Saturday, 21 July 2012

"Boy dressed as a Girl!" (Letter to the Editor - Sept 1921)

Dear Sir,

I have an amusing account of a time when my brother was obliged to don the clothes of the so-called "weaker sex" about twelve years ago.

Our father being far away on business, our mother took my brother, Philip, and I on a visit to my mother's sister, Aunt Dorothy.  Aunt Dorothy was a spinster and an independently minded woman.  She owned her own clothing outfitters, specialising in dainty and gay garments for girls aged between 6 and 12 and made a good living at it.

We arrived at Aunt Dorothy's at the appointed time, for she was a stickler for good timekeeping, and we admired the fine outfits that were displayed in the shop windows.  They were of exquisite quality and prettiness.

None of this interested Philip of course.  He went instead to look at Aunt Dorothy's motorised delivery van.  Such vehicles were still comparatively rare in 1909, as I recall.  As we ladies had tea and a chat, there was a commotion from the yard.  When we went to investigate, it was to find that Philip had tipped over an oil can and that it was all over his fine suit.

Aunt Dorothy immediately took charge, ordering her maid to run a bath and to get Philip out of his soiled things.  Whilst Philip was being scrubbed clean, Aunt Dorothy looked at his ruined clothing and decided that it could be laundered, but the process would take some time.  This raised the problem of what to dress Philip in for the time being.

Aunt Dorothy was a firm believer not in equality between the sexes but of the greater ability of women.  Hence, she employed only women in her business. Even the driver of the delivery fan was female.  Other than Philip's own clothes, which were currently unwearable, there was not a stitch of male clothing in the place.

Frowning, Aunt Dorothy took a box down from a shelf and opened it up to reveal a white frock with lovely embroidered flower detail and delicate white lace on the sleeves and hem of the skirted portion and pronounced that it would probably fit Philip quite well.  I must confess I did giggle at the idea of my brother having to wear such a pretty dress!

And not only did he have to wear the dress, but everything else that went with it!  He had a to wear a lace trimmed chemise and then submit to wearing a silk blue corset that brought his waist in by several inches.  He also had to wear white silk stockings and, worst of all, frilly, be-ribboned knickers before being put into the frock proper.  It must have been deeply humiliating for a boy to find himself dressed in such a way and I am afraid that I was in hysterics throughout the whole process.

But it did not stop there.  Aunt Dorothy decided to go further.  In the dainty frock, stockinged legs and the frilly undergarments that peeked out from beneath the frock, Philip immediately looked more like a girl but his head was still that of a boy.  A wig of long blonde tresses was placed on his head and Philip had to submit to the indignity of having a white ribbon tied in it.

The addition of the wig and the cute white ribbon brought about a startling transformation, for Philip now looked exactly like a girl! His delicate features and pale complexion greatly aided his appearance en femme.  Finally, he was made to wear white silk gloves and white satin slippers with white bows on the front.

He was left, dressed as he was, and looking very girlish.  He was told to sit still and not to soil his gloves at all, which I found very amusing as this was all part of the conditioning we girls received to turn us into ladies.  I was also highly entertained by his acute embarressment that his pretty knickers were on show, no matter what he did to try to conceal them.

After some hours, Philip's original clothes were now wearable again, although he would need new ones once we returned home.  Needless to say, Philip was eager to escape his feminine bondage and resume masculine attire but to his horror, mother decided that as a punishment for ruining his clothes he would have to wear what he had on now for the return journey home.

Philip quickly realised that his best hope of avoiding ridicule was to be the girl that he appeared to be with as good a grace as he could muster.  It was funny to see him affecting a girlish flounce as he walked.  He attracted much attention on the way to the train station and on the train due to the pretty clothes he now wore and especially those frilly knickers, which he could do nothing to hide from view.

Finally, for Philip the ordeal was over and he was restored to his boys' things once we got home.  However, the outfit he had worn was not returned to Aunt Dorothy.  Aunt Dorothy had gifted the garments to mother who promised Philip that in the even that he should misbehave he would find himself wearing the costume again.  Needless to say, Philip's behaviour was greatly improved from that point onwards and regrettably there were no further occasions where Philip was required to don the outfit again.

Still, it was all a highly entertaining episode, as I am sure you will agree.

Yours

Emeline Willoughby


4 comments:

  1. No Offence but their is a typo.
    In the Even the driver of the delivery fan was female line.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Tyler, I noticed that there is a typo (their instead of there) in your missive picking me up for my typo. Heavens, these three comments must be the most pointless of all time and I wrote two of them - the shame!

    ReplyDelete