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Back in the day, people followed some pretty strict rules about how to act around others. But times have changed, and a lot of those old rules seem really odd to us now. From not looking someone in the eye to men always paying the bill, these are some etiquette rules from the past that might make you scratch your head. Here are 17 of these old-fashioned rules that we’re glad are history.
No White After Labor Day
This fashion rule dictated that white clothing was only appropriate between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wearing white outside this time frame was a faux pas.
The Silent Treatment for Servants
In some aristocratic households, servants were to be seen and not heard. It was considered proper for them to move silently and speak only when spoken to.
Avoiding Direct Eye Contact
In certain cultures and eras, maintaining direct eye contact, especially between individuals of the opposite sex or of different social standings, was seen as confrontational or inappropriate. It was more polite to cast one’s eyes downward during conversations.
Men Paying for Everything
While some might argue this still exists in today, there was a time when it was considered absolutely improper for a woman to pay for anything when in the company of a man, whether it was a meal, movie ticket, or any other expense. This often placed undue financial pressure on men and undermined a woman’s financial independence.
Women Couldn’t Dine Alone in Restaurants
In the early 20th century, it was considered inappropriate for women to dine alone in restaurants. They needed a male escort, or they’d be relegated to the “ladies’ section.”
Hats On for Men, Always
Men were expected to wear hats outdoors at all times. Removing one’s hat was a sign of respect, especially in churches or when greeting a woman.
No Trousers for Women
For a long time, women wearing trousers was seen as rebellious. Dresses and skirts were the acceptable attire, regardless of the activity or weather.
The Gloved Handshake
In the past, it was considered rude for a woman to shake hands without gloves on, especially with a man.
Waiting for a Letter Introduction
Before the age of instant messaging, if you wanted to meet someone new, especially of the opposite sex, you’d wait for a formal letter of introduction.
Strict Dance Card Rules
At formal dances, women had dance cards where men would sign up for a dance. Once the card was full, she couldn’t accept more partners.
The Obsession with Ankles
Showing one’s ankles was once considered scandalous. Women’s dresses were expected to cover them entirely.
Young couples in the past often had a chaperone (usually an older woman) accompany them on dates to ensure proper behavior.
Men Walking on the Outside
It was customary for men to walk on the side closest to the road, shielding women from mud splashes from passing carriages.
No Public Displays of Affection
Holding hands, hugging, or any form of physical affection in public was frowned upon, especially between unmarried couples.
In certain cultures, it was considered polite to eat breakfast in silence. Speaking was reserved for more “appropriate” times of the day.
Women Couldn’t Propose
The idea of a woman proposing to a man was unthinkable. It was always the man’s role to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage.
No Writing in Ink for Ladies
Women were expected to write letters in pencil, while men used ink. This was because pencil was seen as more delicate and feminine.
Covering the Table Legs
In the Victorian era, even table legs were considered “indecent.” They were often covered to prevent any impure thoughts.
No Public Laughing for Women
Women were advised not to laugh out loud in public. A soft, restrained giggle was the most they could muster without being considered unladylike.