‘Dressing the part(y): 1950s domestic advice books and the studied performance of informal domesticity in the UK and the US'
Behaviour is subject to fashion as much as clothing, furniture and other designed goods. As a discourse of ideals, domestic advice literature - and by that I mean advice literature pertaining to the social and material composition of the home, namely etiquette, homemaking and home decoration books - can be read retrospectively to trace fashionable changes in both design and manners and it is therefore a useful resource in uncovering the history of intersections between fashion, performance and the modern interior. This chapter examines three domestic advice books from the UK and the US: American industrial designers Russel and Mary Wright’s Guide to Easier Living, revised edition 1954 (1950), British journalist Julia Cairns’s Home Making, also 1954 and British author Daphne Barraclough’s How to Run a Good Party of 1956, to examine a historical moment in which a shift in fashionable behaviour produced new advice about domestic interactions, or performances, within the home. With reference to Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical metaphor developed in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, here advice books are presented as scripts for domestic performances within the home as a stage.