How to prepare for a social party? Is there any strategy? What should we think about first?
First of all – think about the outfit you will be wearing at the party or formal dinner. The dress code is still extremely important today. At the same time, you should know the golden rule, which dictates to be in more modest clothing if you are the host and that you have to try and make an impression if you are among the guests. You shouldn't just be 'well dressed', you should stand out.
In France, for example, it is accepted that the inviter needs to emphasize the beauty of the visitors without trying to dominate with their appearance. The guests must look elegant and beautiful. Therefore, ladies should consider every detail – from jewelry and hairstyles to bags and shoes.
How important are fashion trends in such cases? If you are not in outfits from recent collections, could this be perceived as old-fashioned taste?
You don't need to imitate magazine covers. Trends are important, but you don't have to be a slave to fashion. Because elegance is the skill of combining. For example, if the jacket is Hermès your trousers do not necessarily have to be Hermès too, nor your accessories. You can easily complement the jacket you liked with a more democratic brand of pants. Emphasize your individuality by not being afraid to combine famous brands with something simpler.
To emphasize their high status, some choose a total look only from luxury brands. What is seen as good taste in France and in Europe?
True chic is not covering yourself from head to toe in the logo of a brand. Those who exclusively wear Chanel, Dior or other luxury brands are contemptuously called "nouveau riche" and are not particularly liked. At the same time, an ensemble combining Hermès and Zara, will be appreciated. It will be great if you have an It-bag or It-jacket, but branded outfits and accessories should not be more than three. Preferably two at most.
Are there really multiple schools of etiquette?
Yes, that's right. There are two trends, two directions – French and British etiquette. France is a more bohemian country where they like a more relaxed lifestyle. Etiquette in France was created by Louis XIV to control his very wealthy court. In England there are rules of etiquette that are followed in the royal family and in private clubs. It is believed that this school is stricter. In France, there is no royal court and, accordingly, royal protocol. Scandinavian countries and Spain are closer to British Etiquette.
What are the differences between British and French etiquette?
For example, they set the table differently. In the time of Louis XIV, the royal monogram was placed on the utensils on the outside. Therefore, in accordance with the norms of French etiquette, the fork is placed with the prongs down, and the spoon - with the ladle down. By the rules of the British court, everything is upside down. It is customary to place the royal initials or coats of arms on the inside, and in English and European service the utensils are placed with the prongs and ladle upwards.
And another important difference - in Britain they never put their elbows on the table. While in France, to emphasize their status, the hostess or married lady is allowed to place one or both of her elbows on the table during the conversation so that she can show off her wedding ring and other jewellery, but only when the utensils and plates are cleared from the table.
What is new in French etiquette, under the influence of modern life?
Indeed, some things are changing and this is normal, considering that many of the rules were created by Marie Antoinette. Today, etiquette is above all power, knowledge that you need to master. At the same time, it is not necessary to follow all the rules: choose the one that suits your character and emphasizes your individuality and practice it with confidence.