Countess Marie de Tilly comes from a noble family whose roots go back to the Middle Ages. Her parents were French diplomats, so after years of advising her friends on how to behave in society she decided to teach protocol and etiquette.
For 15 years, Marie de Tilly has been traveling the world as an ambassador for Savoir Vivre (Elegant Lifestyle - French). She gives lectures in France and throughout Europe, but also in Russia, China, Africa and America. She is the favourite private etiquette tutor of Russian oligarchs.
Who created Etiquette?
The French word etiquette originated in the 17th century. Initially, this was the name given to the cards with the rules for behaviour in the royal court written on them. At that time, the violation of these norms implied a serious punishment. Etiquette subsequently spread worldwide and split into French and British, the former becoming a European standard of behaviour adopted in everyday life, whilst the rules of Misty Albion remained in the 19th century as too complicated.
Etiquette rules change gradually. The art of setting the table was created in the 18th century by the French Countess du Barry. She was very scrupulous about porcelain and crystal. And thanks to this, some of the basics of arranging dishes and utensils were invented.
The tradition of wearing a hat comes from Queen Marie-Antoinette. For her, this was a forced measure – she had a very high forehead and invented different head coverings herself. The fashion of the high waist was imposed by the Empress Josephine.
Rules of secular etiquette
Rule #1. Who starts first?
One should not sit down at the table before the mistress of the house, and in no case should one begin to eat before she has taken the utensils in her hands. Such behaviour can be seen as a personal insult.
Rule No. 2. Cutlery
The number of utensils always corresponds to the number of dishes. The farthest from the plate on both sides should be taken first. So, follow these instructions and you won't be wondering which fork is meant for what.
By the way, spoons, forks and knives are placed with the back side up so that the coat of arms or other mark is visible
Rule No. 3. The bag
Where should a lady put her bag or clutch? In no case should it be placed on the table or the back of the chair. In decent society, it is accepted to stand behind the back of the chair, and if it is too big, on the floor. I learned how in your country there is a superstition that if a lady puts her bag on the floor, she will be poor. Believe me, women with millions put their bags right there, on the floor.
Rule #4. The lipstick
The rules for using lipstick deserve special attention. It is absolutely unacceptable in society to leave traces of it on the glass. This is considered a manifestation of bad taste. What is the way out? Choose a lipstick that doesn't leave streaks.
Rule No. 5. How to position the glasses for different drinks
If you have decided to organize a social dinner at home, be careful how you arrange the glasses. They should be on the right side. The largest are placed closest to the centre - those for water. Next to them - for wine and the smallest, for high-alcohol drinks. Usually there are three types, but sometimes the hosts plan to offer several types of drinks, so the number of glasses is unlimited.
As a rule, champagne glasses should not be placed on the table, because it is served as an aperitif on a separate table.
Rule number 6. Who should not put their elbows on the table
According to the rules of etiquette, only married women are allowed to put their elbows on the table at lunch or dinner. The goal is to show off their expensive jewelry.
Rule #7. How to say "No" politely
There are often situations where you don't want to (or can't) eat something or drink alcohol. According to the rules of etiquette, you should taste even a crumb, and then place the fork and knife parallel to each other. This signals that you are done. And when it comes to drinks, you can say no with a light hand gesture to show you've had enough. It is not polite to cover your glass with your palm or to show your rejection too emotionally.
A few more useful tips:
The dish is served from the left and removed from the right.
The arrangement of the guests around the table is made according to the male-female principle. So that, in case of need, the gentleman can assist the lady.
Never put your mobile phone on the table. Men can put it in their pocket on vibrating mode. If the lady has no pockets, the smartphone should remain in her purse until the end of the social event.
And most importantly: remember that rules are made to be broken sometimes. «In aristocratic circles it is not accepted to openly condemn mistakes made. "Just be modern and live life to the fullest," advises Comtesse de Tilly.