Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The holiday dress that just doesn't cut it

the book:

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield

published 1930




[The provincial lady has been on holiday in the South of France without her family, and is getting used to domestic life again.]

July 31st: Photographs taken at Ste Agathe arrive, and I am – perhaps naturally – much more interested in them than anybody else appears to be. (Bathing dress shows up as being even more becoming than I thought it was, though hair, on the other hand, not at its best – probably owing to salt water.) Notice, regretfully, how much more time I spend in studying views of myself, than on admirable group of delightful friends, or even beauties of Nature, as exemplified in camera studies of sea and sky.

Presents for Vicky, Mademoiselle, and Our Vicar’s Wife all meet with acclamation, and am gratified. Blue flowered chintz frock, however, bought at Ste Agathe for 63 francs, no longer becoming to me, as sunburn fades and original sallowness returns to view. Even Mademoiselle, usually so sympathetic in regard to clothes, eyes chintz frock doubtfully, and says Tiens! On dirait un bal masque. As she knows, and I know, that the neighbourhood never has, and never will, run to bals masques, this equals unqualified condemnation of blue chintz, and I remove it in silence to the furthest corner of the wardrobe.



observations: All totally recognizable here, in the Provincial Lady’s gentle but telling observations: the photos, the hopeful vision of ourselves, and the vacation purchase that just doesn’t cut it once you get home.

This trip with women friends arose after the narrator received a letter from ‘dear Rose’ describing tempting holiday. ‘I am moved to exclaim - perhaps rather thoughtlessly – that the most wonderful thing in the world must be to be a childless widow – but this is met by unsympathetic silence from [husband] Robert, which recalls me to myself, and impels me to say that that isn’t in the least what I mean…(should be very very sorry… to explain exactly what it is that I do mean).’

Links up with: The Provincial Lady has
prior form, and we’ve heard about her hair before. Summer dresses here and here.

Photo comes from the State Library of Queensland, featured on Flickr.

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