LIFE

Single Ladies: 13 Tips From 1936 For Women Who Live Alone

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

It’s taken a long time for women to break out of the often troublesome expectations that were placed on previous generations.

Looking back at how only recently we’ve been granted the right to do something as normal as apply for our own credit cards or attend Ivy League schools, it’s not surprising that some of the advice thrown around for single ladies in 1936 would sound more than a little condescending to us today.

In Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman, Vogue editor and infamous spinster Marjorie Hillis details all the proper ways for a woman to not only handle her home life, but make the most out of it… of course, while still keeping her eye on the always soughtafter marital prize.

Although many of the tips below are obviously outdated, you can’t help but find charm in Hillis’ acerbic voice as she doles out the wisdom. Scroll through to hear these unique suggestions in her very own words.

Did we miss anything you remember single ladies being told to do back in the day? Let us know in the comments and be sure to SHARE with your friends!

[H/T: Last Year Girl, Vox]

Thumbnail source: Flickr

1. Determination Is The Key

1. Determination Is The Key

“The basis of successful living alone is the determination to make it successful… You have got to decide what kind of a life you want and then make it for yourself.”

2. Don't Overdo The Decor

2. Don't Overdo The Decor

“The Great Temptation — well, anyway, one of them — to most people living alone is to have too much furniture and too many what-nots.

“We’ve been in lots of feminine establishments from which you might have taken half the furnishings and given them to the nearest Thrift Shop — and achieved as much as if you’d called in a decorator.”

3. Keep Up Your Appearance

3. Keep Up Your Appearance

“Do go in for cosmetics in a serious way. Not any old cream, but the right creams. The right coiffure too, and the right nail polish, and all the other beauty tricks that make you feel elegant. This is the kind of pampering that pays.

“The notion that it ‘doesn’t matter because nobody sees you’ with the dull meals and dispirited clothes that follow in its wake, has done more damage than all the floods of springtime.”

4. Breakfast Should Always Be In Bed

4. Breakfast Should Always Be In Bed

“Of course, the civilized place for any woman to have breakfast is in bed. For you and me who live alone and whose early mornings are uncomplicated by offspring, farm-hands and even husbands, bed is the place.”

5. It's Important To Have Friends (And Enemies)

5. It's Important To Have Friends (And Enemies)

“A reasonably large circle of friends and enemies, whom you can see when you want to, and will often see you when you don’t want to, is an important asset. Anybody can acquire it, but it takes a little doing…

“If you haven’t any contacts, put your hat right on and go out and start making them. Be a Communist, a stamp collector or a Ladies’ Aid Worker if you must, but for Heaven’s sake, be something.”

6. Don't Get Miffed If You Miss An Invite

6. Don't Get Miffed If You Miss An Invite

“Another good rule for any liver-alone is not to feel hurt when Mary Jones doesn’t ask you to her dinner party, or when Cousin Joe fails to drop in to see you.

“It probably wasn’t convenient for either of them… Everybody these days is busy—or thinks she (or he) is.”

7. It's Fine To Be Rude To Family

7. It's Fine To Be Rude To Family

“It’s infinitely better for a Lone Female to offend her relatives by not inviting them enough, then to bore her relatives by inviting them too often. In other words, it’s better to be a snob than a hanger-on.”

8. Treat Yourself Like Royalty

8. Treat Yourself Like Royalty

“The woman who treats herself like an aristocrat seems aristocratic to other people and the woman who is sloppy at home inevitably slips sometimes in public.”

9. Entertainment Choices Can Age You

9. Entertainment Choices Can Age You

“Favorite authors and one favorite movie house are all very well in moderation, but they can become old-lady habits if you don’t watch out.”

10. Make Time To Travel

10. Make Time To Travel

“A reasonable amount of travel ought, of course, to be listed among the necessities. (An unreasonable amount if you can manage it.) If you don’t agree with this, there is something wrong with you, and you should see a doctor or a minister or at least read a few travel books and folders.”

11. Even Geniuses Need Fresh Air

11. Even Geniuses Need Fresh Air

“Hermits and other self-sufficient people may be geniuses (we doubt it) and contribute greatly to the scientific knowledge of the world, but they contribute practically nothing to its entertainment and have a very dull time themselves.

“Most people’s minds are like ponds and need a constantly fresh stream of ideas in order not to get stagnant.”

12. Dress Up At Bedtime, Too

12. Dress Up At Bedtime, Too

“We can think of nothing more depressing than going to bed in a washed-out four-year-old nightgown, [and] nothing more bolstering to morale than going to bed all fragrant with toilet-water and wearing a luscious pink satin nightgown, well cut and trailing.”

13. Stop Being So Paranoid

13. Stop Being So Paranoid

“When you wake up in the night convinced that you hear a man moving about in the next room, do not get up and investigate. Still more important, do not telephone the janitor, or a friend’s husband across the street, or your brother in New Jersey.

“Almost certainly, there is no man in the next room, and, if there were, he would be gone by the time anyone got there.”

Do you remember any strange tips for ladies from the past? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!