First and foremost, who is Edith Head? Well, she was a very big deal in Hollywood, having won a whopping eight Oscars for costume design. She also penned the self-help book How to Dress for Success, which now provides a snapshot of the wild standards expected of women in 1967.
Don’t worry about a career, just marry the boss
Chapter 1, ‘How To Dress For Success In Business’, is a real treat for the modern working woman. I’ll let Edith explain her philosophy:
“Success in business means different things to different women. To some women and girls, their business lives are merely intervals between the time they leave school and the time they get married. To them a successful business career is a short one, leading not to the front office with a golden name on the door, but straight to the alter with a golden ring on the finger.”
But dear Edith pleads with these ladies to stick with it, truly hone the Dress for Success mantra and make the most of their time in the doldrums of working life:
“Who knows, you might marry the boss!”
Look good, but not too good
Edith kindly rules out wearing a $5000 mink coat when interviewing for a $65 a week receptionist job because – surprise! – it will appear as though you’re too rich for the job. (You guessed it – Daddy bought this hypothetical fancy lady the coat in the first place, because of course he did.)
Looking too pretty may see you turned away because you couldn’t possibly resist the charms of the many men ogling you.
“We have known of instances where extremely capable women failed to get a job because they looked too elegantly put together. One personnel director confided to us in a specific case, ‘I didn’t hire her simply because I felt anyone that looked that attractive would have a date every night in the week and would never be free to stay until 5:15 in an emergency.’”
Man is a possessive animal, dress accordingly
If the boss hasn’t proposed to you already, then you’ll have to go a huntin’ and, of course, you’ll need a whole other outfit for that. As Edith puts it in her polite, albeit slut-shaming way:
“Man is a possessive animal by nature and cares little about sharing his wealth of wifely treasure with the wolf-pack. And corny as it may seem in our free-wheeling society where topless bathing suits, bottom-revealing pants and above-the-knee skirts are about, most men shudder at the thought of their wives as striptease artists — beyond the master’s bedroom, that is.”
Quite the backflip there.
You never get to rest, even with a ring on it
Edith’s hot tip for single ladies trying to find a man is to spend your entire holidays taking planes and trains back and forth on routes popular with businessmen until one of them looks your way. Not even kidding.
And once you’ve finally landed a man with matrimony, the work doesn’t stop there. Oh no, ladies, you must never, ever let your guard down.
“A man who doesn’t have some romance at home is sure to look for it elsewhere. And what is romance in feminine form? It’s any woman of any age whose husband thinks she’s lovely to look at in the morning. If you make this your goal, you have the edge over the most glamorous women on earth. After all, he doesn’t know how they look at 8 a.m.!”
Lucky lady who gets to lie-in until 8 a.m. tbh.
You will forever be judged by your husband and kids
If you’ve made it this far, now you’re charged with dressing your significant other and offspring too. Edith makes it sound like running for President:
“In working out your campaign to improve your husband’s appearance, use tact. Telling him he has bad taste, looks sloppy or that he dresses like a yokel will get you nowhere. Emphasizing his good points and suggesting ways he can capitalize on them will expand his ego. Telling him that a continental slimline suit makes him look taller is a lot better than saying he looks like a walking anthill in the one he’s wearing.”
And beware of the scorn lying in wait for you should your children not be dressed to Edith’s standards:
“The eight-year-old who is allowed into a hotel lobby in shorts and bare feet is being given a head start on becoming an eighteen-year-old beatnik.”
Last but not least, it is also your responsibility to indoctrinate your children in the ways of Edith Head so they too can dress for success and continue this circle of judgement.
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