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How a Wife Should Undress for Her Husband
July 18, 2013 1:29 PM   Subscribe

A photo essay on the Allen Gilbert School of Undressing, as featured in the 15 Feb 1937 issue of LIFE Magazine (now LIFE.com). Burlesque empresario Allen Gilbert wanted to help save American marriages from the evils of ... sloppy undressing on the part of the wife. His answer? A specialized school to teach women to improve their "disrobing methodology." At least, that's what Gilbert claimed; in reality, the school -- and the LIFE spread (you should pardon the phrasing) -- were elaborate promotions for his new burlesque revue, "Sex Rears Its Ugly Head." "Joke or no joke, however, one thing is as true today as it was three-quarters of a century ago: whether one wants to make a buck publishing magazines, staging burlesque shows or fostering adult education, sex sells."
posted by Annie Savoy (24 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
My "disrobing methodology" involves bourbon and a strong, forward man. More fun and it saves me $30.
posted by aretesophist at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can I be the first to say:


Awkward...
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:05 PM on July 18, 2013


I read it as Allen Ginsberg. That would be more interesting.

... the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging their shifts and skirts awkwardly over their shoulders...
posted by mrgrimm at 2:43 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been doing it all wrong. Looks like I'm going to have to go back to school.
posted by medusa at 2:55 PM on July 18, 2013


the dainty peel down from the top is a good way to disrobe, but pulling the clothes up and over the head can be good too. There is that moment where your arms are up so your midriff is all stretched out and the waist and boobs get extra shapely, and your eyes are covered so your dude can give you a proper unabashed ogling.

That first picture is hilarious, though - like a dog trapped in a blanket
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:55 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. I just realized that the undressing school is missing out on some valuable market segments by targeting wives. We need to set up special undressing schools for:
- mistresses
- slutty mistresses
- sex workers
- sexy librarians
- lonely widows
- every woman I ever meet who obviously wants to sleep with me
posted by medusa at 3:01 PM on July 18, 2013


To be honest, I could use the opposite advice.

What is the sexiest way for a man to undress? Wearing these five outfits:

a) business suit;
b) fireman's outfit;
c) leather chaps;
d) short dress and heels;
e) authentic Warhammer 40,000 costume
posted by mrgrimm at 3:23 PM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pro-tip, if you are using a blowtorch, you are doing it wrong or else very, very right.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:33 PM on July 18, 2013


The lady in the how-not-to-undress pictures is the 1937 equivalent of the "before" people in infomercials. "HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?!?!"
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:49 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


My takeaway: If you must undress, be blonde.
posted by DU at 3:59 PM on July 18, 2013


I saw a creepy video on how to undress which is apparently something like this - titillation hidden within the idea of helping women be better women. The creepiest part is that the entire thing is framed from the POV of a peeping tom, but all of the shame is applied to the women.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:03 PM on July 18, 2013


What is the sexiest way for a man to undress? Wearing these five outfits:

All at once? That is very ambitious, especially since you will be hard-pressed to move your arms at all.

Howver, the only possible way to do e) is with the Proper Instruction of the Emperor of Mankind! Otherwise, you are a Heretic, and will be dealt with sternly. And not in a sexy way.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:39 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I spent a year taking burlesque classes. There is a surprising amount of things to learn about how to undress yourself with dramatic flair. And more craft than you might expect in modifying items of clothing specifically for the purpose of taking them off in front of an audience.
posted by egypturnash at 4:45 PM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Deoridhe, I came into this thread to mention that video, and sadly lament the fact that I couldn't find it anymore! I've been sort-of looking for it for like a month now. Thanks!

And thank you, Annie Savoy. I love this stuff!
posted by windykites at 6:02 PM on July 18, 2013


Mrgrimm, the one-handed, single-motion tie loosening while staring hungrily at the person you're undressing for (and maybe walking towards them) is... not a bad start. It's the body language equivalent of "let's get down to business"

YMMV
posted by windykites at 6:07 PM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I saw a creepy video on how to undress


Starring Elaine Barrie Barrymore, the real black sheep of the family, who stripped so nobody would notice John's drinking; Trixie Friganza, who couldn't get "Friggin' Extravaganza" past the censors, Hal "Too Dumb for a Stage Name" Richardson, and "Prince" Albert Van Antwerp, the Twerp in a Van.

I'm dealing with some bursitis in my right shoulder, and the first thing that bummed me out about it wass that I can't unhook my bra by reaching behind my back, like all the glossy magazines drummed into me was the proper way when I was in my formative years. I felt like some kind of unkempt lumberjack.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:23 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once strained my shoulder in an attempt to remove a still-sweaty sock, so good news! There's a market for this.
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:14 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a husband, I have to agree with this Life article (you would have to ask my wife to find out what she would like me to do). A little sexiness keeps things fresh.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm dealing with some bursitis in my right shoulder, and the first thing that bummed me out about it wass that I can't unhook my bra by reaching behind my back, like all the glossy magazines drummed into me was the proper way when I was in my formative years.

How do you undo a bra without reaching around behind your back?! (Unless it's a front-hooked bra?)
posted by lollusc at 4:25 AM on July 19, 2013


I will say that even at the age of 46, I still love the bra out the sleeve trick.
posted by plinth at 5:56 AM on July 19, 2013


lollusc, you slip off the shoulder straps and pull the hook around to the front.

plinth, I totally agree. I learned that trick from the movie Flashdance.

windykites, you might also like the LIFE photo essay on Gypsy Rose Lee that's linked to from this one. Wonderful B&W pics of her travelling with a carnival burlesque show, with her third husband and 4-year-old son in tow.
posted by Annie Savoy at 6:37 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Annie Savoy: "lollusc, you slip off the shoulder straps and pull the hook around to the front."

Thank you. I've seen my wife do it 1000 times and was still stymied by the question.
posted by zarq at 8:00 AM on July 19, 2013


I will say that even at the age of 46, I still love the bra out the sleeve trick.

The first time I saw this (way too long ago) I clapped.
posted by bongo_x at 9:20 AM on July 19, 2013


bong-X - I know! It's not uncommon for Mrs. Plinth to take a bow after.
posted by plinth at 4:05 PM on July 20, 2013


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