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The Well-Dressed Woman

February 20, 2011

On days where I want to listen to Frank Sinatra, wear pearls, and slip back to the 1950s, I enjoy leafing through Amy Vanderbilt’s Etiquette: The Guide to Gracious Living. Originally published in 1952 by Amy Vanderbilt (cousin of Cornelius and an NYU graduate!), she discusses at length about whether a man should remove his hat when riding in a crowded elevator with a lady present, how to properly direct servants to clean up after a dinner party, and offers advice such as, “It is always a woman’s prerogative to refuse an invitation from a man.” The entire book is a charming read. Here’s what Mrs. Vanderbilt has to say about “the well-dressed woman”:

“The best-dressed women I know pay very little attention to the picayune aspects of fashion, but they have a sound understanding of style. There are smart women who haven’t changed the length of their skirts materially in twenty years, whose hats are always more or less the same shape although they vary in color and material with the seasons. Such women often wear their hair exactly the same way from girlhood on, wearing it short or long as most becomes them, despite current agitations one way or the other. We may envy such women. They have such a sure sense of what is good for them. They save time and temper assembling their wardrobes. Often they are considered among the best-dressed women in the world, although they might not make the famous list because, while they have style, they are superior to mere fashion.” – Amy Vanderbilt

Would you be interested in hearing from Mrs. Vanderbilt again? In the meantime, head over to my favorite etiquette blog, Bringing Lady Back.

For an interview with Philippa from Dusk Rising, hop on over here. Thanks for reading!

xoxo Hannah

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 7:37 pm

    LOVE this! the days of being a lady should neverrr be over. this would be perfect on a bookshelf!

  2. February 23, 2011 12:27 pm

    I agree with Lauren- I hope we never stop being classy women!

  3. February 24, 2011 12:09 am

    so great.
    i’d buy a modern day version in an instant too.

  4. August 26, 2011 9:00 pm

    No, this doesn’t sound classy. It’s sound boring and mundane. Without imagination or creativity. To dress in such a way likely mimics ones lifestyle.

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