A novel feature of the season at Saratoga and Long Branch, “says the same lady, “will be an advertising belle at each of those places. Two handsome girls of good form and top-lofty style have been hired for the purpose. They will be fashionably dressed, but their mission is not to display dry goods.
A dealer in hair, hair dyes, washes for the complexion and toilet articles of a beautifying sort employs them, and will pay their expenses. They will serve as models on which to exhibit the latest achievements in false hair and hair-dressing. Their faces will be carefully ‘made up’ with such preparations as he manufactures. The plan is a bold one, but entirely feasible. The hotel balls at Long Branch and Saratoga are open to all who come; and these two professional beauties are personally respectable, know how to dance gracefully, can talk well enough, and will certainly eclipse most of the amateur beauties. They will stay at first class hotels, lounge on the most thronged balconies, go to the horse races, and, in short, make themselves decently conspicuous in every possible way. There is a swindle in the matter, however, and I’ll tell you how. These two girls are beautiful when unadorned, and the ‘make-up ‘ of their faces with washes and pigments is not at all needed; nor is any particular kind of braid, frizzle, or switch requisite to make their heads bewitching. But many a plain woman will foolishly suppose that the same adornment will produce in her equal attractiveness, and in that error will lie the hair-dresser’s profit. It depends on the newspapers to let the public know who and what his professional beauties are, and whom they advertise, but I won’t further his cause by giving his name. Both girls are tall, slender, delicately molded blondes, with the air of duchesses, and they come from east of Avenue A.”
The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 2 July 1882
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “professional beauty” is a recognised figure of English society. One sees her photo-gravures in shop windows everywhere; striplings and married gentlemen sigh over them. Whether she is an actress or a member of the nobility, it is her primary responsibility—and an arduous profession it is—to be lovely in all circumstances. She may have delicately “puffed” a soap or a dressmaker, but she would not have been so bold as to tout waterfalls and chignons at summer resorts, particularly while obviously “painting.” They do these things very differently in the States.
Mrs Daffodil is not surprised to find that the gentleman had their own version of the professional beauty:
A Walking Advertisement.
A new profession has been introduced into the city during the past two years, which the majority of citizens know little about. All large prominent houses now hire professional dressers for the purpose of introducing new styles. You may have noticed often that some particular friend of yours who, as you well know, has no bank account, and does not seem to work, but yet dresses in the height of fashion, wearing every new style of hat, clothes, shoes or necktie that makes its appearance. Well, he is employed by some house to popularize new garments by wearing them and making them familiar to all dressers. He receives a salary and frequents all popular resorts; in fact, he lives off of his shape and looks, as only handsome and well-formed men are eligible to the new profession. Merchant Tailor in St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
Daily Boomerang [Laramie, WY] 7 February 1890: p. 3
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.