How Much Do You Know About Victorian-Era Etiquette?



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: lisegagne/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

In the Victorian age, many aspects of society became very conservative. New sets of etiquette developed for everyone, including gentlemen, ladies and children. Those who unerringly followed these rules were regarded as socially acceptable; people who made the mistake of bending or breaking these norms faced sneers, ridicule or even social exile. In this snooty quiz, do you really know anything Victorian etiquette?

When men and women were searching for significant others, they were expected to remain within their own social ranks. In other words, wealthy women who fell in love with their gardeners were out of luck. And love was a secondary concern – in this age, it was more important to marry for financial stability rather than affection. Do you recall other important matchmaking pointers from this era?

At a fancy dance, women would literally write the names of their dance partners on a piece of paper… and she couldn’t take it back. And if she dared to dance with the same man more than three times, well, consider yourself a floozy, ma’am.

Can you navigate the complexities of this Victorian etiquette quiz? Be a true gentleman or lady and find out now!

How did male passengers sit during carriage rides?

Yes, the Victorian age was littered with odd rules of every kind. When men loaded into carriages, they were supposed to ride with their backs facing the horses.


In this era, young unmarried women were not allowed to leave their residence without what?

In the Victorian age, young and unmarried women were required to follow all sorts of prudish rules. They weren't allowed to leave the house without an escort, lest they somehow wind up an inappropriate situation of some sort.


How were women expected to address the issue of politics?

Women were entirely discouraged from discussing politics. They were expected to stick to more … "womanly" topics.


How did gentlemen handle the task of smoking around women?

Men were never supposed to smoke around ladies. And if women approached a gaggle of smoking men, they'd have to extinguish their tobacco.


How were gentlemen supposed to act in the presence of ladies?

Gentlemen were suppose to be, well, gentle around women -- attentive to any and all needs they might display. They were expected to help ladies with just about anything, setting aside their own needs.


If a young woman was in public and felt that it would be impolite not to address a familiar man, how would she approach him?

Young women were mostly supposed to avoid greeting men in public, but if the situation was unavoidable, she could demurely offer him one hand.


If a gentlemen asked a woman to dance, what was she expected to do?

If a man asked a woman to dance, she was supposed to accept. She could only refuse if she was already dancing with someone else, otherwise she'd seem uppity or ungracious.


Doctors of the era often argued that women needed corsets for which purpose?

Corsets are one of the fashion items most closely associated with the Victorian age. These crushingly tight accessories were necessary, said some doctors, to support the internal organs of females.


Single women weren't supposed to leave a social gathering unless they were accompanied by whom?

Single young women weren't allowed simply drift away from a party on their own. They needed to be accompanied by at least one -- better yet, two -- married women. Preferably ninjas.


True or false, were men allowed to wear cologne in this era?

Women didn’t really want to be able to smell men. But a bit of cologne didn’t hurt, so long as they didn't dump half the bottle on their beards.


If a gentleman was walking along the street and a young woman offered him her hand, what was he supposed to do?

In a rush? Well, not now you're not, because Miss Emily just offered you her hand … so you should turn and walk with her.


What was a "crinoline"?

A crinoline was a weird metal cage that women used to hold their skirts away from their legs. They looked as ridiculous as they sound, and they made it awfully difficult for females to navigate doorways.


If you had to attend a formal visit or ceremony, what were you supposed to do with your small children?

You brought small kids to a formal gathering? Or are you rude or just weak in the head? Next time leave them somewhere else.


If a woman was home between 3 and 5 p.m., she had to be ready at any moment for what?

If they were home in late afternoon, women were expected to be ready to receive visitors. That meant being dressed and ready to rock … even if no one showed up.


What was "cuttting"?

It was one of the most hurtful things you could do to someone back the day -- cutting. When you looked someone in the eye in public … and but refused to acknowledge that you knew them.


If a gentleman and young woman engaged in conversation on the street, they should avoid what?

Mostly, young women weren't supposed to be talking to men in public on the streets. But if those conversations did develop, both people were supposed to avoid loud talking at all costs.


In this era, it was considered very rude if you did what in public?

Sigh. Really, Mary? Did you just sigh in public? You're the embarrassment of our entire clan!


If a bride was young, how old were the bridesmaids supposed to be?

A young bride was supposed to select young bridesmaids. Imagine the horror -- the horror -- if a 20-year-old bride picked a 30-year-old woman to be in her wedding!


What happened if you stopped by to visit someone before 3 p.m.?

Want to drop in an acquaintance? Sure thing … but if you do so before 3 p.m., you're pretty much an uncultured Neanderthal.


If your family agreed to visit another family for a formal visit, what would you wear?

There were strict rules guiding visits to other peoples' homes. If you accepted a formal invitation for a visit, you had to wear basic clothing, nothing too ostentatious or fancy.


What were you supposed to do when you entered a private home?

Don't be a monster. Just like today, you're expected to make sure your shoes or clean before you enter a home.


If a woman offered a man her hand in public, what was he supposed to do?

A woman has just offered you her hand on a public street. What do you do? Well, you offer your hand as well … but it needs to be the hand that's farthest from her, because, you know, we don't want any hanky panky happening here.


If a lady was traveling with a male friend, how were her expenses handled?

When men and women traveled together as friends, women were expected to hand over their cash. That way, he could pay for her expenses using the money she gave him.


How many glasses of champagne were ladies allowed to have?

Woe to women who liked to imbibe in public. They could only have a single glass of champagne. But no one said anything about tequila, so pour me three more, Victor!


What sort of adornments should a gentleman wear to a dance?

Ostentatious displays of wealth were frowned upon at dances. Men could wear jewelry of sorts, but just very basic, unfrilly items.


How did a woman receive a gentlemen when she was home alone?

It was never, ever appropriate for a woman to receive male guests when she was home alone. And you know why (cue cheesy jazz music).


During a ball, a man should never escort a woman across the room by the hand. Instead, he should use what?

It was considered rude to offer only a hand to a woman as you walked her across a room during a fancy ball. Give her the whole arm.


If a man and woman were going up a flight of stairs, who went first?

Men were always supposed to go first up the stairs. And you know why, you Peeping Tom.


What sort of gloves should men wear to a dance?

Men were expected to dress very formally for dances. That included basic white gloves.


If someone asked you to sing at a party, what were you expected to do?

If someone insisted that you sing or play an instrument at a social gathering … you were expected to just do it. No hemming, no hawing, no delays.


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