Ignore the 'look inside' tag up there. Obviously I got this photo from the Amazon webpage which is where I bought the book. I paid just $2.48 for my copy and there are several left at that price. Would I buy the book again? Meh. It's not that the information is dated (only slightly) or that it's not a good read (it is). And it's not that I didn't get good information from it (I did). It's that only half the book, which is a short book, deals with looking well on a budget. The second half has to do with the 'other side of charm and beauty'.
The book was originally written in 1938 and has obviously been republished. I'm not sure when this occurred, but my copy looks just as the copy above does and I'd say that it is a quite new publication.
The first three of the six chapters do contain some information that made me stop and think hard.
The first chapter is called "Prelude to Charm" and it deals with the basics of clean fresh skin, makeup and hair care, hands and feet. Good old soap and water and a moisturizing cream is all that is required and quite right to mention it. I do get a bit done with folks who talk about how simple their skin care is and then you discover they use a soapless, waterless system of skin care and it only costs about $1,000. I like good basics. In this chapter there is a hint that good skin care begins with what you eat, which is something we all ought to know. There's a good deal of truth in the axion 'you are what you eat'. The final bits of the chapter have to do with how you stand and how you sit. Here I was struck by the reminder that I'd only recently read in The Code of a Lady that a woman sits in a certain way. Wearing slacks over the last several years I've become very careless about how I sit and that is something I shall be mindful of in the future. Having seen more than a few photos in Vogue of late of young women sitting with legs spread wide and thinking how vulgar they look, I should have already taken note. This book's illustration brought it home to me, as well as The Code of Lady did. Three witnesses...I needed to sit up and take notice!
The next chapter has to do with the body overall: diet, exercise, cleanliness. There were some refreshing reminders that we weren't dealing with today's codes here. Number one was the supposition that if one had a natural tendency to being plump then you learned to dress your body as it was. However, if you'd once had the slim figure of a girl and had let it get out of hand through over indulgence, then you worked to return to something nearer your body's ideal weight. There was also a reminder that there are very thin women who desperately need to adjust their body weight upwards.
Body odor is certainly something we must be aware of. Here was something that struck me as a frugal thing: not overusing deodorant. It was recommended that proper bathing alone should suffice for the removal of body odor and a deodorant need be used only two or three times a week. I've noticed in the last couple of years that quite a few companies now have 'clinical strength' deodorants on the market and honestly I'm disturbed. Not only about the higher cost but that anyone would feel they needed a heavier duty deodorant than the average. I've never, since becoming an adult had to use deodorant any more than this book recommends, even during the most heated weather. I think that just as we might overuse any other product this is an area to be aware of using too much and overspending.
This section also mentions the appearance of clothes and the aroma of stale body odor on them. This reminds me that in days past, laundry was not done as often, nor where there as many pieces of clothing to be worn. Suits were 'sponged' and pressed with an iron, but not washed after every single wearing. Last month, I noticed family members did a whole lot more laundry than we do in our household. Often pieces of clothing that had been worn only a half day were put through the wash although no strenuous activity, spills or other accidents had occurred. This is both an added expense (soap, water, electricity) and also additional labor. It is finding the right balance between 'saving' the labor and money and having clean clothes. Usually I find airing clothing is enough to freshen it and then it is ready to be worn again. Obviously stains should be treated right away but sometimes a spot may simple be brushed away rather than washing the whole garment if it is just a smudged area.
Finally Chapter Three dealt with building a wardrobe, choosing styles that are pleasing and the ever practical use of basic colors as a neutral background with just little pops of color in accessories, blouses, collars, etc. I did once upon a time wear only black pants because they were the most basic of basics and I let the rest of the pieces I wore carry me. It was my husband who tired of my black base and asked me to please go buy something different. I've spent a lot of money on clothing over the years (haven't we all? And we don't even have to buy the most expensive to have spent a lot!), but there is surely something in between that should work. I feel most definitely that I need a good basic neutral color scheme in my wardrobe. I found some examples in a magazine or two recently and while they are most assuredly 1950's styling the IDEA is still a good one of having a good coat, a good suit, and a good pair of pants, plus a few pieces to wear interchangeably between them all. This day and age, we might well add a nice pair of jeans and a more casual jacket... But that is for another post and another day.
The last three chapters of the book have a great deal more to do with acting like a lady and proper manners and such. These are all great things to know and I did get a few ideas of how I might change some of my own behaviors but honestly ladies, it won't be saving me any money, just will improve me and it's stretching my dollars and time that Frugal Boot Camp involves. I think those posts shall wait until we go to Charm School...don't you?