What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Business Insider found evidence of the Montgomery Ward‘s handbook issued to students at its charm school for girls. Luckily, they revealed the jackpot of outdated expert advice inside. It’s funny, because it’s old.
According to a post we found online from a graduate, the department store billed the school as “A Wonderful 6-week Finishing and Fashion course offered for Girls 4-19.” Every class finished with a parade of female beauty with a wonderful fashion show so that the girls could show off their wonderful mastery of the runway walks they had learned wearing wonderful Montgomery Ward fashions. The learning involved the usual suspects: social graces, proper grooming and poise. They threw in the “one-o’clock toe position” for girls preparing themselves for a Stepford wife life spent posing for pictures at country clubs. The pages we have access to alternate between lame attempts at boosting confidence for girls who have that “special something” and explaining a girl’s job (to make a boy feel like a man.) Here’s the best from the book:
Fixing yourself with a harmless liquid adhesive, the Ward Fashion way:
How to Talk to Boys: (the best advice transcribed)
"A good, honest, and sincere bit of “fellow flattery” is to ask questions. If you’ve been to a movie, instead of saying “oh, I like the movie, ” and filling in all the reasons, try saying “I liked the movie, but I’m not sure I understand all they were trying to say."
The “rules for stringbeans and dumplings” tips obviously take the cake, and if we could have attended, we’d probably follow the dumpling ones for three weeks and the string bean ones for the remaining three. That way, we’d end up looking like some sort of gourd and be crowned the Wendy Ward valedictorian.
For Dumplings: (transcribed)
"Realize that the only way you will get and stay trim and slim is by changing your eating habits — learn to really love the foods that will make you pretty — regard those foods which will make you fat as “ugly pills.”
For Stringbeans: (transcribed)
Have a malt daily — drink a glass of milk and eat a piece of bread, butter, and jelly before bed."
Reprinted with permission from Styleite. Want more?