“How to be a Lady” ~ a book review

IMG_1664This week I brought home a new book titled How To Be A Lady by Candace Simpson-Giles. It is the third revision of a book I admittedly bought in 2001 and again in 2012, as I am fascinated with etiquette in an ever-changing world. The book is chock-full of contemporary advice on common courtesy.

Although you’ll want to read this reference-style book for yourself, I thought I’d summarize three tips from each of its ten chapters. I know I always benefit from a refresher course on minding my manners. I would add that all of these tips could equally apply to being a gentleman.

Chapter One ~ A Lady Experiences Real Life
1. A lady is always on her toes; she realizes that every encounter makes a lasting impression.
2. A lady knows when to turn off her phone.
3. A lady never eats behind the wheel of a car.

Chapter Two ~ A Lady Gets Dressed
1. A lady is mindful of her appearance at all times.
2. A lady knows her posture is as important as her clothing.
3. A lady knows what colors, fabrics, and patterns flatter her.

Chapter Three ~ A Lady Goes to Dinner
1. A lady knows when it’s acceptable to drink from a straw. (My savvy mother-in-law taught me never to sip a cocktail through that little plastic stirrer!)
2. A lady doesn’t place her dirty napkin back on the table until leaving the restaurant; she places it on her chair if she leaves the table during the meal.
3. A lady does not engage in a debate over politics, religion, or other sensitive issues at the dinner table.

Chapter Four ~ A Lady Says the Right Thing
1. A lady never curses in front of others.
2. A lady does not laugh at racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes.
3. A lady thinks before she speaks.

Chapter Five ~ A Lady Gives a Party
1. A lady is happy to use her best things. If something accidentally breaks, she is not disturbed and does not allow her guests to feel any guilt over the matter.
2. If a lady receives a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, she is not obligated to serve it that evening. Hostess gifts do not need to be opened during the party.
3. When hosting, a lady reserves the least desirable seat for herself.

Chapter Six ~ A Lady Goes to a Party
1. A lady knows what “RSVP” means and always responds to invitations bearing that request.
2. A lady never spends all of her time talking to one person. She is excited to meet as many people as possible and assumes that people will enjoy meeting her, too.
3. A lady knows when it’s time to say goodnight.

Chapter Seven – A Lady and Her Friends
1. A lady never says or does things that make her friends feel small.
2. A lady never hesitates to dispel false rumors about her friends.
3. A lady knows providing an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on is one of the greatest gifts she can give her friend.

Chapter Eight ~ A Lady Goes to the Office
1. A lady always shows respect, not only for her superiors, but also to those who work with and for her.
2. A lady carefully considers what she writes in an email or on social media before hitting send or post.
3. A lady realizes the more professionally she presents herself in the workplace, the more seriously she will be taken.

Chapter Nine ~ A Lady Takes Care of Herself
1. A lady sees her doctors on a regular basis.
2. A lady is cautious not to put herself in harmful situations that could endanger her safety or compromise her own personal value system for living.
3. A lady realizes a tan is not worth the risk of skin cancer.

Chapter Ten ~ Extreme Etiquette
1. A lady never gushes over a celebrity nor asks for an autograph unless that is the celebrity’s function at the event.
2. A lady addresses the president as Mr. (or Madame) President.
3. If a lady is a citizen of the United States and has the opportunity to meet royalty, she does not curtsey, no matter how tempted she is to do so. §

“A lady knows that beauty and wealth can be fleeting, but her inner character is the measure by which others will ultimately judge her as a person.”
~ Candace Simpson-Giles, Author

4 thoughts on ““How to be a Lady” ~ a book review

  1. Oh Alicia, this is one of my favourite topics. I also have numerous books on etiquette but one can always learn something new. Which reminds me – last week I ate a sandwich behind the wheel as I drove several hours and it was so stressful. I was worried I would drop food or grease on my clothes. Now I know why. It was against my usual way of living. Thank you for that insight. I will be purchasing this book, that is for sure. At a cafe this week, I asked my husband, rhetorically, whether drinking sparkling water with a straw from a glass was good etiquette. Do you know the answer? We did discover that the first straws were wooden and used in 300BC by the Mesopotamians to drink mead from large clay vessels but not when it was okay for a lady to do so. He said men never should, that is simply not manly. Such an interesting topic. Cate

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    1. Cate, we have so much in common. I’ll have to do some more research about the straw, but I would be inclined to think it’s more elegant to drink directly from the water glass…plus less waste! That’s funny what your husband said about it not being manly. I know Mike would agree. As for eating while driving – I’m guilty. When traveling, we often drive-through fast food places and eat in the car. On the way to my daughter’s a few weeks ago we decided to stop and get out at a restaurant. It was so much more enjoyable! I hope you have a fantastic day. Love, Alicia

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  2. My Mother tried to teach me to act like a lady and always bed polite. I was never allowed to leave the dinner table until everyone was finished eating. Maybe that is why I am always the last one to finish my meal. As for drinkg a cocktail using a straw I am guilty. Not in a wine glass!! That would not be pretty!!! I I have always enjoyed reading etiquette books and articles. Still refer back to an OLD newspaper articel when setting a dinner table for guests. The article says “You’ve labored over a delicious meal, so shouldn’t your table be just as fancy?” Sorry, every day meals are only on place mats, however, silverware, napkins, and wine glass are in right places. Interesting aricle Alicia.

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  3. Thanks for commenting, Janice! You don’t need any advice on how to be a lady, and I’m not surprised you enjoy the topic. Your everyday table settings are more beautiful than most people’s fancier dinners. It’s just the little things that make life special! ❤ Alicia

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