The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
Published 1958 chapter 12
[Fabian Publications Christmas party happens at the end of a normal working day, so the employees come in ready for the event]
‘This is not to be missed’ April said, taking Caroline’s hand and leading her out into the [typing pool].
There was Brenda at her desk, resplendent in gold lame, very tight, with a bow right under where she sat. She wore spike-heeled bronze kid pumps and a great many strings of fake beads. She was drinking her morning coffee out of a paper container, leaving a semicircle of lipstick on the rim, and there was a stack of letters at her elbow, although no-one would do much filing today.
‘Call girl after a hard night,’ Caroline whispered.
‘Do you think she wore that on the subway this morning?’ April whispered back, gulping in her laughter…
Some of the other girls in the pool were more conservatively dressed in black velvet skirts and white beaded sweaters, or plain taffeta with swishing crinolines. The teletype operator was married and thought the whole Christmas party would be a waste of time without her husband, so she had compromised by wearing an ordinary tweed office dress with a spray of tinselled Christmas baubles pinned to the shoulder.
obvservations: The description of the day of the office party is a hilarious classic, and surely still true to life, at least in spirit. Caroline and April are the book’s heroines, and are wearing sophisticated upmarket dresses in beige and black wool, so the rather crass Mary Agnes says to them: ‘Gee aren’t you two going to get dressed up for the Christmas party?’ Of course Caroline says ‘we are dressed up’ and Mary Agnes looks blank and shrugs. (Jaffe is not one to resist an obvious moment, but it all adds to the joy of the book.) At half-past three the girls from the pool will start heading for the washroom to redo their hair and make-up…
Love the fact that taffeta over a crinoline is not very dressy, and absolutely adore the fashion tip of adding a corsage of baubles to make your tweed dress Christmassy.
Links up with: Best of Everything has featured before, here and here. There'll be special Christmas entries all this week and next. There was a gold dress in this entry, and this one.
The photo is of JG Klein ready for her prom, and was taken by her father.