Friday, October 2, 2015

A Day In The Life Of A Wealthy Parisian

According to Libelle No28, 14 July 1939

It begins with drinking a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with a warm croissant in bed, then with morning exercises to keep her figure:

Then she takes the shower (here she is in her bathrobe, presumably:)

and goes horse riding where she meets her girlfriends and discusses the last evening party

When she comes home she takes a bath and goes shopping at around 11 a.m.:

Back at home at dinner time (French used to eat their main meal around the midday and many still do), where she changes into an afternoon dress, where there are visitors or not:

After dinner her friend phones to inform her there is a new hat and naturally, she goes to check:

Then changing for the cocktail hour:

Finally the evening comes. Should she go to the opera:

Or choose supper and dancing in one of the fashionable hotels?

While I doubt every woman changed her clothes quite so often (and it surely didn't happen in lower class families), the fact remains that even in the 1980s trashy novel that I possess which describes the life on a farm in South Africa, people did change for dinner.

When I compare it with the way a modern woman dresses and looks I do get an uneasy feeling that we as a culture distinctly lost something...


  1. Housewife from FinlandOctober 3, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    Was there any details about her exercise routine? She must have woken up really early to make it shopping at 11 a.m, after riding and bath.

    BTW, I have never undertsood why anyone would like to eat in bed. In old english books and shows maid always brings tea to bed. It is really weird; most people need to go to toilet when they get up, so did people use their chamber potty and then go back to bed and have tea with the potty? Now I assume that 1939 parisians had indoor toilet, but when you anyway get up, why go back to bed and eat there and get crumbs all over your sheets?

    Changing for dinner: I think too that people used to change much more than nowadays. When I was child, everybody changed when they got home from school/work. And especially if one has done something sweaty or dirty during the deay, changing for dinner would be a very good idea.

  2. Yes, it was 10 minutes exercise, but later she went horse riding. If she woke up at about 8 a.m., she had plenty of time to do all these things. Of course, they wouldn't mention using the bathroom in an article in those days, but it was normal in the cities to have indoor plumbing in the 1930s, and certainly if you were wealthy.

    BTW, plenty of folks still eat breakfast in bed. I nearly always serve it to my husband on Saturdays. As for crumbs, that's what a vacuum cleaner is for:)

  3. Housewife, the morning tea was something different from breakfast. Wealthy families had a costume of serving tea first thing in the morning, but upper servants had tea served by lower servants too and afterwards the day began for everybody. I imagine this morning tea helped everybody cheer up in autumn and winter especially or something as a routine that underlined the hierarchic boarders in the house, it wasn't like drinking coffee during breakfast nowadays. I saw the tea scene in a historic movie from Edwardian England.

  4. French don't eat breakfast as many people understand it. What was described in the article is their normal breakfast. They (usually) eat what we call dinner at about midday though I think it's called differently there. That's the main meal of their day. In contrast, here and in Germany we eat our main (warm) meal called dinner at 5 or 6 p.m., when the father comes back from work. We eat lunch which is usually a light meal at midday.

  5. Back when everyone was civilized...

  6. It's interesting that the article was castigating her for "not working hard" which proves that early feminists (who there were/are plenty at Libelle) were already possessed by this "puritanical spirit" you wrote about in your previous comment:)

  7. We did lose something but hopefully gained something too. Hopefully today we have better things to fill our days with. I do like the care they made of dressing properly - get sick of seeing so many jeans all the time.

  8. Marietta, I doubt there is really so much difference in the amount of worthwhile things people are doing now as compared to the 1930s. For one, people used to be much more sociable while nowadays they are hiding behind electronic devices. Many more women work but is this an improvement?. The days used to have a rigid structure built into it, now it's gone. Did it make life better or worse? I don't know. At least in those days women didn't try to look like they were living under the bridge.

  9. Housewife from FinlandOctober 5, 2015 at 4:17 AM

    I am still wondering about her schedule. If she got up at 8:00, she would be out of the house maybe at 9:00 (it takes me an hour to eat my breakfast and make myself ready to go). Now if someone else took care of the horse and she only rode it and the horse was on her backyard, she might have been able to make it to go shopping at 11:00 am. (I used to ride when I was younger and one hours ride usually takes 3 hours of putting your gear on and putting horses gear on and brushing the horse before and after and driving to stables etc.)


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