Monday, January 28, 2013


Ask a Victorian Lady & Lounger

In what should probably not be considered guides to modern living, the British Library has re-released a pair of charming Victorian-era books about beauty and fashion. "Beauty, What It Is and How to Retain It" by A Lady was first published in 1873; "The Gentleman's Art of Dressing With Economy" by A Lounger at the Clubs followed in 1876. While the tone A Lady takes is rather sharp, The Lounger is trying to dispense real advice without taking himself too seriously...

While you wait for your copies to arrive in the mail, here is a quiz from the LA Times"Are you fashion backward?" — made up of tidbits from the books.

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Now I want to know what A Victorian Lady would have to say about our friends Bob and Eli, or other classics from advice columns past.


@gobblegirl "Imperfect Advice from Trollope Novels."


This one is something so amazing....@y


fashion backward woooo! but really, you wouldn't not wear your nice togs in January and February, the worst months?


@Megano! Noooo there are still fun holidays in those months when you'd want to be seen looking snappy!


@SarahP I assume they don't spend Valentine's Day in pajamas eating ice cream and peanut butter cups, like I do.


One recipe for stimulating hair wash: A handful each of rosemary leaves and box (eucalyptus) leaves, boiled in a quart of water until it becomes a pint; strain, and, when cold, add a gill (4 oz.) of rum. Pour into bottles and cork them down.

very stimulating, yes. This is just to provide Victorian girls with a plausible excuse for having a flask of rum in the boudoir, yes? Otherwise it makes me sad. Soap goes on the head, cocktails go in the belly!


@queenofbithynia I was gonna say, that'll certainly stimulate all the hair in my MOUTH.

A. Louise

This makes me wish eucalyptus was edible because it sounds like a tingly, tasty beginning to a cocktail. Maybe with some seltzer and peach nectar.

Alas, we'll have to leave the Victorian hair tonic drinking to the koalas.


This is a small thing, but quizmakers: "none of the above" should come after "all of the above," not before.


Someone PLEASE make their username "A Lounger At the Clubs."



You can find me in the clubs, top hat full of rum
Look mami, I got the frock coat if you into looking good
I'm into having jests, I ain't into perfumed rugs
So come gimme a hug, if you're in Picadilly's hood


Does anyone remember that online game (I, um, use "game" in an appropriately loose and Wittgensteinian sense) where you could play as either a Victorian housewife or a Victorian householder and you had to figure out what the appropriate etiquette was for, like, escorting your guests to dinner?

It had kind of a cool paper doll aesthetic.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Lucienne I just posted it down below....


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Ahhhhh! Thank you!!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

You guys! You have to play this game: http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/en/keys/games/game_0/

It takes you through various Victorian situations and you have to select the way in which you would act, and then you get a score. It's amazing. (I failed. Hard.)


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose - Arg! I was doing so well! I made it all the way through the ball only missing one question and I had just successfully picked out my train outfit when Shockwave crashed. The agony!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I did pretty well, but I attribute that almost entirely to my obsession with Downton Abbey.

Black crow

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose - That was rather jolly, not least for the Gilliamesque quality of the animation. I almost aced it, but then I was brung up proper.

P.J. Morse

My mom found one of those nifty old etiquette books. It was so cute until I stumbled across a page that advised readers to freshen their breath by gargling mercury.

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