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« 1920s Etiquette - Who Carries Her Cloak? | Main | The Merry Gamester Online »

1920s Etiquette - What a Gentleman Never Does

This fourth installment in the Art Deco Etiquette series highlights the ideal gentleman of the 1920s. I particularly like the very cogent observation by Miss Singleton, that gentlemen aren't necessarily good people, but they do behave well in public. This is from the "Conduct and Common Sense" column in Vogue and the Washington Post, and is dated October 21st, 1926.

Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but they do not make themselves conspicuous with the more violently painted kind, nor with brunettes either, for that matter. Gentlemen do not make themselves conspicuous in any way. They may be so by good sportsmanship, good manners, good looks, good clothes, good anything that belongs in their condition and character, but not because they are trying to attract general attention. They are not noisy, or rowdy; they do not feel that cheap swagger becomes a man. They do not think that a bank account is the biggest asset in life, nor that to cultivate a taste or talent out of which no money can be made is waste of time.

They respect law and order, as the "tough" never does. They do not chew, spit, nor make their nose, ear and finger toilets in public. They conform to the general arrangements for the public good much more than the public does.

By all this handsome testimonial to his class, I do not mean that the gentleman has no faults; he has every potential possibility of evil that all other human creatures have, but he's house-broken to the world. He has been taught consideration.

He is too proud to push, though he's never too proud to fight. He'd be ashamed to pretend, but not to ask for information on the simplest matter if he were ignorant, but no one can be pretentious with impunity.
There's always a certain fine simplicity and directness about a gentleman's mind and manners. A sense of justice, a desire for fair play, a generous confidence in other people's having the same feelings.


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Matthew Jacobsen