Helen Gurley Brown

I remember the very first time I ever heard of Helen Gurley Brown. I was with my mom at Smithbooks (remember them?) and we were both looking through the bargain bin for books to rescue. I think I ended up buying some Babysitter’s Club volumes and my mom brought back a few books of her own – one of which was The Late Show, by Helen Gurley Brown. I had no interest in the book at the time because it was a self proclaimed “….survival plan for women over 50.” My 13 year old self said, no thank you!

A few years later, I was bored at home and looking for something to read, and so I picked up The Late Show. I started reading it..and I got hooked. Who was this amazing woman? Helen Gurley Brown – who grew up in modest circumstances, and worked as a secretary and assistant for decades before working her way up to being Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan for 32 years. The woman who created the idea of the “Cosmo Girl,” and so much more. Controversial, and with a habit of saying whatever was on her mind – Helen Gurley Brown will always be one of my favorite women ever.

Over the years I added another book of Brown’s, I’m Wild Again, to my little Brown collection. For some reason I never bought Sex and the Single Girl – the title she was most famous for.

Helen Gurley Brown was far from politically correct, but I believe she meant well in everything she wrote (except the random bits of gossip on some pretty famous ladies!). I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes of hers from the two books I own.


From I’m Wild Again:

On money: Money matters. Only a silly goose thinks it doesn’t. Money will be your friend when other friends have left town, will help you keep your dignity and have fun when you’re old.

On photographs for the 50+: Don’t send anybody over fifty a picture of himself or herself that isn’t flattering even if it’s the only picture he or she will ever have of himself on your Lake Minnetonka vacation.

On being chronically late: Unlike mammoth IQ, classic beauty, or athletic skill which one may or may not have been allotted, being on time is the courtesy of winners, something you can control.

On fashion: Clothes must fit. Somewhere, somehow, you must find someone who can sew and alter your clothes. Proper fit takes fifteen years off your age no matter what you wear.

From The Late Show: 

On aging: You look quite decent headed for lunch or a party but an hour later, glancing in the mirror, you see you’ve “collapsed”.

On aging and beauty: On the subject of mirrors, you have to treat them, even at home, like alligators: Don’t surprise one.


I’m sure many of you know that Helen passed away on August 13, 2012. She was an inspiration and will be hugely missed. I hope all of you have a chance to read her writing – please do try! Rest in peace to a truly fabulous lady.

Some Helen Gurley Brown titles you may want to try:

Sex and the Single Girl
The Late Show
Having it All: Love, Success, Sex, Money 
I’m Wild Again: Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts

You Might Also Like

  • chocolatecookiesandcandies
    September 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I’m remember following US Cosmo like it was some form of bible when HGB was at the helm. I haven’t read any of her books but I’ll definitely check them out at the library.

    • Katherine
      September 17, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Yes! you should, I think you’d enjoy them 🙂

  • adele
    September 17, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I’ve not heard of this author before, but will have to check out some of her titles.
    Happy Monday Hun xoxo

  • Zulema
    September 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for the recommendations 🙂 I love the quotes you posted especially the one of being chronically late. It is very true and it’s also def something I need to work a little bit on.

  • Becky
    September 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I haven’t read anything by her, but I loved the Babysitters Club books!

  • Anna
    September 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    You cam through just in time with this article. I was looking for books to read but didn’t want a classic quite yet (I’m rereading them all – next up is Last of the Mohicans). I’ll be sure to check out these books because she sounds like my type of lady.

    I got the Celine trapeze & I had it shipped from NY to save the tax 😀 Celine had apparently fixed the sagging problem for the pre-fall 2013 collection, from which I bought my bag. Thanks for all your help with this!

    • Katherine
      September 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      Yes please try them out! I might flip through one at the library/bookshop first though to make sure her writing is your style. Can’t wait to see the bag, congrats on getting it!

  • Anouka
    September 17, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    This sounds intriguing. I will make a note of these titles and order on Amazon. xo


  • Sue
    September 17, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    I totally agree on the tip on fashion about clothes should fit. I was just mumbling away last week about the same things – my clothes don’t always have to be expensive (they’re not anyway) but they should fit at the very least. I think Helen was featured in one of my glossies just recently but I didn’t know anything about her until I read the article and found out she was the founder of Cosmo.

    • Katherine
      September 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Yes I love her line about clothes fitting. The most expensive garment will look cheap if it doesn’t fit well!

  • Eva
    September 18, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Love those tips – quotes. So practical and so true at the same time.

  • Jess
    September 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Here’s an interesting article about how tailoring clothes affect how you look.

    I’ve personally never done it (except for perhaps making my jeans shorter) so I’d like to know if anyone knows how much it costs to get different items of clothing done? Maybe now I can find items I like and just tailor them instead of sadly walking away due to their lack of fit:D

    • Katherine
      September 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Love that post from Kelly! I need to read it again, thank you for reminding me. I do pay for some alterations but my advice would be maybe to start with the cheaper ones – if you find a pair of pants or a skirt/dress that’s too long with a simple bottom, then a hem would be a simple fix and not too expensive. Versus buying a complicated patterned dress that’s too wide on the sides – that might be more $$$ to alter.

  • amy b.s.
    September 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    and these are now added to my list of books to read. thanks!