Part IV: Dress and Personal Habits

  1. Don’t forget to brush your clothes, polish your boots, put on your Sunday clothes, and get your hair in order before coming to class.
  2. Don’t neglect personal cleanliness, which is more neglected than careless observers suppose. Preserve your health. You have no business to be sick.
  3. Don’t paint or powder.
  4. Don’t wear collars and shirts so dirty that one is tempted to plant and raise a crop of potatoes or take a homestead on. No broadcloth, no silks or satin can hide dirt.
  5. Don’t sleep in your underclothes.
  6. Do not dress more costly than you can afford.
  7. Don’t use hair-oil or pomades. This habit was once very general, but is now considered vulgar, and it is certainly not clean. Don’t part your hair in the middle.
  8. Don’t neglect the details of the toilet. Many persons, neat in other particulars, carry blackened fingernails. This is disgusting. How many of you have cleaned your fingernails this week? Look at them. Let your morning ablution be thorough. Cleanse your teeth; wash out your ears. Be nice in everything. Everybody delights to see a fresh, clean, well-mannered boy.
  9. Don’t neglect to wash your feet at least twice a week.
  10. Don’t wear apparel with decided colors or with pronounced patterns. Don’t – we address here the male – wear anything that is pretty. What have men to do with pretty things! Select quiet colors and unobtrusive patterns, and adopt no style that belittles the figure. It is right enough that men’s apparel should be becoming, that it should be graceful, and that it should lend dignity to the figure; but it should never be ornamental, capricious, or pretty. “I am sure he was well dressed because I do not remember how he was dressed.”
  11. Don’t wear fancy colored shirts, or embroidered shirtfronts. Spotted or otherwise decorated shirts are fashionable in summer, but the propriety is questionable. White plain linen is always in better taste.
  12. Don’t wear your hat cocked over your eye, or thrust back upon your head. One method is rowdyish, the other rustic.
  13. Don’t, boys, wear trinkets, shirt pins, finger-rings, earrings or anything that is solely ornamental. One may wear shirt studs, a scarf-pin, a watch-chain and a seal, because these articles are useful; but the plainer they are the better.
  14. Don’t be a “swell” or a “dude” or whatever the pop of the period may be called.
  15. Don’t walk with a slouching, slovenly gait. Walk with ease, but still with dignity. Don’t bend out the knees or walk in-toed or drag your feet along; walk in a large, easy, simple, manner without affectation but not negligently.
  16. Don’t come in looking frightened.
  17. Don’t chew tobacco. It is a bad and ungentlemanly habit. The neatest tobacco-chewer cannot wholly prevent the odor of tobacco from affecting his breath and clinging to his apparel, and the “places that know him” are always redolent of the weed. If one must chew, let him be particular where he expectorates. He should not discharge tobacco juice in public vehicles, or the sidewalk, or in anyplace where it will be offensive. Go to the curbstone and discharge the saliva into the gutter. Men, who eject great streams of tobacco-juice on the sidewalk, or on the floors of public vehicles, ought to be driven out of civilized society.
  18. Don’t whistle in the street, in public vehicles, at public assemblies, or anywhere where it may annoy. Don’t whistle at all.
  19. Don’t have the habit of smiling or “grinning” at nothing. Smile or laugh when there is occasion to do either, but at other times keep your mouth shut and your manners composed. People who laugh at everything are commonly capable of nothing.
  20. Don’t gape, or hiccough, or sneeze in company. Men, there is an inclination to sneeze or hiccough, hold your breath for a moment and resist the desire, and you will find that it will pass off.
  21. Don’t have the habit of letting your lip drop and your mouth remain open. “Shut your mouth.” Breathe through you nostrils and not through your mouth; sleep with your mouth closed; keep it closed except when you open it for a purpose. An open mouth indicates feebleness of character, which the habit affects the teeth and general health.
  22. Don’t beat a tattoo with your foot in company or anywhere, to the annoyance of others. Don’t drum with your fingers on chair, table or window pane. Don’t hum a tune. The instinct of making noises is a survival of savagery.
  23. Don’t be servile towards superiors, or arrogant towards inferiors. Maintain your dignity and self-respect in one case and exhibit a regard for the feelings of people, whatever their station may be, in the other.

Ole Voices No. 2: Etiquette 101


St. Olaf College: A Selected Chronology

Section I: Etiquette 101
In General
In the Drawing Room
In Public
Dress and Personal Habits
Table Manners
Rules for Boys
Rules for Girls

Section II: Transgressions
Keeping the Rules