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Victorian etiquette: 16 rules for men on dress and personal habits (1889)

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By Nathan B Medbery, author “Social Etiquette”

Etiquette topic: Which treats of dress and personal habits

16 simple suggestions on conduct for gentlemen

Number 1 — ”Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Be tidy in dress and habits. Make careful note of this rule. Neatness is of great importance.

Number 2 — Don’t wear soiled linen. Never be seen wearing a dirty collar or pair of cuffs.

Number 3 — Be very particular about the little things. Do not neglect your fingernails, keep them well cleaned.

Number 4 — Nothing looks quite as ludicrous as to see the use of hair dye. Its use is easily perceptible, and usually makes a laughing stock of the one who makes use of it.

Number 5 — Formerly it was considered allowable to make use of hair oil and pomades, but at present, it is looked upon as vulgar.

Number 6 — Let your hat rest squarely upon your head; do not wear it on one side nor yet on the back of your head; one is rowdyish, the other countryfied.

Number 7 — Don’t walk with your toes turning in, nor with a slovenly, lazy gait. Do not take too long a stride nor yet too short a stride; walk erectly and firmly and at the same time, in a simple unaffected manner.

Number 8 — Pockets were not made to carry the hands, nor were the arm holes of your vest made as receptacles for your thumbs.

Number 9 — The habit of chewing gum seems to be becoming quite prevalent. This habit cannot be too strongly condemned, and should not be indulged in.

Number 10 — Don’t nurse a toothpick. If it becomes necessary to use one, do it in as private a manner as possible.

Number 11 — You should never blow your nose in the presence of others if you can possibly avoid it; above all things, don’t blow your nose with your fingers.

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Number 12 — An eminent man has said: In all the discussions and differences of opinion as to what constitutes a gentleman, all disputants unite in excluding the man who blows his nose with his fingers.

Number 13 — Avoid wearing a grin on your face and you will avoid looking destitute of wits.

Number 14 — A smiling face is pleasant to see. Cultivate a cheerful contented look. It will do your friends a great deal of good and add much to your own pleasure.

Number 15 — Avoid the habit of letting your lip drop and mouth remain open. “Shut your mouth” is the advice of a learned man who has written on the subject of etiquette. Breath through the nostrils and not through the mouth.

Number 16 — Sleep with your mouth closed. Keep it closed except when you open it for a purpose. An open mouth indicates feebleness of character, while the habit affects the teeth and the general health.

>> Also see:  Victorian etiquette: 27 rules for men when out in public (1889)

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