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Business And Personal Etiquette:
Habit That Annoy
Personal Appearance
Faring Forth To A Tea
At Dinner
Voice And Conversation

Personal Appearance And First Impressions

( Originally Published 1940 )

The first impression that a person makes on others is dependent in a large measure on his appearance. How many times are heard such statements as, "I'll never forget how she looked the first time I saw her," or, "Do you remember the queer hat he wore the first time he came here?" First impressions are lasting; so it is important that they be the right kind.


The first essential for a pleasing personal appearance is the bath. Generally, a clean skin is a healthy skin. Take a thorough soapy tub or shower bath daily in the winter as well as in the summer. A sponge bath is a poor substitute for a tub or shower at any time. Use plenty of soap and rub the body vigorously, for a shower or tub bath without soap does not remove perspiration, dead skin, or the oily skin secretions. Give particular attention to the neck, ears, elbows, and armpits. Do not use a soap that is too strong. Rinse the soap carefully from the body. Be sure to use a good deodorant or nonperspirant as often as is necessary.


Never leave powder or rouge on the face overnight. Wash the face with plenty of soap and warm water. If the face smarts and burns, the soap may be of the wrong kind; try some other pure soap. Rinse the face well in cold water after using soap. If the water seems to dry the face, apply a cream after you wash for the night. This is especially important in windy, dry climates.

If the use of soap and water on the face does not seem desirable, a cleansing cream may be used to remove dirt and make-up. A thin cream that melts without much rubbing when it is applied to the face and neck should be chosen, for too much rubbing tends to force the dirt into the pores. Remove the cream with cleansing tissue. Several applications of cream may be needed if the tissues continue to show soil. If the skin has a greasy feeling after the cream has been used, select a brand that contains less oil. Cosmeticians at drug stores, department stores, or beauty shops will help you select the cream that is best for your skin.

Use the shade of powder that matches the skin tone and rouge and lipstick that give a healthy pink. When lipstick is too vivid or is spread on too thickly, a hard, unnatural appearance is given to the mouth. Lipstick should be applied with regard to the size and shape of the mouth.

If you do not know the shade of face powder, rouge, or lipstick that is the most becoming to you, consult a cosmetician. If this is impossible, write to the Education Department of the company that manufactures your favorite cosmetics and ask for a complexion analysis and a make-up chart. Send a description of your complexion-very light, fair, medium, ruddy, olive, sallow, or freckled; the condition of your skin-normal, oily, or dry; the color of your eyes, hair, and lashes; and your age. Describe your skin problems and ask for advice.

The Shave

Men should shave often enough to keep the face looking clean. Many men shave every morning and again in the evening. After shaving, rinse the face, neck, and ears with warm water to remove any trace of lather; then use an antiseptic lotion and a slightly tinted, aftershaving powder. The lotion cools and heals, and the powder removes the glow.


The important thing to remember about eyebrows is that there should be two of them. There should be no hair above the nose connecting the two. Pluck the hairs above the nose and any other unruly hairs that make uneven lines over the eyes; be careful to keep the natural line of the eyebrow. Also, avoid the thin pencil line eyebrow, which gives an artificial appearance to the face. Use a small brush on the eyebrows night and morning to remove surplus powder and to train them to lie in the right direction.


The hair should be shampooed often enough to keep it clean and free from oil, for oil absorbs dust and dirt. Under ordinary conditions, the hair should be washed every ten days. If the hair is unusually oily, it should be washed every week or even twice a week. If the hair is rather dry, it should not be shampooed oftener than once every two weeks. Persons who wash their hair often generally do not have dandruff. Men should use just enough hair oil to keep the hair in place if it is unruly. By all means, do not soak the hair in oil, for that defeats the purpose of the shampoo. The hair should be trimmed often enough to give an appearance of neatness. Don't let the neck get shaggy.

Women should arrange their hair in a way that is becoming to them. Not every new style is becoming to all types. An elaborate hairdress tends to make a person look older. A simple hair style that does not need continual attention during the business or school day is preferable to the elaborate one that seems to demand much attention. The elaborate hairdress, if it is becoming to you, is appropriate for evening affairs. Before you decide on a new hairdress, study your features carefully and keep in mind the following general principles. A center part increases the width of the face and emphasizes the nose. Therefore, it is becoming to the woman who has a long, slender face if her nose is one of her best features.

A part high on the side may offset the wide appearance of the face that is too broad.

Large ears tend to widen the face and should be covered or partly covered to decrease the width of the face. The face will appear longer if the tips of the ears show.

A "tailored" hairdress, unless it is too severe, will make a long, thin nose appear less conspicuous. Loose, natural-looking waves tend to conceal irregular features; tight, narrow waves tend to reveal them.

The too-high forehead should be covered or partly covered to decrease the length of the face. Remember that others see the back as well as the front of your head. If your neck is long and thin, the hair should be worn low to make the neck appear shorter; but if you have a short, thick neck, avoid the low, wide arrangement of the hair at the back of the neck.

Experiment with different hair arrangements until you find one that suits your type; or, ask a hair stylist to help you decide which of the prevailing styles you should adopt.

The important thing is that the hair should look well kept at all times. Comb the hair several times a day if it is necessary, as it often is in windy regions. Pin the hair carefully so that it will not fall out of place. The habit of pushing or pulling at the hair is annoying to others. Be sure that the hair is clean and arranged attractively; then leave it alone. Neither men nor women should comb or arrange their hair in public. The impression on others is far from pleasing.

Teeth and Mouth

Persons who are otherwise fastidious sometimes neglect the teeth and mouth. Clean the teeth with a fairly stiff brush and your favorite dentifrice at least every night and morning. After brushing the teeth, rinse the mouth thoroughly. Use a mouthwash if you wish. There is nothing more offensive than bad breath, which is often caused by unbrushed teeth and an unrinsed mouth. Avoid eating foods that leave an odor on the breath.

When you are concentrating or listening closely, don't let the mouth drop open. Keep it closed and breathe through the nose quietly. If you have difficulty in breathing through the nose, you may need to consult a specialist.


Hands are very much in evidence and therefore should always look well. Keep the hands clean. This means that it is necessary to wash them many times a day in warm, but not hot, water. Dry them well and apply a lotion to keep them from becoming red and chapped. The hands come in contact with disease germs many times a day; consequently, the hands should be kept away from the face, for often the face is infected in this way. A good soap is an excellent disinfectant.


The nails should be kept clean and filed. To be kept clean, they must be moderately short. Ordinarily, they should be filed to conform to the shape of the fingers. If the hands are short and stocky, however, the nails should be left longer and filed to an almond shape. Long, pointed nails are not in good taste.

If liquid nail polish is used, moons should be left at the base of the nails; and unless a clear or light polish is used, the tips should be left unvarnished. Polish that extends to the tips of the nails tends to chip more readily. A broad nail may be made to appear longer if a narrow line is left uncoated at the sides.

For daytime wear, a natural or soft rose shade of polish is suitable. Dark polishes make short nails look shorter and make poorly shaped hands conspicuous. If the hands permit, the vivid shades may be worn with evening dress; but neither the brilliant polish nor the evening dress has a place in the schoolroom or the business office. Men's nails should not be highly polished, but should always be filed and scrupulously clean. It seems superfluous to add that nails should never be cleaned or filed in public by either men or women.


To look clean is not enough. A person's clothes should also make him appear at his best-they should give a feeling of poise and self-confidence, a feeling of ease and comfort, because the wearer knows he is attractively and appropriately dressed. To be well dressed does not mean that one be expensively dressed. Clothes should be selected with a regard for usefulness. Extremes in cut and color should be avoided; faddish dress is for those who can buy today and discard tomorrow. After a fad has passed, the wearer is conspicuous.

When planning a wardrobe, men and women should consider a basic color and buy all articles in harmony with that color-the wardrobe should be considered as a whole. Conservative clothes of perfect fit and good material are best. When buying clothes, consider the upkeep-select material that keeps its shape after many wearings without constant pressing; buy clothes that do not soil easily.

For women, tailored suits or simple dresses are the best taste for street and office wear. Many businessmen now prefer their employees to wear bright, colorful clothing; still, everything must be in "good office taste." Some employers, however, think that black and navy blue are the only appropriate colors for women in business. In such offices, a woman, by a selection of smart accessories, may still give her costume distinction and individuality. Bright blouses or sweaters will enliven a suit; an attractive scarf, a new collar and cuff set, or a string of beads will brighten the tone of a tailored dress.

Suits or dresses of bold stripes and checks are hard on the eyes, and certain narrow stripes make one feel dizzy. Clothes of this type are correct for sportswear for men or women but are not correct for the business office or schoolroom, where people are working together hour after hour and day after day.

For women, knitted dresses and sweater suits are considered appropriate for office or school wear if they are cared for properly. Knitted clothes require a great deal of attention, however, as they have a tendency to stretch or sag after a few wearings. Some businessmen object to this type of dress because of the carelessness of the wearers. Knitted garments should be aired well after wearing; then put flat in broad, shallow drawers. They should never be put on hooks or hangers, as this stretches them out of shape. Sweaters should be sunned and aired occasionally, as they absorb perspiration even though they do not appear to be soiled.

Silk crepes and lightweight woolen dresses are warm, easy to clean, and suitable for many occasions. Wash dresses and suits of the various lightweight materials are suitable for summer wear, but dresses should not be backless or entirely sleeveless for the office.

Well-cared-for clothes are essential for a neat personal appearance; and a well-groomed man or woman will never wear dusty, wrinkled clothes or those having missing buttons or soiled or frayed collars or cuffs. Because woolen dresses and suits catch dust and lint, they should be brushed often.

Clothes for Large Women. A large woman should choose the texture of dress materials more carefully than a woman of average size. She should avoid heavy weaves, rough surfaces, and horizontal lines. Short, full skirts and broad, deep collars tend to reduce height and make persons appear heavier. Black and dark colors are best for the large woman, as bright and light colors tend to make her look even larger. She should not wear dresses or blouses of plaids, checks, or large figures. The V neck has a slenderizing effect.

Shirts, ties, and hose should blend with the suit and should not stand out as detached articles of apparel. Shirts and ties should be selected with regard to the coloring of the wearer. A pallid complexion requires shirts and ties that give color to the face, while a floridfaced man requires shirts and ties that subdue the face coloring. All, however, should be conservative in type, for flashy apparel shows very poor taste.

Care of Suits

The durability of clothes depends on the care that they receive. It is better to prevent soil than to have a suit sent often to the cleaners because the wearer is careless. Rubbing and the action of cleaning agents wear the fabric; however, spots should be removed as soon as they are noticed. Brush the suit carefully, hang it up neatly, and it will keep its shape for a long time. Be sure to empty all the pockets and button the suit.


Both men and women should select shoes that harmonize with the rest of the wardrobe. Black shoes are the most practical for all types of wear; brown shoes are generally worn with brown clothes. Elaborate shoes call attention to the feet and detract from the effectiveness of the ensemble. Shoes must be comfortable as well as good-looking; comfortable feet make graceful walking possible. Women who wear heels that are too high tend to step cautiously and appear stiff; often the result is a strained look on the face.

Well-fitted Shoes. Well-fitted shoes give a person a neat, trim appearance.

Shoes should be long enough that the toes do not touch the end of the shoes when the wearer is standing. Shoes that are too short and have too high heels push the feet forward, cramp the bones of the large toes, and cause irritation and often enlargement of the joints. It is never wise to buy inexpensive shoes, for they are more costly in the long run. Well-fitted shoes of good material keep their shape longer, wear better, take a neater polish, and are easier on the feet. Shoes that fit well prevent too rapid wear of both shoes and hose. It does not pay to economize on shoes.

Care o f Shoes. Dark shoes should be kept well polished and light shoes clean. Run-over heels present a slovenly appearance and tend to cause poor posture. Keep the heels straight and the shoestrings whole and well tied. Place shoe trees in the shoes as soon as they are removed to keep them in good condition. Many persons are careless in this respect. The shoe trees should not be too long, or they will stretch the shoes out of shape. Airing shoes as soon as they are removed prevents them from absorbing perspiration odors from the feet. Improperly selected and poorly kept shoes indicate carelessness and lack of taste.


For office wear, women should choose hose of a neutral daytime shade that harmonizes with the costume. The heavier-weight hose is more practical for business wear than the sheer hose generally selected for party wear. Men should wear dark hose-not white-with dark suits.

Be sure the size of your hose is correct. Hose that are too short cause the toes to be cramped; too long hose wrinkle in the shoes and sometimes cause blisters or sore places on the feet. Hose should always be clean and mended; a fresh pair should be worn every day. It is not conventional for women to wear hose rolled below the knee if, when they are seated, their dresses are so short that the knees show.


Hats for men and women should be selected with care. The height of the wearer-tall or short-and the shape of the face-oval, round, or long and thin-must be considered. Both men and women should buy hats in harmony with the rest of their attire and in accord with the season's styles.

Care of Hats

The shape of the hat gives it its style; so be careful to preserve this shape. For this reason, men should remove soft felt hats by lifting them from the top. Do not allow a soft hat to rest on the brim after it has been taken off. Stuff the hat with tissue paper and put it in a box or on a hatstand with a dust protector over it. Dark hats should be brushed with a soft brush to keep them free from dust. White hats should be cleaned frequently. Never wear a hat with a soiled band.

Women's Evening Dress

For evening, women may choose any color that is becoming to them. A forceful, vivacious person can wear more intense colors than one who is quiet and shy. The person with much color, however, should select shades that tend to subdue the face coloring; and the person without color must select shades that will bring out color in the face. It must be remembered that artificial light changes the color of dress materials. Vivid colors may become softened when worn at night, while such colors as light blue and light green may not be becoming under artificial light. Large women should wear dull, clinging materials; they should not wear organdie or taffeta-crisp materials that tend to make them appear larger. Taffeta is a good material for a retiring personality. Party slippers may be elaborate, but the designs and materials must harmonize with the rest of the ensemble.

Men's Evening Dress

For semiformal affairs after six o'clock, men usually wear the tuxedo, or, as it is commonly called, the dinner jacket. With it are worn the white or black waistcoat and black tie. The dinner jacket, whether a one-button or a double-breasted model, is always worn buttoned. In some circles the one-button dinner jacket is preferred, but the double-breasted models are fast becoming popular. The trousers are of the same material as the jacket. Patent-leather pumps or oxfords are worn with the tuxedo.

The full-dress suit for strictly formal wear after six o'clock consists of the tailcoat, trousers of matching material, the white waistcoat, and white tie. The tailcoat is always worn unbuttoned. Patent-leather pumps or oxfords are worn with the full-dress suit. The handkerchief must be of white linen.

Lacking evening dress, a young man should wear a dark business suit buttoned according to current style, white shirt, dark tie, and black hose and shoes, so that his dress will approximate evening dress as nearly as possible.

How to Stand

No matter how carefully clothes are selected with regard to style and material, they will never look well on the man or woman who does not know how to stand, sit, and walk correctly. Stand firmly on both feet with the knees close together. Don't stand on one foot or shift from one to the other. Keep the head up, the chest up-not out-and the abdomen in. Don't pull the shoulders up and in. When the chest is up, the shoulders will fall into a natural position. The arms should be relaxed at the side. Keep the hands out of the pockets, and don't finger buttons, belt, or tie.

How to Sit

To sit down, walk directly to the chair, turn on the balls of the feet, and lower yourself into the chair. When you turn, one foot is directly back of the other, and this foot takes the weight as you lower yourself. Push back in the seat until you touch the back of the chair. Hold the chest up and the abdomen in, as you do when walking or standing. When sitting, keep the knees close together. Don't put the feet out so far that they may be in the way of others who are passing. If knees are crossed, be sure that the sole of the shoe is almost parallel with the floor. This applies to both men and women. When you are sitting, don't turn your toes in or twist them around the legs of the chair. Don't tap on the floor with your feet. Women, if their knees are crossed, should not let the slipper slide off the heel and hang.

How to Rise

When you rise, slide one foot back and push the weight forward with this foot. By bending at the same time, it is possible to rise easily and gracefully. Don't push yourself from the chair by holding to the sides and hoisting yourself up.

How to Walk

While walking, hold the head and chest up and the abdomen in as you do when standing or sitting. Keep the feet parallel and close together when they pass each other; lift the weight off the ground, rising on the ball of the foot, thus smoothly carrying the weight from one foot to the other. Don't hitch along and don't drag your feet. If your standing, sitting, or walking habits are poor, follow these suggestions faithfully, and you will be pleased to learn how much better you look in your clothes and how much more comfortable and selfassured you feel.

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