The Dancing Queen is the epitome of tasteful restraint in her dress and an example to us all. She may wear just one antique ring with a beautiful setting for her jewellery, and she understands the maxim, "Less is More." From my own perspective I have to admit that less is never more. More Is More, obviously! If I put an antique ring on my finger it immediately reminds me of another piece of jewellery and then possibly another and another in a complementary colour family. Those authors who write columns in fashion magazines advise us that if we feel a little uncertain about our appearance when leaving our homes in the morning we should take one item off. I would favour of putting one more thing on. My nana hailed from Yorkshire and she was like a fairy godmother to me - but I can still remember her telling me, "If a little's good, a lot's better" and I must have absorbed this and taken it on as my own personal style mantra. So perhaps The Dancing Queen and I come at matters of style from opposing perspectives.
Having recently returned from a sojourn Abroad, The Dancing Queen presented me with this handy little book. She knows I could use some help, obviously, given my resolute refusal to take any style direction. This is The Art Of Being A Well Dressed Wife and it was written by Anne Fogarty , first published in 1959.
I was eager to improve myself and immediately read it from cover to cover. Imagine my disappointment. No more mink shorts! Plus which I don't believe I have the manual dexterity any longer to apply false eyelashes (if I ever did, that is). Apparently they may be just the playful accent which I need. On top of the bad experience at the hairdressing salon in the weekend things are beginning to look pretty grim, I must confess.
On the positive side of the ledger I discovered that "the worst mistake you can make is to force yourself to shop. To idly decide it's spring, the bird's on the wing, is not the time for a foray on the stores UNLESS you're in a truly shopping mood." So it may be that there will be no more shopping for me, a prospect which Mr Shoestring will not balk at. Also the author informs us that "A chronic blight on the American home scene is sleeepwear in the kitchen! Negligees, bathrobes, and terry towels do not belong with food, pots, and pans. The kitchen is your natural setting as a woman and you should look beautiful, not bedraggled, in it." Oops, once again I think I may have slipped up but in future I will be happy to keep out of the kitchen and let others deal with the tedious tasks which must take place there.
But I loved this part. "I think here is a good place to mention shoulder cape-covers for make-up, although they are one step removed from the category of robes. At the time this book goes to press I am introducing a new design, a poncho-style make-up cape in a Dacron and cotton fabric, which is long enough for moving from one room to another when someone's around. There is a little pocket for sachets so that an aura of scent accompanies every movement." Wow, she thought of everything. Shades of hairdressing encounters, it must be the capes which are starting to appeal to me. But if you need a cape over your clothes how much make-up are you applying?
There is even a section devoted to the vexed question of "Should the family car go with my wardrobe?" Anne very sensibly advises that "It is more important for the car to blend in with the natural habitat. It should look well in the drive silhouetted against the colour of your house and fit into the colours and shapes of your geographical location as a whole and your own particular neighbourhood or street." What a relief! I don't think Mr Shoestring could bear it if I told him he had to replace the car to suit my clothes especially as they are such an odd assortment of colours and shapes that we might need to buy a gypsy caravan.
Well, we may have let standards slip beyond ever recovering lost ground but perhaps if we take on board some of the simplest of Anne's edicts we will be able to hold our heads high and face the world knowing we have fought the valiant fight in an effort to fly the flag of fashion. After all, as Anne declares on page 1: "If you adore her, you must adorn her. There lies the essence of a happy marriage." I will just highlight that part and show it to Mr Shoestring. He need never know about the plan to replace the car and start wearing a make-up cape over my clothes. Though I am picking he would be fascinated by the mink shorts.