Have you ever heard that you should never wear white after Labor Day and wondered about the reason? Do you automatically remove your hat as soon as you enter a building, but you’re not sure why?
Most of the old etiquette rules were put into place for a reason that may or may not still apply.
Remove Your Hat When Entering a Building: Back in the day when folks walked around dusty dirt roads or industrial cities with soot in the air, the hat caught a lot of grime that would fall on the floor when they entered a room. Back then it made sense to remove the hat and leave it on a rack in the entryway or cloakroom to prevent this from happening. The only time you absolutely must follow this rule now is when your hat obstructs someone’s view or if you are in a social situation that makes it awkward not to do so. If you are in a social situation with someone who frowns on wearing hats indoors, it’s good form to remove your hat out of respect.
Men Should Walk on the Street Side of the Sidewalk to Protect the Women: Back when horse and buggy were the normal mode of transportation, men often protected ladies from street perils by providing a shield from horses and puddle splashes. That is obviously no longer necessary, so walk on whichever side of the sidewalk you are comfortable with.
Pulling Out a Lady’s Chair: High society women once wore such restrictive clothing that they were unable to sit at a table without assistance from the gentlemen they were with. Now that women are just as likely to wear pants or lose skirts, they don’t need this type of help any longer. However, it is still a nice gesture to assist someone who is disabled or overwhelmed with packages or children. The same holds true for holding doors and helping with packages, regardless of your gender.
A Man Should Always Pay: Back in the day when men had careers and women didn’t (although they often had jobs to tide them over until Mr. Right came along), men were expected to pick up the tab for dinner, a movie, or anything else they did on a date. That rule is clearly outdated. The bill can be paid by him, her, or split down the middle. In other words, it doesn’t matter who pays as long as someone does. Some people still hold to the old rule of the man always paying, which is fine as long as the person they are with is of the same mindset.
Use a Separate Fork for Your Salad, Entrée, and Dessert: You might wonder why you don’t use the same fork for your salad that you use for your entrée. After all, it creates extra work for the person who has to wash the utensils and put them away. The thought behind this was that you might not want the flavor from your salad dressing to transfer to your meat or potatoes that are served later. It’s crass to lick your fork or wipe it on a napkin, so you are given separate forks for the salad, entrée, and dessert.
Even though many of these etiquette rules are outdated, it’s important to know that some still exist.
The most important thing to remember is to show respect for others, and this often means following the norms of society.