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This 1930s Wives' Guide To Undressing Will Make You Happy To Live In The 21st Century

"Many a marriage ends in divorce court because the wife grows sloppy and careless in the bedroom."

In 1937, a burlesque show director started "The School of Undressing" for wives, to teach them how to properly disrobe.

LIFE magazine did a semi-instructional spread on the class before its debut, remarking, "Such good bedroom manners are essential to married happiness once the honeymoon is over."

Allen Gilbert and "professor" June St. Clair.
Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Images Collection / Via Getty

Allen Gilbert and "professor" June St. Clair.

Director Allen Gilbert told LIFE that the Manhattan-based school was intended "to make going to bed appear a thing of charm and pleasure rather than a routine chore."

Gilbert claimed 48 women signed up for the six-class course, and each paid $30. That's equivalent to about $500 now.

The "professors" teaching the class were two burlesque dancers: June St. Clair (left), who demonstrated how a wife should undress, and Connie Fonzalu (right), who demonstrated how a wife should not.

Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Images Collection

"Here June St. Clair, of the Gilbert Undressing School, shows a preview audience how to remove lingerie. Note the use of the side view, with right knee slightly crooked."

Gilbert told LIFE that he felt "many a marriage ends in divorce court because the wife grows sloppy and careless in the bedroom."

June St. Clair "begins the day's classroom exercise by neatly sliding her dress down over her hips and gracefully stepping out of it.""Nightgown technique is the high point in the Gilbert course. ... Miss St. Clair adroitly gets into her nightgown and drops her lingerie all in one magic motion."
Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Images Collection

June St. Clair "begins the day's classroom exercise by neatly sliding her dress down over her hips and gracefully stepping out of it."

"Nightgown technique is the high point in the Gilbert course. ... Miss St. Clair adroitly gets into her nightgown and drops her lingerie all in one magic motion."

The reaction to the LIFE article on the class was mixed, Mashable reported. Some men responded by saying they had never thought of watching their wives change for bed. Others were puzzled over the possibility of getting into PJs in "one magic motion."

Taking off stockings was considered "an art in itself." "Wives should ... roll them down from the top slowly and neatly, thus avoiding all suspicion of slovenly unaesthetic wrinkles. "Economically, a husband is pleased by the absence of runs in the stockings. Romantically, he is gratified by his wife's graceful method of displaying her legs."
Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Images Collection

Taking off stockings was considered "an art in itself."

"Wives should ... roll them down from the top slowly and neatly, thus avoiding all suspicion of slovenly unaesthetic wrinkles.

"Economically, a husband is pleased by the absence of runs in the stockings. Romantically, he is gratified by his wife's graceful method of displaying her legs."

"Sirs — What about their husbands?" a reader named Robert Evans Person of Chicago responded to the LIFE spread. "What of the back-scratching; the toe-picking; the sock-dangling; the pants-off first male? We must have shocking bedroom manners."

A feminist ahead of his time.

Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Images Collection
Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Images Collection

"In this demonstration the lecturer is committing an unpardonable sin known as 'working both sides at once.'"

Time speculated that the whole class was in fact just a marketing stunt for Gilbert's newest show, "Sex Rears Its Ugly Head." BuzzFeed speculates that it was a way for LIFE to draw in more male readers.

Peter Stackpole/ The LIFE Images Collection / Via Getty

Good thing clothes nowadays are quick and easy to remove, so it's not even an issue.

NBC / Via youtube.com

(H/T Mashable)

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