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Mr. Selfridge and the Working Girl

A working girl needs a killer wardrobe, though in my upcoming Cosmo Hot Reads from Harlequin, NAKED SUSHI, Pepper O’Malley, my heroine, wears only yellow pom pom chrysanthemums and a banana leaf for her gig as a sushi model.

Lucky girl.

But most of us with 9 to 5 jobs have to plan what we’re going to wear each day. Casual …or sexy heels and skirt? Jeans and a tee? Whatever your choice, we have much to choose from in our local department store or boutique.

It wasn’t always that way.

I’ve been watching Mr. Selfridge on about the American who opened up Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909. He believed the emancipated woman was the future, not a thorn in his side. In a recent episode, the employees stage an all-nighter to decorate the windows at Selfridge’s to show their support for the suffragettes, not alienate them.

Oh, what fun! The beautiful store windows alone make it worth watching, but the interesting facts about how department stores have changed over the past 100 years is fascinating. And how he changed the life of the working girl.

Did you know that before Selfridge’s

Ready-to-wear didn’t exist; a lady came in for fittings, then her garments were made. Selfridge’s believed that would change and predicted mass production of clothes.

Cosmetics were sold under the counter so as not to offend a lady’s delicate nature. Mr. Selfridge wanted to bring lip rouge in from the cold so women could embrace makeup, not shun it.
Harry Selfridge made shopping an event for working girls, not a chore. He displayed a small plane in his store and even had the famed ballerina Anna Pavlova dance for his customers.


Photo by Jina Bacarr

Photo by Jina Bacarr

Perfume was sold at the front of the store to mask the smell of horse manure clinging to the customers’ shoes. Mr. Selfridge wanted working girls everywhere to enjoy the scent of a lovely lavender while they shopped.

So the next time you go shopping at your local department store, stop at the perfume counter at the front of the store and enjoy a splash of your favorite fragrance.

You have Mr. Selfridge to thank for that.

Click here to see a wonderful array of photos and pix from Selfridge’s.

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