‘Etiquette’ by Emily Post is widely regarded as the original authority on… well, etiquette. The book runs the gambit of things such as how to introduce yourself and others, how to be a courteous motorist, how to host dinners, and how to throw frat parties the right way. We here at The American Classic have obtained a copy of the first printing of the 1942 edition printed during World War II. The anecdote at the beginning specifically states “This book is manufactured under wartime conditions in conformity with all government regulations controlling the use of paper and other materials”. Today we’ll examine a few pointers from the book. Click below to see the full post.

Emily Post’s legacy carries on today through the Emily Post Institute which is essentially a website describing basic current etiquette. Her life is fairly interesting so if you’ve got a chance to pick up a biography or read a quip online, I recommend doing so. Here are a few interesting notes from the World War II edition of her book, “Etiquette”.

On Weddings:


For a small midsummer wedding in the country, white flannel trousers, blue or gray double-breasted coats (without waistcoats), turned-down collars, bow ties, white buckskin shoes and white flowers in buttonholes are quite proper.


Popularly supposed to be a frightful orgy, the bachelor dinner was in truth, more often than not, a sheep in wolf’s clothing. It is quite true that certain big clubs and restaurants had rooms especially constructed for the purpose with walls of stone and nothing breakable within hitting distance, which certainly does rather suggest frightfulness.

On writing letters:


The practicality of the typewriter has brought about a certain amount of confusion as to the occasions when it may or may not be used for personal letters. It should be made clear, therefore, that a typewritten letter is not only proper but to be preferred in all letter writing of length. It is of course unsuitable for any occasion that is formal.


First and foremost in the category of letters that no one can possibly receive with pleasure might be put the “letter of calamity,” the letter of gloomy apprehension, the letter filled with petty annoyances. Less disturbing to receive but far from enjoyable are such letters as “the blank,” the “meandering,” the “letter of the capital I.” the “plaintive,” the “apologetic.” There is scarcely any one who has not one or more relatives or friends whose letters belong in one of these classes.

On frat parties:


To the mothers who are inclined to fear that it cannot be proper for their daughters to stay in fraternity houses, it should be explained: House-Party Week has been an accepted custom for generations in colleges and in fraternities that have always upheld highest moral standards. And therefore it is entirely proper that a young girl go (if necessary, quite alone) to fraternity house-party week in each and every college where this festivity is a time-honored feature of social life. [Editor’s note: Hilarious]

Throughout the days of your visit, DON’T think only of what you like to do; that is, don’t insist on playing ping-pong if your host would like you to make a fourth at bridge-unless your bridge is very bad indeed… It does not fit into the present picture, but there is no obligation to drink anywhere at any time-unless you choose to. Fortunately, drinking, as the debutante encountered it a few years ago, has in great measure gone, and seems to be fast falling into the limbo of outdated fashion. [Editor’s note: Again, hilarious]
This book is damn near a thousand pages so if you’ve got the time to read it all, have at it. Much of the information in this particular edition is severely outdated but it’s always pleasant to see fashions described for formal events or parties still bearing relevance today.