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Ask a Man

always aska a man Arlene Dahl

Always Ask a Man
the key to femininity
1965 (paperback: 1967)

Ladies! Your wait is over!  Arlene Dahl is here to tell you all the insider secrets of catching and keeping a man. Inside you will find tons of helpful tips on fashion, hair, makeup,and even romance! Evidently, the dudes just love when women are helpless and pretty. Arlene also has the inside scoop from the dreamiest men from Hollywood and beyond. Cary Grant, George Hamilton, Noel Coward, and Kirk Douglas are among the men helping explain what the guys REALLY want.

So ladies, go forth and be feminine!




back cover

author bio about Arlene Dahl

true femininity

what men don't like

exercises facial

defining "chic"

hair color and personality

using a fan

31 Responses to Ask a Man

  • It makes me want to be a woman in 1965 so I can try all these seductive tricks!

  • I hadn’t thought about Arlene Dahl for years, so I looked her up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlene_Dahl
    She’s still living. Married to husband #6 since 1984.

  • It’s not a man’s world, It’s MY world!

  • I have never heard the term “brownette.” Can someone elaborate on that?

    • Elle, I’ve heard it though not in a long while. It specifically meant brunettes with brown hair rather than black.

    • I have a queasy suspicion it’s her “polite” way of saying non-Caucasian women.

      • Ah, I see. I guess “brunette” eventually came to encompass both brown and black hair (although still typically referred to white women) I looked over what these hypothetical women would do based on their hair color, and I have to say, I can’t make any sense of it. I know it’s supposed to be stereotypical behavior, but there doesn’t even seem to be any consistency there. It’s like even lesser-informed phrenology.

      • I don’t think there’s any implication of race…she is presenting some kind of personality trait quiz based on hair color. Double-dose of stereotyping.

    • light brown hair. It hasn’t been used in a long time but i do remember it from an old commercial for hair dye.

  • Well, I do think curlers in public would still be under “not chic.” And a “fad that everyone’s adopted” is not chic either. Interesting that a lack of tan was considered chic. I am guilty of, not a dress, but sleeveless shirts in the summer, with fat arms! Oh well… I never claimed to be chic.
    Fans? Did men understand the movements and placements of them?

  • Is there a chapter in here on how the right to vote causes wrinkles too?

  • I must, I must, I must increase my bust!

  • Funny thing is, there’s still advice like this going around. And other than making sure I don’t have BO or bad breath, I pretty much ignore it all. If I follow any of it it’s either unintentionally or because it makes me happy, not to attract a man.

  • This book is utter nonsense!!! But I still wanna read it. I did once bet on a long shot horse and won 200.00. Oh yeah, I’m a brunette too, and I have to confess that I always liked the way big colorful rollers looked in women’s hair

  • I do have to say, the thought of some woman trying to communicate via fan is pretty funny. Something tells me the subtle art of fanning would likely be lost on most people, even in 1965.

    • I was rewatching Kate & Leopold recently, and there’s one point where he’s warning someone against giving the wrong flowers based on symbolism. As if anyone in the 21st century is going to pick up on that.

  • Where do you go to buy perfumed fans?

    • I’m not sure, but I think spritzing a little perfume on a fan would be just as good. Alternatively, if perfume might run the risk of staining the fan, you could always store it with a perfumed sachet and eventually it would absorb the scent. As silly as the so-called language of fans is, I imagine a perfumed fan would be mighty handy to whip out to ward off odors on a crowded elevator, where someone is inevitably going to *looks through her thesaurus for the most ladylike term* break wind 😛

      What I find interesting, aside from how outdated and stereotyped a lot of this advice is, is that for how much this book discusses how unattractive BO is, it doesn’t seem to point out how too much perfume is just as bad too. I remember having more problems with women that were wearing so much perfume you could get a clear whiff of it six feet away than with women with BO problems. It’s unattractive for both men and women–so men, lighten up on the Axe!

  • I own this book of hilarity (thanks thrift shops!) I’m so glad Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, and Noel Coward could share exactly what a man looks for in a lady…

  • She doesn’t give the fan sign for “F-off, jerk!”


  • I think we should fix up Arlene Dahl with the author of the masculinity crisis book from a few ALB posts ago. They should get along famously.

  • Noel Coward? Wouldn’t that make it “Ask A Gay Man”?

  • I actually carry a fan in my purse. It has nothing to do with flirting but everything to do with menopause. At least now I know I can be seductive and flirty while taming my heat flash 🙂

  • apparently Noel Coward spent a lot of time around women who didn’t shower too often….

  • Wow, even in 1965 this was anachronistic. And definitely by 1967, when they put out the paperback. That was the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, etc. This book is a compendium of what we were trying to leave behind! And Arlene Dahl would have been known to us only as a contestant on game shows, if at all. But perhaps the worst is the recommendation of taupe — yuck. Joy-killing dirt non-color.

  • Can’t believe this discussion is taking place in 2014!