Kate Reardon has defended a speech she gave at a school on Saturday (5 July), during which she told female pupils that “being chaotic isn't cute” and that “if you have good manners, people will like you”.
The editor of society magazine Tatler was speaking to students at £30,000-a-year boarding school Westonbirt School for Girls in Gloucestershire.
"It doesn’t matter how many A-levels you have, what kind of a degree you have, if you have good manners people will like you," the Gloucestershire Citizen quoted her as saying.
"I’m not talking about manners about using the right spoon for soup or eating asparagus with your left hand. I’m talking about being polite and respectful and making people you interact with feel valued."
Her comments were criticised by several publications, who interpreted her message to be anti-feminist.
"Forget working hard for your A-levels and getting further qualifications, and instead just be polite, the editor of high-end lifestyle magazine Tatler has told schoolgirls," the Huffington Post UK wrote.
However, Reardon has since claimed that while she was quoted accurately, her comments had been taken out of context.
"While Kate did indeed extol the virtue of good manners, this was set against the context of advice to work hard at whatever it is you choose to do, commenting about her early career," a spokesperson for Tatler told The Independent.
Reardon, who attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Stowe School, rejected a place at university in order pursue a career in journalism. She travelled to New York at the age of 19 to become a fashion assistant at US Vogue. She became the youngest ever fashion editor of Tatler at 21.
"So what I learned was the American work ethic - I learned how to work, and hard," she said elsewhere during her speech. "If you develop just one muscle, one skill, make it the ability to focus and just get on with it. It will not only make you desirably employable, but it will make you happy."
The representative went on to add that her views were not "gender specific" but that she had made the speech to female students because it was an all-girls school.