The standing bow, made by a gentleman when he rises at a dinner to say a few words, in response to applause, or across a drawing-room at a formal dinner when he bows to a lady or an elderly gentleman, is usually the outcome of the bow taught little boys at dancing school.
The instinct of clicking heels together and making a quick bend over from the hips and neck, as though the human body had two hinges, a big one at the hip and a slight one at the neck, and was quite rigid in between, remains in a modified form through life.
In every form of bow, as distinct from merely lifting his hat, a gentleman looks at the person he is bowing to. In a very formal standing bow, his heels come together, his knees are rigid and his expression is rather serious.
The informal bow is merely a modification of the above; it is easy and unstudied, but it should suggest the ease of controlled muscles, not the floppiness of a rag doll.
If a man is wearing a soft hat he takes it by the crown instead of the brim, lifts it slightly off his head and puts it on again.
The bow to a friend is made with a smile, to a very intimate friend often with a broad grin that fits exactly with the word “Hello”; whereas the formal bow is mentally accompanied by the formal salutation: “How do you do!”