ETIQUETTE – Manners and Decorum

Icon First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

Social Etiquette and Manners are an important part of life not always understood or followed today. Our client Arianna Huffington has gone on to create several successful careers in one lifetime, with an unending drive and passion for social and political impact. Many consider The Huffington Post the leading online publication forum covering a multitude of subject fields, some of which involve social protocols. Along with a great Food Section come wonderful reminders and stories, some of them also featured in Lesley M.M. Blume’s Let’s Bring Back which celebrates forgotten objects, rituals, curiosities, and people from bygone eras. At ISAstaffing we’ve long provided domestic help staffing jobs working for high profile VIP clients of world renown, some of whom remain luminaries to date. Clients like Fred Astaire, Carey Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Edie Goetz, and former First Lady Nancy Reagan among others, embodied impecable style and quality of life still considered the hight of celebrity achievement.

tirelessly on the road, Arianna Huffington
tirelessly always on the road, Arianna Huffington

According to The Huffington Post article, after President Kennedy was assassinated Jacqueline Kennedy sat for a series of interviews with historian and Pulitzer Prize winning close family friend, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. The iconic former First Lady and trend setter was a worldwide admired celebrity and one of the most influential figures of modern history. The ability to survive one of the greatest tragedies and go on with life requires a grace of great ability. Some of what held her together was the unwavering devotion to social manners. We remember the beautiful way she maintained The White House. (see post on White House Butler, Eugene Allen)

Caroline Kennedy campaigned for President Obama

Caroline Kennedy came out to campaign for President Barack Obama

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was just a girl when her dad died in 1963. Like her mother, Caroline Kennedy has also sought a life of privacy. Yet knowing how important these interviews are along with their profound historical relevance topical to our times, she’s allowed these conversations to finally be released in 2011. Over six hours of interviews will debut, with a companion book of the transcripts. Caroline Kennedy will serve as editor and provide an introduction. I’m looking forward to adding these historical interviews to our large research library (which my husband carefully and lovingly hand selected over unending years of collecting), among other great books, films, and music, preserving our world heritage.

Contrary to current fashion of “letting it all hang out”, Jackie Kennedy understood that minding ones manners and upholding our dignity provides the platform for our civilized social fabric. Everywhere she went, Jackie Kennedy never lost her cool. She continued appearing publicly often walking casually in the street in sports wear with the elegance of someone who would later be wearing a gown with ease. Indelible style.

Michelle Obama's official White House Portrait

Michelle Obama's Portrait

First Lady Michelle Obama was inspired by Jackie Kennedy (who she greatly admires), with a special style of her own. Taking her first Solo International Tour will bring out more of this First Lady’s great diplomatic abilities affecting policy worldwide. These women are incredibly strong, smart, with courageous hearts, and the compassion to serve not just the American people, but the world, showing that a different leadership style is possible, regardless of the risks, family sacrifices, or political pressures. A toast to them and their great inspiration.

TIP – there is never a moment where good etiquette and great manners don’t serve to further an optimal outcome. As summer nears it’s the perfect time to raise a glass of champaign in honor of “great dames”, and enjoy the culinary and drink delectables from the past, the sublime etiquette of the well mannered. Celebrate the men and women who lived a cultivated quality of life and those who currently maintain a refined participation. They reflect a tradition worth preserving.

Not precluding that sometimes it takes an act of outright rebellion to go against the irritating lack of social graces. Blume tells a wonderful story in one of her postings about Diana Vreeland (editor of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar), at a party given by Oscar de la Renta that goes like this: Swifty Lazar turned to the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland and said, “The problem with you, dollface, is that your whole world is nostalgic.” D.V.’s response was, “Listen Swifty, we all have our own ways of making a living, so shut up.” Then she promptly punched him in the nose. Sometimes it takes teaching someone manners to preserve etiquette!

The Iconic Diana Vreeland

Fashion Icon Diana Vreeland

We don’t know if this story is true but I can personally say that Swifty Lazar (nickname for our famous client agent Irving Lazar), was not a man to be taken lightly and his energy was formidable. It’s a story that does make for good commentary about “incurable nostalgics”, who are often waxing about “the good old days”. Because our agency is the oldest still remaining under the same ownership, and my experience with cutting edge social circles since childhood (I relate more to a future yet to come), my mother and I have several nostalgic stories of our own.

A great Earthling Ambassadors book to give as a gift or polish up on your skills is The Girl’s Guide to Social Savvy, Manners for the Modern World (by Jodi R.R. Smith). Some might disagree but I find it incredible that Jaimie Oliver’s Show proved kids in America are not learning to eat properly, including the failure to teach them to use a knife and fork (unthinkable in Europe). Regardless of whether it’s your job or not, teach all young people manners by example and direct instruction– just tell them with grace and a quip that casual, doesn’t mean animal (I know some who are far better behaved then humans).

A quote by Kate Spade in her book Manners, “I don’t think table manners are passe.”, and she goes on to quote one of my favorite characters Deanna Troi of Star Trek: The Next Generation, who explains: “Higher emotions are what separate us from the lower orders of life… higher emotions, and table manners.” Star Trek: The Next Generation showed that every day is a good day to live adventurously regardless of who’s at your table, or what’s being served!

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