Hi, it's me Miranda, and I'm so happy to have a couple of new friends, with Wendy and Emily both here. I think we should take over that juke box table, girls, and chat, just Three Young Blondes, and all of the oldies (they hate to be called that y' know) and netties won't hear a peep out of us, while I tell you girls all about my last visit with our dreamy new librarian, Miss Featherington.
Well, last Tuesday evening, I arrived not quite so bouncy as last week, but still on time. Miss F. smiled at me in a way I thought was rather kind and sweet, but, of course, not too familiar. She asked for my lines, and I handed them to her with a little blush, while I looked right at the floor. I bit my lip in that blonde sort of way, and waited to see if she would say they were all right. And unlike some brunettes, she looked at them a good long while, nodding approvingly as she shuffled through the pages. And then she threw them away. Well, what else can a brunette do with pages of the same thing written over and over?
She said, "Very Fine, Miranda. Now. Have you ever read The Vicar of Wakefield?.
"Um, No Miss. Is she a nurse?"
"I beg your pardon, Miranda?"
"Um, Miss, Is Miss Vicky Wakefield a nurse? The only books I've read in ages are nursing books, because I think I want to be a nurse. Sure, it's part because I want to help people, but mostly it's because I love that little cap they get to wear and their crisp, white uniforms. And they do seem to be the most sophisticated of career girls, don't you think so, Miss?"
"Miranda, my opinions about the uniform of nurses and the sophistication of career girls are not of any consequence at the moment. Dear, I asked if you had ever read The Vicar of Wakefield. How you managed, within the space of ten seconds to turn our conversation to matters of uniforms and careers I am sure I don't know, but now, would you please answer my question, though I could venture a guess what your answer might be."
Well, pettes, I didn't answer. I couldn't, you see, because I didn't hear the question. In fact, I didn't hear anything after she called me "Dear." Because, all I could think was, "She called me Dear. She called me Dear. Oh joy! Oh bliss! She called me Dear." Well, you can see how that might happen, don't you? Such a beautiful and confident brunette calling me Dear, well, I just couldn't have heard anything after that, could I have?
Well, the end of my story is that now I have to go, can't stay and chat, because, see, here I am, having to read this Vicky book. tee hee. I have to write a special report on this book by next Tuesday, so I'd better vamoose. Bye now, dearies, bye. I'll tell you more next week. You don't think she calls any other blondes Dear, do you?
Where did we leave off? Oh, yes, with medium-length hair. Here is another adorable style for a pette whose hair is neither too long nor too short. This is a hair-do that takes to flowers rather easily, here a short chain of dainty white violas. Front hair combs into quiffy bangs from a side part - the rest of the hair brushes into back curls. Off-the-shoulder gown of white polished muslin with tiny white silk Dresden plate appliqués. A lace fan is clutched to the breast. The middle of winter is the time to be planning ahead for spring styles likes these: this hair style and dress will be perfect for the first lawn party of the season, the one you go to each year in the Hamptons.
Now here is my favorite Western Kadorie hair style, favorite because, though brand-new, it is quite reminiscent of the traditional High Kadorian coiffeur: sleek but blunt, almost snood-like, behind. Soft waves begin from a center part which goes down the back of the head. This pette's hair is rather long, but the ends are softly braided for a pretty coil in back of each ear. Add two clips for effect (glass will do in poor light, though diamonds are certainly better). Blouse of beige crepe georgette, which would be shamelessly transparent were it not encrusted with pearls of various sizes, but nonetheless understatedly naughty if worn with nude slip and bra. Imagine yourself in this hair style and blouse: you arrive at the St. Regis for Wednesday luncheon with your circle of pettes, you nonchalantly remove your wrap and your hat, and Voila! All eyes are upon you for the rest of the afternoon and everyone wants the name of your hairdresser! (At least the ones who have kept their hair long.)
This evening I tucked my natural wave into a french roll, slipped into one of my favourite gowns (a midnight blue A-line dress of raw silk with sweetheart neck, cape sleeves and matching georgette stole) and entered our sanctuary. Before I found the real world my only refuge from the pit was in "old" (that is, up-to-date) movies; Doris Day, Ann Miller, Kathryn Grayson - they were my heroines. I love watching them move; the way their skirts swirled and petticoats rustled sigh - simply bliss, but I thought I was living in the past. How little I knew! How little I still know but I'm learning and beginning to blossom. I think I'll find that corner again and spend another evening steeping my senses in the chatter and laughter of beautiful women.
Well, the Cocktail Party was quite lovely, I'd say. It was a bit diffie for me because my maid was out of town for the evening and I couldn't find anyone to replace her, so I had to be hostess and serving girl all in one. But still, it went well, I believe. The influence of you Kadorie girls here really made itself known. I wore a gorgeous pink satin and black lace Kadorie gown. You Embassy pettes remember the one, don't you? Over this number I wore a stole the evening through. All night long, Western Kadorian songs were playing, including "Buttons and Bows," which we recently heard in our very own Cocktail Bar. I guess the evening was my way of trying to bring the Cocktail Bar into my living room. Everypette was quite lovely and those who didn't have nice up-to-date clothes came early to try on all of the fleemy frocks I mentioned the other day. My changing room looked just like the dressing room we've recently gotten a peek at, thanks to our own Kadorian reporter. Girdles and stockings everywhere, girls trying on the most up-to-date clothes available, smoothing tummies, blotting lipstick, buzzing with the excitement of feminine preparations. And the actual party was quite nice, with a rousing game of up-to-date charades capping the evening off nicely.
One girl, named Jennifer (who wears the most dreadful "clothes" in the Pit) came and I could see the real Jennifer at last. She walks around in the Pit very strained and anxious, a wrinkled-brow-all-the-time sort of girl. But last night, in the right sort of clothes and in the right sort of place, all of that anxious fretfulness turned into blonde giddiness. She really was quite charming. She said that she had told all of her friends that she was going to a real Cocktail Party that night and they were so jealous! When I think of all the girls out there who are a bundle of nerves because they aren't allowed to be giddy blondes, well, my heart just breaks, doesn't yours?
Oh, by the way, dears, you'll never guess who came last night! The mysterious and authoritative Miss Featherington. But don't tell Miranda, or she'll be a mess over it won't she? Miss F. was quite sophisticated and not at all intimidating at a party. She told she lovely stories and was charming in an authoritative brunette sort of way.
Of course, my party wasn't nearly as magical and sparkley as one at the Embassy, but they've been doing this sort of thing a lot longer than I have, haven't they?! And I know it would have been an awful lot better had each of you been there. How I do wish that we could all be in the same room together, laughing and giggling and dancing and flirting. How lovely that would be! Love to all,
Hello, Miss Barbara, Chyzelle (what a beautiful name!) Emily, Norma, Amy and Elizabeth Ruth, Miss C Cat, Karen, and everyone else whose names I don't know at the mome. I am very pleased to meet you. Thank you for the offer of a drink, Miss Barbara. I would like a Pink Lady, if I may. This music is delightful, isn't it?
Today we must take up a fashion matter I have flagrantly neglected: hair styles! (I do tend to get carried away with millinery matters, but then, I can't help myself, hats are so grand!) Hair style has become more important now than ever, because for the first time in almost a decade there is a sea-change in the offing. The flowing shoulder-length styles of Eastern Kadoria, with their smooth, neatly contained masses of hair, sometimes further defined by a hairnet, are now giving way to light, fresh, shorter, almost fluffy styles from Western Kadoria - a brand-new look! If you want to be turned into the prettiest girl at Miss Barbara's party, you might consider booking an appointment this afternoon at your local coiffeuse to try out one of these new hair-do's.
As shown in this photo, the future for short hair is a gentle winging away from the face. Hair is cut two-and-a-half to three inches all over the head and scalloped upwards into soft feminine waves at the sides. This is an easy and versatile style, which takes almost no time to care for, so it is ideal for a pette-on-the-go. Bracelet of pearls, pink Italian coral and gold, with buttons and earrings to match.
But you long-haired pettes needn't despair, Western Kadoria has something for you, too, which might make you the prettiest one at the party! The new fashion for longer hair lies in silken-smooth, close-to-the-head arrangements highlighted (and held in place) by veiling, combs, jewels or flowers. This pette wears smooth bangs with low waves brushing back to a cluster of curls held in place with ribbon and combs. (Glistening locks, courtesy of regular shampooing, of course!) Note the lovely little bouquet of bachlorette's buttons at the shoulder!
Last is a more traditional Western Kadorie style for hair of middle length. Again, sides are scalloped upwards in soft, close-to-the-head waves. Here a yard of 15-inch mauve veiling goes over the head and ties in back. Hold in place with pretty hatpins. Nice on dancing dates, but I would not wear this style to a party where there is any hope, er, I mean danger of rough brunettes - one might be a target! Stay on the qui vive,, pettes, brunettes can be powerfully moved by hairstyles, and I have heard quite a bit about Miss Barbara's cocktail parties!!
I live on a beautiful temperate coast, between the sea and the mountains, in a valley rich with every gift of nature. Beauty surrounds me every day, and feeds me spiritually, and every day I thank the Goddess. This religiosity has grown in me only once I was past youth (I am 42 years old). Lately I have wished that I did not have to worship alone. I long for the sweet communion of purpose that Mass was to me when I was a child, but that I cannot find in the Catholic Church now.
I live on an acre of lush green, in a neighbourhood that is quite Quirinellan, where children play road hockey on the street, and motorists stop for them, and everybody says hello to each other when they pass, even from their cars. Most of us have some serious domestic pursuit and small gifts of baking, eggs, flowers, fruit and vegetables are regularly exchanged. I grow mostly herbs, for cooking and other uses, and I keep a raspberry patch as a memorial to my grandmothers, both of whom loved and grew raspberries. When I work in the raspberry patch I think of them, and think of the links through generations of women to our First Mothers.
Every day I leave this lovely, peaceful place and drive for thirty minutes through glorious countryside, to the small city in which I work. I love my work, but it is in a very masculine profession, and masculine values of aggression, single-mindedness and strength of character predominate and are rewarded. It was not until after the Eclipse that women really began to do this kind of work, and we are still interlopers in the profession. And of course some have made themselves as masculine as they can, to survive and thrive. But a number of us seek to bring feminine virtues into play: sensitivity to others, courtesy and loving cooperation, and striving to be pure and good and trusting. Feminizing (I say "humanizing", but it really is feminizing) my work is really a second job that I undertake in addition to the first, but it is very rewarding, and I have the satisfaction of being fairly well regarded at the first job in spite of the fact that I do not "play hardball" which is deemed to be necessary to success.
In my work I learned that dressing like a lady promotes ladylike behaviour in oneself. I have a long way to go in dressing like a lady, but I do the best I can. It makes it hard to slouch, or use rude language, or be unkind; one wants to live up to one's outfit somehow. It was an unlooked-for boon to learn that the presence of an obviously feminine woman promotes ladylike behaviour in other women, and gentlemanly behaviour in em-ee-en. It raises the tone of the workplace. All this was a revelation to me, as I had never considered myself as a particularly feminine-appearing girl. I am very tall, and not at all slender. When I was young I feared the ridicule of the Pit, and sought to avert it by ridiculing myself first, by making myself ridiculous in men's clothes and boots, and refusing to adorn myself in any way. I doubt if I am subject now to any more ridicule than I was then (less, I believe) and anyway, I don't care. I have confidence now in my own femininity and beauty, however unconventional.
I do not know whether I am blonde or brunette, by Aristasian standards. Perhaps none of us who perform competently in the Pit can be anything but brunette, but I do suspect that beneath my capable, organized brunette exterior beats the heart of a breathless blonde. Certainly I am a hopeless romantic. Perhaps as I age further (which in my experience really means becoming more oneself, wiser and more beautiful) I will become more and more blonde.
Oh dear, I do like to talk, don't I? Ah, barpette, if you would be so good as to get me a hot rum toddy, I'll settle back and hope some of the other new girls will tell us more about themselves. Like you, pretty Chyzelle. Or like that mysterious lady (ladies) without a name, who sometimes responds to our posts.
Ah - but if she did that, might she not lose her mystery? - Assuming there is only one of her.
You are in for the ride of your lives, just like those lovely pettes on the roller coaster back in Femmeworld. You've never met girls like us, and before long, you'll want to join in and have all the fun we're having! So please do let me buy each of you lovely creatures a drink, something warm, perhaps a hot apple toddy? Chyzelle, where did you get that rabbit muff you just gave Effie to check? It matches your collar perfectly. And hello shy Miss C. Cat, so nice to see you here. And Little Emily: glad to see you made your way here. I'm sure Miranda will be around shortly to welcome you. The littler's table is in the back, near the juke box. My, what a wonderfully full room!
You know dolls, the other day someone who knows nothing about Aristasia asked me why I look as if I just stepped out of the 1950s. I was lucky enough to have a real magazine on me (a very good way to protect yourself from the Pit, by the way. Carry a real maggie with you and read it when you have to wait in lines, etc. It works like a charm to keep the ickiness of the Pit at bay), so I handed it to her and said, "This is the only sort of magazine I ever read. The movies advertised in my magazines are the only ones I ever watch. And the same is true for my friends. Other people only think that how they dress and act is natural, when in fact it is learned, just as my way of dressing and acting is learned. I've just chosen from whom I will learn how to behave."
It's true isn't it? We are the most divine girls in the world because we aren't controlled by the Octopus, but rather we are deciding what images will influence us. The Image Sphere is all, really, because every little thing a girl looks at or reads goes into creating who she is. We may very well be the only free people on the planet, having chosen for ourselves an Image Sphere forbidden by the Pit.
Do you pettes remember how I promised to give a real Cocktail Party before the spring came and went? Well, I am way ahead of myself this year, for tomorrow is the day. I invited only blondes and brunettes I knew would be at their prettiest and wittiest for the evening. All of these pettes are quite fresh from the Pit, so some of them don't even have a stole or a proper dress to wear. Shocking, isn't it? But here is the best part. All last summer, I bought nice Quirrie cocktail party dresses at fleems, no matter what size they were. And now, these new pettes can come over early before the party to borrow gorgeous clothes, much like the dresses all of you are wearing this very evening! I have some eastern Quirrie music I'll be playing all evening, and, gosh, it should be a whole lot of fun! I'll let you pettes know.
I was just flooded with gratitude for all of you who give us this place to come and be our own sweet selves, for the management who work for farthings, for all of the pettes who give us such good advice and such nice, healing pictures to look at, gosh, for all of you. Oh, thank you for building this lovely sanctuary for all of us who want to be real and sweet and innocent. Thank you. I am listening to "Oh, But I Do" by Miss Margaret Whiting. Do you know it? Have you noticed how up-to-date music makes one's heart swell with such lovely feelings? For instance, somehow this song made me feel such loving feelings for everyone in this room, and such happiness that we are together. And it wasn't the words exactly, nor the tune, but just a touch of magic that came over me. You've all felt that way, haven't you? Inspired and transported and delighted and ennobled by a little ditty? It's so glorious, isn't it?
With All My Love,
We left off yesterday with the little, workaday fashion shows held right there in the Garment District for store buyers from all over the country. The buyers place their orders after the shows and usually 60 days later the lots are finished and ready for shipping. But sometimes styles change so quickly that they might be out of fashion in 60 days! In that case, a large buyer, who has what is called pull, may cancel an order, leaving the unfortunate jobber with thousands of dresses but no buyer. In that case, the jobber may have to sell them at a tiny mark-up or even at cost, to cut-rate department stores, such as Klein's On The Square, (see below) where they are snapped up at bargain-bin prices by girls on limited budgets.
But most of the clothing ends up proper department stores. Here is an interesting photo taken from inside a Saks Fifth Avenue display window looking out onto Fifth Avenue at 49th Street. Saks is the most expensive and elegant of the Fifth Avenue department stores, not to be confused with the ultra-exclusive women's clothing stores a bit further uptown, like Bonwit Teller, Bergdorf Goodman or Peck & Peck. Across the Avenue one can see the buildings of Rockefeller Center. The fashions in the window are summer frillies, so of course it is winter! See the elegant pette in the leopard Cossack's hat, with matching collar and oversized muff? She looks every inch the typical Saks shopper. Don't overlook the double-decker bus, either: they run only on Fifth Avenue, we Gothamites are very proud of them!
Only one block further up, on the opposite side of the Avenue, is L. Brogan's, a little girls' clothing store, where some toddler's dresses can cost up to $1,000! Here we see an elegant mommy, decked out in mink coat and snug mink helmet, buying a party dress for her three-year old. This dress was a bargain: only $60! I am afraid it does not show too well in the photo, but the little girl has on an elegant suit in striped wool, with matching rolled-brim sailor hat. She seems rather unimpressed with her mommy's choice.
I mentioned the ultra-posh shops further up Fifth Avenue, so next let us visit Bergdorf's, which occupies almost the whole east side of the block from 57th to 58th.
It specializes in high fashion and caters to an élite clientele. Although on its street floor Bergdorf's does have traditional racks and counters, its most privileged clients, those who charge twenty thousand or more in clothing each year, are not expected to deal with even the minimal clutter of Bergdorf's street floor. Such patronettes are discreetly ushered to special upstairs rooms, where they are given private fashion shows, fed tiny watercress sandwiches (without crusts), offered tea or even cocktails and generally pampered as if they are visiting royalty (which they quite often actually are!)
The soignée model parading in the foreground is modelling a double-breasted wool suit with sable stole draped negligently over her forearm. Coolly appraising the ensemble are two of Gotham's best-known debutantes of the season, Miss Anne Chase Whitney on the left, and Miss Constance van Rensellaer on the right. In the background a salesgirl (standing) discusses the season's wardrobe requirements with Miss Regina Hay-Gould (seated), another fashionable deb. At their mothers' request, prices are not disclosed to these girls - they want their daughters to choose solely on the basis of good taste and fashion. As for fit, the girls only need say, "I want this one and this one and this one and this one," and the fashions will be made to their measurements (kept on file at the store), with a first fitting in only two days: second fittings are rarely necessary, so accurate are Bergdorf's seamstresses! (Don't tell anyone, Darlings, but even Bergdorf's creations are assembled several blocks west, in a third-floor Garment District jobber's loft. These debutantes haven't the slightest suspicion!)
At the opposite end of the shopping spectrum is S. Klein's, also known as Klein's on The Square, because it faces Union Square, way downtown at 14th Street. Klein's, always mobbed from the moment it opens until the last girls are literally pushed out the door at closing time, makes a specialty of bargain prices and mammoth turnover of fashions bought up at distress sales just a mile uptown in the Garment District. Klein's is the working girl's fashion Mecca: she can be assured that not a single penny of the hard-earned dollars in her fashion budget is wasted on fripperies such as fancy show windows, display racks (dresses are piled high on tables and heaped in bins, according to size), or .... or even on dressing rooms! At Klein's a girl tries dresses on right there in the aisles! Here is a photo to prove it. Shrinking violets need not apply....
Well, that ends my little introduction to Gotham's fashion industry, an industry so remarkably versatile and productive that even Gotham's least affluent girls can go about smartly dressed. And they do, too, that's why Gotham is such a nice place to live.
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
And here are LOTS of delightful girly places to go
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