Class me up
January 2, 2012 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Classing up! Help me polish my rough edges and learn to hang with the elites

I've recently started spending time with a more powerful network of people: global movers and shakers, CEOs, etc. I feel like I have their respect for some of the work that I'm doing, and for my educational background, but I also feel quite out of my depth with people who were born with money or have proper manners and social graces.

From what I understand from friends, I come across as a super sincere, fairly blunt, slightly over eager person. I'm not someone you can take anywhere because I might say the wrong thing without realizing it. I laugh super loud. I can be overly casual and a bit intense.

On the plus side: Very smart, unpretentious, earnest, and good-hearted. I'm not a slimy networker. I have reasonable table manners and am considerate and kind to those around me. I get along very well with nerds and others who value intellectual conversation and stimulation because we bond over ideas. I also tend to get along better with men than with women -- except for super friendly, hippie-ish women who find a kindred spirit in me. I do best when I can contribute intellectually to the conversation and am not the center of attention.

I've tried to banter wittily with the fancy New York type set, but I always seem to say the wrong thing at some point. I have the opposite of that elaborately casual, post-ironic attitude that a lot of people who grew up with wealth exude. I'm the kind of girl the private school girls would whisper about, saying "Can you believe that she wore that dress? And how could she say that in public?" I tend to defend the underdog and have unusual interests that are socially unacceptable. I overshare.

I have a lot of social anxiety around these sorts of people because they seem to latch onto me when they hear about work I'm doing, and then they eventually discard me because I do something wrong and I'm too clueless to know what I did.

I'd like to learn how to polish my rough edges and fit in better in a variety of settings. At the same time, I like being able to speak my mind frankly, to be a bit hippie and sincerely loving, and to just feel comfortable being myself while not alienating others.

Books on manners have not helped as much as I'd like because this is less about remembering to send thank you notes or how to set a table and more how to behave like a classy human being. Which most manners books assume you already know. Thinking before I speak also doesn't help too much because I don't really know what to think *about*.

So, my questions:

- Is there someone in the public eye that can serve as a role model for me? Someone who interacts with people at a high level, but also has a sort of hippie intellectual vibe? Some female CEO, perhaps? I've thought about Rachel Maddow, but I think she's a bit classier than I am. And more role models would be better!

- What resources (books, movies, classes, podcasts, mindsets) would help me class up and polish my rough edges?

- How can I figure out how I screw things up in these situations and what I'm doing wrong? How do I present my authentic self (nerdy, hippie-ish, a bit weird) in a way that makes sense to people and doesn't turn them off?

- I'd like to fit in a bit better... I wear the wrong dress not because I like it better or can't afford something nicer, but because I am genuinely ignorant of the social mores around these things. Are there blogs I should be reading so I can be up to date?

I know it's a tall order, but I appreciate any help you can give!
posted by carolinaherrera to Human Relations (37 answers total) 108 users marked this as a favorite
Can you elaborate on a situation where you said "the wrong thing" or wore "the wrong dress"? In my opinion, 99% of being able to socialize with professional socializers (or "The New York Type Set") is to be unflappably confident. Friendly, and able to rock an "inappropriate" dress or an out-of-the-box opinion or comment. If you could give us an example of a faux pas, it would be easier to tell you if you really need to study up, or just learn to be more confident and comfortable!
posted by pazazygeek at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Do you straighten your hair? Straighten your hair.
posted by trevyn at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

I can't help, but I do get the impression that you might be under-estimating that it's not an entirely single-handed undertaking. Eg:

I wear the wrong dress not because I like it better or can't afford something nicer, but because I am genuinely ignorant of the social mores around these things. Are there blogs I should be reading so I can be up to date?

Part of this one is having someone you trust and who cares enough that you can bounce your outfit off them for feedback before committing to it. (That person will be useful for more than just outfits, especially if they're at some of the same functions as you)

Many of the people you are talking about will likewise bounce things off someone they know, rather than have a built-in infallible Knowledge.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've tried to banter wittily with the fancy New York type set,

So don't try witty banter. If it doesn't come naturally, don't try. You'll get lots of advice from people telling you to be yourself, which is semi-right. But, you want to be your best self, not the Saturday morning at the recycling center slob self.

You can hire a personal shopper to help you dress the part. I wouldn't go by blogs, frankly. Pick a celebrity/well-known person that you admire, and look for photos. If you like Judge Ginsberg--look and see how she dresses. Or someone else--Maddow, Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, etc..
You can get your hair and makeup done professionally as well, and note down what the makeup artist does, so you can recreate it.

I don't think loud laughter is such a crime, but if you feel that you're always louder than everyone else--hire a voice coach and/or media trainer. Or get a friend to tape you and then watch yourself. It's horrible, but once you see yourself fiddle with your hair or constantly lick your lips, you can correct it.

I think Miss Manners can't be beat.

And I think the trick to fitting in is to treat everyone the same. As at ease with pirates as with princes.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:18 PM on January 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

I think one crucial thing is to recognize the connection between social anxiety and oversharing. I totally overshare when I'm nervous and want to make a connection or want to seem interesting. If you can try to tamp this down as much as possible and be a more dedicated, active listener, it will reduce the number of times you feel like you got ahead of the pack and ran off the oversharing cliff. (I even occasionally manage to do this.)
posted by mercredi at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2012 [29 favorites]

I think that with the exception of perhaps improving your wardrobe, you should just be yourself and learn by doing. The people who are going to judge you for your quirks are not the kinds of movers-and-shakers you want to be around. From how you describe it, you are interested in spending time with creative, successful people, not stuffy society debutantes or Jr investment bankers. Believe it or not, highly successful creative-ish people are interested in other creative and unique people, not in Muffy clones. If they find you interesting now and invite you in, just roll with it!

But you DO probably need the right clothes. Unfortunately I can't help you there!
posted by yarly at 3:21 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I rounded off some of my own sharp corners with the help of Miss Manners-- especially her Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior-- but I have read all of her books at this point and there's something valuable in each of them.

It isn't so much the substance of her advice that's key, it's what she'll teach you of how to comfortably analyze social situations, and the realization that you can simultaneously be honest and candid (I promise, powerful people find that charming if you do it right) and yet also graceful and polite.
posted by willbaude at 3:29 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

For fashion, to start, I would peep The Sartorialist. Notice how half the people on there are dressed like mental patients, but they seem like they are doing it on purpose.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:32 PM on January 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Don't try to fake it. While you may be dealing with a single social stratum, you're still dealing with many different personalities and interests. You can't try to cram all the topics you'll need to maintain conversation. People are always good at spotting fakes.

Instead, if you're out of your depth, don't be afraid to confess (unashamedly, and mildly self-deprecatingly) that you're out of your depth with regard to a particular subject, and ask them for more details. People LOVE an opportunity to show that they're experts in something.

Don't worry too much about not fitting in directly. The things the eccentric artist likes to talk about have little in common with those the equities trader likes to talk about, but you'll find them together because they love the diversity (and depth) of interests that people in their crowd have. What they do share is an intensity and focus in their fields that the hoi polloi may not.

(And dressing is easy: classic, simple stuff that is independent of the whims of fashion)
posted by holterbarbour at 3:37 PM on January 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Pazazygeek - I'm trying to think of a good example, but I must have blanked out the most cringeworthy ones. What comes to mind is that I have, on occasion:

- bitten my nails in public (way too often in fact)
- offered access to a somewhat important person I knew who might be helpful, to someone so far above me in the social strata that it was really stupid -- the equivalent of offering the CEO of Google access to some friend of mine at Apple
- talked about family of origin issues with people who were sharing family stories, but mine were so crazy and unpleasant that it made people uncomfortable (that's the oversharing)
- flirt back with a lech-y old man in order to make him feel more comfortable, thereby making other people feel uncomfortable

There are probably more examples, but I feel super embarrassed sharing them!
posted by carolinaherrera at 3:38 PM on January 2, 2012

Response by poster: Also, I haven't done those things in a while, but they are examples of how bad I am at this sometimes and I probably have done milder versions recently.
posted by carolinaherrera at 3:39 PM on January 2, 2012

You might want to look at advice aimed at people with Asperger's (though I'm not implying that you have it; you don't provide enough info), but it's all about learning to read social cues if you aren't good at it and knowing when you are oversharing and/or accidentally insulting people.

Mercredi's comment about the link between anxiety and oversharing is true for me too: I probably would have been diagnosed with Asperger's if I was a kid now and what I used to do when I got nervous and wanted to impress people was to talk about my achievements because I had this notion that they were the only thing that made me worthwhile. Of course, I sounded like I was boasting or wound up intimidating men (who knew that achievement isn't considered sexy by most men looking for women even though most women looking for men find it sexy?). Anyway, I've gotten better as I've gotten older and had more practice.

I've also realized that I don't care that much about impressing people (and I've had some experience with that crowd in New York as a media person here at this point) any more. People who get me, get me. Those who don't probably aren't going to be helpful in any kind of network-y way anyway. Obviously, I try to avoid being obnoxious nonetheless, but if you aren't being rude, it's fine to be how you are.

And I've done just fine with my wildly curly red hair unstraightened.
posted by Maias at 3:44 PM on January 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Seconding Miss Manner's book. Your local library has a copy. Her writing style is great and her general method of figuring out what's polite to do in a given situation is very useful. I would pick that book up and page around in it, reading randomly. You don't need to know proper behavior for a wedding or funeral right now, but read what she says about them anyway - it will help you develop the mindset.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2012

Read Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. Watch Margin Call. Look at Jeremy Irons, he represents the super rich. He is a bit of a slob. Being super rich allows you to be yourself and a slob; you don't want to emulate him, try for his immediate underlings.

By upbringing, education, income, and employment, I am upper-middle class. I do not exude privilege. Most people trying to appear to be upper-middle class treat me like I am a slob. They are insecure and trying too hard. They basically "out" themselves by being boorish. Arrogance and class consciousnesses will make you appear to be a poser. You need to be "yourself," but better. And, you need to appear to be totally confident.

If you have a regional accent, try to lose it. Unless it is a charming Southern accent or a Boston Brahmin accent.

Do not wear trendy, loud clothing or accessories. Try to wear very good well-made clothing, especially shoes. Try to wear natural fibers.

I know a lot of very well-to-do people who are loud and bray. The people who worry about it are the posers.

Do not correct people's spelling or grammar errors.

Do not over share personal issues.

An anecdote: When I graduated from college, my sister asked my mother why everyone (families and friends of the graduates) were wearing "old clothes," my mother said, "Because they are rich and they can."
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:48 PM on January 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

Pretty much what yarly said. Basically just relax. Sometimes people will drop you; it happens. Often it's because they're asses. I just got dropped by some rich coke head, like I give a fuck...
posted by paultopia at 3:53 PM on January 2, 2012

As someone said in an earlier comment, it would really help to have some specific examples, for example, say, five scenarios where you feel like you said/did the wrong thing. Details we need: (1) what was the social setting, including who was present; (2) what "wrong" thing did you do; (3) how did you find out you did the wrong thing.

As it stands, it's kind of hard to answer for several reasons:
(1) you've given no examples of how you did the wrong thing;
(2) it's not clear how you are even associating with global elite ... This matters because, if you're associating with them there must be some "value" you are bringing, but the expectations of your behavior would differ depending on what your specific role or relationship is, in connection with them (that is, if you are catering their events, the expectations of how you interact with Ted Turner will be different than if you are a CEO of another organization who relates to him as a sort of peer;
(3) if you're just hopelessly befuddled in how you have erred in your interactions with them, then how did you know to ask this question? Isn't it kind of obvious to tone down the volubility/dorky enthusiasm/tasteless jokes about people's mothers?

So -- specifics will go a long way toward getting you some helpful advice.

But here's a stab at it. Work on being "cool." Don't rush at these people with indiscriminate enthusiasm for everything they say and do. To be wildly enthusiastic and energetic is off-putting, it makes people uncomfortable . There's a line from Ralph Waldo Emerson to the effect that indiscriminate praise or enthusiasm cheapens praise and enthusiasm and makes the person giving praise look like a fool (that's a really rough, crude paraphrase). Be cool, hold back a little, sell yourself in a more measured and calculated way, and don't be so charmed by your "hippie" or "nerdy" side. Because, on some level the super successful are all nerdy in some way, but they've also seen it and heard it all, and your enthusiasm may just be off putting to them. Someone more measured, reticent, and poised, will have a better shot at impressing them than someone who's acting like this is the first time she's met an important person.
posted by jayder at 3:55 PM on January 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

(I just saw that you provided examples while I was typing out my answer ...)
posted by jayder at 3:59 PM on January 2, 2012

Other books are the old books by John Molloy, Dress For Success, and Live For Success. And from Michael Korda, Power, and Success. The Korda books are long out of print, hard to find, and Korda never likes to admit to those, but they are mostly excellent. These are all around 30 years old but the rules of class have not changed too much.

Another book is by Leil Lowndes, "Updating". This one also is deemphasized now by Ms. Lowndes, but it covers the area from the dating perspective, which really applies to everything. Her takes on classy table manners make that stuff fun to read.
posted by caclwmr4 at 4:00 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

1.) Stop talking so much. Take a deep breath and count to five before you say ANYTHING. Practice saying very little in your social interactions unless you have something meaningful to contribute. Smile when you feel happy. If you laugh loudly, keep one hand over your mouth.
2.) Remember you have as much to offer as any person in the room. Nobody is better than you. You're not taling to unicorns, just rich and/or successful people with as many problems as anyone else.
3.) As Dian Vreeland once said, "Elegance is refusal.". Don't be an eager beaver, be selective of every person and offer that comes your way. Reserving the right to say no is a powerful thing.
4.) Stand up straight and move slowly and deliberately, with confidence. Do not make quick, nervous gestures.

My fashion advice (FYI I'm vegan so I'd go with non-leather knock-offs of the Louboutins and microfiber clutches, etc. personally):

1.) When in doubt, wear a classic Diane von Furstenberg Julian wrap dress. Get this dress in a few colors. Theory blazers and suits are almost universally flattering. For a more formal event, buy a black Robert Rodriguez gown WITH STRAPS, any fabric but satin. Sexy dress= Herve Leger bandage dress in black or red.
2.) Shoes: Buy two pairs of simple Louboutins, one in black patent, one in nude. Tory Burch Reva flats in black. nude and gold or silver are the only flat shoes you need. Buy a knee-length pair of black high-heeled boots, again Louboutin or perhaps Valentino. Sandals= Alaia.
3.) Jewelry: Simple pearls are perfect for any occasion. I like Carolee 8mm faux pearls (Michelle Obama wears these).
4.) Get you hair blown out for every event. Keep your nails well-manicured.
5.) Fancy party clutch= Whiting Davis box clutch. Buy one black and one in gold or silver. Everyday clutch= Marc Jacobs or Prada wallet. Everyday tote? Prada or Marc Jacobs medium nylon totes. Again, buy both a black and a nude version of each.
5.) Outerwear: Buy a classic Burberry trench for daytime and a knee-length, single-breasted black wool coat for evening (Cinzia Rocca is your friend here). Buy a cossack hat if you live somewhere cold (memail me if you want the brand of hat I like). Cossack hats make you look RICH.
posted by devymetal at 4:15 PM on January 2, 2012 [145 favorites]

And keep your fingers out of your mouth! Don't EVER bite your nails in public!!!!!
posted by devymetal at 4:19 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I also feel quite out of my depth with people who were born with money

I'm sort of in the same boat and one thing I'm working on is not to mention money. I tend to think in terms of "that person's vacation= more than I make in a year" or "Really, you paid $80 for a private airport transfer, don't you know there's a shuttle that costs $6?" The few times I've slipped up and showed my hand it's resulted in awkward silence. You don't have to pretend or imply that you own a helicopter for your commute, but neither should you mention your excitement about finding a book of Burger King coupons in the parking lot (oops).

I'm the kind of girl the private school girls would whisper about, saying "Can you believe that she wore that dress? And how could she say that in public?"

To speak like this is unpolished and classless. Ignore and avoid these people.
posted by jschu at 4:26 PM on January 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I live in a town with lots of old money. I am not old money, but have noticed a few ways of interacting that seem to work. Some of these come naturally to me, some don't.

May come more naturally:
** Be confident in what you have to offer. Believe that you have every right to interact with these people, or at least fake it.
** Be interested in and curious about what other people do. ("Oh you've climbed Mount Everest, that's interesting, can you tell me more about that?")
** Wear comfortable, well-fitting clothes. You've gotten great advice on that above. Buy good-quality basics, accessorize with interesting pieces that have cute stories. More on that below.

Comes less naturally to me:
** Do not be giggly, goofy, or otherwise overly enthusiastic. It's okay to show flashes of that, but when I get nervous I smile and laugh and gesture a little too much. I'm trying to tamp that down into a polite smile. (Caveat: I'm thinking of this in a professional context, purely social contexts with friends would be different.)
** Accept compliments gracefully. Do not deprecate yourself or the item. Just say "oh, thank you, these earrings are actually made by a local artist blah de blah" - it's good to have handmade items. Or just "oh thank you" if there's no story. If I got an item on a great sale, I probably wouldn't drop that info the way I would with friends.
** Be unafraid to admit your ignorance, but frame it as inexperience ("Oh, I haven't had a chance to go to the Amalfi coast, what would you recommend?"). Basically fake that all sorts of things are possible in your life, when really you may never ever ride in a private jet.
** Don't be too impressed by anything. When thinking "I may never get to the Amalfi coast except by saving for my entire lifetime", don't show it. Be unfazed.
** Size up others' social standing quickly. Miss Manners can help with this. I feel very weird and mercenary doing this, but when in Rome... I figure I at least want to know who I'm going to offend. If you have friends at these outings, ask them a few polite questions about other attendees. ("Oh, what a lovely garden outside, is that one of Hostess Joan's hobbies?")

(This is all aimed at interactions on the most superficial level, navigating friendships with those that are much wealthier is a different thing.)

I feel your pain! My work has recently caused me to interact with people in a much wealthier social strata, I'm interested in the rest of the advice in this thread.
posted by lillygog at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

You can't fake what you're trying to learn about. Your other friends might fall for it, but these people who grew up this way have it ingrained and you'll alienate them quicker than if you made understandable mistakes. Just be yourself. Learn some jokes!
posted by rhizome at 5:02 PM on January 2, 2012

Well, here is my answer in a somewhat related thread. The whole thread could be really helpful.

In addition to being attentive to oversharing, vocal tone, and grooming, I suggest joining Toastmasters (but not mentioning it to these people) and weight lifting. Reason: Confidence building!

(I am a first-gen high-school grad from a lower-working-class family, but I am often mistaken for someone who is upper-class. It's a hoot! I think it's my glasses, my work history, my reserve, and my gold signet ring from a private college -- the college I paid out-of-pocket for. In recent years, I suppose DAR and my late aunt's pearls add to the effect.)
posted by jgirl at 6:04 PM on January 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel like I have their respect for some of the work that I'm doing, and for my educational background, but I also feel quite out of my depth with people who were born with money or have proper manners and social graces.

The reason they're hanging out with you in the first place is because of the intellectual power of your work. If they could do themselves what you can, they wouldn't need you. So my advice is to keep in mind that the CEOs feel out of their depth with you.
posted by escabeche at 6:26 PM on January 2, 2012

seriously? just treat people with respect and stand by who you are. anyone, no matter how rich or powerful, who cannot respect that can go fuck themselves. you are better than anyone else. you can never succeed by trying to be what you think other people want you to be. people want you to be yourself. overeager is just fine.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Self control, controlled presentation of self. You need to build a social facade that is dignified and charming.

Never ever touch your hair or your face, don't fiddle or fuss with your body or your clothes. Don't bite your nails. Carry a handkerchief or packet of tissues.

Listen while other people are talking. If you feel an overwhelming urge that you MUST say something, don't. if you feel yourself getting intoxicated by the conversations so that you might blurt out something reckless, impose even stronger constraints on yourself. Any time you want to share a revelation about yourself or your family, DON'T!!!

When you are talking in your area of expertise, don't showboat. Provide value, but defer detailed conversations for appropriate circumstances.

Generally, the "right sort of people" will accept talented and interesting outsiders who don't make others uncomfortable, don't cause scenes, don't mess with the smooth flow of arrangements.
posted by ohshenandoah at 8:11 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Maybe enroll in a finishing school.
posted by blargerz at 8:34 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're in a situation where you aren't quite sure what the appropriate things to say are, or where you know that most of what you're likely to say isn't appropriate, work on being quiet. For example: everyone is sharing family stories and no one else has mentioned jail or drugs, maybe don't talk about how your mother is stuck raising her two grandkids since your useless druggie brother went to jail. Meanwhile, make some friends who you CAN talk to about that stuff and don't have to worry about it being un-"classy".

For the laughter and picking nails and general anxious babbling, it also helps to start periodically monitoring your own behavior. This is an acquired skill, but it's possible to notice "Hey, I'm babbling" and stop it. Similarly for noticing that you're biting your nails - don't keep at it to smooth out the ragged edges, don't fidget with them with your fingers, just - as soon as you notice it - stop and put your hands in your lap. You can fix your nails later, excuse yourself to the bathroom or something if you must.

One last note - you mention being embarrassed about offering small connections to someone who has access to much bigger connections. Don't be. Especially if you were much younger or if they were unusually powerful, they probably think of it as a kind gesture on your part, even if unnecessary.
posted by Lady Li at 10:46 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

PS I'm in New York also-- if you like what I wrote and want someone to help you out (and your budget is as substantial as you need it to be for the wardrobe mentioned) I'd be happy to sit somewhere with you and help you order it. I think all of the above could be ordered in less than 30 minutes, perhaps 45.
posted by devymetal at 12:26 AM on January 3, 2012

Things like not biting your nails in public (or rather to stop biting them at all, so you won't have any urges to suppress when you're out in public) are no-brainers.

Manners and social graces can be learned, you'll just have to make a conscious effort to do so. Apart from the suggestions given above, you might also consider taking a business etiquette class.

Being poor - or at least not having as much money at your disposal as the people you meet - is not a shameful secret that you have to hide at all costs, but it helps to be discreet. This goes both ways, by the way: telling someone that the vacation they took probably cost more than you make in a year is a social faux pas - because it embarrasses the other person, not because of what it says about your financial situation - but so is showing off your wealth.
posted by rjs at 2:00 AM on January 3, 2012

Regular, nice manicures in unobjectionable shades will keep your fingers out of your mouth (after all, you just spent all that money on them) in addition to looking nice/blending in.
posted by anaelith at 8:11 AM on January 3, 2012

Devymetal, just curious: what's the cost of your list there?
posted by Maias at 2:03 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thousands of dollars, depends on what her size is. Petite or plus-sizes are harder to find and thus harder to find and less likely to be on sale. But well-made, classic clothing and accessories last forever, and signal self-awareness, especially in the social circle the OP is interested in, so such purchases really are worth it over time.

Lots of things could be bought new off Ebay for at least half off, though. Depends on how fast one needs the stuff. I'm an avid bargain hunter, myself, and don't mind shopping around for a few months for big-ticket purchases. If I had the means, things would obviously be different (probably)...
posted by devymetal at 4:10 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Right, that's what I thought. I think the reason those things continue to be successful class signifiers is that you can't really fake them: they cost more than the vast majority of people can likely afford (at least in enough quantity to pull off looking like you belong if you hang out with the same people repeatedly). Also, if you don't have that kind of money, wearing or carrying things that are extremely expensive will typically make you feel awkward and fragile because you don't want to stain, lose or ruin them and that can show.
posted by Maias at 12:05 PM on January 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

The above products can be procured more frugally secondhand. The trench in particular is quite durable, and has been around forever. Sample sales also are your friend.

I'd love to hear Devymetal's gentleman's list.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2012

Read Miss Manners; she's funny, smart, shrewd, and understands that manners are important, but snobbery is vile. She's a terrific writer, too. Learn good manners, especially table manners. Be well groomed. Learn not to overshare. Read Dale Carnegie and learn to be a good listener. You can't be, and don't have to be one of them; you can and should be your own best self.

Really rich people have expensive hobbies - they ski, maybe at Vail, and maybe in Switzerland. They sail, they have a condo in Hawaii, they golf, etc. Keeping up requires money. You can learn to ski, but you aren't going to keep up with a comparison of the snow at various resorts. You can sail, which is handy, as many boat owners are looking for crew, but you probably aren't going to afford a boat. Tennis and golf are probably affordable to learn. But you won't know the same people that went to Choate, Exeter, and were on the tennis team, or went to the same summer camps, etc. There are plenty of social climbers. These people like you, don't lose your authenticity.
posted by theora55 at 1:32 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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