The Power of Pretty ® and The Lost Art of Loveliness
Mid-century America, from about 1946 until 1964, placed great value on the fantasy of the feminine ideal. The lady. Elegance, grace, and restrained sensual allure were highly valued traits. Rules of conduct and social graces were taught in school. Whether you were from the city or the country, you were taught how to conduct yourself, and if you didn’t, you were corrected. Even if you were a young girl with no chance of attending a finishing school or modeling college, all you had to do was pick up a magazine, watch a movie, or stare at the television to study the refinement and poise presented on camera.
Not long before that, however, things were different. During the Second World War, American women were asked to rise to the challenge. The nurturing wife and mother of the 1930’s was asked to “toughen up, buckle down and carry on.” And by filling hundreds of thousands of vacant jobs previously done by men, carry on they did. As a consequence, fashion took a complete one-eighty. Women donated their coveted nylon stockings to the war effort and drew faux seams down the back of their legs instead. The soft and willowy bias cut silhouettes of ‘30’s morphed to broad padded shouldered suits, clunky shoes, and tight pompadour hairdos. Women took over where the men left off and many enjoyed the challenge.
But, when the war was over, many ended up back at home in a more traditional role. So much so it created one of the largest baby booms in recent history. With the return to family, fashion returned to the feminine. Waists were cinched; breasts took focus, full skirts supported by starched crinolines heralded our nations’ return to a more Victorian expression of femininity. A lady was to be a lady, and a gentleman was to be a gentleman. Movies idealized the American dream. Magazines and finishing schools taught us how to walk, speak and conduct ourselves respectfully in public.
But like all trends, the generation that creates it is replaced by a generation who hates it. Blame it on the boomers. Blame it on the women’s movement. Blame it on the pendulum of progress. But those lady like rituals, once seen as privilege were now viewed as repressive. Over the course of the next three decades the art of loveliness would all but completely fade away, and the art of chivalry, from the men who once knew how to treat a lady along with it.
I am, and have always been a believer that the use of loveliness and charm gives you the ultimate advantage. The advantage of appreciation, respect and admiration. Perhaps it’s time we rediscover and reclaim that power and use it to full advantage. With the Power of Pretty® more opportunities are presented. And more respect and admiration are given without having to speak a word.