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‘Dinner at Eight’

The following is how to invite guests to your party in the 1940s.

I love old books. I especially love and collect old books on manners, etiquette and household tips. There are truly some gems in these books. Here is an excerpt from a book published in 1942 called “Manners for Moderns” that I found especially fun.

A good hostess never leaves her guests in doubt about dressing for phone-invited occasions. Since these phone invitations may mean either dressing or wearing street clothes, the hostess should always indicate which she wishes: “Mary, we are having a few friends to dinner next Tuesday at seven. We would love it if you and John could come. We are going to make it a dress party…dinner jackets for the men and long skirts for the girls.” Or, “Mary, we are having a few friends to dinner next Tuesday at seven. We hope you and John can come. We aren’t going to dress.”

Manners for Moderns by Marjorie Ellis McCrady and Blanche Wheeler, Published by Books Inc, a label of E.P.Dutton and Co, New York, 1942, pages 66-67.

Lest you think I am making this up or paraphrasing, here is the cover jacket and the pages I took the excerpt from.


Now, I don’t know about you, but I never knew the forties were so swinging? I can tell you right now I would not particularly care for either invite. The last time I wore a long dress was at my wedding, and buying one for a small dinner party seems like overkill. And then the no dress invite…well I am just not that kind of gal!  But maybe there is a moral to this little story. When you invite someone to a party or small get together at your house be specific about dress. I would recommend that you just don’t tell people you don’t intend to dress or you may either not have anyone come or you may be surprised at the type of party you end up hosting.

– Kristin