What Would Betty Draper Do?

It’s almost that time.  Days and nights filled with oysters rockefeller and old fashioneds, girdles and petticoats, unplanned pregnancies and riding mower catastrophes, wiggle dresses and bow ties, Betty and Joan…  Yes, oh yes.  It’s practically Mad Men time.

So with that in mind, and of course perfect 50’s housewife decorum ala Ms. Draper (or whatever her last name is supposed to be these days), I thought I’d post a few goodies from a book I’ve been reading.

Proper etiquette is a long forgotten and once greatly-honored skill.  Whether it was taught in charm school or passed down from mother to daughter, social graces and customs are something that a girl can never push to the back of her mind once they’ve been ingrained.

Here’s a fun look at the guidelines for dress and appearance in 1847 as told by “An American Lady”.


Let your dress harmonize with your complexion, your size, and the circumstances in which you may be placed: for instance, the dress for walking, for a dinner or an evening party, each requires a different style of both material and ornament.


Vintage Complexion Chart

Scan from Woman's World Patterns. Fall and Winter Styles. 1925. (cluttershop on flickr)



Avoid the extreme mode; and in adopting the style of your friend, be careful that it will suit your figure, your complexion, and stature: the dress which may be adapted to her may be absurd in you.


Bettie Page Style



Ladies of good taste seldom wear jewelry in the morning, and when they do, confine themselves to trinkets of gold, or those in which opaque stones only are introduced.  Ornaments with brilliant stones are unsuited for a morning costume.


Grace Kelly Casual Wear




In large parties do not exhibit any remarkable anxiety for the care of your dress, nor, if an accident should happen thereto, exhibit peculiar or violent emotion; if you are so distraite, many will believe that you have exhibited the best of your wardrobe.


Vintage Tide Ad

(someoldnews on



Gloves should harmonize with your dress; and must always be clean.  Nothing can be more vulgar than high-coloured gloves: the primrose (and the white for evening parties) are the most elegant, if your dress will admit of their being worn.


Vintage Primrose Gloves

1940s Primrose Yellow Day Gloves. (



Perfumes are a necessary appendage to the toilet; let them be delicate, not powerful; the Atta[r] of roses is the most elegant; the Heduesmia is at once fragrant and delicate.  Many others may be named; but none must be patronized which are so obtrusive as to give the idea that they are not indulged in as a luxury but used from necessity.


Attar of Roses Vintage



Keep your finger-nails scrupulously clean, and avoid the disagreeable habit of allowing them to grow to an unnatural length.

Vintage Painted Nails


I suppose when in doubt, you can boil it down to WWBDD.

Just don’t wear her slogan on a dingy t-shirt.

Betty Draper

All chapters from A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies, by An American Lady.  1847.

toujours. Mar 25th!. xo.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: