A selection of illustrations by designer Edith Head, from the 1967 Random House edition of her book How to Dress for Success.
A selection of illustrations by designer Edith Head, from the 1967 Random House edition of her book "How to Dress for Success".
Lessons from Edith Head - How to Dress to Get A Man & Keep Him
Ms. Head gives us a sure fire game plan on how to nab a guy, and even harder, how to keep him. In 1967, you couldn't stop for a Botox quickie at lunch time. You had to rely on Lycra and good styling tips to show off your god given assets in the best light possible.
But Edith doesn't want you to just run off and get married to the first bozo that comes your way. Rather, she treats the ritual of finding a guy like a hunt...
"If you don't know the man, or haven't met him, do what a hunter does. Go where the game is!"
And were is the game? Airports, train stations, hotel lobbies, anywhere you enjoy a hobby.
She also addresses the wallflower in us all - the girl that doesn't think she is attractive enough to find a suitor. Her secret? Be interesting. Be interesting to look at.
"Frequently at parties and premieres attended by Hollywood stars, visitors are shocked when they see the wives of our handsomest film stars. These men who work constantly with women who are the epitome of glamor, very often marry women who are quite ordinary to look at. The unknowing are inclined to ask "How on earth did she ever get him?" I can tell you because I know. She interested him more than any other woman."
She talks about several types of men, and how to dress for them. The Sportsman, the Man About Town, the Intellectual, and the Successful Executive (Don Draper) all have an ideal perfect woman. Edith gives you accessorizing tips for last minute dates with these fascinating me.
Above all, she pleads us women to be a covered girl, and not a Cover Girl because in this society of "topless bathing suits", and man invariably marries the less exhibitionist woman. Man is a jealous creature by nature you know?
Success Formula for Getting and Keeping a Husband:
1. Decide want kind of man you want.
2. Find out what kind of girls he likes.
3. Know what kind of fashions pleases him.
4. Don't masquerade in clothes you hate just to attract a man. Be sure you are really, deep down in side, this kind of girl. If not, find another man!
5. Learn all you can about him - his hobbies, his interests, his likes, his dislikes.
6. Be interested in his interests.
7. Choose your wardrobe to please him and suit his way of life.
8. After you get him, stay the way you were and don't relax into a post-marriage slump of careless marriage.
9. Look reasonably enticing in the morning - better at night.
Lessons from Edith Head - How to Dress To Get & Keep the Job
In this chapter, Edith Head discusses how to dress appropriately for the type of job you want, but once you get to that rung in the ladder, buck the trends and be yourself. She gives a wonderful anecdote of dressing Sofia Lauren for her role as a poor housekeeper in the film Houseboat. Head says, "Believe me, this took more doing than making Olive Oyl into a sex symbol. It's harder to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse than vice versa."
Here is her Success Formula for How to Dress:
1. Decide what kind of job you really want and prepare yourself for it.
2. Decide if you are qualified for it. If not, look for one you can handle.
3. Find out the "image" of the job - how women in that field or firm look and dress. Ask someone who works there. If you don't know anyone, go at noontime or at 5 P.M. and watch the women who work there leaving. Find out the general "look" of the employees.
4. Dress carefully for your appointment in what you have found is the generally accepted look.
5. Above all, be well groomed and look like a girl or woman who would be a credit to the firm. Then do a good job!
Lessons from Edith Head - How to Dress Your Family for Success
In the last chapter of How to Dress for Success, Edith Head gave us the perfect formula for dressing to get and keep a man. But what about him? What about what we want our man, and our offspring, to look like? They are a direct extension of us.
"The woman who is always elegantly coiffed, meticulously dressed and fashionably turned out while her mate and offspring look like orphans of the storm deserves, and gets, little credit for her sparkling appearance."
Clothes Make the Man
Miss Head acknowledges that if your husband is a Dapper Dan, you needn't worry. However, if your guy is a Sloppy Joe, you may need to take matters into your own hands. She advises you pick out his clothes and lay them out for him. Especially if you want Sloppy to climb the career ladder.
She also suggests you get him a subscription to Esquire "for the articles". He won't be able to avoid the fashion so hopefully picks up a fashion cue or two. Give him advice on what looks good on him, but be gentle and tender. Don't take my approach - "You're going to wear THAT?" It doesn't work.
Formula for Having a Better Dressed Husband
1. Take an active interest in how your husband looks and in his wardrobe. Analyze both him and it.
2. Learn about men's fashions. Know about fabrics, styles, features and prices. Shop men's departments and men's magazines.
3. If your husband's wardrobe concept needs improvement, work with him (rather than on him) to educate his tastes, change habits and turn his indifference into enthusiasm.
4. Shop with him and for him to make sure his clothing i becoming, well-fitted, flattering and properly coordinated.
5. Most important of all, help to keep his wardrobe in condition - clean, pressed and mended. A well-groomed man looks successful and has the best chance of being successful.
On Call: Fashion Advice from "The Dress Doctor"
Think Bette Davis in that stunning off-the-shoulder cocktail dress in "All About Eve." Remember Hedy Lamarr swathed in exotic peacock feathers in "Samson and Delilah," or Grace Kelly in billowing black velvet and white tulle in "Rear Window." All three outfits point to Edith Head, the Hollywood costume designer extraordinaire who won eight Oscars dressing casts of hundreds in her long career.
Now Head's best-selling 1959 autobiography and style guide has been revived in "The Dress Doctor:
Prescriptions for Style, From A to Z" (Collins Design, $19.95). The new book includes advice, witticisms and anecdotes on Old Hollywood — culled from the original book complete with more than 80 colorful illustrations by famed artist Bil Donovan.
Head's words of wisdom are timeless: "Every woman's task is to be a do-it-yourself dress doctor, and the person she must know is herself." And readers will love all her "inside" stories on dressing Hollywood's leading men and women — improvising a "reclining" board for Mae West in "She Done Him Wrong" since her costumes were so tight, or shopping with Audrey Hepburn in San Francisco and eating "the most chocolatey" French pastries.
Some of Head's tips on dressing to go to the circus, to play pingpong or shoot archery are sure to bring a laugh; however, see if you agree with some of the famous costume designer's "Don'ts":
— Don't let your clothes be fitted too tightly. Even a perfect figure looks better if it doesn't resemble a sausage. Only bathing suits should "fit tight."
— Don't wear a date dress when you're arriving for a day's work at the office. The dressy dress, the low-necked lacy blouse, the glitter sweater and all of the glitter category belong to after-dark.
— Don't be too different. You don't want to dress like the herd, but you don't want to look like a peacock in a yard full of ducks. Being too much of an individualist is not being well-dressed.
— Don't feel that you must look "dressed up" when going to a party. A simple dress is safer if there's a question of what to wear. Plus, you will be much more comfortable simply dressed than overdressed.
— Don't be afraid to wear a becoming costume many times. It's an old-fashioned idea that you must have a new dress for every occasion or party. Even if you have the money to do so, it isn't necessary. The modern approach is to change accessories; seems like I wrote that just last week.