Gifted at the art of faux pas? Earn your masters in manners with these etiquette experts.
Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (Bloomsbury/Raincoast Books) by Josephine Ross
How to refuse a proposal of marriage? What to wear for a country-house ball? Two centuries after Austen’s heyday, her grace and charm are still in vogue.
•Tip “Having refused one gentleman, a lady may not accept another’s invitation to dance.”
Her Ladyship’s Guide to Modern Manners (National Trust Books/Raincoast Books) by Lucy Gray
Gray navigates a maze of social hazards — from cell-phone chat to party politics.
•Tip “Those who really know their caviar put a little pile of the eggs on the web of skin between the index finger and thumb of the left hand and lick it off.”
Manners (Simon & Schuster) by Kate Spade
“For every social disaster, gracious recovery is available,” says the preppy New York designer, dispensing advice on re-gifting, air kissing and nibbling hors d’oeuvres.
•Tip “Gossiping is as reckless as riding in a car without a seat belt. Buckle up, button up, zip it, sshhhh.”
Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests (Clarkson Potter) by Lynn Rosen
Regale your guests with historical trivia about silverware. Fancy a taster? In 17th century France — thinking table knives a threat — Cardinal Richelieu passed a law that their ends be rounded.
•Tip “Blot your lipstick before dinner, so as not to leave your napkin bathed in Rampage Red.”
Emily Post’s Etiquette (HarperCollins) by Peggy Post
Emily Post is to manners what Christian Louboutin is to heels, and this 876-page tome — compiled by her great-granddaughter-in-law — pays grand homage.
•Tip “For a first date, the person who asks should pay — unless both parties agree in advance to share expenses.”
Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners For New Times [A complete Guide to Etiquette] (Scribner) by Letitia Baldrige
As social secretary to gracious style maven Jacqueline Kennedy, Baldrige is the high priestess of etiquette.
•Tip “As a guest, you should bring another guest only if you call first and get your host’s permission.”
Etiquette for Dummies (For Dummies) by Sue Fox
Tear out the cheat sheet of tipping tips — and dining dos and don’ts — and slip it in your purse for instant recall.
•Tip “Be discreet. You never know who may be within earshot if you’re gossiping.”
The Everything Etiquette Book 2nd Edition: A Modern Day Guide to Good Manners (Adams Media) by Leah Ingram
A step-by-step guide to acting politely — for all those times when we fall short.
•Tip “If you’re mad at your boss, never take it out on his or her assistant.”