Manners For The Modern Southern Belle

Do you say "Ma'am" and "Sir" without having to think about it? Do you drink your sweet tea from mason jars? Do you know when to use the term "bless your heart"? Do you appreciate the value of a sorority sister who will stand by your side through thick or thin? If you say yes to any of these questions, you might be a southern belle at heart, even if you don't live in the South. 

Historically, southern belles have lived by an etiquette code with rules passed down from their mamas and grandmas.

Some are standard things like, “Always call a woman ‘ma’am’ and a gentleman ‘sir.’” Others are regional or specific to certain families.

The main ingredient in the unwritten southern belle etiquette rulebook is to always show your softer side and never (or nevah) let on how strong you really are. Although steeped in tradition, the modern belle is aware of pop culture and embraces certain aspects that don’t interfere with her southern sensibilities.

Being a well-mannered southern belle has nothing to do with how much money your daddy has or how educated you are. In fact, showing off money or lording your intelligence over someone who is less enlightened is considered downright tacky (southern speak for vulgar).

A modern southern belle is just as likely to join the military as she is to be a member of the Junior League. A southern belle may have traveled around the world, but she never loses touch with her roots because her southern manners run deep.


Whether she is immersed in a career of her own or a stay-at-home mama, she still considers a good place setting extremely important. A southern belle loves fine china, and if it has been handed down through the generations, that’s even better.

Most young women in the South know early on what their silver pattern is—long before they have any inkling of who or even if they’ll marry.

If a belle chooses not to marry (and it’s always a southern belle’s choice), she’ll serve meals with pride and find a way to discuss the lineage of the place settings with her guests without appearing to brag.

Southern belles have table manners. They know how to set a dining table for a formal meal, and they know which utensils should be used for each course. When someone makes a mistake or spills something, they know how to cover for the person to prevent further embarrassment.

Entertaining and Being Entertained

When a southern belle is invited to a party, wedding, or other event, she graciously sends back the RSVP. A southern belle arrives bearing gifts for the hostess—sometimes to the point of embarrassing the poor woman because there’s no such thing as too much or too extravagant in her world. She would never crash a party, but if an uninvited guest shows up for her gathering, she will do whatever it takes to make the person feel welcome. 

As soon as she gets home from a party or overnight stay, a proper southern belle will write a thank you note and get it in the mail right away. If she is super organized, she may even have a pen and paper in the car and mail it on the way home from her host’s event.

To not send a thank you note is rude, and a southern belle will do anything to prevent being called rude. 

A modern southern belle knows her way around the kitchen as well as her ancestors did. If she can cook, she does so with flourish. If not, she knows how to arrange prepared food on exquisite china platters and make it appear that she lovingly created each item from scratch. And a southern belle knows how to make sweet tea, the official drink of the South.

Grooming and Appearance

A southern belle is always well groomed, but she never clips her nails or plucks stray hairs in public. She may be wearing jeans, but she doesn’t forget to shave her legs. You just never know when you’ll have to show some leg. Her teeth are always sparkling clean so she can flash that sweet southern smile. Everything about how the southern belle looks is intentional, including her windswept hairdo that may have taken hours to achieve.


She’s a woman who carries herself with pride. You’ll see her holding her head up high as she sits up straight. When she walks, she has an elegant strut that has most likely been practiced for hours in front of a mirror.

Southern Belle Rules

There are southern belle rulebooks, but girls who grow up in the South don’t have to read them. They know what’s expected of them from the moment they start talking. When they reach a certain age, they are presented at a cotillion, coming out ball, or backyard barbecue to let the world know that their family considers them ready to face the world. 

A southern belle lives by certain rules that must not be broken, or she’ll forever be the embarrassment of the family:

Source :

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