We Failed as Vintage Housewives with DressLily

A few weeks ago, Amy and I decided we were going to spend the entire day trying to be vintage housewives. So we put on our best vintage inspired dresses, added our favorite shoes, and spent the day lounging on her porch while the children played in the yard.

*This is a sponsored post.  DressLily provided me with this dress.  All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Amy has a copy of the infamous Good Wife’s Guide hanging in her kitchen. If you are not familiar with this guide, it is rumored to be an article that was published in May of 1955 in a magazine called Housekeeping Monthly.  It offers 18 guidelines for how a woman should act in order to be a good wife. We always chuckle at this list of wifely guidelines and we thought it would be fun to try and play the role. Except we failed. Quite miserably, in fact.  Right at guideline #1.

“1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.”

Except for a brief discussion of how funny it would be to make a tuna casserole, it quickly approached dinner time and we had done nothing but drink a few beers and feed the kids chicken patty sandwiches. So rather than cook dinner as good wives should, we called my husband, asked him to stop at the store for burger fixings, and meet us at Amy’s house…where my husband cooked the dinner! Hey, everyone was adequately fed.

“2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.”

Other than still wearing our dresses and throwing on our shoes right before the men walked in, there was absolutely no freshening up going on.  None.  At least we kept our bras on.

“3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.”

Isn’t the fact that we wore pretty dresses all day long gay and interesting enough? We weren’t braless in yoga pants. And that is more interesting than other day.

“4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.”

Clearing away the clutter would ultimately mean disposing of the children. So I guess we failed again.

“5. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc. and then run a dust cloth over the tables.”

It is summer time so there are no school books around. And I did watch Amy brush all the debris off of her dog before she let him in the house. I think that qualifies as dusting.

“6. Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.”

Yeah, well, if he doesn’t want the house to burn down, he can light the fire himself.

“7. Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.”

The children were running through the sprinkler caked in dirt and sand at the point of my husband’s arrival. Maybe their hands and faces were clean from the hose water. At least my kids were still in their clothes. (Amy’s kids were in swimsuits. Mine couldn’t be bothered.)

“8. Be happy to see him.”

Of course we were happy to see my husband. He had the food and was going to cook it. And we were getting kind of hungry.

“9. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.”

Always. All sorts of “affectionate” comments fly amok when these two couples get together.

“10. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.”

Hahahaha. Failed again. I think at one point, we kicked my husband out of the kitchen because he was interfering with our girl talk. He went back to the grill.

“11. Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.”

Any good husband who knows the trials of all day at home with the children will never complain when we turn the children over to him and the make the evenings our own.

“12. Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.”

Yes, of course. Is this not everyone’s goal? Perhaps when the children leave for college.

“13. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.”

Even if we don’t greet him with complaints and problems, the children most certainly will.

“14. Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.”

Do people do that? Unexpectedly stay out all night? Where do they stay? Who can afford this?

“15. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.”

My husband hates the way I make his drink.  He prefers to make it himself. If he just drank wine, I would be more than happy to pour him a glass.

“16. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.”

First of all, I rarely touch those sweaty combat boots. Although I do respect them. From afar. And as far as pillows go, my husband uses one. There is no arranging needed.

“17. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.”

Ultimate fail. Enough said.

“18. A good wife always knows her place.”

Yes, indeed. A good wife struggles all day long to keep the household from crumbling at the monstrous hands of the little people we created. We rarely sit, there is always dirty laundry and dirty dishes, the children always need something…and on the off chance that a good friend invites you over to play dress up for the day, my God, you seize the opportunity to just look the part! So when the good wife needs dinner cooked for her, any good husband will be right there to oblige her!

Amy’s Outfit Details
Dress: Dress Barn (No longer available).
Shoes: Deflex Comfort Catie Soft Knot Wedge from Payless.

My Outfit Details
Dress: Floral Fit and Flare Plus Size Dress c/o DressLily.
Shoes: Steve Madden (Very old).
Bag: Kohl’s (No longer available).

I hope you enjoyed this little walk down vintage lane. We must now accept our failure and bid our vintage wife goals adieu! Nevertheless, Amy and I are rocking the modern day good wife role like freaking superheroes!

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Keeping it on the edge,


Linking up with these Fabulous Link Ups.

Follow shelbeeontheedge@gmail.com:

I am a 40 something Army wife and stay-at-home mother of 2 boys and 2 cats named Dave and Frankie. I have a passion for helping other women feel fabulous in the midst of this crazy, beautiful life.

44 Responses

  1. So funny when I hear all these “rules”. I do remember my mother wearing a dress and doing her housework, but don’t think even she would have adhered to these. Seems like you had a great day.

    • The rules are super funny, aren’t they, Victoria? But I think they have discovered that this was never actually an article published in the 50’s. It seems to have been something someone wrote and began circulating in the 80’s as a joke. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you have had a wonderful weekend!


  2. I have read this and it cracks me up every time!!
    And so you do guys—fabulous post!!

  3. Lol! what an interesting and fun post love it! You two are adorable in your dresses too:)

  4. 😂😂😂😂😂 I really laught out loud! What a funny post Shelbee! What a humor! Loved nr.4! Hahaha, really , I wished we lived nearby, I think we could have a lot of fun too! And what a fabulous dresses! And the colors!!! Wow. Really feminine. Like a good wife should look like…… 😂😂😂😂

    • Nancy, thanks so much! I am so glad that I could make you laugh! Oh my goodness, if we lived near each other, what fun (and trouble) we would cause…looking fabulous all the while! Hahahaha!


  5. What a fantastic post, Shelbee. I have read this article, too, and it always leaves me laughing my butt off. I love how you managed to have your husband cook the burgers! xo


  6. These old rules of wifely etiquette really crack me up, especially the ones that mention that the husband is ‘master of the house, and ‘you have no right to question him’ and best of all ‘not to make a fuss when he stays out all night!’
    How times have changed! – for the better I might add. Thankdully my husband does all the cooking as he is the one that trained as a chef!
    Both you and your friend Amy looked gorgeous in your pretty dresses so you certainly got that right! I hope your husbands made a similar effort to look good for you!!! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Judy! Our husbands were Army uniforms every day which always makes us swoon! Hahaha. My husband does all the cleaning around here because I am terrible at it. And we share the cooking responsibilities as we both enjoy doing it! The rules are funny to look at and make of fun of, for sure.


  7. You ladies look too cute! I love that dress with the bow belt!


  8. So first off, I laughed at your adventures in Fifities housewifedom. The clothes were super cute of course (the 50’s are one of my favorite fashion eras) but I kind gawked at the high expectations women were under. Like my heart goes out to the all the women who had to be perfect in everyway, and then smile while wearing heels all day. My respect for June Cleaver and Donna Reed just skyrocketed.

    • Thanks so much, Gigi! I am so glad you got a good chuckle from my post! I so respect women from that era. They were superheroes…always smiling and do what expected and look fabulous…and then there were those who raised holy hell which ultimately implemented the changes we see today. We have come a long way, for sure!


  9. Loving those old shoes of yours. How times have changed where good wives are concerned!

  10. This cracked me up!!! This list and the fact that there is no way I followed it may be the reason I have been separated twice!! Oh well guess I will be single forever!

    • Kerrie, thanks so much for stopping by! I am so glad I could give you a laugh! And never underestimate the power of singledom. You just be fabulous you without all these crazy rules. Make up your own rules and rock them!


  11. This made me laugh. The interesting thing is that the 1950’s brought a slew of ideas like this that weren’t as prominent before. Basically with the invention of things like the washing machine and home appliances companies advertised them by making it sound like women wanted to be at home just to use the machines (because what else would you want to do)? Even though you still had some concepts like this the 1950’s really brought in some strange ideas. For all the iconic glamour and fashion (it started a new era of fashion too) it involved a lot of funny marketing.

    Love these dresses though. Thanks for sharing!


    • Mary, thanks so much for sharing this comment! I am glad I could make you laugh. I have seen some of the marketing from the 50’s and it really is hilarious! Of course I want to be home using my fabulous new washing machine, who doesn’t?! Hahahaha.


  12. OMG, laughing until crying! Any way you slice it, you girls nailed looking fantastic! Thanks for a funny post to start my mid-week off on a good note! (A bit behind on my reading this week).

    Elizabeth | http://nattygal.com

  13. What a lovely and fun post-Shelbee, love this! Great dresses, I love both, just my styles 🙂 Thanks for sharing at the Creative Monday linkup

  14. Gentle Joy Photography

    Those old bits of advice have some good things in them even though some of the points are a bit much.

    • I agree with you completely! Some of these are great and I do actually try to do some of them. My husband and I manage quite effectively to maintain a wonderful balance in our home and marriage. Thanks so much for stopping by!


  15. I think you both look super and what a wonderful colour. One I’ve not ever really worn, but I may have to re-think that choice. x Jacqui

  16. I love the vintage look and those dresses are cool


  17. Thanks for joining the Top of the World Style linkup party with your cool look.I haven’t seen the knee-socks dress combination in ages. You are a trend setter.

  18. Oh my GosH! I was laughing my A@@ off! Cook, Clean, wash the children’s hands, prepare a dinner, fix yourself up. I LOVE it! This was a very fun post and I would have failed miserably too! Haha, I had to laugh with the yoga pants and bra mention. I mean… Boy, the world had a pretty different view back then, right?!
    thanks for linking!
    jess xx

    • Ha! Thanks so much, Jess! I am so glad I gave you a good chuckle. This was such a fun post to write. I was cracking up the entire time I was writing it! We had such a fun Girls’ Day At Home that day, too, all dressed up in our pretty dresses…failing like champs! Have a fabulous week.


  19. So funny! I would definitely fail as a housewife, not that I would aspire to be one! My husband would like to retire early and potter/ tidy/garden all day. Having him under foot all the time would be a disaster!

    Emma xxx

  20. I have seen this list many times and I always have to chuckle. I enjoyed reading how this day actually played out in real life. 🙂 You both look adorable in your pretty dresses! Thanks for linking up with Fabulous Friday!

    Jennie – A Pocketful of Polka Dots

    • Thanks so much, Jennie! We did have a fun day even if we were just sitting around looking pretty! This was an entertaining post to write, for sure. Have a wonderful week!


  21. Ha! This cracked me up! I loved this post — what a fun idea! #FridayFrivolity

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