A woman of 'quality' was expected to look as though she didn't do anything except needlework and wait for her man. When in reality, she worked as hard as any field hand!! She had to be able to run a household of many members so seamlessly that no-one knew she was doing it. She had to make sure there were sufficient staff to do the required housework, and she had to make sure each of them was properly trained and clothed. She also had to manage accounts, schedule and plan for supplies and deliveries and meals, not to mention parties, balls, etc. She also had children (whether her own, the children of the household or family) to look after and arrange for their education, and she was expected to be the first to administer medical care in times of illness and injury. All of this means she had to have a good education, she needed to be knowledgeable about general health and first aid.
She was never to be seen doing any of these things!! She was the force behind the scenes. The quiet voice of reason, the iron rod of discipline, the keeper of the purse, the manager of the staff. To any who might see her, she was the languid, helpless, softly, feminine flower of the south.
She had white, soft skin. Glossy hair, and bright, shining eyes. She never raised her voice and she was never in a hurry. If you listen to older ladies from the south, you'll find they speak, softly, and with a gentle, measured cadence. Being reared in the deep south, I was taught that a lady never causes a scene - no matter what! If attention is drawn to one, it should be for the proper reasons - deportment, dress, manners (not the lack thereof!) charity and good taste.
And to finish, one of the ruffled petticoats she makes. Isn't it just divine?