dressed up like a lady: Inspirado: Jane Seymour's Guide to Romantic Living

Jun 30, 2011

Inspirado: Jane Seymour's Guide to Romantic Living

MC's sister, the lovely and talented miniaturist, doll maker, and overall genius mixed media artist Alessandra White, has amazing taste. It's hard enough to find somebody who knows, let alone cares, about style, but this fantastic chick also gets that nuanced component of fashion that eludes so many: fun. She understands that something can genuinely delight your senses, but still illicit giggles and self-awareness -- that you don't have to like something "ironically" to dig the kitsch factor. It's just one of the many reasons I love this woman.

Proving herself once again in this regard, she lent me this amazing book: Jane Seymour's Guide to Romantic Living.

Published in 1986, the book is one part memoir, one part whimsical, inspiring self-help guide. 

The narrative is interspersed with happy memories about how Seymour's own parents created a house full of celebration and creativity, with lots of ad hoc ballet productions in the backyard and impromptu visits from family and friends. It's also crammed full of purple prose in the form of advice about being the heroine of your own fantasies, and making your own life and relationship into the passionate fairytale of your dreams.

Seymour largely recommends this through suggestions about being exuberant. And I can't say I disagree. She suggests that if you want to feel as beautiful, vivacious, and happy as the picture of yourself that you dreamed of as a child, you simply have to decide that this is who you are. You can't be ashamed or embarrassed about indulging in this way, and if that means staging hot shit pictures of yourself with teased hair and fake swans in the background, so be it. 

She also asserts that this goes doubly for your relationship. If you want your lover to make up one half of your epic romance for the ages, you can't skimp on the uninhibited shows of adoration. If the person you're with is your soulmate (or close enough), it should be no trouble for you to tuck a love note into their pocket, or find a free afternoon to call off work together and walk the city. And if you can channel your own inspiration to make such gestures, your lover will do the same.

With the exception of, you know, crappy relationships that generally lack real romantic chemistry (I know I've been there), I think Jane is onto something here. As with many things in life, I find that as long as the fundamental bedrock spark is there, making sure your relationship meets all your dreamy needs is as easy as owning it, and being willing to provide that to your partner. And Jane probably knows better than I do. The woman braided baby's breath into her hair.  


Of course, it goes without saying by this point that the book is very, very campy. What kind of advice is "A beautiful hat can transport a woman into another, simpler age?" I love a good hat probably more than the next girl, but they are complicated devices that confuse and infuriate me.

Tragically, it's currently out of print, but used copies can run pretty cheap. I highly recommend checking it out if you're into flowery romantic advice. Or fake swans.

Postscript: Sadly, it is worth nothing that Jane's marriage to real estate broker David Flynn (featured in the book) broke down after 10 years, because despite all the efforts described in Jane's guide, the TV-movie-star lifestyle meant the two never spent enough time together. Also, it turns out David was an alcoholic. So take the lady's advice with a grain of salt -- or at least remember that there's only so much that Romantic Living can make up for.


  1. What you said about the staged photos with the swans... totally true. Speaks to my life. :) But seriously, I love these weird, campy lifestyle advice books from the late 70's through the early 90's. Have you seen Victoria Principal (from Dallas)'s book "The Body Principal"? It's a wow. GREAT POST.

  2. Oh yes! My mom gave me this book
    for my birthday, such a romantic
    departure for her, my mom. I cherish the book and the advice
    Thank you for the reminder.

  3. These photos are fantastic! SO inspirational!

  4. i don't like advice books too much... but those photos are so amazing. thanks for sharing this post.


  5. "and if that means staging hot shit pictures of yourself with teased hair and fake swans in the background, so be it."

    genius. genius post too.. i was going back and forth between laughing and going...ah yeah...TOTALLY! haha.

    like it.


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