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By MARJORIE HILLIS
This charming gem from a more genteel age is an elegant and witty guide to living chicly but cheaply.
First published in 1937, Orchids on Your Budget gives advice on all manner of subjects, from entertaining and creating the perfect capsule wardrobe to relinquishing the family estate. Lest you worry about how to put the advice into practice, each chapter concludes with a case study providing examples of women who heeded - and those lamentable souls who ignored - Marjorie's wise words.
'It's not difficult to have fun out of economising (up to a point), both because of the sense of achievement it gives you and because everyone else is doing it, too.’
‘A slight financial pressure sharpens the wits, though it needn't sharpen the disposition. But it takes an interesting person to have an attractive menage on a shoe-string and to run it with gaiety and charm.’
‘Maybe you would rather play polo than pingpong, but if you've got an old pingpong set and no ponies, you'll get a lot more fun out of life from being a pingpong champion than from taking a dispirited whack with a polo mallet every now and then.'
Orchids on Your Budget combines yesteryear charm with sensible advice for a modern, cash-strapped audience. The author has a distinctive and delightfully snooty tone of voice that is wonderfully humorous.
Marjorie Hillis (1889 - 1971) worked for Vogue for over 20 years, where she became assistant editor. She was one of a growing number of independent, professional women who lived alone by choice. In 1936 she wrote Live Alone and Like it, the superlative guide for 'bachelor ladies' (who became known as 'live-aloners'). It was an instant bestseller.
$29.99, HB, Virago