Way in the back of the July 1955 issue of Woman’s Home Companion, opposite an ad for Miracle Whip, Lilly Daché laid out her “Secrets of Lifelong Glamour.” In the article, she promises:
With glamour, a woman can get almost anything she wants out of life. It took me years to discover it…if only I had known when I was a girl!...You do not need money or leisure or to be young — you can start putting glamour into your life right now.
Today, it’s hard to imagine how ubiquitous Lilly Daché’s name was back when a woman wouldn’t leave the house without a hat. Daché, along with Sally Victor, was one of the most famous milliners in the United States. She popularized the turban and snood and rallied for the strapless bra. (She also put her name to two fragrances, Lilly Daché Dashing and Lilly Daché Drifting. I don't know exactly when they were released or discontinued, but I found ads for them from the mid-1940s.)
Although Daché lists Helen Keller and Oveta Culp Hobby among the world’s most glamorous women, she was no feminist when it came to some aspects of beauty. In the interest of length, I’ll jump straight to Dache’s views on perfume:
It is not enough for a woman to look beautiful and perfectly gowned. The really glamorous woman is not only seen — she is perceived. When I walk into a room, I want people to sense my presence by my fragrance as well as by sight and sound.
A woman who understands glamour knows she must appeal to all the senses. She must look beautiful, yes. But she must also smell good, she must make a pretty noise, her skin must be soft to the touch, and if somebody kisses her she ought to taste good too. …
So many women merely dab a tiny bit of perfume behind their ears after they are dressed. Why put perfume behind your ears? Nobody is going to creep up behind your ears. Do not be afraid to use enough scent to do some good….
So this is the first part of my secret — don’t be afraid to smell good and use enough perfume to make sure this is true. Now the second part of my secret is how to find your scent. This is more difficult, because a perfume never smells the same on two different women…The only way to judge a new scent is to try it out on a man.
When you are experimenting with a new perfume, spray a lot of it on and go out with the man in your life. If he says, “M-m-m-m! You smell wonderful!" — it is a success. That is your scent. Stick to it.
If he says nothing, or, worse, remarks that the room seems stuffy that means this is not the scent for you.
You may have to try several scents before you hit on the one that brings on the right masculine reaction. But when you find it, there is no doubt about it. There is no substitute for a man in judging a perfume. I try my perfumes out on my husband,1 and he is infallible.
Recently when I was working very hard and was very tired in the evening, I got some new pine-scented bath oil which was supposed to be relaxing. I put some of this in my tub and lay in the scented water for a while, feeling soothed and rested.
When I came out, I put on a favorite negligee, tied a ribbon in my hair, and my husband said: “What is that funny smell?”
I said that I had used some pine bath oil, and he exclaimed: “But Lilly, I like you to smell like a flower, not like a tree!”
The next day I poured the rest of the pine oil down the drain and got some bath oil scented with my usual flower fragrance. Now you know my secret.
What about you — how much of a role does your spouse play in your perfume selection? And, if you had one secret for lifelong glamour, what would it be?
1. Daché was married to Jean Despres, a vice president at Coty.