How to Be Pretty Though Plain

Charlotte Eliza Humphry

Charlotte Eliza Humphry

Distributed for British Library

128 pages | 3 1/2 x 7
Cloth $12.00 ISBN: 9780712357173 Published December 2014 For sale in North and South America only
The ladies of Downton Abbey have made us all intimately familiar with Edwardian standards of beauty and fashion. But just how did the elegant ladies of the period go about making the most of their attractions? Well, one of the ways was through the use of guidebooks like How to Be Pretty Though Plain, a forthright handbook published in 1899 that covers all manner of approaches to improving one’s personal appearance.
Presented here in a facsimile edition, How to Be Pretty offers an array of advice, from tips on cosmetics to more wide-ranging suggestions on lifestyle and habits. A suggestion that ladies brush “the eyebrows and eyelashes every morning with a solution of green tea” sits alongside a surprisingly modern take on the benefits of sleep, exercise, and fresh air, while a recipe for myrrh-and-borax tooth powder reminds us that keeping the pearlies white has long been an obsession. As interesting—and amusing—for its social history as for the breezy, common-sense tone of its advice, How to Be Pretty Though Plain is a celebration of the enduring preoccupation with looking one’s best.
Times Literary Supplement
"When readers in the 1890s needed pithy and entertaining suggestions on how to elegantly manage unruly wet umbrellas in crowded omnibuses, whether it was permissible to eat asparagus with a fork and when to raise a hat to acquaintances in the street, they turned to Charlotte Eliza Humphry."
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