When presenting yourself as a woman, every detail matters. The way you act is just as important as the way you look. This includes etiquette!
Does etiquette sound like an old-fashioned concept from the 1950s? It’s not.
Knowing the proper etiquette makes you look classy and goes a long way towards a positive first impression. (Besides, you never know when you might be invited to dinner at the White House or Buckingham Palace!)
Etiquette is a huge topic, so in this post, I focus on the most common social situations. Read on for 6 etiquette tips you should know before your next en femme outing.
1. Girly Greetings
Greetings can be a landmine of potential awkwardness. Should you hug, kiss, or shake hands?
The rules are straightforward when meeting somebody for the first time:
- Shake the hand of the person you are being introduced to.
- If you are sitting down, stand up to shake their hand.
- Look them in the eyes and smile.
- Bonus points if you say the other person’s name you meet them.
Kissing, air kissing, and hugs depend on cultural norms and how well you know somebody. When in doubt, let the other person lead.
Of course, if it’s a good friend, feel free to hug or kiss away!
2. The Proper Place for Your Purse
Where you put your purse say a lot about your manners. Did you know that putting your purse on the table is considered rude? That’s because it’s unhygienic.
Here’s what you should do instead:
- In casual settings, you can hang your bag on the back of your chair. In formal settings, this is considered poor etiquette since it can trip up the wait staff.
- The other option is to place it on your lap or at your feet.
- You can also use a purse hook. This is a small hook you carry with you to hang your bag on the table. (Queen Elizabeth II is said to have used one!)
Clutch bag etiquette:
- Place the clutch on your lap (with your napkin on top) or behind you on your chair.
3. Napkin Etiquette
Napkin etiquette is simple: As soon as you are seated, put the napkin on your lap. You should never begin eating or drinking without your napkin on your lap.
If you get up to use the restroom, fold the napkin and place it on the left side of your plate.
4. How to Hold Your Wine Glass
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been holding your wine glass wrong.
The mistake most people make is to hold the glass by the “bowl.” This is a faux pas since it warms the drink inside and leaves smudge marks on the glass.
Instead, hold the glass at the stem by grasping it between your thumb and index finger. (Who votes for a “practice” session tonight?!)
5. Use the Right Utensils
Ah, the classic etiquette question: Which fork do I use? The answer is to start with the outermost utensil and work your way in with each course.
6. A Grand Finale
Now that you’ve made it through the occasion with perfect, ladylike manners, how do you make a grand finale?
- When you are done eating, rest your utensils diagonally (in parallel) across your plate.
- Your napkin should remain on your lap until you’re ready to leave the table.
- Never leave a party or event without saying your goodbyes. “Ghosting” is just plain rude.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Etiquette might not be the “sexiest” topic, but these details make a difference.
Curious to know more? Check out Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition.
Did any of these etiquette rules surprise you? Do you have any others to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!
P.S. Want to learn more tips on mastering your feminine presentation?
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All good but resting your utensils diagonally across means either you are not done eating If they are apart or You did not like the meal if they touch eachother .
You should rest them parrarel if you are done.
pointing12 o’clock means good, 3 o’clock means excellent.
making them a straight cross is asking for a second plate.
Thanks for the advices, but honestly most of them applies to both genders in my opinion. I don´t feel being polite is only for ladies, everyone should think about that.
Great point, Malinda!
I was taught that crossing your utensils on the plate means you are NOT finished. According to this instruction, placing them in parallel means you are finished.
Yes, that’s exactly right. Crossing your utensils means you are not finished. Placing them parallel means you are done. I found a great image that demonstrates this. 🙂
That is the way I understand it.
I just gotta add one more comment;
Even though it’s courteous to hold a door for someone, allowing them to enter first, many men are uncomfortable with anyone doing that for them, especially a woman. So if you are in that habit, as I am, you might want to think first. Some men actually make an issue of it! In such a case, it’s best to smile and surrender. It’s ok to enter first, then keep the door open, but you can really make that dude feel more manly by timing it so HE holds it for YOU. There’s no “one move fits all” here, but it’s something to consider…
I appreciate these kinds of posts!
Since transitioning I’ve discovered that 99% of the time, anywhere you go, from the ghetto to Wall Street, act like a lady and you will be treated like one.
Too many Trans women and cross dressers focus solely on physical appearance and ruin their presentation with manly manners, posture, gestures, etc.
You provide wonderful and much needed guidance and femenine wisdom to the Trans community. Thank you!
many thanks for articles like this one and as well I highly appreciate the comments to these articles to see how other people see these issues.
@Amanda: Yes you are right!
Bad behaviour is often a matter of how you have been teached when growing up! I know that as well!
One of the etiquette rules you mentioned, may cause a problem.
I have read an other article about etiquette that stated that the point:
“When you are done eating, rest your utensils diagonally across your plate”
would be rude to the kitchen, because laying down the utensils diagonally would have the meaning of: This food wasn’t good.
I usually lay the utensils down parallel on the plate.
So please if you write now the opposite, who is right?
Let’s start a discussion on that.
As stated before, I love your articles!
With best regards
Why are manners you describe any less important to any gender? They are equally important regardless of the gender.
Hi Lucille! Manners have always been a pet peeve of mine. For ALL people. But at a few of the dinners I have been to with other T-girls, I have seen:
-Eating with elbows on table. (manly)
-Reaching across table for salt, pepper, salad dressing, water, or wine, instead of asking someone to pass the item to them.(manly)
-Yelling across the room to a friend. (manly)
-Talking with mouth full. (manly)
-Cramming huge bites of food into mouth. (very manly)
-“Drinking soup” from the bowl, without use of spoon. (childish)
-Using one’s own (used) spoon to get salad dressing from container.
-Sitting side-ways at table.
-Standing at table while eating.
-Placing large purse on table. (I actually had someone’s purse strap in my salad)
-And even flossing one’s teeth at the end of the meal, while at table.
The worst I’ve ever seen, was a girl that took her shoes off, and set them on the table.
Some of these aren’t specific to gender, they’re just poor etiquette.
Sometimes it’s kinda funny:
Twice, I have sat at the table. The utensils were rolled in cloth napkins. The person to my left picked up the utensils to their right. The person to my right, picked up the utensils to their left. Leaving me with no utensils. I have also had this happen with water glasses, or wine glasses.
Even as a child, I was taught these things were poor etiquette. And I grew up on a farm!
But I was also taught as a child, not to publicly correct people….so I don’t say anything. I just focus on my etiquette.