Sex and the Single Girl, 1962

SexSingleGirl2 Sex and the Single Girl, 1962

I’ve read in numerous interviews that Mad Men creator, Matthew Weiner, instructed his female cast to read one book in preparation for their roles as mid-century women: Sex and The Single Girl%name Sex and the Single Girl, 1962 by former Cosmo editor, Helen Gurley Brown. Being the dedicated fan that I am, I just HAD to read this book, which is like a time capsule circa 1962. Chock full of tips and advice for the early 1960’s single girl, it is a definite must read. There are numerous topics covered by this book, such as available men and where to meet them, how to be sexy (Chapter 4), working, finances (getting adopted by a wealthy couple is my favorite advice about finances given), apartment living, entertaining, physical appearance, and affairs. All very valuable information!

Among those men considered “available” is the married man. The author even breaks it down into a PROS/CONS list. My favorite CON is: He is practically useless on Saturday nights, Sundays, holidays, and nine times out of ten on your birthday. My favorite PRO is: He is frequently marvelous in bed and careful not to get you pregnant. He sounds so charming! What a catch!

One place given to meet men is your place of employment. Gurley Brown has this to say about companies that prohibit workplace romances: Why else do they suppose you are working…? Another great place to meet a man is Alcoholics Anonymous, preferably a wealthy chapter. If I weren’t already married, this is definitely the approach I would use!

For a man to like your apartment, you should keep a large brandy snifter or large translucent bowl filled with dozens of loose cigarettes and opened whole packages of different brands and match books from good restaurants. This is considered a “man attractor”. You should also keep an ashtray with two, fresh cigarettes with matches in your bathroom for him. If you have a man over for dinner, give him a cigar after the meal. Once you’re done seducing your man with the threat of emphysema and lung cancer, finish him off with the “morning after” brunch which should include clamato juice (1/2 clam, 1/2 tomato juice) and “omelet surprise” and he’ll be begging for more! (???)

For a man to find you physically attractive, you must be thin, have great hair, and use cosmetics to enhance or completely create beauty. This crash diet is recommended:

  • Breakfast- 1 egg, any style, no butter, 1 glass of white wine
  • Lunch- 2 eggs, any style, 2 glasses of white wine
  • Dinner- 1 steak, finish bottle of wine

screaming Sex and the Single Girl, 1962My guess is that you’d be too drunk to commit cannibalism, so your date should be safe.

For great hair, it is suggested that you wash your hair once every two weeks and pay a woman $2.50 to come to your office to massage your scalp for 40 minutes once a week. Or just buy a wig (p. 221). I feel more beautiful just reading that.

About cosmetics, the author advises: drawing in completely new eyebrows, wearing false eyelashes, putting hollows in your cheeks with darker foundation, a cleft in your chin with brown eyebrow pencil or enlarging your mouth by a third. I’m not sure if I’d be getting ready for a date or Halloween. Or a performance under the Big Top with the rest of the clown troop.

This book is a veritable cornucopia of mid-century single girl knowledge! I highly recommend you read it and then burn your bra. Your lightly starched and ironed bra.

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Written by krista


  1. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    Wow, what a book. I can see why the female actors in Mad Men would really get some insight into their characters by reading it. It’s like this crazy snapshot of what being a woman in the early 60’s was like. I really don’t know what’s worse, that there’s a tip that a good catch would be a rich recovering alcoholic (imagine the fun!) or that crash diet. The benefit I see in that is that I guess you can’t eat once you’ve passed out..I wonder if the diet in Sex and the NEW single girl adds in a couple of crackers? Krista, have you read the updated book?

    And why is it sexy to have a cleft chin? So much so that you should draw one in. Isn’t that a manly sort of feature?

  2. Profile photo of Tyna Werner
    Tyna Werner

    Ha! I was going to add in some further reading references – but really-what more do you need to know? I have to get my hands on this book (the original copy if possible).

    My favorite tip above? leaving two fresh ciggies, an ashtray, and matches in the bathroom (for after dinners?) Eww! I don’t want some, rich, married, recovering alcoholic in my bathroom, sitting on the toilet, smoking two cigs while he does his business!! Again – eww!

    Hmm, well at least the matches can take care of the smells? bleh.

  3. Profile photo of christy

    Krista great post!!!

    That’s hilarious!! The crash diet.. wow!! Of course you lose weight because you’d be puking on a constant basis!!!
    Wine and eggs = puke Hilarious, but also frightening!
    This book sounds more like “what not to do”

    & Stef I’m with you, drawing in a cleft is pretty funny too, I think if you draw in a cleft you should draw one tear drop under your eye for a nice harlequin effect!! :)

  4. Profile photo of winnie

    Krista your post and everyone’s comments are hysterical! I’m with Tyna the two smokes in the bathroom is great! I think Helen Gurley Brown was on that diet her entire life. I was in the elevator with her at a court house in NYC (i was there for jury duty, i swear!) and she looked like a tiny skeleton and her hairline started at the top of her head from all the old school face lifts she’s had. But everyone was all gitty when she got off. even the huge security guard. I got to get that book!

  5. Profile photo of Veronica Lane
    Veronica Lane

    My god, what a funny post (and book)! We’ve come a long way Baby…hold on let me grab my Virgina Slims.

    It’s funny, did anyone see that reverted back to the 60’s for one day in Mad Men’s honor? (I’m not a Playboy reader, I saw it on the Mad Men twitter page.) Apparently, an actual question from the 60’s advice column: “Is it proper to remove a girl’s fashion wig before making love to her?” Fashion wig…versus what other kind?!

    I’m going to make my boyfriend Omelet Surprise this weekend. The surprise? Cigarettes inside! Men obviously love them.

  6. Profile photo of Mike

    Now you know Krista’s secret.

    I’m really a recovering-alcoholic-millionaire smoker and she was the other woman.

    When I saw her in the typing pool at the office, I thought, “Man, I really need to sleep with her, but be careful not to get her pregnant.”. BUT, when I got to her bachelorette pad and saw the huge bowl of Winstons, Marlboros, and Lucky Strikes, I knew it could be so much more than just physical. It was the clamato juice the next morning that sealed the deal. I went right to my lawyers office and filed for divorce.

    I’ve been enjoying snifters of brandy and fabulous cheese mousse ever since.

  7. Profile photo of krista

    Okay, so I totally have a slightly cleft chin, not a Marlboro Man-style cleft, but it’s still there. At least it’s not as bad as my uncle’s. I swear, you could lose whole galaxies in that thing. That being said, I don’t feel it’s my most feminine feature and I can’t imagine it looking better with a giant brown smudge in the middle of it.
    Christy, when you mentioned the tear drop, I totally skipped over the harlequin reference and went right for prison tat. Nothing says “sexy lady” like a sweet prison tat from your time up state…
    Stef—Sex and the NEW Single Girl? Are you talking about the re-release of the book? I have the recently re-released version with the hot pink cover and it’s the same book with an “updated” intro by Gurley Brown. Otherwise, it’s been untouched by the sands of time…
    Okay, so now my lungs hurt from reading about so many uses for cigarettes and from imagining the smells of removing a fashion wig from a lady who hasn’t washed her hair in two weeks…ewwwwww…

  8. Profile photo of suzan

    I so want to read this entire book! Anyone know where I can get a $2.50 scalp massage at my office? I’m also wondering why you have to have a sniffer or big clear bowl of smokes? I mean why not both? I guess you can’t do the brandy if your man is from AA. Mike you are a lucky man, that Krista sure knows how to wooo a man. Did you ever think that she wouldn’t have to leave you two smokes in the jon if you didn’t eat so much cheese mouse!
    T, what is the answer to the wig question?

  9. Profile photo of Veronica Lane
    Veronica Lane

    Mike, your comment was beyond awesome. And Susan, yours made it even better.

    But seriously, you smokers. Do you smoke in the bathroom? This has me thinking now…

    Susan, it was me who mentioned the fashion wig. Sadly, I don’t know the answer! I think just to be safe, the man should not remove it. Who knows what’s going on under there?

  10. Profile photo of suzan

    Fashion wig gives the impression that the dude already knows what your real hair looks like and you simply donned it just for cocktails. I just don’t understand why the man would take it off as if it’s a blouse or under garment.
    Krista I have some serious concerns for the bowels of the K&M household given the cheese consumption that has occured this last week. I wouldn’t be shocked if tears are involved.

  11. Profile photo of krista

    I found the link with the wig info and other advice on it:
    I don’t know how long the link is good for, but it states:
    When making love on relatively formal (black-tie) occasions, leave your partner wigged. On informal dates, country weekends and any time before five, untressing is permissible—if your date consents, of course. But under no circumstances should you move to remove your partner’s wig if you suspect (1) she’s not wearing one, or (2) she’s bald underneath.

  12. Profile photo of tiffany

    Krista this is the best post ever! I can’t believe this book even exists. I must read it. I’m so enthralled in Mad Men right now…I watched 3 episodes before falling asleep at 1 am last night and then woke up this morning and watched another. I’m even getting mad at my husband leaving me with the kids all day and find myself wanting to smoke. Next thing you know, I’ll be going on the eggs and wine diet. But seriously, who can look glamorous and go 2 weeks without washing their hair? Mine would be a ball of grease! I would definitely need the fashion wig.

    Thank you Krista for a good laugh. I’ve been so engrossed in this show I haven’t even had time to get on the internet. Glad I stepped away long enough to read this.

  13. Profile photo of Wednesday

    OK Krista you officially rule! This is so funny!! OMG and the follow up with the wig scenerio.. OMG!!!! UNTRESSING on a country weekend! Are you kidding me.. this is real.. WOW I thought people of today were freaks.. we’ve got nothing on the 60s ha!!

    I’m with Christy.. wine and eggs = puke but probably a thin waist line.. but you’d have the breath of 40 demons.. oh enter cigarettes and it’s all good!! Amazing!!

    I will be sure to supply my next boyfriend with a healthy bowl of cigarettes to keep him around haha!! NOT! :)

    Awesome post!!!! Krista you rock!!! :) I’m so rocking my hair huge for the season premiere!! & Making Krista’s cheese balls & a HUGE Tom Colllins!

  14. Profile photo of sherrishera

    Hey Krista,
    Ya know what’s crazier than your post? The fact that both the indominable Ms. Gurley Brown AND her husband are both still alive (she’s almost 90, and I think he’s passed that milestone.)
    Maybe wine, eggs, steak and ciggies every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner IS good for your health. Or maybe if you have a strong enough constitution to initially survive that diet, you’ll live to 100?
    Who knows? Too bad I quit smoking years ago..

  15. Sarah

    Holy cow, this was hilarious! The best was everyone’s comments! I love a good laugh in the morning… I wound up reading all the comments to my sister who laughed too. We’re very disturbed by the wig situation: to unwig or not to unwig. Glad that dilemma has been left to the guys, and in the past! Hahahaha. Thanks for the awesome post, Krista. I’m going out to find this gem of a book for a good laugh!

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