Vintage Advice for the Working Girl

I collect vintage books on advice for women, with titles like "A Young Girl's Guide to Intelligent Living" and "Woman's World". I think they are charming. I think they still give good advice. Except for careers advice - do not listen to a book written in the 60's for careers advice for women, unless you want to appreciate how far we've come.

I've boiled down the most useful and interesting parts for you here - read and learn from the doyennes of the past. They knew a thing or two.

Saving money

Superwoman (1975): 

"Cut down on big things: Don't economize on things which will hardly save more than a few pence - margarine instead of butter, unless your butter consumption is gargantuan. This will not be much of an economy and will make everyone feel pinched...

The trick is to economize in a big way on something boring, not to bring down the whole family by being miserly and making yourself miserable....You might trade the car in for a smaller one or put the family on bicycles - which is way more sensible in cities."


Look Like a Million (1978):

"Don't wear anything until it fits perfectly...Are the shoulders tight and high enough? ...I find that a shoulder just an inch too wide makes any garment look wrong...I also like the very high, small, Coco Chanel armhole."


Superwoman 2 (1977):

"If you intend to make up and/or shave in the bathroom, fix a strip light on either side of the mirror, rather than above it (depressingly, it will underline every line on your face). Always make up in daylight for daylight; it's really being cruel to be kind to yourself.

Saving Time

Superwoman (1975): 

"Don't wear nail varnish...Don't dry dishes. Buy a second drainer and stand it in front of the first, or else spread teatowels on the table..."


A Young Girl's Guide to Intelligent Living (1964):

"A lot of girls are mesmerized by the glamour of a job. They think life would be wonderful as a model girl or a film star. To have something to do with ponies."


Superwoman 2 (1977):

"20 Ways to Make Your Living Room More Expensive:

- One big exuberant plant. Put all your money into size and durability

- A weekly change of fresh flowers, however few

- A heaped dish or wicker basket of lemons or oranges

- Slabs of mirror

- Fur. Fling and exotic rug across a sofa or try fake tiger skin cushions

- Anything that looks heavy or weighty; a real, genuine solid something or other, whether it's an armchair or brass lamp

- One very large picture or properly mounted poster or printer or photograph" 

Of all the books I have, the most useful is Superwoman by Shirley Conran (one time wife of Terrance Conran). It was a very successful book in the UK in it's time. You can get it on Amazon second hand for $4 including shipping.

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