The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 8 (November 2, 1936)
Our Women's Section — Timely Notes and Useful Hints
Meg In A Hurry.
“Yes. Coming! Lend me a handkie, will you? I've another glove somewhere—”
Rummaging frantically, Meg achieved the glove, incidentally rumpling a pile of freshly-laundered undies. Half-shutting the drawer, which dripped a disconsolate stocking, Meg glanced with distaste at the littered dressing-table—hair clips, jars and their tops, a golf tee, two pennies, last night's corsage posy, a pink Wool-worth ticket. Deciding that she hadn't a minute to tidy the mess, she sped down the stairs and arrived at the front door seemingly unruffled, cool and fresh as the spring day itself.
To Meg, outings always seemed to start with a rush. One engagement came on top of another, and in between she never seemed to have that extra minute or two for collecting herself and her belongings. As now, there was always the intention of “clearing up” later, before the evening engagement, but usually the rush of preparation lasted until a ring at the door-bell announced the arrival of her escort. Another despairing look at the signs of her progress, a mental note to “tidy up” before bed, and Meg was off again. And, of course, at bed-time, tired youth longed only to lay her head on the pillow, after the necessary attentions to teeth, complexion, hair, had been paid. After all, she would feel fresher in the morning! And so on!
I am not inveighing against untidiness, but against the unnecessary strain Meg imposes upon herself. The last minute rush, the idea at the back of her mind that she should catch up on things, her natural hatred of disorder, combine to weary her, mentally and physically, far more than she realizes.
Method is the only cure, as any busy person will tell you. She must re-adjust her time schemes to allow for adequate preparation for any social occasion. To rise a few minutes earlier improves the time-table for the whole day. She must impose on herself a rigid discipline as regards things and places. Just as she would never dream of retiring without first removing cosmetics, so she must regard as impossible the throwing of an evening frock over a chair with the vague idea of hanging it up next morning. Her evening bag must be placed in its drawer—not a drawer, but its drawer.
This drawer business is very important. Hunting for handkerchiefs among nightgowns, disentangling scarves from stockings, is a nerve-racking business. Drawer space should be allotted according to plan. Toilet requisites should be kept in a top drawer, and not scattered over the surface of the table. Beads, ear-rings, clips, etc., should have their own box or boxes. Handkerchiefs, collars, belts, scarves, gloves and stockings (neatly rolled) should each occupy a set place. Lower drawers should be kept for lingerie. Once positions are decided, an effort for a week or two will make the returning of everything to its place, immediately after use, habitual. The test of drawer perfection is the finding of any article, without fumbling, in the dark.
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Flowers are everywhere—artificial ones. Real flowers are lovelier, but they droop and look unhappy, so most women seem to have abandoned them to gather joyfully the products of art—daisies on the front of a shallow-crowned, wide-brimmed leghorn; a Victorian posy in a lapel; carved wooden flowers for buttons; “flower” buckles on belts; flowers on evening gowns, vivid shoulder sprays, roses of organdie or velvet in “plastron” effect, a posy tucked negligently in the belt; flowers from the frock material appliqued on coats and capes of net or plain material.
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Noticed among the hats—picture hats, adaptations of the sailor, the breton, the shovel, the bowler and the ubiquitous toque; flat crowns, sloping crowns, folded crowns, flowered crowns; wide brims, narrow brims, no brims at all, brims tilted or rolled, graceful or rakish, of cellophane or wisped with veiling; trimmings of flowers, of velvet, of ribbon, tails down the back or veils down the front; leghorns, pedal or sisal straws, jack tars, weaves coarse or fine, shiny or dull. Hats, this season, for all tastes.
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Frock materials are manifold. Cottons carry on the work of peaceful penetration begun last season into the heart of Fashionland. Linens must be included in all wardrobes, as summer suits and as sports frocks. The silklinens (also anti-crease) rival the dull finish in popularity. Among more dressy materials are printed georgettes and crepes. Dull crepes may show lacquered designs or a rainswept effect. Cloque materials are marvellous for evening frocks, hostess gowns and even for suits.
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Style points to be noted this spring: The jacket influence is seen in clothes for many social occasions. If Madame leaves her suit of fine wool or of dull-surfaced silk cloque in the wardrobe, it is to don a frock with a basque or maybe a jacket dress. Jacket necks are interesting. There may be a small upstanding Chinese collar or none at page 60 all, the collar of the frock or blouse being pulled out over the jacket. Backs are usually wide as in the evening jacket of velvet with raglan sleeves, so suitable for these cool evenings.
As an occasional change from jackets, one sees the three-quarter coat, semi-swagger. One smart model had detachable pique cuffs (frequent laundering necessary, of course). Wool tunics to slip over thin frocks are smart and sensible. The slim, wool coat to wrap over gay frocks, will be of use all through the summer.
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A final note of the new season is variety in accessories. Even tennis frocks may be adorned with gay piping, buttons or belts, though to my mind trimming looks better on the stand than on the courts.
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Excitement In Colour.
It was a cinema, a newly-decorated palace of colour, complete with gilded pillars, trellised and flower-bestrewn orchestral pit, and gay boxes, where no one ever sat, but which were got up to resemble a child's idea of the garden in Wonderland—I believe there was even a fountain with sparkling drops permanently suspended for the admiring gaze of audiences.
The effect on most people was one of pleasure at the gaiety of the scene. The ostentation of it satisfied the power instinct. They, John Smith and Mary Brown, were able to procure for themselves such surroundings; they felt closer to Hollywood immediately on entering the foyer. The mixture of styles and colours conveyed by medium of the eye the subtle excitement provided through the ear by jazz.
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Despite the feeling of pleasure, I would suggest that colour excitement and sound excitement are not beneficial to city dwellers. In this neurotic age the average person needs to be soothed, mentally, rather than over-stimulated. Intricate colour designs present themselves in daily life without our seeking. It were well, therefore, in our hours of leisure to seek those colour harmonies which, according to the experiments of the psychologists, have the effects we need.
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The indication is escape, whenever possible, from urban surroundings. Among the hills, in country valleys, by the sea, the long-distance sight, so little used in this machine age, is exercised. The peace of nature, nature in its tonings of green, soothes the mind; sunshine, the golden glint of sands, of gorse, of burnished leaves, warms the understanding; the eyes are lifted and the blue of the heavens, the reflected blue of the sea, inspire the whole being. This is so; these colours have these effects; the men in clinics as well as the men ploughing fields or driving motor-caravans have proved it. For unhealthy colour stimulation, the garishness of cities; for cure, green hills lapped by blue waters, and sunshine over all.
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Becomes a Health Exercise.
Washing-up is a household task which is never entirely pleasant. The only seeming advantage connected with it is the soothing effect in cold weather of laving the hands in hot water.
Christopher Morley once portrayed a man who was the household washer-up and who, to mitigate the irksomeness of the task, fitted up a bookstand over the sink. I don't remember his mentioning how the difficulty of turning pages with wet hands was overcome. Reading at the sink is not a recreation many would advocate; but I do consider that any person whose occupation requires intense mental activity should offer to wash the dinner dishes at night, the idea being to use this as a time for relaxation: with the hands moving gently in the suds, consciously to purge the mind of worries, eliminate strains.
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Before one can pay attention to relaxing the mind, it is necessary to have washing-up rationalized. Method is the thing. Dishes should be stacked according to size after having been carefully scraped and, if necessary, rinsed under the cold tap. Silver and cutlery should be collected in separate piles. If plenty of hot water is available, have the spoons and forks standing in a basin of hot water with a dash of soap-powder added. A stir round later will cleanse them.
Keep the soap-powder packet handy so that the necessity for shaking the soap-saver wildly in order to make a lather may be obviated. The hygienic dish-washer has a double-sink, one part for rinsing. If a second sink is not available, have a basin of hot water for the final dip. By rinsing of tea-towels every morning, the perfect housewife will see that plenty of clean towels are ready for the hot dishes—or perhaps there is a rack.
To avoid the wiping or scrubbing of a wooden bench use a tray for draining.
By method and by conscious relaxation, a hated household task becomes a useful mental exercise.