Times have changed, but if this list of table etiquette from Vogue’s Book of Etiquette 1948 is anything to go by it seems that table manners haven’t changed much at all. However, keep reading for some of the more outdated <and hilarious> rules!
1. Napkins belong on the lap.
2. The back should be straight, but not rigid.
3. About elbows, which should be anchored to the table or the ribs, but always down near the sides.
4. Use your soup spoon in a motion away from the table edge.
5. The little finger should never be crooked.
6. Food should be kept in the center of the plate away from the flat rim.
7. Do not push around or mess up your food.
8. Only one thing cut at a time, no layering.
9. Always break bread into pieces before buttering.
10. Sauces should not be sopped up with bread, nor should bread be dipped into coffee. . . . Though, sopping up sauces or gravy with a piece of bread is standard practice in the good, hearty eating ways of middle-class Continental Europe; here, it is regarded as a little eccentric but flattering to the hostess.
11. Salad should not be cut with a knife.
12. Anything that must be taken from the mouth and put back on a plate is dealt with according to a very simple rule: If it went in on a spoon, it comes out on a spoon (follows for hands, forks, etc.).
13. Never dip one utensil used for one reason (jam) into the vessel of another (butter).
And now for some of the more outrageous ones
14. Men’s manners, like their clothes, should be unobtrusive… but noticeably good manners, according to the Anglo-American standard, are almost unattractive in a man.”
15. ‘She can certainly hold her liquor’ is not a compliment.
16. It is not difficult for an older woman to accept the fact that she is not the universal ideal of a dancing partner, but it is not at all easy for young girls. When the situation seems completely out of hand, when there are no friends sitting in groups and no boys anywhere in sight and everyone else is dancing gaily, the best thing to do is go home.
17. Cutting the hair short is a mode which suits very few. Women no longer in their earliest youth should be very careful to adapt, rather than adopt, any unusual way of wearing the hair.
18. Soup, oysters, or any food already portioned should never be refused.
19. “Those who are crippled, or in tears, or very shabbily dressed, or otherwise marked by misfortune, should at least be granted the dignity of privacy.”
All quotes taken from Vogue’s Book of Etiquette and Good Manners by Conde Nast publications.