I’ve long been interested in exploring the origins of the systems we use today. I’ve summarized the materials by Belle Northrup and Harriet Tilden McJimsey, and have discussed the work of Grace Morton. I’m always on the lookout for new primary source materials that only provide a understanding of the predecessors of Kibbe, Kitchener, Zyla, and the like.
One of my favorite websites is Glamour Daze, which collects materials on fashion and beauty that have fallen out of copyright. They sell compendiums by decade on Vintage Makeup Guide. I bought the 1940s guide because it came with an extra book, a scan of a book on charm that I saw included dressing to certain types.
Something I’ve been trying to figure out is when exactly Northrup’s use of yin/yang to create a unique style identity morphed into McJimsey’s series of distinct types. Morton, for instance, changed “yin” and “yang” into masculine and feminine, but her book doesn’t have types.
So far, this book, which is from 1947, is the first book I’ve had come into my possession that has style types. I doubt it was the first, and it doesn’t make use of yin/yang, but it’s still interesting to look at.
This book seems to have been the accompanying materials for a course called the “Bonomo Original Hollywood ‘Success’ Course,” taught at the Bonomo Culture Institute. The materials date from 1947. Do not be fooled into thinking that the Bonomo Culture Insitute was some highbrow institution or a finishing school. It seems to have been something along the lines of the Barbizon courses or something like that, but what is really strange is that Joe Bonomo, who writes little explanatory letters throughout the book and claims to be the author of the whole thing, was actually a Hollywood stunt man/strongman. I guess that when he lost out on the role of Tarzan to Johnny Weissmuller, he turned to… Teaching women how to dress?
The book also has sections on things like diet and exercise and applying makeup to enhance your facial features, but we’re going to focus on just the style type and clothing sections. The types this book uses are: the Womanly Woman, the Aristocrat, the Exotic Woman, the Outdoor Woman, the Gamine, and the Sophisticate. This week, I will start putting up posts for each type.
Try and guess what each type is supposed to be in the comments, and I’ll be back tomorrow with an explanation of the Womanly Woman.