All posts are copyright Barbara Rogers 2018. Please ask if you wish to share, and give attribution to the author.My ancestry and more personal notes are now at a revised version of "When I Was 75."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Where the ladies got pretty(er)

Dressing Tables:
Having a place to sit and put on your make up, brush your hair, or take off your make up and cleanse your skin, brush your hair...the dressing tables were necessities before those huge mirrors with lots of lights in a bathroom.

A well devised dressing table in the home of my former husband's parents, perhaps belonging to their daughter.  They lived in this house in Connecticut in the 50s before I knew their youngest son. All those little shutter doors along the wall look interesting too, don't they!

My mother's (Mataley Rogers) dressing table in 1937, before she got married (San Antonio, TX.)  But since the caption is by someone else, I think this was in my father's album, and I think that's his picture in cap and gown on the left of mirror. There is certainly floral wallpaper evident also. She had this set of bedroom furniture (with a matching chest of drawers) the rest of her life.  I remember as a young girl loving the sound the little handles made on the drawers.  A clicky-clacky sound of metal.  I probably drove her crazy making them click as she was putting on her "painted face."

Did I ever have a dressing table? No.  But I did have a mirror which sat on my big dresser that had lights all around it and a magnifying side. It was fun back in the days when I painted my face, curled my hairs, and went out looking my best.  Now I don't worry about it and figure my best is that I'm still here walking around!

As suggested by... (click here to see what else others have come up with for this photo).

Today's quote:

How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of Light against its being; otherwise we all remain too frightened. Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky


  1. When I was very little, the dresser in my room had a vanity bench much like the one in your photo. The dresser is long gone, but my mother saved the bench plus a second one. They were both in the attic when my sister and I cleaned out the house. I took one and recently painted it and added new fabric. It's in a guest bedroom now.

  2. My mother's dressing table was beautiful and elegantly decorated with the essentials and whenever she came into my room and saw the clutter on mine she would despair of my future and threaten that if my house was like that when I grew up she would never come to visit - but she did!

  3. Barbara -- I had a dressing table but used it to pile books on. I liked to look my best but used the cabinet bathroom mirror to do that. Books were more important to me than my looks I guess. Today I am like you I go about "as is" and love it. Agree your best (and mine) is that I am still walking around. Like your old photos -- barbara

  4. I finally have sufficient mirrors in my bathroom and have reached the age where I hate looking at myself. How did that happen? My mother had one of these tables and she kept little figures on it that I had given her as gifts when a kid...purchased by saving my meager allowance. The little figures were childish and something I liked, not something that she would like. Finally when I was 10 or 12, I got the idea of gift giving and bought her something I knew she would like. Big break-through.

  5. Well done! Focusing on the dressing table makes a clever spin on the theme. It's fascinating to see old interior photos, especially when they display old photos too. It adds a very personal quality even when there's no person in the photograph.

  6. Great take, Barbara -- I never thought of that focus...

  7. Whoever would have thought that someone would photograph a family dressing table? But aren’t you glad he did? Nothing so nice in our house where I grew up but my mother always longed for a kidney-shaped dressing table - I’ve no idea why.

  8. That first picture of the built-in dressing table shows perfect lighting coming from both sides to eliminate most shadows. I hadn't thought of the dressing table I had in my teens for many years, but your post brought the memory of it right back. Both the dressing table and bench were kidney shaped as Nell described. The mirror-topped table had a frilly pink-printed skirt around it which could be pulled apart to reveal a drawer & space to keep the stool when not needed. I loved it, but gave it to a younger sister when I needed a desk more than a dressing table.

  9. I had forgotten about that sound that the metal handles made. Yes! I used to do the same thing with them over and over again. I remember my mother having a pretty little dressing table when we lived in San Diego. I believe my dad made it for her. I'm guessing it was left in the house when we moved.

  10. Dressing tables were virtually compulsory once weren't they? Mum still has hers with the crystal settings. I had one as a child too but haven't for decades since. Makeup is done in the bathroom mirror and on the run. Sitting at a dressing table for ages would drive me nuts. Ups just occurred to me, though, that I am depriving my grandchildren of a treat as I too used to love mum's bits and bobs and even more my grandmother's dressing table.


Looking forward to hearing from you! Since I didn't know the 1000+ people who supposedly looked at my blog the other day, I'm back to moderating comments. If that doesn't help, I don't know why blogger doesn't have a filter that stops this hacking...