Feminine Appearance Success Stories

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All Things Feminine

Sandy in PA wrote this wonderful, long tribute to exquisite femininity.

I wrote about keeping an extra handkerchief for a friend, and mentioned aprons and fans and other things strictly feminine...and due to request I will finish that train of thought if you all don't mind.

I suppose that I look for and covet any little thing that will exaggerate my being the lady of the house. Men don't wear frills and lace and that sort of thing. But when I do, then he becomes more manly in the contrast. That is why I borrow things from yesteryear. They knew how to exaggerate the differences better a couple of generations ago. Now, about the only huge diffence between men and women are we carry purses, wear make up and more jewelry.

Do you have a signature scent? Every year, after Christmas I buy my signature perfume in sets that have been discounted. I buy enough for use every day for the rest of the year. It is normally $25-50 and I buy it from Christmas gift money. What a difference it makes in my life. A spray in the morning and just before dh comes home. The cologne for every day, the perfume if I am going out. A sachet of it in my lingerie drawer. A spritz on the sheets to entice him with while I am making the bed in front of him ( a shy smile and hurry home tonight honey). A sachet in my homemade stationary. So many people have said, "you always smell so nice".

To borrow from yesteryear I have my aprons. I prefer to collect old ones because there must be such stories with them. Most were lovingly made, some are quite frilly and made so light that you can see through them. My Valentines apron is like that. A light pink tule with a little pocket that has embroidered flowers on it. I love to collect the vintage prints and checks. Some have been hand smocked and some are beautifully embroidered. They have seen many meals prepared, and many cleaning days. Their pockets held coins or small toys rescued from the vacuum cleaner. The frilly ones may have seen many dinner parties or family gatherings. Their pockets might have held a dainty scented handkerchief. What fun to have enough to match my house dresses. I have a special one just for Christmas, new but made with love. It was made by a beautiful Puerto Rican lady who I did many craft shows with. Red of course, with a bib of poinsettias and such a long full skirt on it that you always feel festive wearing it. Put gently away with the Christmas decorations each year. Aprons are very easy to make though and a couple will be enough to give you that "feeling".

Another thing borrowed from yesteryear. I always carry a fan with me in the summer. I learned this while living in Puerto Rico. I bought several in Old San Juan so beautiful, trimmed in lace and depicting the island on one and another beautiful flowers. Oh did I use those fans. It truly made a difference when I found myself outside on different occasions. Lady's should never sweat or be exposed to heat without a fan. The first time I went to DH's church with him, it was a warm summer morning and the church was not air conditioned. Out came the fan, I really thought nothing of it until I looked over at him, he was mesmerized by me at that moment. He told me later that he was so captivated that I had it with me, that I looked beautiful with it and that it was so useful (he had benefited from the fluttering as well). He said he was rather proud that I was the only one that had one in church and all the other women wish they had one. He was right, more and more fans started showing up at church. Just a little Chinese fold up fan will work and usually you can find them for less then a dollar. It will surprise you how nice it is to have and how often you will use it if you carry one. People will out and out envy you and tell you so.

Another trick I learned about a lady controlling the heat was from living in Texas. A wise lady farmer told me that you can dip a straw hat in water before you put it on your head for keeping cool. What a difference when working in the yard or on outings that you know will be very warm. You can poke a hole in them and run a ribbon or scarf through to secure them to your head. I am extremely fair and a hat these days is almost a necessity. These also are very inexpensive and you can add flowers, lace, or pins to decorate them up. On a hot summer day I will dip that hat in water several times while working in the garden. Don't forget to protect your hands with some pretty garden gloves. While out in the garden, if you forget your basket, you can use the apron as a carrier to bring in those tomatoes but a basket makes a beautiful picture to the family when carrying those cut flowers for the dinner table or take off that hat and turn it over for the basket.

Linens are another thing that I love to collect. Especially if they are handmade or embroidered. I know now what the past generations knew. If you use doilies then you don't have to dust as much and the furniture is better protected. I have little squares set on triangle at the top of my upholstered chairs and couch. There are doilies on the coffee and side tables. On the dressers, on the back of the commodes. I have enough to change and some that are colored for holidays. Some are just from the dollar store but what a difference they make. I have antique and new table cloths and find that I can change the look of the table dramatically and set a different mood by using a vintage linen with fruit designs for a country feel to a draped plain colored with a lacy on top for a very elegant look. I often will use placemats, made on the computer and covered with contact paper for holidays over the table cloth. I also have some very nice mirrored place mats. When it is just DH and I, I can often go a month without having to change the cloth...but normally feel the need for a change sooner. When I have children, it is a quick matter to pull that cloth off and throw it in the washer and no more wiping the table a task that I really dislike with crumbs all over the floor. A couple generations ago, they would use a crumber. You might see these in antique stores now, basically a little whisk brush and a dust pan for getting the crumbs off the table cloth.

Our grandmothers knew how to feel like ladys. They didn't have to yearn for and reach for it like we do in this confusing world of unclear gender roles. They had their traditions and feminity definded by the items they used and touched every day. My dear granny never left the house without earrings or lipstick. There were always cut flowers and a fresh table cloth. She used Jergens hand cream, ponds face cream, and always smelled faintly of perfume. All these scents bring back memories of her and I build scent memories of me every day. Set some of these very lady like traditions for yourself.

You can find things old more reasonably than you can imagine. Some come from yard sales, re-sale shops, flea markets and some are even reasonable in antique stores. I always watch for them. Old things have another benefit too, they will just go up in value and if you have enough of them that you can change them often, they will hold up well. Don't worry about being out of style. Shabby Chic is all "that" right now and items of quality are always respected.

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