How a Woman Should Undress, According to the 1930s
Are you disrobing properly? You might not be, especially if you've never seen this insane 1930s film reel titled How to Undress in Front of Your Husband that painstakingly instructed wives in proper de-clothing protocol.
Is the cringe-worthy footage—which stars Elaine Barrie, then-wife of famed actor John Barrymore—sexist, tasteless, and tone-deaf when it comes to political correctness? It is indeed. But if you expected more from the director of Reefer Madness, it’s your own fault. We’ve isolated the crucial advice below.
1. Understand That “Men Have Suffered Long Enough.”
How to Undress begins with a declaration, that “beer boasts its thinning” and “smokes aid digestion.” But, the title crawl asks, “How about our women? Do they satisfy?” Housewives, understand that men can rely on their booze and cigarettes, but the jury’s still out on you.
2. Before Disrobing, Check For Peepers.
Sure, sure: you want tips on how to unravel a stocking and you wanted them yesterday. But have you stopped to consider that your boudoir might not be as private as you think? There is, in fact, an epidemic of “super peepers” out there that “are liable to be anywhere, hiding in the folds of your shower curtain.” Before anything comes off, close those drapes and check under your bed for strangers. “Of course,” narrator Albert Van Antwerp notes,"Ms. Barrie is unaware of our presence, and therefore completely at ease.”
3. Treat It Like An Olympic Event.
Undressing technique, Van Antwerp says, has been thrown out the window and “proper angles disregarded.” One should instead opt for “ease and grace” when undressing, with “no lost motion.” As Ms. Barrie unfurls what looks to be several dozen layers of attire, Van Antwerp observes that “you’d think she spent her life undressing.”
4. Fold, Fold, Fold.
Note that Ms. Barrie does not simply chuck her clothing in a heap of washing-machine scraps. She neatly folds her dress and slip before placing them on the back of a chair. As minutes pass and she arrives at a point where some midsection has been revealed, Van Antwerp lets out a long sigh: “Ahhh. Now we’re getting down to business.”
5. Create Suspense.
As Ms. Barrie trades her bra for a nightgown, she keeps track of the vaunted “angles,” making sure her imaginary spouse only gets an eyeful of scapula. It’s a “subtle artistic ability to inject suspense into her disrobing,” and you’d better get to work on it. Facing the wall while taking your clothes off is where healthy relationships start.
6. Don’t Scratch Your Armpits.
By way of comparison, Van Antwerp periodically checks in with another actress, the spectacularly-named Trixie Friganza, who could not be more of a disappointment to any self-respecting peeper. Trixie kicks off her shoes, powers out of her dress, and proceeds to scratch her entire body. Our tactful narrator compares it to “taking down an awning.” At least 12 more jokes about her weight follow.
7. Keep Your High Heels on the Entire Time.
Sore feet? Book a podiatrist appointment, girls! This isn’t any time to wilt. Even after slipping into a nightgown, Ms. Barrie saves her high heels and stockings for last. As she carefully rolls them up, pay close attention to her "studied indifference.” (Actually, don’t. Practice that studied indifference.)
One parting shot from Van Antwerp: “There’s no reason to get out of your clothes as though you were emptying a sack of potatoes.” Master these tips and one day, you, too, may be fortunate enough to have an admiring pervert lurking in your basement while remaining married and respectable. Good luck!