The 1950’s Housewife Project
I believe I mentioned this a little while ago, if not on my blog then for sure on my Instagram, but this week I am living like a 1950’s housewife. People have had questions about what that entails, so I thought I’d share my plans with this first outfit of the week (and yes, I’m going to blog every day with my outfits and video updates!) I want to mention that I am certainly not the first person to do this, and a few bloggers before me used a compiled list of advice and schedules from various sources, so I’m using those plus what my own grandma has told me as well as some advice in 50’s books I have to make my own 1950’s housewife schedule.
I sent my grandma, who was a housewife in the 50’s, a list of questions I had for her regarding her daily schedule, her cleaning habits, and more. I have seen this list floating around the internet a lot, and it seems fairly doable to me, but I wanted to hear it firsthand from someone I know who lived through the time. And whose house is basically always impeccable.
I was surprised when she emailed back and said she didn’t really have a schedule, she just did things on the fly and when they needed to be done. This sounds a lot like me, though my house is never clean. She told me that she has always been a last-minute, on-the-fly sort of person, but that she did always make their bed in the morning, and they all ate together with no books or toys allowed at the table.
She didn’t have a dishwasher, so did the dishes after every meal and tried to sweep the floors every day, but didn’t always manage that. She only mopped the floors when they really needed it, dusted perhaps 2-3 times a week, and made her kids have a nap or a quiet time for about two hours a day so that she could have time to herself.
Based on this, I’ve decided to follow a looser schedule than the one I linked above. At the end of this post, I’ll write out what my full day looks like, but for now, let’s move on to the next subject!
This is, of course, the most fun part. I bought a 1957 diet book called Slenderella (which you’ll see in the video below) and while I am trying to make up a full day of meals that are actually practical, I’m also choosing a few recipes that will be… interesting, to say the least! I am trying to follow this meal book as closely as possible. There are three sections – 1200 calorie days, 1500 calorie days, and 1800 calorie days — and I’m following the middle one based on the diet advice in the beginning of the book. At 5’8″ with the allowed 2″ heels on, and desiring to weigh about 150 pounds, this book tells me I should eat roughly 1500 calories a day to lose weight and then maintain that weight.
Surprisingly, it is all very solid advice. It’s basically a calorie reduction diet, full of quite a lot of veggies and good protien, with two choices for breakfasts (dry or cooked cereal with milk, or toast, an egg, and two slices of bacon, along with your choice of juice, and coffee), a long list of approved ingredients for lunches (sandwich, fish, or salad), and then about 30 dinner menus that consist of a soup, a meat dish, one or two veggie dishes, salad, dessert, and always coffee.
My grandma said that they always had meat, potatoes, two veggies, and some form of dessert, as well as milk from their cow, and watered down juice. They were fairly poor, so what they had was frugal, but they survived. The menu plans in this book may be a bit more extravagant than my grandma’s life, but I tried to choose the meals that sounded least expensive and also most practical. I’ll be sharing those meals with you in my videos!
And, of course, I’m making the meals for everyone. Breakfast for my husband and the kids, lunches for all of us, and all of the dinner and dessert.
My grandma told me that she didn’t really have a beauty routine other than keeping clean.But I have always noticed that she always wears lipstick, and this is something I’m trying to implement. According to beauty advice online and in my 50’s Brides book, the beauty routine is: get up, and spend ten minutes on yourself – brush your teeth, tie your hair up in a ribbon, splash your face with water, and put on lipstick. Then go about your morning duties and see your husband off to work. After that, get dressed, do your makeup and hair, shower, etc.
Because I have fairly sensitive and picky skin, I’m not going to go so far as to use exact products (such as Pond’s cold cream) but I am going to try to follow the basic routines. I’ll spend ten minutes in the morning making myself a bit less sleep-worn, and then get ready for my day after my husband leaves for work.
There is, however, one bit of advice I found about choosing makeup, and that is to wear eyeshadow that matches your eyes, and lipstick that compliments your dress. So for this week, I’ll be changing up my makeup routine. I won’t be doing the dark winged liner I usually go for, and no false lashes! I will choose browns and greens for my eyeshadows, and lipsticks that match colors in my dresses. I’ll also mimick a more 50’s brow shape, though this isn’t much of a change from the normal.
All this week, I will be wearing clothing almost solely from my collection of 1950’s garb. All of my dresses are from the 50’s, and while most of my outfits will be typical housewife looks, I will be trying to get in at least one party look just for the fun of it. Perhaps that day, my husband and I will go out for dinner.
While my shoes and accessories may not be period exact, I will try to mimic 50’s styling as authentically as I can, and wear as much as I can that I have from this period! Today, for example, my dress and headscarf and brooch are 50’s, my earrings are 60’s, and my belt is likely 70’s. The only non-vintage I’m wearing are my shoes, because let’s face it: I doubt I’ll ever own 1950’s shoes with as wide of feet as I have.
I am also wearing as many of my vintage aprons as I remember to wear, to protect the pretty clothes, to have pockets when my dresses don’t have pockets, and just generally because I’ve heard from a few people who remember their mothers in the 50’s that their mothers almost always had aprons on.
If I have time in the week, I will be trying to do a few things that a 50’s housewife may have done:
- I will be trying to make a garment. Whether this is a simple skirt or a dress from vintage fabric and a vintage dress pattern, I haven’t decided yet. But I want to make something, and I’m hoping that Wednesday or Thursday I’ll find the time!
- I have a stack of 1950’s Home Craftsman magazines, and I am going to elicit the help of my husband to possibly make a thing from these magazines. It’s all more home-decor based, so hopefully there’s something we can find to create!
- While it isn’t in the menu plan from my Slenderella book, I will be making a classic Aspic dish, and also a really odd recipe I found called “Asparagus Loaf”. These, I will attempt to film. Because. Aspic.
So what will my days look like? Here’s a rough idea, though likely I won’t do all of the things every day, or perhaps I’ll do extra on some days.
Get up at 6:15am, or whenever my husband wakes me. Spend ten minutes in the bathroom brushing my teeth, getting my hair tidy (though not necessarily styled), washing my face, putting on lipstick. Make breakfast for everyone who is up, and prepare lunch for my husband for work. Tidy up the kitchen a bit, unload the dishwasher, put dirty dishes in, pick up random toys that somehow always find their way into the kitchen. Make all the coffee. So much coffee.
After my husband leaves around 7:15, get dressed and do my hair and makeup. Daily, I will attempt a different vintage hairstyle and if worse comes to worse, I’ll just put a scarf on it. Side note: one of the beauty tips was “shower at least once a week, but you don’t have to shower that often.” So… I’ll stretch the showers out as long as I can. And I’m a fairly sweat-less, dry-skinned person, so I generally only shower twice a week anyway. Once hair and makeup are done, take blog photos and video so that if my outfit gets messed up later in the day at least I have evidence that I was dressed pretty. Ha!
About 8:30 or so I’ll be done with all of that, so then it’s time to dress my kids, tidy up the living room, and tackle one of the follow things: the laundry, the bathroom, or the kids’ room. And currently, my bedroom is also on that list as we don’t use the room and it becomes a catch-all. I clean for about an hour and a half, or until Evie gets tired and needs a nap.
From 11-12, I’m wiping down counters, picking up random toys, vacuuming if needed, sweeping, folding clothes… you get the idea. Little things that need to be done. Then, it’s lunch time.
From about 12:30-2 is free time, although I found myself picking up extra stuff during this time and only sat for about 20 minutes before I had to start dinner. Yesterday, it was pot roast that was cooking fro 2-1/2 hours, and in that time I also made some weird dessert (watch the video), some carrot… dish… boiled potatoes, made more coffee, did more dishes, and changed because I popped the seam on my dress. (Which is actually because I still haven’t mended the bit that needed to be mended before I wore it the first time.)
At 4:45, my husband gets home and we sit and chat until about 5, which is when I set the table, pour drinks/water/juice/whatever, and finish up any last little bits of dinner. We eat at 5:30, after which I clean up the dinner dishes, put away leftovers, and the kids have bath time or TV time, or reading, or whatever evening activity.
Kids are finally in bed by 7:30, and then… in a normal 50’s housewife’s life, I’d be done and free to relax. But in this life, I’m working on the daily vlog, writing up a blog post, editing photos, and drinking more coffee until about 8:30 when I finally decide enough is enough.
I spent about 30 minutes with my husband before I legitimately started to fall asleep, and we were in bed by 9.
I have never slept so well. The first day was a busy one, as I also did grocery shopping, walked to my mother-in-law’s, had my mom over, cleaned a house that was a disaster from the weekend, and figured out exactly how I wanted to format the vlog. But as I write this on day two, it’s been a bit more relaxed because I have so much less to clean.
Overall, it’s really motivating. While there are some negative side effects to all of this, that I’ll chat about at the end of the week, it’s really mood-boosting to see that I can get so much done in one day, and I feel less like I’m lost in a sea of never being able to get things done. It takes a lot of work, and I was absolutely sore this morning, but it might just be worth it. Mostly.
I hope you guys enjoy the video and let me know if you have questions!
Side note: while they’re not 1950’s in the least, I will still be using social media and things like… my dishwasher. I don’t want to go that crazy. 😉
Dress, 1950’s vintage from Lotty Dotty Vintage | belt, shoes, and brooch, thrifted | earrings, gift | headscarf, eBay | apron, 1950’s from an antique store.