Etiquette for the Non-Consumer Set

by Katy on May 13, 2009 · 5 comments

Emily Post

I love books.

Big books, little books and most everything in between. But I’m able to mostly able to satisfy this craving with my handy-dandy library card.

But there are a few books I must own for myself:

I picked this massive book up at a thrift store god knows when, and it sits proudly in a prime spot right next to the fireplace. I find it very interesting to read up on what was considered important just a scant 67 years ago, plus it’s simply a cool looking book.

I was leafing through Mrs. Post’s infinite wisdom this evening when I came across this passage under the subject of “Modern Man and Girl:”

“To every thoroughbred, money is like his toothbrush — it is a necessity, quite true! But it is neither an object for worship nor for display! One great thing that these past years of depression may do is to give us back our sense of intrinsic worth and our standards of culture, which were temporarily lost sight of in the rated-by-money era of the great inflation!”

This quote could be lifted out of a hundred modern day articles, yet comes from a 1942 book that also features an entire chapter on The Debutante. The notion that lean times can lead one to intrinsic worth is an idea that is core to simple living.

Some teachings are too classic to ever go out of style.

Now if I can just figure out all the complicated expectations for the 41-year-old debutante.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Pranay Sanghavi May 13, 2009 at 4:47 am


No offense meant to the americans, but In india we never grew up on the notion of living on credits or enjoying on borrowed money. USA is a corporation where this century’s statesmen have ruined the whatever little culture was there. I wonder how you have reached to a point where you have to be taught not to be living off on credit money!

Boy, this is what a 1st grade student or an infant kid learns–to be neat about belongings. I am from Mumbai, when i was in USA i visited few households, where i was appaled at the items you people have lying uselessly around. So many caps [like 2 dozen] collecting dusts, belts, different shoes, stashes of books, piles of branded CDs.. and from whatever i see in movies, seems the ladies in USA never cook at home! i hope that is not true.

Yes, India is still not a developed country due to corruption, dynastic-politicians, etc. but the average Indian Joe is far smarter in savings, frugality and conspicuous consumption. Also, in most educated middle class [people who have actually lived well according to the standards] the parents have a lot of retirement funds, most even have a house in their name and other ornaments, jewelery. I guess this is equal comparision because an american earner has much more wage and high standard of living that an Indian middle class earner.


Alison Wiley, Portland Oregon May 13, 2009 at 7:57 am

Katy, I think that us simple-living Oregonians who are as happy as ever in these lean times could write a new book on etiquette and debutantism that combines our modern simplicity with the best of classic writers like Emily Post.

Hurray for intrinsic worth and low consumption.


thenonconsumeradvocate May 13, 2009 at 9:01 am

Pranay Sanghavi,

Don’t believe everything you see in the movies. We American ladies (and men) do cook at home.

Yes, the American culture of credit cards is nothing to brag about, but not everyone subscribes to it.

Americans do tend to own too many belongings, and that is a problem I struggle with that myself.

Luckily, we have much to recommend ourselves as well.

Thank you very much for your thought provoking comment.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


A. Marie May 13, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Katy, you’ve tapped into another of my interests (as usual!). Living in upstate New York and thereby having access to a number of lovely secondhand bookstores in country barns, I have amassed quite a collection of 19th-century guides to both etiquette and thrift. In particular, Lydia Maria Child’s “The American Frugal Housewife” (with the subtitle “Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy”!) is well worth investigating.

And, Pranay, thank you for your comments. As Katy says, many of us are trying to live differently, but it’s embarrassing to reflect that many of us aren’t.


Lucy September 10, 2011 at 6:23 am

Peg Bracken’s “I Try to Behave Myself” has saved me embarassment on many occasions.


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