Bizarrely, I was given this book by my doctoral supervisor, Deborah Cherry, while I was helping her clear out her bookshelves. Quite what a radical feminist art historian was doing with this guide to 'becoming [a] poised, enchanting young woman', one can only imagine...
So, dear internet, join me, if you will, on a journey to see how much of this advice is relevant to the woman of the 2010s.**
Today's pearl of wisdom comes from the introduction:
'Ladies,' said Mr Samuel Goldwyn, the famous Hollywood producer, 'if you want to be devastating, use all the arts of sophistication, but remain demure.'So is remaining demure really all-important to the 'devastating' woman of 2010? I'm certainly not averse to using a little strategic demureness myself, but is this a retrograde step which can only confirm the belief that women are the weaker sex, incapable of doing things for ourselves and in need of protection from men? Or is it just another weapon in the modern girl's armoury as she makes her way in a world that is still weighted in favour of those of the male persuasion in so many ways? What do you think dear readers?
Now the phrase 'the arts of sophistication' conjures up good grooming, elegant dressing, beauty culture in all its aspects, poise and grace of movement, good speech and a developed personality; 'demure' suggests that tenderness, sweetness and serenity without which no woman can be truly beautiful. And if this book tends to dwell on 'the arts of sophistication', it is because I can't stress too strongly that I feel the young woman of today should be that well-balanced person suggested by a wise Mr Goldwyn.
More charming tips coming soon: highlights will include 'Are my gloves the right length?', 'Things to leave to, or allow, the escort' and 'Do I look unnecessarily short?'
* This is out of print and 48 years old, so I am taking the liberty of reproducing extracts here. However if you know better, please let me know and I will try my best to keep it legal...
** Photo by Paula Wirth. Check out her Flickr photostream for more fab vintage graphics.