Deanna Littell's Charm School


In Editor's Desk on March 20, 2010 at 6:55 pm

From time to time, we all need to review our manners & etiquette, not just for special occasions as we discussed last month. To think about if we are being our most charming self, as much as possible. We must always respect our elders & it’s from them that we can learn the most. Don’t forget that we learned most of what we know at our mother’s knee & we should remember that they that know the “rules of the game”

Our Elders have much to teach us.  From the fashion scene, as featured in T magazine on Sunday, to old-fashoned skills like “How to hold a fork.” Try asking your grandmother, who probably grew up knowing which side of the stairs to go up (right) & which fork to use first (start at the outside  & work inwards). Someone’s Italian mother will even reknit your old sweater.

It was second nature in the “olden days” & your grandmother probably taught your mother, who taught you, but many things have been lost along the way. We send an e-mail instead of a lovely handwritten thank you note, we forget to call to R.S.V.P. (which incidently is from the French & stands for “respondez s’il vous plait” or in English-“answer please” & that means shortly after the invitation arrives). Just make  a little effort & you will see how charming you feel, & how pleased people will be. We were told as children to “mind our elders”-they had all the answers. They still do. The long running vintage craze in fashion & home furnishings just shows how we are really longing for the best of the past.  Life was kinder & gentler then, & we can make an effort to be kindler & gentler now.  Life will be full of charm. Spring is almost here-be charmingsend someone a bouquet.

See you next month,


Don’t forget your Charm School Reading Assignment:

Etiquette by Emily Post

Essential Manners For Men by Peter Post (one of Emily’s four grand children)

Miss Manners by Judith Martin (for a more up-to-date spin on the subject)

  1. There’s no way to get around seeming to pun but I find your blog…charming, indeed! I lament the fact that so many of the niceties that we all paid attention to are now fast becoming archaic. When you see people accepting their Academy Awards while chewing gum you become aware of just how far civilization has declined. I recall that when we went out in public we always wore white gloves and made sure that the seams on our stockings were perfectly aligned. And oh, those little pillbox hats with veils that we wore in the early sixties. They were charm personified. For me, real charm is putting the people we come into contact with at ease. A firm handshake, making eye contact and a warm smile-now that’s charming! A wonderful bracelet with tokens of those “charming” days of yore: that’s the cherry on the sundae.

    • Betsy, you get the message. I wonder if we have to be of “a certain age” as they say in French, to know the rules of etiquette & charm. Our mothers taught us, but why aren’t more of us teaching
      the next generation so the boys know to take their hats off in an elevator & the girls know not to chew gum at the Oscars. If nothing else, aren’t they afraid of getting it on that borrowed Dior gown?
      How can “charm” & beautiful “manners” go out of style?

      • Deanna, I try to find charm wherever I can. I think it’s unfortunate that a certain glamour has become a thing of the past. Sometimes it’s difficult to remain silent when confronted with egregious behavior on every front of public and even private life. I just try to summon as much tact and diplomacy as I possibly can and move on. That said, it’s a tough row to hoe but six months a year in a tiny “bled” in Bretagne restores my sanity and permits me to come back to New York with an overview…short-lived as it usually is! Un de ces jours, j’espere. While replying to your last comment I just had a lovely sense memory of lying under a pile of my Grandmother’s friends fur coats and smelling the odor of Arpege and other perfumes that permeated them. I still have an unopened bottle that my Aunt brought back from Paris in the 50s or 60s. I’ve never opened it. I wonder if it has retained it’s scent or has turned to alcohol. I’ve never dared to open it for fear of spoiling the illusion.

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