"to get the most out of the new world one can not be a frump"

As a woman approaches forty she has had her vision and knows whether or not her dream will come true. If her mind has kept pace with the years and is now a storehouse of inspiring thought, she is at the most interesting time of her life. The Earth and the Fullness thereof is hers if she wisely avails herself. Her wit, her poise, her vividness attract all. She radiates a certain fascination that is only partly sophisticated. Balzac said of her, "She has the art of making her attitude speak for her. Her silence is more dangerous than her speech."

This woman of middle age should sparkle with the brilliance of a glittering gem or she should glow with the appealing luster of a pearl. No ingenuous trappings of youth should tempt her, but she should reign in sumptuous gowns of metallic tissue or of rare brocades. Her gowns of velvet draped in long lines should be innocent of all adornment except the jewels which are worn as a definite part of the costume. She can by right wear those jewels that are not suited to young girls.

For her morning clothes, she will probably select the coat dress of woolen fabric or of dull-finished silk, dark in color and usually with matching accessories.

For afternoon, her clothes display an elegance in fabric and decoration that does not belong to the jeune fille. The woman of forty does not think in terms of prettiness but of mature charm. Of one such American woman it was said, "Her charm and beauty are such that, when she walks into a room, everybody is expectantly silent."

The woman of forty knows her own limitations, but she has knowledge of her good points as well. She characterizes her clothes with her own intellectual personality, a mental vividness, a sympathetic understanding, a sense of proportion, balnace, and judgment. "The women who are remembered," says one of the foremost cinema directors, "are seldom the younger ones. They are usually the women of maturity."

It is, of course, absurd for woment to lose interest in dress at any age. Certainly the women who have reached the "dangerous age" of forty should never, while mourning the departure of youth, become lackadaisical about their clothes. This is the age when women should be brimful of a great desire to do something worth while in order to meet the interesting people with which the world is teeming. And to get the most out of the new world one can not be a frump. One must keep up an interest in clothes and an appreciation of their power of Expression.

From Individuality and Clothes, by Margaret Story, 1930.

0 thoughts on “"to get the most out of the new world one can not be a frump"

  1. I was thinking as I was reading this charming commentary on “the art of being 40” that it was written in the 1930s. This was about the time that people began to live longer thanks to medical advances. In the 1800s, you were lucky to make it to the big Four-Oh. I kept looking for some mention of yoga pants, but would be for the 40-somethings in the 21st century.


  2. “As a woman approaches forty she has had her vision and knows whether or not her dream will come true.”It might take a little longer if the woman’s dream is world conquest.Madelene


  3. The New Yorker said of me, “At forty-eight, she still looked like a schoolgirl, with her round, guileless face, toothy smile, and Orphan Annie dress.” I think it’s called denial.


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