Monica de la Torre, p.2


Whenever anyone comes upon Amy Vanderbilt she is invariably perfectly put together. “It takes time. I have to find it. Just to get my face on takes me an hour.” Few women can spend this disproportionate amount of time on their personal appearance.

Amy Vanderbilt has it to spare. Her intelligence and thought allow her to present herself confidently for the world’s examination: a well-dressed, well-groomed product of her time. Listen to the cry of a liberated woman: “I did not throw my clothes on with a pitchfork!”

She does amazing things with scarfs and pins and knows that a sense of style can be acquired. She knows that to be well dressed demands studious shopping, not haphazard flying trips to the stores…

It all started in her closet. One day she was ruthless and, for once, got a clear picture of her wearable wardrobe. The rest was simply eliminated.


She sits down with pencil and paper and analyzes her life. What activities fill her days? Club affairs, Scouts, P. T. A.? She often does lunch, takes in a matiné. She holds neither a full nor part-time job. She’s a house and garden type who enjoys a once-a-week dinner date with her husband. She chooses clothes that suit her roles in life. For renewal she considers the well-dressed women who share her activities, analyzes their costumes detail by detail, and discovers what makes them chic. Despite this, she’s no carbon copy of every neighbor in the block.


Amy Vanderbilt is in step with style. What does this mean to her? That she rushes right out and adopts a “new look”? She’s cautious when it comes to this query, her reaction: to wait and see. A truly “legitimate” fashion trend shapes up only gradually. Its life expectancy? About three years. Fashions come and fashions go. O but the shirtwaist dress, the Chanel suit, the English tweed suit, the trench coat, and of course, sweaters and skirts. Such classic clothes can always be counted on to wear and serve well. Listen to the cry of a liberated woman: “Fashion! That’s my slave!”


Amy Vanderbilt has no doubt that colors have personality. She decides what colors she’ll wear as if she were planning a luncheon. Blue is universally appealing, orange is exciting (although sometimes irritating), yellow is gay, green is restful, red is friendly and outgoing. Navy, unlike black, has life. Black is not a wise choice for wear in Suburbia or country. When Amy Vanderbilt wears pastels she appears sweet, simple, and girlish.

In her chart there’s enough columns to include the five basic types in the mind of a color scheming woman: blonds, brown-eyed brunettes, blue-eyed brunettes, redheads, and those with gray hair. Thanks to her chart her eyes are open to the wonderful world of colors and what they can do to dramatize her. When shopping she plays it safe by using swatches, certain that her memories, like most people’s, are color blind.


To solve problems that are strictly figurative she relies on do and don’t tips. Since she has a full figure she wears clothes with vertical details that carry the eye up and down rather than across her figure. She avoids square and sweetheart necklines, shiny fabrics such as satin and clinging ones such as chiffon. No chokers, scarves or bibs for the short-necked!

When Amy Vanderbilt spends seasons in the sun she’s not allowed to shed her girdle: it’s hot and uncomfortable but wearing it is the price she must pay for not counting calories with care. She often goes to the beach, so she doesn’t hesitate to wear a jacked over her blessed Lycra suit to camouflage bulges when she’s not in the swim.


Once she spent 24 pre-jet hours in planes and at airports as she and her husband headed from New York to Egypt, where she was to meet her husband’s family in Cairo for the first time. Imagine facing this sort of meeting in a dress she’s literally slept in! But it was a knit and nary a wrinkle showed as she stepped out the plane at 6:30 a.m. (Cairo time)! Among other basics, she took with her a well stocked cosmetic travel kit, a hat to wear when visiting churches and a suit, handy for what the natives term an “unheard-of cold spell at this time of the year.” Listen to the cry of a liberated woman: “I’m not weighed down with luggage containing clothes I’ll never wear!”


Unaccustomed as she was to public speaking, there came a time when she had to step into the spotlight and introduce a guest speaker. She concentrated glamour in a smart-looking hat but made sure it sat securely on her head, it was free of wild-waving feathers and flowers that flounced every time she moved a muscle. Listen to the cry of a liberated woman: “I choose jewelry that provides no sound effects!”