Victorian Manners and Etiquette

Victorian jewelry

Many Victorian manners or etiquette rules probably do not apply today.

Imposing our yesteryear’s manners may come across rude and pretentious. However, just for fun, let’s explore it and maybe be inspired from a more civil and romantic time.

Gentility is ever so graceful. Bring back chivalry!

History of Victorian Manners, Etiquette

Victorian roses

Etiquette was a large part of education. Social responsibility was heavily emphasized in Victorian days.

Ladies were judged by their manners. It reflected on their upbringing, class or status, their family’s wealth and the quality of education. It ‘justified’ the kind of man (or class of a man) they would be entitled to marry.

If they did not devote enough attention and study of their manners and refinement, they would most certainly not be able to “marry well”, or even get married at all!

You’ll be able to see this echoed in Jane Austen’s novels such as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”.

Victorian jewelry

Victorian Rituals* quotes:

Victorian girls were trained early on in life to prepare for a life dedicated to home and family if she married, and charity if she didn’t.

Young ladies were also advised on the importance of catching a man, as a means to live and for their comfort for the rest of their life. They were thoroughly warned not to be too liberal as modesty were considered a very important virtue of being a wife.

Victorian Manners, Etiquette Applied to Daily Life

  • Rising to one’s feet when being introduced, or when someone enters the room.
  • Their words are always filled with grace and goodness, in spite of their real feelings. They also appear to assume the best of situations, no matter how annoyed they really are.

    For example, in the book ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Mr Bingley’s sister kept interrupting Mr Darcy when he was trying to write a letter.

    Instead of the modern day response, “Can you please talk to me later? I’m trying to write.” He said, (paraphrased) “Do allow me to convey your sentiments to my sister another time, I do not have room (in the letter) to do justice to your words.”

  • A man always escorts a woman everywhere, to where she needs to go. Unmarried couples who are not “publicly engaged” together do not wander off together.
  • Posture and carriage is of utmost importance.
  • As always, it has always been ladies first. Gentlemen will perform chivalry acts such as offering the lady a hand to go up her carriage. Ladies are never seen opening their own doors in the presence of a man, or carrying anything heavy.
  • It was rude to boast, brag or be pretentious. It was considered vulgar. One should always remain humble.
  • One should always in be in good taste.
  • It was rude to try to be nosy and try marry off anyone. The only one concerned should be the mother.
  • It vulgar to pay extra attention to someone because of their wealth and status and position in society.
  • One should always make others feel comfortable in their presence. A lot of effort went into hiding their feelings and emotions, keeping everything very civil.

    Victorian Manners Etiquette Applied to Beauty

    Victorian lady with beautiful comb

    In Victorian times, the true foundation of female loveliness is a natural beauty.

    Beauty must be natural, fair and clear skin due to good health, rosy cheeks due to excitement and a zest for life. Interesting eyes are brought by interesting thoughts and a sharp, educated mind.

    Dress must be modest, but not dowdy. Feminine styles and colors are preferred.

    There is a greater distinction between men and women in dress and behavior than the modern society today.

    Victorian Manners, Etiquette Applied to Socializing and Leisure

    There is the art of conversation, where people challenge theories in discussion and their reading of books. In essence, they enjoy witty conversations, discussing theories back and forth.

    The patience for these types of conversations are getting less in modern day. There is more to distract people with, such as the interruptions of mobile phones.

    For leisure, they often go on walks, visit each other in their homes, draw, paint, read, write letters and play the piano.

    They entertained elegantly , inviting their friends to dinners. These dinners were ‘proper’, with invitations sent out. At other times, the wealthier host balls and dances.

    They visit shops to buy fabrics, lace and buttons to make a bonnet or a dress.

    Thank you for reading ‘Victorian Manners & Etiquette’!
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