«Table of Contents What Dress Makes of Us Dorothy Quigley PREFACE WHAT DRESS MAKES OF US CHAPTER I. HOW WOMEN OF CERTAIN TYPES SHOULD DRESS THEIR HAIR ...»
The woman with angular features, as may be seen by No. 33, can wear with impunity, and always should wear, a hat the brim of which is waved, turned, twisted, or curved in graceful lines. The uneven brim of her hat makes an effective complement to the angularity of her chin, which is further softened by the feathery ruff that encircles her throat. The curves of the ostrich plumes, and the studied carelessness of the arrangement of her coiffure, subdue the angles of her face which are brought out in unbecoming prominence by the sailor−hat.
Women Who should Not Wear Horns.
The velvet horns on either side of a hat, the steeple−like central adornments that were once much in favor, and the Mercury wings that ornament the coiffure for evening dress, produce some startling, disagreeable, and amusing effects not altogether uninteresting to consider.
Faces in which the eyes are set too near the forehead acquire a scared look by being surmounted by a bonnet upon which the trimming gravitates to a point in an arrangement not unsuggestive of a reversed fan, horns, or a steeple.
The most unpleasing developments result from the wearing of the horn−like trimmings either in velvet or jet.
If the face above which they flare has less of the spiritual than the coarse propensities in it, the grotesque turns and twists in the head−gear emphasize the animality in the lines characteristic of low−bred tendencies, and the whole countenance is vulgarized. One face acquires the look of a fox, another of a certain type of dog, and so on.
The most amusing exaggerations of distinctive facial lines are produced by Mercury wings. The good−natured woman of the familiar type depicted in No. 34 brings every bovine attribute of her placid countenance into conspicuous relief by surmounting her face with the wings of the fleet−footed god. The cow−like form and serenity of her features are made laughably obvious.
[Illustration: NO. 34] Short, delicately−faced women can adorn their coiffures with Mercury wings with most charming results.
Wings, or perpendicular bows, add length to the lines of the short face, giving it a certain suggestion of refinement and distinction that is wholly destroyed by the wearing of any trimmings that show at the sides.
NO MATTER WHAT THE PREVAILING STYLE THESE RULES MAY BE PRACTICALLY APPLIED.
Mme. La Mode, much misrepresented as are all who are embarrassed with world−wide popularity always considers when designing fashions that women vary in form, as in mood. She suits all needs, although this fact has never been cast to her credit. With a beautiful sense of adjustment—as obvious as that in Nature, that projects the huge watermelon to ripen on a slender vine on the ground and swings a greengage plum on the stout stem of a tree to mature in storm or shine—Mme. La Mode, arbiter of styles, balances her fashions.
Never came the big hat without the small bonnet. Accompanying the long cloak is the never−failing short cape. Side by side may be found the long coat and the short, natty jacket. This equilibrium in wearing apparel may be traced through all the vagaries of fashion.
Everybody's need has been considered, but everybody has not considered her need.
The short, stout woman passes by the long coat better adapted to her and seizes a short jacket—a homeopathic tendency of like suiting like, sometimes efficacious in medicine, but fatal in style.
Style for Tall Slender Woman.
The very tall, slender woman frequently ignores a jaunty jacket and takes a long coat like that shown in No.
To even the sluggish fancy of an unimaginative observer she suggests a champagne bottle, and to the ready wit she hints of no end of amusing possibilities for caricature.
The very tall woman should know that long lines from shoulder to foot give height, and she must discerningly strive to avoid length of line in her garments until she dons the raiment of the angels.
[Illustration: NOS. 36 AND 37] Horizontal lines crossing the figure seem to decrease height, and should be used as much as possible in the arranging and trimming of the tall woman's garments.
By selecting a shorter coat equally modish, as shown by No. 37, the too tall woman shortens her figure perceptibly.
The belt cuts off from her height in a felicitous way, and the collar, also horizontal, materially improves the size of her throat. The high collar, such as finishes the coat, in No. 36, adds to the length. Those who have too long arms can use horizontal bands on sleeves most advantageously.
The Coat the Short Stout Woman should Wear.
The short jacket that so graciously improved the appearance of the slender specimen of femininity is sinister in its effect on the short, stout woman, in sketch No. 38. It should be the study of her life to avoid horizontal lines. Length of limb is to be desired because it adds distinction. Her belt, the horizontal effect of the skirt of the jacket, the horizontal trimming of the bottom of the skirt, all apparently shortening her height, tend to make her ordinary and commonplace in appearance.
[Illustration: NOS. 38 AND 39] If her hips are not too pronounced she can wear the long coat, shown in picture No. 39. The V−shaped vesture gives her a longer waist, and the long lines of the revers add to the length of her skirt. If her hips are too prominent, she should avoid having any tight−fitting garments that bring the fact into relief. She should not wear the long coat, but she can effectively modify it to suit her needs, by only having a skirt, or tabs, or finishing straps in the back. If her jacket or basque is finished off with a skirt effect, it is best to have the little skirt swerve away just at the hip−line, half revealing and half concealing it.
The front should be made in a jacket effect, finishing just at the waist−line and opening over a blouse front that will conceal the waist−line. It is best for the too short, stout woman to obscure her waist−line as much as
possible, to apparently give her increase of height.
To put the waist−line high up adds to length of limb, and, of course, is to be desired, but the fact that what is added below is taken from above the waist, should impel careful discrimination in the arrangement of this equatorial band.
The Cloak or Cape for a Tall Woman.
The long circular cloak is another graceful garment that can be worn with charming effect by the woman of classic height, but should never be in the wardrobe of a very tall woman except for use at the opera, when its service is chiefly required in the carriage, or when its wearer is sitting. It is so obvious, in sketch No. 40, that the vertical lines the folds of the cloak naturally fall into give a steeple−like appearance to the tall woman it enfolds, that it is scarcely necessary to comment upon it.
[Illustration: NO. 40] That her judicious selection should have been the short cape, which comes, as all capes should, to be artistic, well below the elbows, is clearly illustrated in picture No. 41. The horizontal trimming very becomingly plays its part in the generally improving effect.
[Illustration: NO. 41] The one who can wear the long cloak in an unchallengeable manner is the short, stout woman, shown in sketch No. 42.
By wearing the short cape with circular, fluffy collarette, sketched in No. 43, she gives herself the look of a smothered, affrighted Cochin China chicken; or, as an imaginative school−girl remarked of her mother who wore a cape of similar style, “she looks as if her neck were encircled by bunches of asparagus.” [Illustration: NOS. 42 AND 43] The military dignity she acquires by wearing the long cape is becoming to a degree, and gives her distinction in form.
By remembering that horizontal trimmings apparently decrease the height, and that vertical lines add to it, those who desire to appear at their best will use discernment in dividing their basques with yokes, or corsage mountings at the bust−line or frills at the hip−line.
A flounce on the corsage at the bust−line, another at the hip−line, and yet another at the bottom of the shirt, increases the impression of bulkiness most aggressively and gives a barrel−like appearance to the form of a stout woman that is decidedly funny, as may be seen in sketch No. 44.
A study of the lines of the form will not only aid one in adopting a more becoming style of dress, but will sharpen the artistic perceptions, thus adding to the joy of life.
[Illustration: NO. 44] “A beautiful form is better than a beautiful face” and should be clothed so that its lines may appear at their best, and not be exaggerated and caricatured. The figure is seen many more times than the face, and the defects of the former are more conspicuous than those of the latter.
Do not be unjust to your beautiful body, the temple of your soul; above all, do not caricature it by selecting your clothes with indiscriminating taste.
NO MATTER WHAT THE PREVAILING MODE THESE RULES MAY BE PRACTICALLY APPLIED.
CHAPTER IV. HOW PLUMP AND THIN BACKS SHOULD BE CLOTHED.She was from the middle−West, and despite the fact that she was married, and that twenty−one half−blown blush roses had enwreathed her last birthday cake, she had the alert, quizzical brightness of a child who challenges everybody and everything that passes with the countersign—“Why?” She investigated New York with unabashed interest, and, like many another superior provincial, she freely expressed her likes and dislikes for its traditions, show−places, and people with a commanding and amusing audacity.
Her objections were numerous. The chief one that made a deep impression upon her metropolitan friends was her disapproval of Sarah Bernhardt's acting. The middle−Westerner, instead of becoming ecstatic in her admiration, and at a loss for adjectives at the appearance of the divine Sarah, merely perked at the great French artist for some time and then demanded, querulously: “What's the matter with her? Why does she play so much with her back to the audience? I don't like it.” It was a shock to the adorers of Sarah Bernhardt to hear her so irreverently criticised. They loyally united in her defence, and sought to squelch the revolter by loftily explaining that the actress turned her back so often to the audience because she had such a noble, generous nature and desired to give the other actors a chance. “She lets them take the centre of the stage, as they say in the profession,” remarked one of the party, who prided herself upon being versed in the argot of the theatre.
“But she plays with her back to the audience when she is speaking and acting, and everybody else on the stage is still but herself,” petulantly insisted the Western Philistine, showing no signs of defeat.
The situation was not wholly agreeable. The worshippers of Sarah could say nothing more in justification of her turning her back on them, but, with true feminine logic, concluded, “If Sarah Bernhardt turns her back on the audience it is right, and that is all there is to say.” Just at this dramatic moment a voice from the adjoining row providentially interposed. The voice belonged to a well−known exponent of physical culture, who was never so happy as when instructing the intellectually needy. She said: “I will tell you why she plays with her back towards the audience more than any other actress upon the stage to−day.” The middle−Westerner, no less impressed than her metropolitan friends, listened eagerly.
The exponent of straight backs and high chests explained didactically: “The back is wonderfully expressive;
indeed it is full of vital expression. Bernhardt knows this better than any other actress because she has studied statuary with the passion of a sculptor, and because she understands that, not only the face, but the entire physical structure, is capable of expressing dramatic emotions. Strong feeling and action may be strikingly revealed by the back. Imprecations, denunciations, even prayers, seem to be charged with more force when an actress delivers them with her back turned, or half−turned to the audience.
“Bernhardt's back expresses a storm of fury when she imprecates vengeance,” said the voice of authority.
“Not only on the stage is the expression of the back discernible, and a knowledge of its character valuable, but in every−day life in drawing−room and street. How many women consider their backs when they dress? Look at the backs here deformed by laces and fallals,” she went on contemptuously. “The majority of women never look below their chins and I believe not one in ten ever looks thoughtfully at her back,” she said emphatically.
CHAPTER IV. HOW PLUMP AND THIN BACKS SHOULD BE CLOTHED. 13What Dress Makes of Us The dramatic value of a well−poised, expressive back may only concern the thousands of young women who are aspiring to be a Sarah Bernhardt or a Rachel; but a knowledge of what constitutes a properly and artistically clothed back should be of interest to all women in civilized countries.
That there is much truth in the assertion that “the majority of women never look below their chins, and not one in ten ever looks thoughtfully at her back,” every observer of womankind might testify.