Y’all know my first question to blog guests is: “What kind of undies are we talking about?” I’ve gotten some really great answers over the years, but today’s guest is simply too dignified to flip up her skirts for our amusement.
Here’s a sassy 19th century gal, talking about some really spooky products. All of my comments are in pink. :-)
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19th century women: personal enhancements
by Concordia Wells
translated by K.B. Owen [with plenty of commentary by Jenny]
Although I am by no means an expert on what constitutes female beauty, the charming Miss Hansen has asked me for my insight in regard to the common beauty issues for which the ladies of my time seek remedy.
[My actual question: Whatcha got on under all those clothes?]
I’m happy to oblige, although I must warn her that the remedies are at the least a waste of money, and at the worst ridiculous.
[Don't you LOVE how fancy they spoke back in the day??]
A Lady’s Hair
The ideal for a woman’s hair is that it be soft, full, lustrous, and manageable. Such qualities are considered indicative of youth and good health. Sadly, many a lady experiences dissatisfaction – anxiety even – over the state of her hair.
[Well, that hasn't changed in a 100+ years...]
I am not immune to such a condition, as my own hair never behaves as I would wish: it continually comes out of its pins, and is a most unfashionable shade of red. Tonics and treatments galore are available, although the effectiveness of these are called into doubt.
Here is one such tonic:
Quite a number of claims are made in the advertisement, particularly that of a baldness cure. If that were the case, I know many a gentleman who would have availed himself of such a remedy.
A Lady’s Complexion
Mottled skin tone and blemishes are the frequent bane of a woman’s beauty routine, and there are no end of homemade and druggist concoctions available to meet demand. I suffer from freckles myself, and I’ve found only by reducing sun exposure does one find relief. I have since thrown up my hands in surrender, since I will certainly not give up my bicycle-riding to satisfy the demands of beauty.
[You GO, Concordia! I think freckles are gorgeous angel kisses. Keep on biking...they might not be able to see that perky behind under all those layers, but you'll know.]
Here is a popular product that some ladies use:
Thank goodness we have moved away from the use of arsenic in complexion creams, which was a truly dangerous practice.
[Arsenic and skin? *shudders*]
A Lady’s Size
When one partakes too much of the pleasures of the table and not enough of the joys of outdoor exercise, a lady can find her size expanding and her clothes ill-fitting. Often she attempts to seek a quick remedy, such as this:
[Oh, now come ON, 19th c advertisers! *grumbling*
Concordia, my darling, since you've popped up here to the 21st century with us, we're gonna send you back with some tools (IYKWIM). I think it's time to get over to August McLaughlin's place for some Girl Boner tips. Take those back in time and see how everyone reacts.]
Setting aside the ill-advised form of address – one cannot imagine any lady taking kindly to the term “fat,” no matter how much room she occupies on a park bench – I doubt the effectiveness of such a product. Wouldn’t everyone be trim if it were so easy and affordable?
A Lady’s Bust
Many a woman sighs over the flatness or general inadequacy of her bosom. Instead of appreciating what Providence has given her, she seeks to enhance its size with a product such as this:
The left edge is hard to see, so I will provide the quotation: “If Nature has not favored you with that greatest charm, bosom, full and perfect, send for the Princess Bust Developer, and you will be pleased over the result of a few weeks’ use.”
[With all those layers, you're telling me these gals had no precursor to the push-up bra?]
One would hope that the cream itself is at least harmless, but the plunger-style apparatus makes one shudder, does it not? As I do not have personal experience with such foolishness, I cannot speak to the effectiveness of such a product. However, I have yet to notice among any women of my acquaintance a sudden change in her silhouette, or a dramatic improvement in a gentleman’s attentions towards her. It seems a sad waste of money.
All I have to add here, is thank God Corcordia is a woman of good sense (who knows enough not to buy all this crap). We’re sending her back to her time with voting pamphlets and some Girl Boner products. We’ll see if that brings a smile to The Ogre’s face.
Here’s more about Concordia Wells and her Unseemly Adventures:
A deadly secret that won’t stay buried…
It is the fall of 1896, and Miss Concordia Wells is hip-deep in the usual tumult of a lady professor’s life: classes, clubs, student pranks, and the unending drama generated by the girls she lives with on campus. Complicating this normality is the new Lady Principal, whom the students have nicknamed “the Ogre.” The woman seems bent on making Concordia’s life miserable.
And then there’s the exotic spirit medium, Madame Durand, who has befriended Concordia’s mother and has started a “Spirit Club” on campus. Madame’s prognostications of doom are at first only mildly irritating – until events take a sobering turn. An ancient Egyptian amulet donated to the college mysteriously disappears, the donor is found murdered, and his daughter – Concordia’s best friend – confesses to killing him.
Desperate for answers, Concordia unravels a 20-year-old secret, closely guarded by men now dead. But such secrets can be dangerous for the daughters left behind, including Concordia herself. Can she make sense of the mystery that has bound together their fates, before it’s too late?
Where can you buy Unseemly Pursuits?
And there’s an Unseemly giveaway!!
During K.B.’s Unseemly Pursuits book tour, which ends HERE, there’s a giveaway at each blog stop. The winner, randomly drawn from the commenters at each stop, will get a free ebook copy of Unseemly Pursuits.
Next week, Kathy will hold another random drawing from among the ebook winners for the final prize: a special Concordia Wells series swag package! It includes customized mug, keychain, JellyBelly mini-tin, and signed paperback copies of the first two mysteries: Dangerous and Unseemly and Unseemly Pursuits. You can read, sip your coffee, and snack on candy in unseemly style.
More Cowbell is the last stop on Kathy’s tour, so leave those comments for a chance to win! She’ll announce all of the winners next week. Check the sidebar on the home page of http://kbowenmysteries.com to see the previous stops and learn more.
About Concordia’s Creator:
K.B. Owen taught college English at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature. A long-time mystery lover, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells.
Unseemly Pursuits is the second book of the series. The first book, Dangerous and Unseemly, was published in early 2013.
K.B. currently lives in Virginia with her husband and sons, and is busily planning the lady professor’s next adventure.