Award-winning historical romance novelist Vicky Dreiling shows us how to flirt the old fashioned way—no cell phone needed. Take that, “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
How many times have you watched “Pride & Prejudice”? I’ve lost count, but then again, I adore the Regency England era. While nearly two hundred years have passed since Jane Austen published her novels, there’s something very enduring about the romantic quirks of her heroines. There’s also something relatable in the way ladies of the nineteenth century went about forming attachments to handsome suitors. These days, flirting seems to have lost a bit of luster with constant texting and Facebook updates such as Status Update: In a Relationship. So I look to the past to help you find your summer romance by flirting the Jane Austen way.
1. How to Dress the Fun & Flirty Way: These days, women can find summery dresses, cute accessories, and loads of cosmetics all at great price points. But back in the day, such luxuries were reserved for high-society types. Now, you can look and feel great without breaking the bank.
2. How to Enhance Your Eyes and Lips with Cosmetics: Back in the Regency era, many a lady had to make her own cosmetics. Here are some of the beauty treatments used in Jane’s day, although I’m not so sure I’d recommend all of them!
- Pinch your cheeks if you don’t have any blush handy; it will instantly flush your complexion.
- The juice of a green pineapple supposedly erased wrinkles, but if no pineapple was available an onion could be substituted (oh dear, the aroma!).
- Another remedy for the complexion involved mixing rye bread crumbs, hot from the oven (I’m not making this up, I swear), with the whites of four eggs and a pint of white vinegar used as a mask.
- To get rid of freckles, a desperate lady might add shredded horseradish to sour milk (these must have been some odoriferous concoctions) and take a big sip.
3. How to Approach that Dreamy Guy: Across the crowded ballroom (er, dance floor), you see a man of distinction. You want to get to know him better. In today’s world, a young woman would probably find (and friend) him on Facebook immediately. But try and consider a little mystery first or a formal introduction. In Jane Austen’s time, a gentleman was required to gain an introduction to a lady prior to courting her. A smart and bold Regency lady, however, might ask a friend to facilitate the introduction.
4. How to Intrigue Him on the Dance Floor: While it is fun to rock out to Calvin Harris, consider a slow dance so you can look him in the eyes. In yesteryear, couples participated in intricate dances that resemble the line dancing of the eighties. If you’ve ever watched “Pride & Prejudice,” you’ll note how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth carry on coy conversation between movements. And oh how the tension between them sizzles! A humorous quip or challenge just might pique his interest as well. And if he happens to see a bit of ankle during that dance…well, that may only apply to 1818.
5. How to Apply the Fan: Dancing can make you hot, especially if the room is crowded. I think it’s time we resurrected the fan. Back in Jane’s day, the fan wasn’t just for cooling off. A smart lady used her fan to communicate with gentlemen. Here are some of the fan signals and the meaning of them (and you thought decoding his latest text message was difficult!):
- Touching right cheek – yes
- Touching left cheek – no
- Twirling in left hand – we are watched
- Twirling in right hand – I love another
- Fanning slowly – I am married
- Fanning quickly – I am engaged
- With handle to lip – Kiss me
- In right hand in front of face – Follow me
- Drawing across the cheek – I love you
Whether it’s 1818 or 2012, women can benefit from a few extra tips to flirt and have fun with a potential suitor. Here’s hoping you have fun flirting with Mr. Oh-So-Right.
Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed romance junkie and loves to shop at Target where she goes to see her books on the shelf. Check them out at Target.com.