REVIEW: Lilly Daché – Author and Famous Hat Maker of a By-Gone Era

[Book Review – Part 1 of a 2-Part series]

The value of Lilly Daché’s vintage hats holds up through the ages. But not so much her philosophy of life.

Lilly Daché's advice book for women about how to be glamorous "at all times."


Lilly Daché’s Glamour Book, written in 1956, is a reflection of that time—pre-women’s movement. In it, Daché emphasizes the “duty” of women to look beautiful at all times. All I can say is, thank goodness the 50s are over!

This book also has a European worldview in the battle of the sexes (as Lilly immigrated from France to the US when she was 18). If you’re a feminist like me, or believe in equality of the sexes, her comments are très outdated.

For instance, Lilly says she learned the meaning of real happiness after she got married. The most important thing she learned about marriage is that a “husband expects the undivided attention of his wife when he is with her” and “she must not chatter of the day’s triumphs…”

FuchsiaWoman says, “Oh, brother sister!”

Lilly says her husband “expects a wife to be waiting eagerly for him when he comes home, to defer to his opinions and admire his strength, to be soft and clinging and feminine…” OUCH. Definitely not a FuchsiaWoman outlook.  Didn’t work for Betty Draper either.

But after explaining her woman’s role as a doormat in the marital world, I enjoyed her plucky can-do attitude and her exhortation that ANY woman can be glamorous.

Lilly claims she never was pretty. She was a homely girl and a plain woman who became glamorous through attitude and self-confidence. She says part of that can be gained by a new hat!

Advertisement for Lilly Daché hat.

“A hat is an accent. It can create a mood. It can tell the world you are witty or romantic, timid or daring,” Lilly says. “I have seen a new hat change a woman’s whole life.”

If that’s true, too bad American women have given up this fashion accessory!

The next part of the book deals with three areas that Lilly says, “contribute to the idea of a lovely woman.” These are hair, skin, and fragrance. After that, Lilly talks about the value of keeping up one’s appearance in general. She says no matter how busy a woman is, she CAN find time to care for herself and try to look attractive.

In the chapter entitled “Personal Report Card,” Lilly expects women to look in the mirror, sans clothes, and evaluate themselves on a long list of items, including: skin, hair, eyes, muscle tone, hands, posture, expression, voice, gestures, personality, grooming, make-up, etc.( This was by far the most annoying chapter.)

It’s interesting to note that on her list, Lilly completely missed good dental hygiene and the positive attractive factor of straight white teeth. I think this is a European thing, as they are not as dentally conscious as Americans.

After you have assembled your list, you’re supposed to figure out your worst points and work on yourself to make sure you always look good for your man. Lilly dismisses the notion that a husband likes his wife the way she is, if she is “overweight, untidy, slatternly in dress, too bored or lazy to bother about make-up or a becoming hairdo.” Lilly says a woman is kidding herself” if she thinks it’s OK not to look like Marilyn Monroe because her husband likes her the way she is.

 

Again, a sign of the times. A sign of the culture.

 

Backcover photo of the book: "Lilly Daché's Book of Glamour," 1956.

 

Photo of Loretta Young (1940s) who looks like a younger version of Lilly Daché. Ms. Young was one of Ms.Daché's best customers.

In Part 2 I’ll discuss Lilly’s beauty tricks and fashion tips—and believe me, there are MANY!

In the meantime, here is one of my Lilly Daché vintage hats. I love the moon-shaped brooch with the clear and aurora borealis rhinestones. Maybe if I wear it, my world will change!

Vintage Lilly Daché mink hat with satin ribbon and brooch.


Here’s my review of Lilly’s autobiography: Talking Through My Hats:

http://fuchsiawoman.com/blog/read/lilly-dache-book-review-talking-through-my-hats/

Here’s another Lilly blog:

http://fuchsiawoman.com/blog/wear/lilly-dache-queen-of-hats-and-snoods-of-yesteryear/

2 Comments

  • kelly said:

    hey i was wondering how you comment about adam lambert stuff

    Monday, June 27, 2011
  • I love Lilly Dache’s hats and think that she was on to something when she became glamorous through attitude and self-confidence. It’s a pretty strong modern statement if you think about it.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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