There was a time when a woman’s vanity, be it a separate piece of furniture, the top of the dresser, or a makeshift area of her private space, was a special part of her getting ready process. The vanities were topped with only a few products, but each of them would have been her favorites. This was in the days when many women had a single signature lip color or one perfume that they wore.

Via/ Flickr

At some point the variety and quantity of our beauty products went way up, but at the same time the package design and the special nature of the vanity have all but disappeared. Here are some of the artful ways that vanities of yesterday differ quite a lot from how most women do things today.

Photos of Loved Ones

In the old days, particularly during both World Wars, women would often keep photos of their loved ones on their vanities. It was a nice reminder every time they got ready of the people they held dear.

Via/ Library of Congress

Jewelry Boxes

A woman’s special jewelry – even the costume pieces- were usually kept in a jewelry box like those below. Keeping a jewelry box isn’t a tradition that’s gone away, but we can’t help but feel nostalgic about this particular style.

Via/ Flickr

Captivating Perfume Bottles

Back in the old days most women stuck to one scent and it became their signature fragrance. Many of us as youngsters are instantly transported back in time when we smell a certain perfume because its what our moms or grandmas always smelled like. Unlike today when women aren’t always loyal to one scent, back then even having one bottle of perfume was a big deal, and it was even more special in a pretty bottle. Today, most women just use whichever bottle the perfume comes in rather than decanting it into her own special vessel.

Via/ Wiki Commons

Lipstick Holders

Unlike today’s massive lipstick organizers, women in the old days would have had usually only had a few lipsticks at most. Lipstick holders sometimes only had between 1 and 5 slots for the tubes since most women wouldn’t have worn more than that on a weekly basis.

Via/ eBay

Vanity Sets

In addition to having a gorgeous bottle of perfume or an elegant jewelry box, women sometimes had matching vanity sets. These could be as simple as a tray, a brush, and a comb that all went together. Or they could be full of many pieces like a mirror, tray, powder box, matching lipstick holders, or any number of other accessories to keep everything organized and to keep it all visually unified. Walk into the average woman’s vanity area or bathroom today and most of the time you’ll be overwhelmed with a ton of mismatched products, each with their own “look”.

Via/ Flickr

Travel Accessories

And when women traveled they often carried toiletry beautiful sets that made them feel special away from home, too. These little travel sets usually weren’t all that opulent, but they were pretty and functional.

Via/ Flickr

Pretty Packaging

Even when a woman couldn’t afford a full matched vanity set or the more expensive cosmetics, she would have chosen a powder that came in a pretty box so her vanity or dresser looked nice. Back then not only did most women use powder instead of foundation, but many perfumes came in a powder form as well as the traditional splash cologne or eau de parfum. This meant any number of affordable and attractive powder boxes were at her disposal.

Via/ Flickr