Sunday, August 18, 2013

Extravagant American Women: The Alimony Racket in 1911

NOTE: According to one source, the average wage in the US in 1910 was 22 cents an hour. In 1911 a Pound Sterling was worth about $3 US. Thus, I offer a rough equivalent of the value of £375 1911 as $67,100 US today.


FULL TEXT: “The sum of £375 a year for beauty aids, such as face-powder, is not too much for a woman of moderate means,” This statement (says the New York correspondent of the Daily Telegraph) was made in Chicago by Mrs Trude, who, in her application for alimony, specifies certain personal requirements. The lady estimates that the following items are “reasonably necessary” for a lady of fairly good position:—

Perfume and toilet water £120
Face powder 90
Manicure bills 40
Hairdressers’ bills 70
All other cosmetics and miscellaneous 55

Total . ..£375

“There are many women in Chicago,” says Mrs. Trude, “whose bills are much higher. Perfume bills often run into hundreds of dollars, and the special kind I buy costs £1 10s an ounce. If I worried every time I receive a £10 perfume bill I should be busy.”

Mrs Trude says that she practises economy in all her buying. She keeps her silk stocking bill down to £15 a month by buying carefully. She says that her hats don’t cost more than £240 a year. She believes in being well shod, and says that money spent on the best shoes is economy. That item does not exceed £35 yearly. “I never buy clothes or beauty things unless I positively need them. I keep my wants 10 per cent, under my income, regardless of the demands of society.” Every woman should do that. She should save at least that percentage of her income every year, even if she has to go without the best perfumes now and then.”

[“Extravagant American Women.” Hawera & Normandy Star (Hawera, New Zealand), Oct. 14, 1911, p. 10]


For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts


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