Etiquetteer has been reading Meryle Secrest's delightful Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography, and was particularly arrested by two stories. The first, a real dinner party disaster, involved some new rubberized upholstery that had a lower-than-considered melting point. When the dinner guests, including Coco Chanel, rose from their chairs, the upholstery had made an impact on their clothes. Etiquetteer imagines all the host or hostess could do at that point was accept the dry cleaning bills and send a Lovely Bouquet of Contrition the next day. Have you a dinner party disaster in your past? Etiquetteer has a couple, but the scars are still too fresh.
The next interesting item concerned Schiap's great friend and collaborator Bettina Bergery, who apparently was known for stubbing out her cigarettes on women she felt were flirting too much with her husband. The book does not indicate how these ladies reacted, but Etiquetteer can only hope that the Rebuke was accepted without making more of a Scene than necessary. Other, less physically scarring, methods may be just as effective. Etiquetteer will never forget a costume ball about 15 years ago when a Lady Friend gave him the Eagle Eye and Hard Smile combination that invariably mean "Don't even think about touching my husband."
Wintertime in northern climates usually involves going out with two pairs of shoes: boots to manage the cold and snow, and regular shoes for indoor wear. Etiquetteer has seen increasingly, in homes where shoes are left at the door no matter what kind they are, guests bringing slippers to wear throughout the evening. Regardless, struggling into and out of shoes in someone's doorway in the Bleak Midwinter is never very graceful, and Etiquetteer must insist that hosts provide a chair or two nearby for the convenience of their guests. Once upon a time in the Stately Homes of Yore, an entire room off the entry was provided for this purpose. For the rest of us - Etiquetteer, for instance, lives in a "servantless household" with a narrow hallway immediately inside - having a chair as close as possible to the front door, or allocating a bedroom, is the best we can do.
Etiquetteer has certainly noticed in the last year the near disappearance of "Dear" from salutations everywhere, in both handwritten and electronic correspondence. Etiquetteer cannot let this stand, and must insist that it be included. Some will argue that its elimination is more efficient. Etiquetteer will counter that it is certainly less gracious, and we need some graciousness in our daily lives. Kindly attend to this at once.