The Smart and Tidy Maid

chest out and stomach inLita Prince and Harriet Bonnet wrote Maidcraft: A Guide for the One-Maid Household for the “mistress” of the house. With sections on housework, table service, the laundry, and care of the children, the authors suggest that “you may want to hand it over to your maid to read ~ either some of it or all of it.” Those lucky, lucky maids.

1937: The Smart and Tidy Maid

A maid who is careless of her grooming around the house may often be made to realize how untidy she looks by a word or even a look from the mistress.

Here is a list of pointers that should be brought to the attention of any maid, if she is to look smart and tidy on all occasions:

1. She should bathe frequently ~ once a day, if possible. This will not only make her look fresher, but will be beneficial to her health.
2. It’s a good idea for her to use a deodorant, too, for in working anyone is likely to perspire.
3. She should not use perfume during working hours, for perfume and dust do not make a pleasing combination.
4. She should keep her teeth in good condition and use a mouth wash often.
5. She should not chew gum, especially when there are guests.
6. She should not smoke cigarettes around the house, even if she is permitted to smoke in her own room. Naturally she should smoke her own, not her employer’s cigarettes.
7. She should take care of her hands by using a hand lotion often. This is particularly important if she has her hands in water a great deal, for chapped, ugly hands do not look well when she is serving.
8. She should keep her nails immaculately clean and use a cuticle oil to keep her nails from becoming brittle and broken off.
9. She should not use bright-colored nail polish, at least during working hours.
10. She should wash and brush her hair often and keep it neatly dressed. It is advisable for her to wear a cap when cooking or dusting so as to keep odors and dust out of her hair, but certainly she should tie her hair back with a ribbon when she is cooking to keep any stray hairs out of her food.
11. She should stand up straight with her head up, chest out and stomach in. Not only will she look infinitely better, but she will feel more fit. Slouching will only tire her out.
12. She should wear good but comfortable shoes and, if she is on her feet much, she should have arch supports in her shoes. Run-down heels will throw her off balance and tire her out besides making her appear badly dressed. If white shoes are clean, they look best with white or light-colored uniforms, but they should never be worn with dark dresses. No maid should ever be permitted to shuffle around the house in bedroom slippers.
13. Rumpled, messy clothes, and stockings with runs in them or with seams zigzagging up the back of the leg look quite as bad around the house as they do on the street.
14. She may use some make-up, but she should remember that too much is worse than none at all.
15. Jewelry, especially jangling bracelets and earrings, should never be worn during working hours.

Source: Price, Lita and Harriet Bonnet. Maidcraft: A Guide for the One-Maid Household. Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1937.
~ pp. 25-27 ~