Let’s Take 1930’s Home Economics Together! Chapter Five: How to Know and Select Color

Last week, we learned about design, with a lesson called “Design, Its Need and Use.” This week, we will be learning all about colour with Dulcie Godlove Donovan’s “The Mode in Dress and Home”, in Chapter Five: How to Know and Select Color. This lesson includes full colour illustrations – very exciting! There is something about learning about and being surrounded by colour that is just so cheery, so I’m looking forward to this lesson!

(Click to enlarge and read pages)

I just love these 1930’s colour illustrations and the gorgeous outfits! I would love to make every outfit in this book.

Join us next week, when we will learn how to dress to suit our appearances and personalities, as well as for different occasions, in Chapter Six: Appropriateness for Type and Occasion!

To read previous lessons, feel free to search the “Let’s Take Home Economics” category, or the Home Economics tag. New lessons are posted weekly on Sundays.

Chatelaine, A Woman’s Place: Seventy Years in the Lives of Canadian Women edited by Sylvia Fraser, introduction by Rona Maynard

My wonderful older sister who knows me all too well gave me this super fascinating book as part of an early birthday present and I’ve really been enjoying flipping through it and just know I’m going to love reading it cover to cover! It was published in 1997 and is full of interesting articles and awesome photographs and illustrations from Chatelaine magazine. I absolutely adore this book! It’s a 280 page fully illustrated coffee table book and is just an amazing peek into women’s lives across different eras.

Today I thought  I would share some pictures and passages from this great book with all of you, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have been!

Unfortunately copies of this book seem to be hard to find, and it isn’t available on openlibrary.org, but I did find some copies available on biblio.com for anyone who may be interested!

Prisons & Prisoners, by Constance Lytton, 1914


I just started reading this fascinating book by Lady Constance Lytton, who was a suffragette, member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, as well as a former prisoner (she was arrested and put in jail four times due to her activities with the Union) who fought not only for women’s right to vote and have access to birth control, but for prison reform, too. She really was quite a remarkable woman. She once used the alias Jane Warton (posing as a London seamstress) while in prison to avoid receiving any special treatment due to her affluent background and family connections. During that two week stint in prison she was force fed eight times while on a hunger strike, which must have been an absolutely hellishly brutal ordeal – I can’t imagine being subjected to an early 1900’s force feeding, it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it! This book is an incredibly interesting and I definitely recommend you check it out here, on archive,org.

Spotlight: Can a Corset be Feminist? by Alexander Fury, New York Times Style Magazine, 2016

This article by Alexander Fury for the New York Times Style Magazine, published November 25th 2016, is a very fascinating read and poses some interesting questions, so I thought I would share it with all of you today.

I personally think that if a woman chooses to wear a corset, whether for health/pain management reasons, or to feel more sexually empowered, or for any other reason for that matter, it’s okay, because it is her choice.

We are, thankfully, no longer living in a time or a society where wearing a corset is not a choice. And I’m sure the women of today who do choose to wear them do so for any number of reasons that have very little (if anything) to do with setting women’s progress back a hundred years. I think one of the main differences now is just what I have already stated: we have a choice. And ideally, it is nobody’s choice to make but our own.

So, what do you think? Can a corset be feminist (obviously not – it’s an item of clothing, so I guess the real question would be can you wear a corset and still consider yourself a feminist)? Is this even an issue? With all of the important things we still have to fight for (and fight to hold on to), does something as relatively trivial as an item of underclothing even matter? Let me know what your thoughts are on all of this in the comments!

Women in Service, Training films 1940’s-1970’s


Today, I would like to share with you some fabulous military training films for women in service that I found on youtube. They really are very interesting to watch and the ones from the 1970’s in particular are very kitschy!

It is amazing, but not surprising, that even though these women were in service they were still expected to focus so much of their time and attention on maintaining their appearance and rigidly adhering to gender roles. Though the rules and regulations regarding appearance and performance were slightly different to what most other women were expected to follow during these times, you can see from these videos how big a role maintaining a feminine appearance played even for the women in the WAC, for example.

So all that said, the first training film I will be sharing with you is from 1970 and focuses on military etiquette and grooming for WACs.

This next one on personal hygiene for women in the Navy from 1943 includes one of my favourite things – a guy helpfully mansplaining a woman’s reproductive system to actual women! (I’m sure you realized that was total sarcasm, by the way.)

Contrast that one with this “Strictly Personal” film on hygiene for WACs from the 1960’s (note: the sound cuts out about 1/2 way through, unfortunately!):

From 1954, “The WAC is a Soldier, Too”:

A 1962 promotional film on the history of the WACs:

And we’ll end with another amazingly groovy one from 1970, on military etiquette for women in service:

I really enjoy watching these and thinking about the actual women who were in service during these times and wondering what they thought as they sat watching these training films, and how they felt about being in service in general, and what they were up against. It’s a topic I would love to learn more about.

I hope you enjoyed watching these!


Hi-Fashion Sewing and Tailoring, by Helen S. Jones, 1970

I just love this little volume by Helen S. Jones! it is fully illustrated (by Nancy T. Bunce) and packed with tons of useful sewing tips and techniques, and is written in a very friendly yet concise manner. If you need certain techniques explained more in depth, another book would probably be more handy, such as the Singer Sewing Book or Constance Talbot’s Complete Book of Sewing, but for a fairly short, compact book, Hi-Fashion Sewing and Tailoring does have quite a lot to offer.

According to the back cover flap, Helen S. Jones was/is a “graduate home economist with practical experience in helping women learn to sew beautifully”, and had a career in fashion consulting and sewing instruction – “her lectures and classes have been conducted on college campuses, over tv and in fashion fabric centers.” Can you imagine? What an amazing career! This book definitely contains a wealth of knowledge and is a great source to have on hand if you can find a copy like I did.

Today I would like to share some photos I took of my copy, as well as a link to the page on openlibrary.org where you can read it online. I definitely recommend hunting down a copy, because I know that it has come in handy for me a few times when I’ve been stuck on a couple of techniques that I was trying to learn!

Let’s Take 1930’s Home Economics Together! Chapter Four: Design, Its Need and Use

Last week we ended Unit 1 by learning how to shop wisely, this week we begin Unit 2: The Art of Dressing Well from Dulcie Godlove Donovan’s “The Mode in Dress and Home,” and read Chapter Four: Design, Its Need and Use! I hope you all enjoy this, I know I’ve been looking forward to it!

(Click to enlarge and read pages)

Next week, we will read Chapter Five: How to Know and Select Color, I hope to see you then!

If you’ve just joined us, you can search the Let’s Take Home Economics Together category or search the Home Economics tag for previous lessons. Lessons/chapters are posted every Sunday.

My First Underbust Corset

Since the lovely Elena asked so nicely and I forgot to do this the last time I posted about it, I’m going to share a photo of the corset I ordered on Thursday and am waiting on the edge of my seat for.

I didn’t want to have to deal with a bunch of malarkey with customs duties/fees while ordering my first corset so I had to make sure that the price was under or around a certain amount, and luckily I was able to get a really amazing deal on the corset that I finally chose – $20.99 USD, down from $99 USD on corsetdeal.com! They have some really lovely corsets on sale in their clearance section right now if anyone in Canada (like me!) or the States is looking for a great deal on one –  and the rest of the corsets on their site are stunning as well!*

I had wanted to get a plain black one, but unfortunately there were none in my size by the time the funds cleared in Paypal from my bank account, so instead I got this turquoise beauty, which has a nice number of steel bones in it and I figure I can still hide it pretty easily underneath my clothes, because most of my tops are darker colours anyway.


(Image Credit: corsetdeal.com)

You can find this same corset for sale here if you would like it! They still have sizes 20 and 22 left. It is satin with a cotton lining and has 14 flat steel bones (along with a metal busk in the front), which I’m hoping will work well for me to start with and ease me into eventually wearing one with more bones. I’m thinking of getting an overbust corset somewhere down along the line, so I’ll probably get one with more boning in it then. I’m really looking forward to getting steel hugs from my new friend every day! Hopefully it will arrive next week, my fingers are crossed!

When it has arrived and I’ve worn it around for a few days or a week or so, I will most likely write up a review, so I can let you all know how it works out, if anyone is interested. I’m really looking forward to it arriving and I hope that it ends up working out well!



*Here I would like make a note since I’ve mentioned the merchant a few of times in this post, and made a reference to their sale, so some may wonder – I am in no way affiliated with them, and I was not asked to write this post or a review. I purchased the corset myself, with my own money, so any opinions I express in this post or in any review I may end up writing for this corset will be my own and free of any outside influence. 🙂