The attire in which alone a gentleman can present himself in a ball-room admits of so little variety that it can be described in a few words.
He should wear a black dress-coat, black trousers, and a black or white vest, as suits the taste of the wearer; a white neck-tie, white kid gloves, and patent-leather boots.
This, in the "best society", is imperative. The ball-suit should be of the best cloth, new and glossy, and of the latest style as to cut. The vest may be cut open or low, so as to disclose an ample shirt-front, fine and delicately plaited; it is better not embroidered, but small gold studs may be used with effect.
Excess of jewelry is to be avoided; simple studs, gold solitaire sleeve-links, may be used, and a watch-chain.
A hat-room for gentlemen must not be forgotten; and it is best to provide tickets, numbered in duplicate, both for articles belonging to ladies and gentlemen left in the charge of the attendants. It is easy to have ready tickets numbered from one upward, two of each number; one of these is pinned on the coat or cloak as it is handed in, and the other given to the owner. By this means the property of each guest is identified, and confusion at the time of departure is prevented.
Beadle's dime ball-room companion and guide to dancing, 1868
If you are prudent you will not dance every dance, nor, in fact, much more than half the number on the list; you will then escape that hateful redness of face at the time, and that wearing fatigue the next day which are among the worst features of a ball. Again, a gentleman must remember that a ball is essentially a lady's party, and in their presence he should be gentle and delicate almost to a fault, never pushing his way, apologizing if he tread on a dress, still more so if he tears it, being pardon for any accidental annoyance he may occasion, and addressing everybody with a smile. But quite unpardon able are those men whom one sometimes meets, who, standing in a door-way, talk and laugh as they would in a barrack or college-rooms, always coarsely, often indelicately. What must the state of their minds be if the sight of beauty, modesty, and virtue does not awe them into silence. A man, too, who strolls down the room with his head in the air, looking as if there were not a creature there worth dancing with, is an ill-bred man, so is he who looks bored; and worse than all is he who takes too much champagne.
The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies and Gentleman; 1859, James Hogg (London)
Martine's Hand-Book of Etiquette: Etiquette of the Ball and Assembly Room. Evening Parties, 1860. [As written]
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