A few years ago, I picked up a paperback copy of Joan Crawford's book "My Way Of Life" for two dollars in a thrift store. I was half drawn in by the allure of Joan Crawford's infamously wild life and career ups-and-downs, half drawn in by the lovely font choice and strange cover photo. I mean, she's staring off into one direction while her two dogs look off in another, all the while no one is making eye contact with the camera. Bizarre.
Anyway, the description on the back of the book promises the reader that Joan Crawford will show you how to "get more out of life ... your work ... your play ... your clothes ... your looks ... your home ... your marriage." Direct quote, not entirely sure about the overuse of ellipses. Apparently we'll learn about "how to move into a man's world -- while remaining a lady" and even "a program for a lovely figure which includes a diet that made her 'downright skinny'". Great. But that's just the back of the book. We need to crack it open to really get to know the good stuff.
Reading is pretty time-consuming though, so I've decided to pick out the most interesting excerpts to share with you all from the late, great Joan Crawford. So pop in a DVD of "The Women," "Mildred Pierce," "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" or hey, maybe even "Mommie Dearest," and when you're finished come back and soak up Joan's advice. OK? OK.
On Fashion, Style And Beauty
Joan's top 5 style rules:
- "Find your own style and have the courage to stick to it.
- Choose your clothes for your way of life.
- Make your wardrobe as versatile as an actress. It should be able to play many roles.
- Find your happiest colors -- the ones that make you feel good.
- Care for your clothes, like the good friends they are!"
"When I'm on my feet for hours at a reception I'm naturally more comfortable with them slightly apart. But the moment I give in to that temptation is the moment someone shoots a picture! Feet together, or one slightly in front of the other, is the most graceful stance. Look around at your next cocktail party and see how awkward many women look from the knees down."
"People are always debating whether we dress for men, for other women, or for ourselves. On occasion, I dress for all three. Femininity for men, color for women -- and something very crazy, like a mad hat, for myself."
"My rule: Don't buy a dress until you can afford all the right accessories and if, like me, you can't spend your life in hair curlers, have a hat made to match."
"Moisturizer is probably the most blessed invention of the past two decades."
"All the beauty products in the world can't disguise a disagreeable expression. Have you ever noticed that when you say 'no' you begin to resemble a prune-faced schoolmarm?"
"Men hate too much makeup. They're afraid it will rub off on them. And you know something? It does."
On Sex And Relationships
"If every woman could walk into her husband's office and see how many beautiful women pass his desk every day it would give her something to think about."
"Many men like to share hobbies as long as their wives aren't complete idiots and ask, 'Why is that man running?'"
"Everybody has strong ideas about marriage. And why not? It's the most intriguing situation a woman has in this life."
"Sex is very beautiful, very personal, magnificent. But like all marvelous things she should come in a lovely wrapping. Have you ever opened a Christmas present that was wrapped with old brown paper and tied with string? [...] Packaging is very important. How can any woman present herself in a careless package?"
"There should always be a precious time together at the end of the working day. Turn off the phone, ignore the door, pour a glass of wine or fruit juice. Shed the world and learn about each other in your own romantic oasis."
On Food, Exercise And Dieting
"Both swimming and dancing strengthened my chest and back muscles, so that I'm often able to go without a bra -- even in films."
"I sit on hard chairs -- soft ones spread the hips."
"Here are a few items no dieter should ever have in the house: Peas, lima beans, avocados, olives, dried beans, corn, butter, most cheese, fatty meats, sugar, chocolate, potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, and creamed soups. The list could go on for another page or two, but any intelligent woman knows the dangerous foods."
"I'm often asked if I diet (I wish interviewers would come up with more original questions!). I say, 'No. I just stop eating when it tastes the best.'"
"I eat a light lunch. Sometimes a small minute steak with two small cherry tomatoes. Sometimes chicken -- boiled, not broiled."
"I never touch sweets. I'd much rather have a dill pickle -- if I ever ate ice cream I'm sure I'd surround it with pickles. I did eat ice cream once. When I was a kid I used to run out at the first fresh snow and get cups, let it snow into the cups, then bring them in and eat the snow with sugar and cream on it. That was my ice cream. But now, no. I have no yearning for sweets."
"I never touch potatoes because I learned a long time ago not to like what made me fat."
Well, these are just a few choice pieces I've plucked from the book. To get the full experience and read even more tips about the above topics, plus travel, decorating, entertaining and more, you've got to find yourself a copy (sometimes it pops up on eBay) and absorb it all yourself. I hope this has been intriguing to you all, and I hope you've all learned to buy lots of hats and avoid avocados like the plague. I haven't. I just ate one. I'll never learn! I'm sorry, Joan!