Weird world of Victorian etiquette for men and my views on them

  • A man should always remove his hat when entering a room even if the room was empty. The only exception was if there was genuinely no place to put his hat.

“why would anyone in his sane mind would wear a hat in a room?”

  • A very bad breach of etiquette was for a man to sit while a lady was left standing. He must immediately offer her the use of his own chair even if ‘the gentleman has the best seat in the room, he must offer it to a lady’. However, if his seat was warm from where he had been sitting, he must go and get another seat for the lady and not offer her the one that was still warm.

“I don’t think anyone likes to sit on ice. Isn’t this the biggest problem while visiting the loo in winter mornings?”

  • If a man escorted a lady to the opera, ballet or similar, he must remain seated with her during the performance and avoid talking while the performance was on.

“this is sensible, I hope the lady didn’t talk either”

  • In one etiquette rule book it was firmly stated that ‘Showing affection in public was brazen vulgarity.’

“I am totally with it”

  • A famous Victorian point of etiquette was that ‘a gentleman should be seen and not smelled. They should use but little perfume as too much is in very bad taste’.

“Agreed and other modern men should realize it too. Some smell like a chemistry lab”

  • The Victorians were always hot on how, as they saw it, ‘inferior people’ should be treated: ‘In the company of an inferior, never let him feel inferior either by your speech or manner.’

“This one is not weird and I am not being sarcastic at all”

  • In conversation a gentleman should never speak about himself or his self importance and only to speak with others on subjects they are interested in.

“That would be a ridiculously boring conversation. How can someone expect me to talk on a subject in which I may not be interested in?”

  • Safe subjects to talk about included – books, balls, bonnets, metaphysics, traveling or the weather.

“Weather? Isn’t that the topic for the unimaginative? Also, who on earth would want to talk about bonnets?”

  • As well as the above, a gentleman was also expected to: ‘Avoid showing his learning and accomplishments in the presence of ignorant, inferior or vulgar people – who can by no possibility understand or appreciate what is being said.’


  • It was considered bad manners and vulgar to ask a direct question. A Victorian gentleman could never ask for example “How is your Mother?” They had to put the question in another form such as “I hope your Mother is doing well?

“I won’t ever understand the need of using a longer sentence when the shorter one gets the job done. It’s like walking to your house and entering through back door.”

  • But the gentleman also had to remember not to ask a lady about anything that might offend her or upset her.

“And how is a gentleman supposed to know what might upset a lady? Does she come with a guidebook?”

  • The gentleman must never use slang terms and phrases in polite company. These vulgar terms should only be used in ‘bar rooms and other low places.

“Bar rooms are not low places, how daft.”

  • It was apparently bad manners and vulgar to joke at the expense of a lady.

“How is one supposed to joke then? The rule setters were not fun at all. I have a feeling God forgot to give them a sense of humour.”

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