Weird Words of Wisdom: An Occasional Mad, Crazy Hat Edition

mccalls

Welcome to my latest Weird Words of Wisdom post about a vintage advice book for teens–and to my 100th post on Embarrassing Treasures!

“Besides being clannish, boys are basically conservative, especially when they’re together…They may whistle at the girl in the low-cut red dress, but it’s the demure little one in blue they ask for a date.”

McCall’s Guide to Teen-Age Beauty and Glamour, 1959 (1965 printing)

About this Book: This is the kind of cheap paperback that you could find in drugstore racks back in the day. It must have sold well, since the copy I have is from its 10th printing. Much of its advice is not so much weird as delightfully dated—it includes admonitions to straighten stocking seams, tip ladies’ room attendants a quarter, and take care when eating “Italian spaghetti.”

About the Author: Betsy Keiffer was a writer and editor at McCall’s Magazine. Born Elisabeth Corrigan in 1923, she married a painter named Edwin Keiffer in 1950. You can read about their lives on a web site that their children created about their father’s work. Betsy Keiffer, who died in 2006, was also the sister of New Yorker writer Faith McNulty. McNulty’s 1980 bestseller The Burning Bed became a memorable TV movie vehicle for Farrah Fawcett.

Beauty and Fashion Tips

“Put a few drops of perfume on a bit of cotton and tuck it inside your bra.”

Evidence of the vanity sizing that has taken hold in recent decades: “Of course, if you’re neither tall nor short, but just in between, not thin, not plump but a perfect size 12, you’re incredibly lucky and you’ll look fine in anything from a bikini to a sheath.”

“Don’t ever lull yourself into thinking you can ‘get by’ with those faintly grimy gloves or collars one more day.”

Why I’m really glad that someone invented blow-dryers: “It never seems to fail that when you are planning to wash your hair tomorrow, it’s today that divine boy you just met asks you out. There isn’t time, of course, for a real shampoo and set—but there is help at hand. To remove some of the oil that makes it look so stringy, use the trick of a piece of cheesecloth on your hairbrush, backed up by a hundred firm strokes.”

“When you buy a hat, be sure it will go with the coat and suit you have, as well as with several of your dresses, that it’s becoming and that you feel comfortable in it. Don’t let the salesgirl sweet-talk you into something that makes you feel foolish once you get it home. (Not that I’m against an occasional mad, crazy hat—provided your face and budget can afford it. It can do wonders for morale.)”

If you have wide hips: “Above all, rule shorts and slacks out of your wardrobe. They were never meant for the hourglass figure.”

Some suggested meals for weight loss

Breakfast
½ tangerine
1 soft-boiled egg
1 slice toast
Buttermilk or skim milk (1 glass)

Lunch
Frankfurter with mustard, no roll
2 salted crackers
Medium orange

Dinner
1 medium hamburger, no bun
½ small baked potato with butter
2/3 cup cabbage salad with lemon juice
½ cup fruit cocktail
Buttermilk or skim milk (1 glass)

Getting Along with Boys

“The only grounds for not following a boy’s plans for the evening are if he suggests going to some place your parents have not given you permission to go or if he suggests some sport or activity you don’t know how to do.” (I can think of some other things that might be in a boy’s plans that a girl would be within her rights to refuse. Of course, “some sport or activity” could be euphemism for those things, but I doubt it based on the suggested response for girls: “Before we go, I’d better tell you that I’ve never bowled before in my life—but I’m game if you are.”)

“If he’s made plans for the evening, don’t try to change them, no matter how much you hanker to see the double feature at the Palace or to show off your beau to the gang at the Pizzateria. Boys resent bitterly, and they have every right to, the idea that they’re being manipulated or pushed around on a date.”

“If you’ve ever taken the time to do any reflecting about which girls are popular and which aren’t—and why—you have undoubtedly noticed that one characteristic popular girls have in common is the ability to be relaxed around boys. They are frank, but never frantic, in their attitude that men are wonderful creatures.”

Some Boy Pet Peeves to Avoid (Supposedly Submitted by Male College Freshmen)

“Dresses that look as though they’d been painted on.”

“A raucous voice or sloppy speech.”

“Stance like a football player’s in a huddle.”

“Underwear straps that show.”

“Charm bracelets that clank so they drown out conversation.”  That must involve a huge charm bracelet and some really wild gesturing.

“Dresses with necklines that end slightly above the waist.”

“Eye make-up that’s so extreme a girl looks like a Chinese vase instead of a girl!”

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy

Boring Beth and Sunshiny Sue Edition

A Million and One Tricks with a Strand of Pearls Edition

Crisp White Gloves Edition

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One thought on “Weird Words of Wisdom: An Occasional Mad, Crazy Hat Edition

  1. WebDebris says:

    It must be one of those charm bracelets that has cowbells attached to it. What on earth would be so big as to make that much noise?!? I was also surprised by the neckline to the waist comment. I would have thought a dress like that would have been way to risque for the late 50s to begin with.

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