Is Your Etiquette As Good As Emily Post’s?


By: Jennifer Post

6 Min Quiz

Image: PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Emily Post is the authority on etiquette. Since she is no longer around, her followers are taking her place and keeping her expectations of those in the Best Society in circulation. Even though she wrote the rules of etiquette, she admittedly broke a few of her own. Maybe it's because she didn't necessarily consider herself high society, or maybe there were just too many rules to keep track of. Either way, many have caught her eating with the wrong fork. There are also rules that she didn't think had to apply to New York's society, like maids not being allowed to entertain men in their rooms.

Since there are multiple, dozens in fact, of books bearing the Post name on etiquette, there is a lot to know if you want to try and act like a member of high society. It might be a little out of date now, unless you live in an area that still respects the ladder of belonging, but it can't hurt to know when you have to respond to an invitation and when you don't, who you have to invite to your dinner party, and how you should dress for almost any occasion. Do you want to know how many of Emily Post's rules of etiquette you know? Answer these questions now!

When dining prior to going to the theater, is it OK to be fashionably late?

You are to arrive on the hour, no exceptions, when dining before a show. If not, you possibly hold everyone up from getting to the theater on time. That is also not appropriate. If you have a habit of being late, you won't even be invited.


Can a person ask for an invitation to a dinner for themselves or a stranger?

In this case, no, a double negative doesn't mean a positive. A person must never ask for an invitation to any event neither for themselves, nor a stranger. If it's general entertainment, however, a person may ask for a invitation for a stranger.


If a man is walking on the sidewalk next to a woman, where does he stand?

This is the proper order because then the man is protecting the woman from any harm coming from the road. If there are two women, the man is still to walk curbside and never in between the women.


What happens if you are seated next to someone you don't like at dinner?

This is a hard and fast rule of etiquette. If you are seated next to someone at dinner, you must talk to them no matter what your relationship is with them. It's for the hostess's benefit that you are cordial and put your differences aside.


When a visitor is told that the lady of the house is "not at home," what does that actually mean?

If you go knocking at someone's door and the maid or housekeeper says the lady is not at home, it often means that she just doesn't want visitors. Another way of saying it is that she is not receiving.


When hosting breakfast or a luncheon, should you adorn your table with candles?

The whole point of candles on the table is to give some light when the daylight is lost, so putting them on your breakfast or lunch table just doesn't make sense. The table setting for lunch and for dinner is actually entirely different altogether.


In New York, what time is considered the hour in which you "give a dinner"?

While America doesn't have a fixed time for dinner, New York's Best Society does. Eight o'clock is the standard dinner time unless one is attending a show or event after. Then it will be 7:15 or 7:30 depending on the event.


Where does a lady set her gloves when she takes them off for dinner at a formal gathering?

Ladies must wear gloves to formal dinners, but they take them off when seated for dinner. It is proper to place them and their fan on their lap to eventually be covered with a nicely folded napkin.


What is the proper way to express your desire to purchase something?

There's a lot of phrases that people enhance with "fancy" words thinking it makes them sound high society. But often, that just shows their lack of status. Saying "I desire to purchase" will make you sound silly around others.


Does a social secretary get invited to social gatherings or have social standing?

Anything dealing with social engagements like invitations, responses, social calendar, etc. is taken care of by the social secretary. She is not to attend any events in any way, but she does keep record of all social events of her employer.


Which of the below forms of introductions should never be used?

Telling someone to shake the hand of the person you're introducing is highly presumptuous and not at all encouraged in societal etiquette. Assuming a friendlier relationship than you have with someone is a no-no.


When is it OK to introduce one person to a big group of people?

You would never take a guest up to a table of 10 people and introduce them. It is the hostess's job to take the guests around individually to each guest. It's a daunting task, which is why hosting a party is such an undertaking in high society.


What's the difference between a garden party and afternoon tea?

An afternoon tea that takes place outside is simply called a garden party. A tent is usually kept on hand in the event of rain, but it can be just as casual or as formal as you want it to be.


Would you buy theater tickets after you invite people, to see who is coming, or before?

It is rude to invite people to the theater and not already have good seats on lockdown. It's also best practice to only invite people to a show that is new, as you wouldn't want to invite, and then bore, people with something they may have already seen.


Does a woman who marries into a family of societal position have to earn the same position?

If a woman is marrying a man of particular status, she inherits that status from him and his family, even if she did not have a position prior to marriage. Everyone who knows and calls on the groom is expected to act the same around the bride.


What's the first step for a stranger to society to earn a respected position within society?

It is much harder for those with no societal position to gain position. It's a long road, but a good first step is to accept every invitation offered. You never know who you're going to meet or where it will lead.


How many steps are there to determining an item's worth?

The first step is to determine its usefulness. Then, you ask yourself if it has beauty of form, line and color, is it suited for where it's placed, and finally, if it didn't exist, would anyone miss it?


How many courses does a formal dinner consist of, and no more?

The eight courses are hors d'oeuvre, soup, fish, entree, roast, salad, dessert and coffee. If the dinner is of casual nature, there would be no entree and possibly no soup or hors d'oeuvre.


At the opera, can a man sit alone in the front row of the box?

There are a ton of rules for how people can act at the opera, but one of them is that man should never sit alone in the front row of the box. There will be a time when he is alone in the box, but even then he must sit elsewhere.


If you are being introduced to someone, what is the only appropriate response in best society?

There is only one response after being introduced to someone. If you are a person of position, you can jump right into the conversation by asking a somewhat personal, but still appropriate question.


What is a proper thing to say in conversation when you disagree with something someone says?

There will come a time in every conversation when people don't agree. However, a proper gentleman keeps his prejudices to himself. If he does disagree, he can politely say he disagrees, but leave it at that.


How does Emily Post describe a witty woman?

The witty woman is not the one who is the most clever. She is the one who can make the man seem the most clever. In best society, the woman should never make herself too known unless it is at the behest of the man.


Is it appropriate for a lady to lean on a gentleman during the daytime?

A gentleman must always offer his arm to an older lady or an invalid, or a woman needing help across a rough road, but other than that a lady should never lean on a man. It's only at night as she wears high heels that he must offer his arm at all times.


Who scores an invitation to supper?

Supper is considered the most intimate meal there is, so only family and the closest of friends are included. It's so intimate that there are usually no invitations, but rather guests are invited through word of mouth.


It is etiquette for ladies to kiss each other as a way of greeting one another?

It's as simple as that. Ladies should never kiss upon meeting at a party or out in public. It doesn't matter how good of friends they are. Actually, the less touching upon greeting the better.


Are there other appropriate forms of introductions other than presenting one to another?

It is actually OK to ask someone if they know the person you are with and want to introduce. It doesn't matter if it's a man being introduced to a woman or vice versa, there are other acceptable forms of introductions.


What is required food when hosting an afternoon tea?

The categories of food for an afternoon tea are tea, bouillon, chocolate, bread and cake, but pretty much anything can fall in the bread and cake category. This is where you'll see your scones, cakes, sandwiches and other nibbles.


Who is most often the guest of honor at any formal dinner party?

Unless otherwise stated, the guest of honor is always the oldest lady at the dinner. Of course there are exceptions to this if the host chooses, but if there is no one else she wishes to honor, the oldest lady will remain.


Who is the best chaperone for a young girl at a ball?

There is no better chaperone for a girl other than what she should already possess as a member of society. She is to carry herself with grace and dignity no matter if she is being watched or not.


What is the correct order of forks when setting a table for a formal dinner?

There is an order in which you place forks, and the order in which they are used. However, Emily Post was known for using the wrong fork at the wrong time, so this rule is a little lax at times.


How should one enter a drawing room?

There really isn't much difficulty in entering a drawing room, says Emily Post. But it is important to locate the host before entering so you can make your way right to them to greet them.


Which of the below is a huge no-no for a debutante at her ball?

There are a plethora of things that a debutante shouldn't do when she is coming out to society, but whispering is a big one. It shows a complete lack of courtesy toward others, and the only thing worse than whispering is giggling at the same time.


Which word or words is best used when a person you are with is meeting someone else you know for the first time?

"Present" is preferred in high society over "introduce." According to Post, though, neither are actually used in formal situations. The general rule is that the younger person is always presented to the older person.


Are maids in a house allowed to have male guests over?

Emily Post never understood why the general consensus was that maids are not allowed to have men over. They would just sneak out to meet men anyway, so you might as well let them in the house or maid's quarters.


If you are invited to a church wedding ceremony, must you respond?

It is only if you are invited to the reception that an RSVP is required. If the invitation is just for the church ceremony, no response is needed. Emily Post doesn't really give an explanation for this, surprisingly.


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