LOOKING AT WHAT GOES ON UNDER THE CLOTHES
[Lady Montdore is giving Fanny advice on her trousseau]
‘The important thing, dear,’ she said, ‘is to have a really good fur coat, I mean a proper, dark one.’ To Lady Montdore, fur meant mink; she could imagine no other kind except sable, but that would be specified. ‘Not only will it make all the rest of your clothes look better than they are but you really needn’t bother much about anything else as you need never take it off. Above all, don’t go wasting money on underclothes, there is nothing stupider - I always borrow Montdore’s myself. Now for evening a diamond brooch is a great help, so long as it has good big stones. Oh, dear, when I think of the diamonds your father gave that woman, it really is too bad. All the same, he can’t have got through everything, he was enormously rich when he succeeded, I must write to him…’ She rang for her secretary and said my father’s address must be found out.
‘You could ring up the Under Secretary for the Colonies with my compliments…’
observations: Clothes in Books is campaigning for Rupert Everett to play the part of Lady Montdore in a dramatized version of the Mitford books, so we looked quite hard for a picture of him in his underwear, but were sadly disappointed. These splendid fellows will have to do instead.
Of course, one assumes that when Lady Montdore has her makeover later in the book, masterminded by Cedric, she will change her mind about underwear and go in for some rather fancy lingerie.
Lady Montdore is so funny, so complete, such a monster, that we could quote from her endlessly. Nancy Mitford is supposed to have based her on her own mother-in-law, Baroness Rennell, whom she disliked very much, and Violet Trefusis, one of those ‘characters’ who is well worth looking up on the blog and on Wikipedia - click on the Trefusis label below for more about and by her. Violet Trefusis was great-aunt to Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, and Rupert Everett plainly based his definitive reading of the St Trinian's headmistress on Camilla, so there you go.
Fanny’s father, incidentally, is tracked down to the West Indies, and though proclaiming himself broke, is able to give Fanny a diamond clip which she sells to put central heating into her house.
Love in a Cold Climate has featured a lot on the blog (click on label below) and I also wrote about it in the Guardian newspaper. Lady Montdore gave opinions on diamonds earlier. Perhaps Lord Montdore actually wore a union suit, like Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon.
The picture is of utility underwear from a slightly later era (the book is set mostly in the 1930s), part of a fascinating collection of photos of utility clothes on Wikimedia Commons.