearing something totally bland that many others are wearing or that they are actually quite average looking. The difference lies in their bearing, in the way they sit, stand, hold their head up etc.

So, here are the 6 basic rules of excellent deportment for modern ladies (and gents):

1.) No fidgeting! Do you ever see the Queen picking at her nail varnish, twirling (or worse, chewing) her hair, absent-mindedly scratching her boob or pulling on her lips? Can you picture how incongruous that would look against her regal stature? Can you imagine the terrible photos we would have of her if she did? Now, I’m not saying that if you have an itch, you shouldn’t scratch it. I’m not Hitler. But I never realised before quite how much trouble people have with staying still. So, please, try to be aware of your body when you’re out and about and remember that continuous and repetitive motion is distracting, annoying and seldom elegant.

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2.) No slouching. Now this is a tough one and one that I am still learning to enforce upon myself. But slouching looks so dumpy and ungraceful. It gives the impression of a person who has lost all hope and given up. Sit or stand up straight! Gone are the days of learning to walk with books on our head (unfortunately, I always thought that looked kind of fun. Way better than double chemistry anyway…) but the reasoning remains the same. You not only look so much better when you are tall and open but you feel so much better. Just like smiling when you are grumpy can actually cheer you up, so forcing yourself to adopt good posture can make you feel lighter and lifted.

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3.) Close your legs! Pants are awesome. I love pants. I would be lost without pants. Truly, I bow down to pants. However, pants are for the wearer and selected (lucky!) others to view. Pants are not for the visual delight of every single other person on the train. I would say that I have seen the knickers of every single woman I share the commute with, at least once. Ladies (and Scotsmen/other skirt enthusiasts) – if your skirt falls anywhere above the knee (even just the tiniest bit) and is not super floaty, then you must keep your legs together! And I mean together. It can be a bit of an effort, legs do naturally fall outwards, but nevertheless, one has to try. Failing that, you can put your handbag on your lap or rest a jacket/scarf there. Grace Kelly never flashed her gusset at strangers and neither should you.

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4.) As well as your body, do try to remain aware of your face when you are out in public. It’s very easy to get lost in your own world and lose sight of the fact that there are others around you, but people make the funniest faces when they zone off. They pick their teeth with their tongue, they yawn without covering their mouths, they wiggle their noses instead of just scratching a tickle, they murmur to themselves, they play with their facial expressions like children just learning how to frown. It’s not offensive, but nor is it elegant. Everyone should have the words “I am the Queen I am the Queen I am the Queen” on a constant loop in their heads. (Or is that just me? :-0)

5.) No looking suicidal. It freaks people out. Yesterday (which admittedly was A Level results day I think, so could have potentially been a bad day for several people) I sat next to a young boy on the train and almost followed him home to make sure that he wasn’t heading past any bridges. He was slumped over, with his head in hands, sporadically rubbing his face and raking his hair back. And sighing. Loudly. A more vivid picture of depression (or, maybe just really dramatic teenage angst) would be hard to come by. I get that everyone has bad days and I know a lot of people follow the mantra that hiding your emotions is bad for you. And I agree, to a point. I am happy to let my feelings out at home. By myself or to my sister (who claims not to but I’m sure secretly loves my rants! :-D) But the average Joe doesn’t need to know. Game face, people, game face. And as I said before, looking miserable and allowing my bearing to crumple actually makes me more miserable.

6.) Food = good. Dazedly wiping Wotsit dust off your chest and picking popcorn out of your bra = less good. Again, this is just about awareness. Don’t lose yourself so thoroughly in a magazine or your ipod that you don’t realise that you are chewing with your mouth open, or making a mess all over yourself and the floor. Hide behind your hand to pick your teeth. Repeat after me: I am not the Tasmanian Devil I am not the Tasmanian Devil I am not the Tasmanian Devil because I am the Queen.

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So there you have it. Back straight, head up, gaze lifted. We are poised, we are graceful, we are proud and we are elegant.

And we are wearing knickers with Spongebob Squarepants on them. ;-p

Thank you!

Love,

 The Etiquetterie

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Ok so I have a confession to make: I have never actually broken up with anyone. Nor have I ever been broken up with. (Yet.) So, my practical experience in this area is limited. However, I do have friends. Very open friends. Very open friends with tumultuous love lives. Very tumultuous love lives. And so, having sat with several women and a fair few men, keeping them supplied with tissues,  mini-rolls and hugs as they navigate the stormy waters of heartbreak, I do feel qualified to air my opinions on break-up etiquette.

So, here they are…

The Dumper:

– If you have been on a couple of dates (less than 4) and you aren’t really feeling it, you may send a text or have a phone conversation to that effect. If you have been dating longer than that or are in a relationship, it has to be face-to-face. Anything less is just cowardly. (The only grey area I can see here is if you are having a long distance relationship. If you had been in love, then you should go and see him/her and do it face to face. If this is not possible, then I suppose it is ok to do it over the phone as making them come to you to be dumped seems a bit harsh!)

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Image “Hot damn, we’re wise”

Life can be challenging, we can all agree on that, right? However much you think you’ve got the hang of it, something will always crop up to stump/embarrass/annoy you. With that in mind, here are just a few of the random things (some etiquette-related, others less so) that I have learned that help me on this rocky road called life.

 Ooh rocky road…

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– Don’t run over cyclists. I know it’s hard sometimes, but you’re not meant to.

– The person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.

– If a man stands up to let an elderly person sit down, he’s a keeper.

– If you’re sitting next to a table with children, don’t swear.

– If you’re at a crossing and there are kids there too, wait for the green man. It’s not worth the evils you’ll get from their parents.

– Don’t go out in holey tights (unless you are one of the VERY rare few who can make it look like a fashion statement. NB. If they are clear tights, no one can.). Always carry a spare pair.

– Don’t yell at your kids/partner/sibling/friend/fish in front of their friends, it’s not nice.

– Also, don’t yell at people for spilling things, and other accidental happenings. Some people are just clumsy. (It’s not our fault! I try! I just can’t make it from one side of a room to another without collapsing and/or dropping something and/or stepping on someone’s dog.)

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– Don’t borrow trouble. Not all fights have to be your fights.

– Sometimes, being unreliable is as bad as being mean.

– Do not leave the house with chipped nail varnish.

– Honesty is always the best policy (except for when it isn’t).

– Don’t tell someone something bad about their outfit if it is too late for them to change it.

– Don’t complain that it’s too hot in London, do you want to scare the sun away?! Do you??!! (Too late, you already did, grr)

– Be graceful in defeat. A bad loser is the loseriest of all losers.

– Be graceful in victory, one day you might not be victorious and it will help if people don’t hate you.

– Don’t forget about your friends as soon as you get a boy/girlfriend. They loved you first and they’ll love you after.

– Never trash talk someone in a different language on the tube. They will invariably be from that country.

– Don’t take pictures of strangers without their permission. Even if it’s just because you think they look cool, or because you can’t believe that anyone would actually wear those trainers with the stuffed poodles on them out. It’s an invasion of privacy and it’s not nice.

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– Don’t ignore homeless people. You don’t have to give them money or buy a Big Issue but failing to acknowledge other people is rude.

-Apologise. If you bump into me in the street, if you make a mistake at work, say sorry! (I actually read an article recently debating whether or not a boss should ever apologise at work. How is that even a question!? If you make a mistake, however big or small, acknowledging it and apologising is always the correct response. You are a grown up, not a sulky child! Of course, I am a bit excessively English about this and do tend to apologise even if I had nothing to do with what went wrong. You don’t have to do that!)

– When dealing with awkward moments, speed is everything. Someone sits on your hand on the bus, move it/mention it immediately. If you let even 3 seconds go by, you are that weird person who was touching their butt this morning.

-Give shy people a chance. They are frequently hilarious.

-Don’t talk about money (at least, never give specifics). It’s uncouth.

-Couth is not a word. But it should be.

-Wearing high heels to make you look better is moot if they also make you walk like a dinosaur with a dodgy hip.

-Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing everyone you know. Otherwise you’ll end up having to make your mother drive you to school in the middle of the night (which she won’t be best pleased about) to beg the caretaker to let you search for a “text book” you lost that was actually a book with hundreds of drawings and explicit poems about your teachers shagging in it. In your handwriting. (Which your mother also won’t be best pleased about).

-There is no point in letting previous relationships/experiences colour new ones. You’re the one who misses out.

-Sisters are awesome. They know all your secrets but have to love you anyway.

-If you can’t cook, try to befriend/love others who do. Trust me, it’s handy.

-Dancing and doing karaoke half-heartedly is more embarrassing that throwing yourself into it even though you suck.

-Crocs are for kids. And Jesus-sandals are for Jesus.

-If you don’t think you are awesome, who will?!

If anyone else has any pearls of wisdom that they live by, please chime in. I could use all the help I can get!

 Thank you!

Love,

The Etiquetterie

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Summersummersummertiiime! It’s here it’s here! It’ll be gone in a week but still, it’s here! And I am excited!! Can you tell?

So, the sun is finally shining, the grass is finally greening, my legs are finally, well ok they still glow in the dark but you get my drift, it’s summer! And I hadn’t realised until this latest burst of joyous warmth that summer needs an etiquette guide all of its own. It turns out that people do bizarre things in summer. Things they wouldn’t dream of doing in the bleak midwinter. And while I enjoy the easy-breezy, relaxed summer vibes as much as the next Vitamin D starved Londoner, I think it might be time to put the brakes on certain summertime habits.

So,

Summer Rule 1: Don’t listen to Nelly! Yes, it certainly is hot in herre Sir but adding unnecessary Rs is an odd response. Oh and please don’t take off all your clothes. They do actually make clothes out of lighter fabrics specifically for use in this most temperate of seasons. Fleece or nudity are not the only options. So, men- shirts are to be worn at all times when wandering around the city. At the beach you may take it off. In your garden you may take it off. The rules pertaining to the bath and shower remain unchanged, you may get as naked as you wish. But when there are no large or small bodies of water anywhere near you, please keep it covered. Showing off is not a good look and bumping into a shirtless sweaty stranger is an experience I could do without. (Trust me, it sounds better than it is.) The same goes for women, skimpy outfits are fine, underwear in public is not. I know that we here in London only get about 20 minutes of sunshine a year and it makes us all a little crazy but do remember that it’s called underwear for a reason. The clue is in the name.

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ImageOk, so I am definitely pro-grooming. I think it’s courteous and polite to look good and neat when you leave the house. But I have recently witnessed an alarming new trend that needs to be nipped in the bud. Now.

 Public grooming.

 I have touched on this in the past, thanks to way too many scrapes (literally, bleurgh) with manicures gone awry on the tube but I am beyond horrified at the intimate physical touch ups (hehe, that sounds worse than I meant it to) that people feel comfortable with doing in public. And I just don’t get it. If you are vain enough to groom (which I am) then how are you ok with everyone seeing you in a compromising and probably unflattering position? And I know that everyone looking at me will know that grooming has gone into it. No one will look at a woman with smooth legs and assume that they just have no body hair but nevertheless, the whole point of grooming is to create the illusion that grooming is unnecessary. If you are going to highlight your “flaws” by “fixing” them in public then fixing them becomes moot. So, here is The Etiquetterie’s definitive guide to public grooming:

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I have done a bit (ok a lot. Ok quite a lot. Ok, waaay too much. I confess! I confess! Stop hounding me!) of shopping recently. And during my summer spree I have, naturally, spent a fair amount of time (ok hours, possibly days of my life) in those cute little cages of misery and broken dreams (I may be overstating here) – changing rooms. Ok, so changing rooms themselves aren’t actually that bad anymore. Now that doors have replaced curtains a foot too narrow as the modesty protector of choice in most shops, the early noughties flirtation with communal changing rooms has mercifully abated and retailers have cottoned on to the fact that consumers like things to be pretty and spacious, most changing rooms are actually quite nice. They have their little chairs, and their hooks and their (optional thank goodness) booty mirrors and I quite like them. They are, in theory, a little oasis of calm in the shopping rush. And that is why when women (and I can really only speak for women here. My experience of men’s changing rooms is, alas, limited. Boo) come in and defy the unspoken rules of changing room etiquette, it bothers me. So, I am hereby turning these unspoken rules into spoken ones.

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Changing rooms: The Etiquette

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