The Vintage Agony Aunt Library On Style and Decorum

Since I read a load of books about how to be stylish, getting dressed has become a nightmare. Here is my morning thought process as I try and apply all the rules.


Anyway, these modern books are restrictive and boring, a rehash of books from 50 years ago and more (I know because I own them). No, I don’t need a classic white shirt thank you because I either work from home or dress up as a banana / dolphin for my alternative stand up comedy routines.
So I’m going back to my glorious originals, more of that in a minute.

I’ve been trying to get my wardrobe organised, my whole life. Here’s a sketchbook diagram of that process, years ago before those decluttering books and programmes came out.

If there was ever a drawing not worth doing, this is it.

This is one of my favourite style books – ‘In Search Of Charm’ by Mary Young (Brockhampton Press Ltd, 1962). It tells you how to take off your coat, button up a cardigan, laugh pleasantly and get out of a car without flashing your arse.

‘How many colours am I wearing?’ Right now I am wearing seven and that’s only four items.

This always happens, I’m getting distracted and now reading the whole book. Here is an extract about how to drink coffee:
Keep the cup over the saucer when drinking. Do this either by leaning over the saucer or by picking up the cup and saucer. You thus avoid the ungainly habit (seen much too often these days) of scraping the cup on the edge of the saucer, and then wafting the cup minus saucer through half a yard of air to reach the mouth. (These remarks apply, of course, to any drink using a cup and saucer.)

Please remember this if you find yourself in my company in the future. Ha.
I have about thirty of these books from all different decades. I have an idea! Send me a question about style, decorum, etiquette or feminism and I’ll answer your question using my Vintage Library. Here’s an example of a question – ‘Is it correct to let an escort hold my elbow protectively in a crowd?’ The answer is, yes it is. But don’t let the escort hold your arm all the time in the street. This can look sloppy and in any case, neither of you can thus execute good deportment.
Right, that’ll do, I’m off.