5 Ridiculous Victorian Etiquette Rules | What the Stuff?!

5 Ridiculous Victorian Etiquette Rules | What the Stuff?!


– Ah yes, Miss Havisham. But let me introduce the topic by pointing out that in London, it’s not the custom to put
the knife in the mouth, for fear of accidents. – All cultures have their own unique customs for etiquette and protocol. They usually seem
strange from the outside, but normal on the inside. But from the 1830s to 1901, the culture of Great Britain
and the British Empire came under the influence of Victorianism. Named after Victoria, the
reigning queen at the time. The Victorian era is infamous
for exhausting expectations of piety and mannerly behavior. – That it’s not usually
considered necessary to fill the mouth to its utmost capacity. – Oh, sorry. I’m so into this. – You’ll be glad that nobody cares if you follow these five
Victorian etiquette rules today. Unless they do. In which case, you have our sympathies. (violin music) Are you a lady? Well, hope you like wearing lots of constricting and cumbersome gear, because yes, it’s totally expected of you. You probably know the Victorian era was a high time for corsets. – It may give you the shape you desire! Tighter please, Miss Morton, tighter! – But you might not realize how far this tight-laced obsession went. Corsets weren’t just for high-society ballrooms and royal court,
they were everywhere. Corsets were so common,
that you’d find women wearing them in workhouses and prisons. And believe it or not, the word “maternity corset” refers to a real thing, that real pregnant ladies
put on their torsos. Also popular during the
Victorian era were crinolines, which were stiff, domed
cages designed to hold women’s skirts out in a wide
radius away from their legs. You can probably imagine
the loss of agility you experience when
wearing a six foot-wide steel birdcage under your dress. In other words, you can’t
fight crime in a crinoline. And of course, there were plenty of rules about what to wear and when, such as which kind of dress you wore
to each different occasion, and how long you had to wear black after the death of a family member. Fashion police like these
made you wanna call a lawyer. – Mr. Bingley! – Mr. Bingley? Oh, my goodness! Everybody
behave naturally! Do not appear overbearing! – Quick, think of all your friends. Do you know exactly how many levels below the queen and the
archbishop of Canterbury each one resides in terms of social rank? No? Such ill grace would never
fly in Victorian England. See, in Victorian times,
you couldn’t just like walk right up and talk to somebody. You had to be introduced first. And who got introduced to whom depended on the order of precedence, a system of social ranking. So, you’d introduce a lower-ranking baron to a higher-ranking duke, and not the other way around, you fool. And you can’t do this flawlessly unless you know the rank of
everybody in your social circle. And frankly, that just sounds exhausting. Constantly comparing your acquaintances like they’re poker hands
just to see what beats what. And then there’s the issue
of how to address everybody. I forgot, is Jimmy the Right
Honorable or of the Most Noble? (violin music) So, imagine you’re an unmarried lady out for a stroll in 19th century London. (chuckles) Well, first of all, you’d
better not be alone. That’s right. You need an escort. But what happens if you
see a man you recognize? Well first of all, he is
not allowed to talk to you unless you make a gesture
of recognition first. Which, okay, I can kinda
see the appeal of that. You don’t have to pretend to be doing something on your phone to avoid making eye contact, et cetera. But let’s say you really want
to stop and talk to this guy. Well, you can’t. Or at
least you shouldn’t. If you want to talk to him, instead of stopping, you
can offer him your hand, which he can take, but
only after lifting his hat using the hand farthest away from you. Then once he takes your hand,
he has to walk along with you, but even then, you can’t just gab away. According to Cassell’s Househould Guide, “strict reticence of speech and conduct “must be observed in public.” And that means no loud talking
or animated discussions. And if you see a gentleman
you’d like to speak to, but he’s smoking a cigar,
tough luck, sister. It’s amazingly rude for a man to smoke in the presence of a woman. So if you acknowledge him,
he’ll have to put out his cigar. And for all you know, it might have been a really expensive cigar, and now you’ve just ruined his morning. Nice work, Myrtle. – I… I cannot. I cannot be your wife. – Do you ever have that problem where you wanna date
the neighbor’s daughter, but you don’t know if she’s
technically “on the market” yet or if her parents still
consider her a child? – Will you marry me? – Are you mocking me? – No? Good, because
that’s amazingly creepy. Fortunately, the
Victorians had a formalized system for avoiding this problem. Presentation at court. If you were a respectable family who wanted to announce that your son or daughter was ready for courtship, you could do this at a specialized event. Young men could be introduced
at events called levees, which were held several times a year. Young ladies could be introduced at presentation events
held at St. James’s Palace. And these events did not skimp on the pomp and protocol either. Men had to wear buckled shoes and swords! Ladies had to stick feathers in their hair and drag three-yard trains
behind their dresses. But once the kids are
ready to start dating, that’s when the etiquette
fangs really sink in. – I imagine that since
your change of fortune, you have naturally
changed your companions. – Oh, yes, naturally. – Lots of parents get weirdly strict and judgmental when
their kids start dating. Thanks a lot, mom and dad! But Victorian England really
took it to another level. First of all, etiquette
manuals of the time advise young lovers that technically, you’re supposed to look for partners only within your own social class. Because we all know how awkward it is when you’re a baroness and you’re trying to chat up a nice viscount, and his mother is just right
there on the fainting couch, looking at you with eyes that say, “Trash!” Now, even if you can’t get
a nice courtship going, you’re gonna have to deal with the elephant in the room,
which is, let’s face it, people marry for money. And social status. – You think you are better than me? – Not. – Victorian England operated
under the law of primogenitor, which meant that when Ol’
Moneybags passed away, his entire estate went to the oldest son. So, it was just kind of expected that eligible ladies
would seek oldest sons. Meanwhile, young noblemen
with troubled assets would try to court rich heiresses, sometimes from a lower social rank. Say, the daughter of a
highly-successful crinoline merchant. On top of all these awkward expectations, the courtship itself had more chaperones than a middle school dance. And young couples could never
expect to be left in privacy basically until they were married. Oh, and here’s another one. Pop quiz! What do wild turkeys, mule deer, and marriageable young ladies in Victorian England have in common? They all have a season for hunting! Young men looking for ladies to court would search at social
events during the Season, which lasted from January through June. If a lady didn’t find a
husband after three Seasons, everybody knew it was
spinsterhood for Agnes. What’s one etiquette custom you hate being expected to follow? Or, what’s one that you wish people would pay more attention to? And does anyone have a
suitable match for Agnes? Let us know in the comments. And if you liked this
video, would you kindly click on yonder button and then subscribe? And if you want to learn
more about Victorian customs, check out 10 Ridiculous
Victorian Etiquette Rules at howstuffworks.com. (violin music) Courtship etiquette. Somebody say courtship etiquette?

100 thoughts on “5 Ridiculous Victorian Etiquette Rules | What the Stuff?!

  • The pictures and videos they gave weren't accurate to the information being presented. The pictures such as at 5:25 was of almost 100 years prior to the Victorian age which was at 1832-1901. Also a crinalin was only worn on occasion, it was not functional and womens' attire for every day was much more straight down than what you portray. Refer to dress patterns of the day, petty coats and stuffing of fabric was much more used than the crinalin. On that note, corsets were used for support of the bust and back much in the way a bra is worn today and did not cause as many issues as it is portrayed, it was very uncommon also for a woman to severely tie her laces tightly. the illustrations seen are just that,illustrations and you should not assume they are photo realistic.

  • This court presentation thingy looks like a good idea for all the singles out there. Only I'd just make it a line of pubs, bars or restaurants where only singles are allowed in without parents & this formal stuff. Like designate a park or a public spot just for singles to meet. Looks like a safer prospect than the Internet.

  • Ok but the prices for the maternity corsets were in dollars ($) …. in England we use pounds (£)… So basically this source is incorrect.

  • My grandmother was born in the late 1800s & never wore a corset. Her naturally small waist was the envy of other women. My grandfather said he could put his hands around her waist & his fingers would meet. Unfortunately, none of her future generations inherited her small waistline.

  • I always find is Arrogant of Americans to make fun of cultural norms from a bygone era from a time before the USA even existed.. America is a great country but has the Worst lack of true culture on the planets. Even North Koreans are more cultured than USA

  • I love how the women who are commenting "I wish men couldn't approach me unless I gave them are a sign" are all ugly in their profile pics. Bitch, nobody is approaching your ugly ass.

  • That is so true. I've watched titanic so many times and realized the fist time I watched it, women were to date someone in their own social class. But in titanic, rose was brave enough to break that law to be her lover, Jack. So cute.

  • This only presents the rich Victorians, the poor people of cities like mine – Manchester was not as up their own arse as this

  • This doesn't look too terrible after sitting in a lesson next to somebody blirting out about who they're "having it off with" to their friend in the loudest most obnoxious possible voice. I wish people taught their children general manners, people just think they'll get by without for some reason.

  • Wedding a lower class man who is a good provider and a very sweet guy! This would never have been allowed. I think lots of ladies got stuck with real looser males who gambled and drank and were lay a bouts who didn't know how to manage their money because they were the idle rich.
    I to like the idea of if a lady doesn't want to talk to the Right honorable lord stuck up lay about unless she speaks first. I could have sat back and watched these fellows then if one was suitable and good enough then acknowledge him.

  • EWWWWWW I cant imagine all that restrictive expectation. I would be in prison or sent to an Asylum. I simply wouldnt comply.

  • If one is going to ridicule such things at least have the intelligence to pronounce your words properly. It's pronounced SORD, no 'w' sound. And, it's said as VICOUNT-the 's' is silent. (Not said as VISCOUNT)

  • Proliferating kindergarten madames (hippies)… world never changed until feminism bloomed into technological eradication of history. Nice… not exactly. Patriarchs? Everywhere, even after the end times slime (gays understand all this slime… is unforbidden otherwise).

  • For my future wedding it's going to be literally straight of a fairtale. One of the things I am following in this list is wearing a corset and in place of the birdcage skirt it's a petticoat.

  • not every o e followed these rules back then it was JUST the RICH that tended to do so and even then some time not

  • I wish there were 'live' corset and petticoat shops. Trying to buy proper ones off of the internet is incredibly annoying. I also wish that these 'coming out parties' still happened.

  • When I was 23, I was taking care of this old man… and he asked if i was married, and I said no. He basically said I should be pretty worried because I was becoming a spinster 🤣. AT 23 SON! I laughed so damn hard, and he was totally serious.. looking at me like I was crazy, because I couldn't stop laughing.

  • You mean Victorian upper classes/ rich .

    I don't think Cotton Mill workers had the luxury of cage dresses or having the men working with you put their cigars out when they speak to you .

    You weren't polite when you lost your fingers ethier .

  • With my shoddy memory and lack of luck; if I had to introduce someone I would probably end up offending a ball room full of aristocrats 🤦🏻‍♀️🤣🤣🤣

  • You know, I really think you people need to do your research. First of all, things like corsets and skirt hoops had nothing to do with Victorian rules of etiquette –it was simply the fashions of any given few years. Another thing you screwed up on is assuming that the entire Victorian era (63 years) had the same fashions. The items you mention were fashionable in the mid to late Victorian era. Victoria started to rule in the early 1830's but the hoop skirt wasn't fashionable until the 1860's. You are confusing fashion with etiquette which are two entirely different things. Do your fucking homework! The only thing ridiculous here is your presentation.

  • What is sad…is that several of the clips which are being shown…are actually from the Regency era…and had nothing whatsoever to do with 'Victorian England'!…. Such a shame when someone who is giving out information from an Historical point of view…. is not aware of the actual time frame they are referring to! Queen Victoria was born during the Regency era… but…Victorian England only began after she actually sat on the throne…. 1837!…

  • First of all, a lot of these were incorrect. As a historical costumer and experienced seamstress, I have studied every form of corset, stays, crinolines, ellipticals, bustles and hip pads. I have studied Henrician , Georgian, Regency(sub period of Georgian, hence the prince regent) Victorian, and Edwardian. But, since this is Victorian, I’ll stick to that.

    1.Corsets were not invented to restrict the waist. They were a form of support that came into existence right after Georgian stays.
    2. I have never once in my life seen a woman walking around in a six foot crinoline. They existed, sure. But I can guarantee that those were mostly worn by the highest classes at the most respectable occasions.
    3. I see she uses Pride&Prejudice as an example. I love that movie, but wrong period. This is regency/Georgian, AKA the very early 1800s. And, as a fact, I can say that the Victorian period did not start until 1837, and ended in 1900. In a matter of years, many things changed.

    I’m no historian, but when I become obsessed with something, the facts become ingrained. Hope this didn’t sound too nerdy and snobby. PEACE ✌️

  • Although proper etiquette may be a thing of the past, there were some good common sense rules about it back then. Some of them are needed again.

  • Tom hiddleston voice

    knock knock
    Ah, my lady, I came expecting your father, and yet I am greeted with a far lovelier sight indeed.

  • The social ranking still exists. It may not be as bad as in Victorian times, but it still exists. The London season is in full gear right now, and rank matters. There is actually a Book of Precedence used to this day

  • love the rule about not talking to a lady before she acknowledges you. we live in equal society any half decent lad understands that and will never do that to a woman on her own

  • Most of the time Women stuffed corsets as opposed to tightlacing and crinolines in particular were really only popular in the 50-60s crinoLETs and bustles were used most

  • “Restricting and cumbersome” actually does not describe the act of corsetry. Tight-lacing was not common, and corsets were actually more like the common bra.

  • Please stop yelling I’m not deaf. And I’m tired of adjusting my volume so that I can listen your video

  • I quite like the custom of men only being allowed to talk to a woman who.e out walking if she acknowledges him first. I think this should still be observed but perhaps on a more relaxed less strict level.

  • Just wanted to say that the whole tight corset thing isn't true. They didn't wear constricting corsets, they didn't pull them tighter and tighter to get the "perfect shape", they used fitted corsets and padding.
    Just felt like I needed to point that out.

    Furthermore, there was a ton of diversity in Victorian times. It's more than 65 years, so calling it all Victorian like it's one thing just isn't correct.

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