Friday, 26 July 2013

VINTAGE: Complete Etiquette - Make Up

While I was busy listing books and all sorts of vintage delights for finding new homes, I came across a book we picked up at an estate sale by Frances Benton called Complete Etiquette. Etiquette books have been something I've been picking up a lot lately were it's reached the point of needing to re-home a few of them. Through collecting vintage powder compacts a natural interest comes through reading about the role and position of make up in decades past so I make a point of reading through their chapters. The make up descriptions are certainly an entertaining read in this book, the sarkiness and personality of Ms. Benton is reminiscent of a strict schoolmistresses that it possibly would have made weak girls turn in fear from a make up brush in the 1950 when Complete Etiquette came to be published. 

Most of us women love make up in one for or another so I thought i'd share with you Ms. Benton's thoughts on the matter, all words really are her own. 


Make up can edge over into vulgarity or theatricality if it's not used within a fine hard, so learn how to apply it ... and exercise restraint. To be in a good taste, your make up should never look mask like or artificial. 

1. Lipstick. Lipstick is supposed to emphaise your mouth, not remake it, so follow the lines of your own lips in applying it. Garish shades like the extreme purples or oranges are generally in poor taste.

2. Powder. It's never attractive to look distinctly powdery, so get a shade of powder that matches your skin, and use your powder puff with a light hand. 

3. Mascara. If you need to emphaise your eyelashes, practice until you are good at it and always apply it lightly. Cakes mascara is unappetizing. In daytime, it's wiser to use mascara only on the upper lashes, 

4. Rogue. If rogue is at all noticeable, you have too much on. In fact unless you are really pale and sallow, it's better to leave it entirely alone. 

5. Pan Make Up. This is not good for daytime wear. It looks unnatural, Remember, too if you do wear it at night, it has to be blended into your neck or it will make your face look like a mask.

6. Eye Shadow. This is better left to professionals; it almost always looks theatrical.

7. Eyebrows. You should pluck your eyebrows only if they grow in a straggly line and need tidying. To do it properly, plucky stray hairs from the edges, but never try to change the natural line of your eyebrows. If you do, you'll only end up looking artificial rather then glamorous. 

8. Hair Dye. If you must dye your hair, make up your mind to spend the necessary time to keep it properly touched up all the way to the roots at all times. Also, select a shade which is natural to your colouring. It may be necessary for a movie star to be a blonde in one picture and a redhead in the next; it is necessary and certainly not tasteful for an ordinary women to go in for switches. 

Taken from Complete Etiquette - The Complete Modern Guide for Day-to-Day Living the Correct Way by Frances Benton published in 1956.

While she may be correct in how to pluck eyebrows, as someone who's dyed her hair from a natural very dark brown to blonde, red and black and had more then her fair share of root growth showing (even right now) I find her hair dye suggestions wanting. While I love vintage, i'm all for the progress that's been made in consideration of how to be feminine. I wonder how Ms. Benton would find the trend for extreme pink rogue, or ombre hair these days! 


  1. #4 and #6 seem so crazy by today's standards!

  2. This is a great post, some great guidelines there we should all stick to :)

    Lyndsay xx | Fizzy Peaches ♡