We vintage-inspired mavens may love the Art Deco architecture of the ‘20s and the retro fashions of the ‘50s, but we’re still thoroughly modern girls. But as much as we love living in present-day with vintage styles to inspire us, we can’t help feeling a little envious of ladies from past eras who seemed to have mastered the art of etiquette with greater ease. Sometimes it seems like life throws all sorts of modern etiquette conundrums our way! And since our recent lookbook, Our Fair Lady, has inspired us to think more about what it takes to be a modern woman who lives beautifully, we’re turning to Emily Post to see how she answers some of the modern etiquette questions we’ve been puzzling over!
Image via Engaged and Inspired Events
1. You receive a text message during a coffee date and you really want to read it. Is it rude to look at your cellphone for a moment? Is it ok to tap out a quick reply?
The ruling on this one is clear: no looking at your phone while you’re engaged or in conversation with someone else! Anytime a phone call would be considered rude, text messaging is just the same. Text messaging during a coffee date suggests that you aren’t fully engaged or interested in the person you’re with, and it’s never worth making someone feel that your phone is more important than they are! Texting while caffeinating can be a hard habit to break, but you’ll be a much more thoughtful gal if you do.
2. In the Gmail Age, it seems everyone expects a response right away. How quickly should you respond to e-mails?
According to Emily Post, since most people expect immediate responses to e-mails, if you only check your e-mail once a week or less frequently, you should let people know. That way they won’t be upset when they don’t receive an instant reply. This Netiquette question is of course tricky though, as some e-mails are clearly more urgent and require a response as soon as possible, while others may require a lengthy reply that you need to carve out time for. We think it’s always nice to acknowledge that you received an e-mail and will respond at greater length when you have some quiet time to do a reply justice.
3. Old-fashioned job seeking advice mandates a hand-written note be sent after an interview. Is this still appropriate or necessary? Is a follow up email better?
Still send a hand-written note! While you should of course thank the interviewer for his or her time verbally before you leave, promptly sending a note of thanks after the interview is a thoughtful touch. Sure, an e-mail may be quicker, but a card delivered via post will always be more heartfelt. If you keep pretty stationery and stamps in your desk, you’ll always be ready to send a note of thanks.
4. Your friend moves into a new apartment, and you’re stopping by for the first time. Do you have to bring a housewarming gift even if it’s not a housewarming party? And if so, what sort of gift should you bring?
Yes, bring a gift! Bringing a housewarming gift is always a kind gesture, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. While it’s the thought that counts, it’s always nice to bring something for the home, like charming dish towels, a houseplant, wine glasses, a picture frame, or specialty foods. Or you can modernize the old-fashioned tradition of giving salt and bring a set of fancy sea salts. And don’t forget that gorgeous wrapping goes a long way in elevating even a smaller gift!
5. You’ve been invited to a friend’s wedding but you’re wondering, now what?! Weddings are filled with etiquette rules, so how does one be a great modern guest?
The first thing you should do to be on top of modern etiquette as an invited wedding guest is to RSVP immediately. This allows the couple to give an accurate count to their caterer, and potentially invite someone else if you are unable to attend. Next, you should respect the invitation and not ask to bring a guest if this was not mentioned in the invitation. You should never put your hosts in an uncomfortable position since adding to the guest list increases the wedding budget. Whether you are able to attend the ceremony and/or reception, if you have been invited, modern etiquette dictates sending a gift. And of course, lastly, you should be on your best behavior at the wedding, dressing according to the level of formality and setting, arriving on time, and not taking any flash photos during the ceremony (or any photos at all if it’s an unplugged wedding!)
We hope this breakdown of some modern etiquette conundrums helps you navigate these situations with the grace of a lady. What other etiquette questions or tips do you have? We would love to see them in the comments below!