"All these years and she had never had the wicked thrill of powdering her nose."
~ Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
I love that back in 1938 it was still considered slightly scandalous to powder your nose. I'm afraid I suffer from a chronically shinny nose, so I would have been forced to be one of those brazen girls who depended on the vice.
Post college, but when I was still in my twenties, my sister pointed out that it was crass to get up from a table of friends at a bar or nightclub and announce, "I've got to pee." I mean, really. Do people need to know the exact nature of why you are leaving the table? So, we decided to stop saying that and just change over to, "Excuse me for a moment," or "I'll be right back." Surprisingly, a lot of guys do not like the idea of you leaving the group without announcing your agenda. At first, I was frequently asked, "Where are you going?" When I would respond, "Guess," I was usually taken literally. So, I relied on an old etiquette book that I read once that stated, gentlemen say, "I have to wash my hands," and ladies say, "I have to powder my nose." Obviously, this book was written when nose powdering ceased to be a scandal.
Now I switch things up. If I'm among friends or people who get my personality, I say, "powder my nose," but among acquaintances or strangers, I say "wash my hands." I sometimes still get questioned.