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How to be Sweet & Charming - The Introduction

I recently received a set of charming "self improvement" books by Alma Archer.

It's a 10 booklet set all enclosed in a little striped box and my set is from a printing in 1946, though they where copyrighted in 1939. Alma was apparently the go to girl in her day for those wishing to become charming and sweet. They seem to cover everything from etiquette to capturing a man to hostessing, love, make-up and marriage. Honestly I have not read any of them yet, even as I write this. What I propose is that we read it together bit by bit. I am going to put a bit of it every day or so all the way through till the end. I want to see how different woman really are since those days and quite frankly I wouldn't mind absorbing a little extra sweetness and charm from a bye gone era. I know some of it will be fascinating and I know some if it will piss me off. Do you think saying that it might piss me off would fall under being sweet & charming? I somehow doubt it!

I hope it turns out to be a good idea. Having not read a word yet I have a little fear it will just all fall down in my face but lets give it a go and see how it turns out. Remember the bits from the book are verbatim - all Caps and quaint language are hers. The book portions are in a different font and my comments are in the same font but italicized. Feel free to comment away - I will join in with any discussion started in the comments. Each Lesson is a few pages so on most days I am going to break it up into parts. I am doing the entire Introduction today so today's will be a tad longer then the norm - settle in an grab a coffee

So with all that being said - let's start!


How to Be Sweet & Charming
Alma Archer



You are unwilling to be content with the APOLOGETIC LIFE!

Whether your ambition is success in marriage or success in business, your appearance and personality are constantly appraised (points for mentioning success in business! Remember this was copyrighted in 1939! Go feminism! And how ironic that even then it was all about how you looked?!?!)

SLIGHT MIS-STEPS IN SMARTNESS ARE CONDEMNING. An engagement goes wrong, a position is lost, a husband is bored .....(LOL - god forbid huh?I can already tell I am going to have problems with the whole husband is King idealism of that time period) friends become fewer - if one does not employ the common sense of Smartness and Allure.

The principles in this course are the best insurance you can buy to attain happiness and a successful career. Self-confidence is a fine trait - if justified (hallelujah sister) But too often is is a mere buff- she who thinks she "knows it all" makes many of the most blatant mistakes in smartness and allure. She thinks she is a big-time performer, but actually she is a green hand the moment she encounters the really smart set. (Ouch - just hit us over the head right off the bat why don't cha? We live in a world where you "fake it till you make it" don't we?)

People whisper behind her back with pity or smirks for her apparent incongruities in chic (This only happens in New York during fashion week theses days *wink*)

She betrays herself by missing being smart or charming.

UNCERTAINTY about the rightness of your looks and behavior imposes as much mental cruelty as the certainty you are wrong.

(This is sort of interesting don't you think? We live in a world that is constantly telling us that the social pressure to look good is a cause of our modern day magazines and fashion industries use of tiny models and yet a large part of this lesson set seems to be hinged on how you look - so has it really changed?)

There is no need to be uncertain about your appearance, etiquette and conversation, because it is now simple to discover your faults and correct them. The rules for smartness and charm you will learn in this course are not rules if which are good today and useless tomorrow. THE PRINCIPLES IF SMARTNESS AND CHARM ARE TIMELESS.

(Well girls, we are going to put that theory to the test now aren't we?)

Once learned, they are always known and always applicable. You will learn how to converse, how to walk; how to use your personality; how to be a guest or a hostess; how to be attired smartly and correctly at all times; how to shop to produce the smartest result without exorbitant expense. You will learn that the really only important formula for insulating yourself against the shocks in life is that for being LUREFUL.

(that is so not a word but I have to say I am getting interested)

I have seen the component parts of this formula, given throughout the following pages, revolutionize lives.....I have seen minds transformed through the absorption of just one of the ideas.

There are no easy rewards, but remember, that both beauty and knowledge of HOW TO BE SMART AND CHARMING are attainable an retainable by any woman who will implement her intelligence with the secrets of the course and apply her own problems

I have heard innumerable woman say "Oh I would be well-dressed too if I had the money to spend." The answer to that s the fact that some of the wealthiest women are frumps and some of the smartest women have only modest means. (Seems that there is a LOT that has not changed since 1939!) IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE TO BE WELL-DRESSED AND SMART WITH THE MINIMUM OF EXPENSE. (Yeah you can buy vintage - wonder if that is even a concept then? If it is it will be referred to as mending your older clothes or re-making them I bet!) And if you do happen to be able to afford a large budget for your clothes, this course will make it possible for you to realize the greatest value form your expenditures.

(honestly I am starting to really look forward to this - I hope she is a proponent of QUALITY over quantity - I have no qualms about spending money I am just getting tired of the idea that you have to have a million cheap pieces of crap. Lets buy less and better!)

Knowing HOW TO BE SMART AND CHARMING (just in case you forget the title of the book she has kindly capped it every time the phrase is written) is vastly more important then having financial entree to exclusive shops

(I soo know some woman that would STRONGLY disagree with THAT statement)
(Oh My God I think capping words is contagious)

You are being judged constantly. By Friends - by strangers - YOU ARE CRUELLY JUDGED

(OK so I now want to go back to bed)

First, their eyes look you over, ready to approve, more ready to criticize. (did she know about Go Fug Yourself even then???) They're flattered if you have made the effort to please them. But much is decided during these first searching observations of your appearance. Second their ears judge you. When you start to talk, other revelations take place. Again you can attract or repel. One might LOOK smart and lose all by seeming dumb. (Now this I agree with!) Or one may be all brains, but have no ALLURE

(point taken there as well)

The secret lies in Balance. It is the first law of Charm and Allure. Outer and inner Smartness must be correlated- as every successful woman has learned.

This is an acquired secret-one is not born with it, as some envious woman say, trying to excuse themselves. Few woman have instinctive style

(Do you all hear every fashion magazine article you have ever read replaying in your head right now?)

What to wear and how to wear it- how to conduct oneself- all the many phrases of Smartness and Allure (do you notice that we have gone from Charm to Allure as the key word? The probably made her put Charm on the cover since Allure would have basically made the title - how to be smart and sexy - a no no in those days of "properness". But I bet this book is a how to of using your womanly wiles!) - can only be learned and applied quite as one learns to play the piano or to dance or to speak foreign languages.

Now, through my methods, the principles of Smartness and Allure and how to balance them have been simplified and thousands who have struggled alone to try to solve them can attain smartness quickly, easily through a magic (Magic!!) guidance of a few easy rules, classifying and condensing the laws of charm.

In this course, you will find how to meet YOUR problems- how to gain complete mastery of Balance- the Secrets of Smartness, the Art of Allure.

TO YOU! Let's go! Here is the precious key to the world and happiness- a full and glorious life

----- Alma Archer

Bring it on Alma!

Section 1 - The Secrets of Charm
Lesson 1, Part One - The Laws of Allure Tomorrow!


Kris C. said...

You are delightful - I am so glad I caught this post as an RT from @lemorningshow. This is a brilliant idea, and I will add your blog to my reader so we can learn how to be sweet and charming together.

Actually, as a Libra, this is pretty much both the goal and the bane of my existence. In fact, truer words than this were never spoken:

"The secret lies in Balance. It is the first law of Charm and Allure. Outer and inner Smartness must be correlated- as every successful woman has learned."

This is a fun little project. Though I might insert, SWEET, SOMETIMES SNARKY, AND OFTEN CHARMING into the mix. I think Alma would get it. ;-)

Shrimpton Couture said...

Welcome! And I am glad you like the idea. I am already a little worried that some future parts in the lessons will make me rant like a madwoman thereby defeating the charming part I am supposed to learn but what the hell :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for this!!! Thanks for sharing.

Kate in Reno, NV

fabulous finds said...

love it! and YOUR commentary is hilarious! looking forward to the next chapter...

i have to say...the capitalization of certain sentences cracks me up...in our day...we associate that with yelling...so half the time...i feel like that is what dear alma is doing...

interesting that even then...the focus was on how you looked...and how people prejudge you...

great idea! this with my coffee this morning is a perfect start to the day!

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous interlude to my day!
I *love* it.
Can't wait for tomorrow's installment on how to be fabulous and classy.
Loubie Xx

Birdie! said...

I cannot wait to read the rest of this. ;)

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