If you have found yourself saying polite words like sir/mam, thank you, and please more often than your peers, chances are you are a southern belle at heart. You can also qualify as a southern belle if you love sundresses in adorable colors, and enjoy keeping up a tidy home and beautiful garden.
What is a Southern Belle?
The word belle is taken from French where it means beautiful or pretty. The term Southern Belle refers to a well-groomed and educated lady of upper socioeconomic class in American South regions. This term for unmarried young girls from rich families became popular during the 17th and 18th centuries among the elite class that governed the agriculture market through African American slaves. In 20th-century southern belle have been depicted in several notable novels, plays, and movies.
What defines a Southern Belle?
A southern belle is usually defined by her very classy and feminine look composed of tasteful and fashionable outfits and exquisite mannerism and etiquettes that are a general part of her overall personality.
Classic Southern Belle Outfits
The outfits of classic Southern Belle were everything that screamed upper class including loop skirts, corsets, and pantalettes, and all sorts of fashion elements like straw hats, gloves, and elegant jewelry studded with expensive stones. As a general rule, the day dresses would cover any cleavage and a southern belle would only be able to show off her cleavage after the sun goes down, as most southern belle at that time were with family or in the safe company after the sunset.
Modern Southern Belle Outfits
A modern southern belle is not afraid of accepting her feminine side and will flaunt a cute little sundress any day. They can accessorize the sundress with a hat (a straw hat is absolutely adored) and a mint julep in hand. Respecting the tradition, a proper southern belle in this time will carry a scarf to cover any cleavage during the day time. She can choose to wear lacy tops with jeans if she feels like it. She can also wear a pair of loves for fancy evenings or hot summer days when she has to drive.
Manners and Etiquettes
Southern belle has always been big on politeness and they love well-groomed ladies behaving elegantly in the most feminine way possible. They practically live a code of conduct, rules about manners and etiquette expected from a Southern belle that is traditionally transferred from mother to daughter.
Often mamas and grandmas supervise the brought up of a young lady and teach her manner of a southern belle. This includes etiquette of having polite conversation, setting up the table, decorating the house, maintaining her floral garden, hosting the guests, and self-care and grooming.
They are rigorously taught about having manners about conversations and frequently using polite words like “sir/mam”, “please” and “thank you”. It is considered polite to exchange pleasant compliments with girlfriends and praising others on their accomplishments. Little children are taught not to interrupt anyone mid-conversation, seek permission when entering a room, always knock on a closed door.
The rulebook of etiquette and manners also teaches you to speak in a soft manner and never to be loud, cover your mouth when laughing, sneezing, and coughing. Always take care of hygiene and carry a soft smile all the time. It encourages young girls to put their soft and feminine side on the front and discourages them from flaunting their strengths in the name of humbleness. Some groups may go as far as encouraging to putting out a show of a damsel in distress to appear sweet and innocent, however, in modern times this has been frowned upon especially since women are trying to discard patriarchal notions of what defines a good woman.
The code of etiquette for Southern Belle dictates how to be polite and gracious in social situations even when you are feeling displeased. This is from where the common passive-aggressive southern phrases stemmed which are used as polite remarks but are actually backhanded compliments. The famous bless your heart is one fine example of phrases frequently used by souther belles both as a genuine show of affection and a subtle insult about your intellect.
A southern belle loves attending and hosting garden parties and she is a great hostess. She absolutely loves china and her lineage of china.
A southern belle may choose to marry or not to marry, and if she marries she can choose to be a housewife or pursue her career goals. She is completely free in her choices but she is expected to maintain a beautiful and tidy house with a well-kept garden for hosting evening parties.