Victorian-American newspapers illustrate the rules of etiquette governing New Year’s calls. Society’s expectations were made public and adherence expected. What did proper decorum require on January 1?
Etiquette and all that is deemed “good manners” morphs over time. Behavior that our nineteenth-century ancestors would find appropriate has largely disappeared, and today’s idea of a man’s best actions with his hat would appall our great-granddaddies. Specifically speaking, “Common Details of Western Historical Romance that are Historically Incorrect, Part 2” entails nineteenth century hat etiquette–specifically men in the company of women–and contains more vintage citations than my earlier post titled Hat Etiquette of the Victorian Era.
In context of Western HistoricalÂ romances:
“May I call on you?”
“He took me on a date.”
Historically accurate… or So Not The Way Things Were? Why? How do we know?
At the Turn of the 20th Century (year 1900), the Soda Fountain was a safe and socially acceptable place for men and women to meet. Courting couples could enjoy a little semi-private time tucked in the back of the drug store sipping one Coca-Cola from two straws. Come see a vintage article written about why soda fountains foster romance, and how the Soda Men must safeguard themselves against falling for lonely maiden customers. Soda Fountains remained a courtship and dating icon from the late nineteenth century through the 1950s and beyond. What was the draw?
Etiquette governed much during the Victorian Era: courtship, marriage, mourning, letters, social calls, dancing, engagements and breaking of engagements, clothing…and men’s hats. When reading fiction and nonfiction alike, I’ve wondered about men tipping their hats to ladies, removing their hats (or not), giving their hats over to the butler (or not), wearing a Stetson inside or during a business meeting… What did good manners demand? How did a cowboy show respect? How did a lady know if a man hoped to stay awhile when he paid a call?