«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 ...»
[Illustration: NO. 45] The open placket−hole and sagging waist−band, sketched in No. 45, is an all too familiar sight that advertises the fact that too few women take even a cursory look at their backs. Fathers and brothers who wish to protect their womankind from adverse criticism frequently give impromptu lectures upon this very subject, as this slovenly arrangement of skirt and basque is not only seen in Grand Street, Second Avenue, and equally unfashionable quarters, but in Fifth Avenue where the modish set are en evidence. If the dainty safety−pin displayed in No. 46, goes out of vogue, the time−honored custom of sewing hooks to the waist−band of the dress, is always in fashion. Indeed, many women prefer this way of connecting separate skirt and waist to using a conspicuous pin. This is almost too trivial a detail to discourse upon, but it is as true that details make dress as it is that “trifles make life”—and neither life nor dress is a trifle.
[Illustration: NO. 46] The offence in No. 45 is more the result of untidiness than of a lack of artistic discrimination. Nos. 46−1/2 and 47, on the contrary, outrage the laws of art, and display ignorance of the value and beauty of lines.
No. 46−1/2 might serve to conceal a deformity of the shoulders. That really seems its only excuse for being.
The full, ugly, straight pleat that falls to just below the waist−line lends neither grace nor style to the figure. It is too short to give the distinction and dignity that handsome wraps with long lines almost invariably do, although they seem to add age to the form. There is a hint of youth in this ungraceful jacket to be sure, but it is not especially attractive in its suggestion of youthfulness.
[Illustration: NO. 46−1/2] [Illustration: NO. 47] No. 47, with a line at the neck−band, crossed bands in the centre of the shoulders, and lines across the back, is obviously inartistic. The back of a Venus, even, would be detracted from by such criss−crossed effects. Happy the woman who has so shapely a back she can afford to allow her waist to fit smoothly and plainly, unbroken by any conspicuous lines. If bands must be used to remedy the deficiencies of ungenerous Nature, let them be at the neck and waist; and if the back is unconscionably long, a band, or fold, or ruffle across the shoulders is to be commended.
[Illustration: NO. 48] No. 48 reveals a glaring error frequently made by the thin sisterhood. A tall, slender woman with a long waist, should not emphasize her length of lines by wearing pointed or V−shaped effects. The V−shaped arrangement, either in cut or trimmings, apparently increases her “longness and leanness.” She should aim to shorten her waist instead of lengthening it as the basque finished with a point obviously does. The drooping sleeves elongate her shoulder−lines, and bring into clearer relief her meagre proportions. She can easily improve her appearance by adopting either style of gown portrayed by Nos. 49, or 50. The broad belt at the waist−line in No. 49, and the flamboyant lace or braided piece that adorns the shoulders, perceptibly adds to her breadth and decreases her length.
[Illustration: NO. 49] [Illustration: NO. 50] No. 50 is a felicitous cut for a street dress for a slim sister. The jaunty bloused waist smartly conceals deficiencies in fine points.
The tall, thin sisterhood should eschew pointed effects and study to attain apparent breadth by using trimmings arranged horizontally. Bands of velvet, braid in waved lines, ruffles, and not too deeply cut scallops, may be used effectively by the very slender, who sometimes appear as if they are “without form and void,” as the earth was “in the beginning.” [Illustration: NO. 51] No. 51 is an exposition of the mistake made by the sturdy sisterhood of stout and pendulous proportions. It is plain to be seen that the fluffy ruche at the throat−band, and the ruffle at the shoulder, and the spreading bow at the waist, and the trimmed sleeves, add bulkiness to a form already too generously endowed with flabby rotundity. Corpulent women must forego the swagger little basques or any sort of short, flounced effects below the waist−line.
[Illustration: NO. 52] [Illustration: NO. 53] Nos. 52 and 53 are eminently adapted to the matron of ample dimensions. One observer of beauty−giving effects has not unadvisedly called the waist−line “the danger−line.” A stout sister, above all others, should not accentuate the waist−line. She should conceal it as much as possible. The coat back of No. 52 apparently lengthens the waist.
The same effect is produced by the arrangement of ribbons in No. 53, and by the long−pointed basque.
V−shaped effects and long−pointed basques are as becoming to those burdened with flesh as they are unbecoming to tall, thin women.
Long, graceful folds and draperies are admirable for the stout sisterhood, who should avoid short sacques and tight−fitting garments that give the on−looker an uncomfortable impression; there is too much in a small space. Very light colors and thin textures that billow and float should be eschewed by the large, fleshy woman who wishes to give the impression that she possesses the lines of a finely modelled statue. She should avoid puffs and any suggestion of the pulpy and clumsy, and be careful not to sub−divide the body of her dress by plaits or braids laid on horizontally across or above the bust, or below the hips. Horizontal lines invariably decrease the height; for that reason stout women should not wear dresses cut square in the neck, but should adhere to the graceful V−or heart−shaped cut which has a tendency to give length.
The rotund woman with a short waist, sketched in No. 54, may improve her figure, as shown in No. 55, by choosing belts and collars the exact shade of her shirt−waists in summer, and by not cutting off her height by any sort of outside belt on winter gowns.
[Illustration: NO. 54] [Illustration: NO. 55]
Tall, stout women should forego high heels on their shoes, high hats, and striped dresses. Although stripes increase the effect of height, they also add to that of breadth. A plain cloth basque and skirt of striped material make a happy compromise and can be worn with becoming effect by a stout woman.
[Illustration: NO. 56] A basque cut high behind and on the shoulders apparently gives height.
A very stout woman should never wear double skirts or tunics or dresses with large sprawling patterns, such as depicted by cut No. 56, which suggests furniture stuffs. A large woman who had a fancy for wearing rich brocades figured with immense floral designs was familiarly called by her kind friends “the escaped sofa.” White, or very light colors, should never be worn by the stout; they greatly increase the apparent size. Large plaids should also be eschewed. Small checks and plaids may sometimes be becoming.
Neither the too thin nor the too stout should adopt a style of gown that caricatures the form as does the voluminous wrapper, finished with a box−pleat, as shown in No. 57. There is no grace in straight lines.
[Illustration: NOS. 57 AND 58] No. 58, which accentuates the height of the over−tall, thin woman, is better adapted to enhance the charms of a woman of finer proportions. The bony and scrawny, of the type of No. 58, seem to have a perverse desire to wear what makes their poverty in physical charms only more conspicuous. A woman of distinction in Boston, who is exceedingly thin and tall, wore Watteau pleats so frequently, even on reception and evening gowns that she was dubbed by a wag “the fire−escape,” a title which so strikingly characterized her style, that the term was adopted by all her friends when they exchanged confidences concerning her.
The garment with the Watteau pleat is not unlike the princesse gown which is a very trying style except to handsomely proportioned women. A tall, well−developed woman, such as shown in sketch No. 59, adorns the princesse gown and attains in it a statuesque beauty. In suggesting statuary it fulfils the true ideal of dress, which should hint of poetry, art, sculpture, painting. The massing of colors; the arrangement of lines, the quality of textures, the grace and poise of the wearer—do not these hint of picture, statue, music?
CHAPTER V. CORSAGES APPROPRIATE FOR WOMEN WITH
UNBEAUTIFULLY MODELLED THROATS AND SHOULDERS.Despite the traditional belief that a decollete corsage is a tyrannous necessity of evening dress, a woman not graciously endowed with a beautifully modelled throat and shoulders may, with perfect propriety, conceal her infelicitous lines from the derisive gaze of a critical public.
Women are indebted to that gentle genius, La Duse, for the suggestion that a veiled throat and bust may charmingly fulfil the requirements of evening dress, and also satisfy that sense of delicacy peculiar to some women who have not inherited from their great−great−grandmothers the certain knowledge that a low−necked gown is absolutely decorous.
The women who does not possess delicate personal charms commends herself to the beauty−loving by forbearing to expose her physical deficiencies. Unless it is because they are enslaved by custom, it is quite incomprehensible why some women will glaringly display gaunt proportions that signally lack the exquisite lines of firm and solid flesh.
A throat like a ten−stringed instrument, surmounting square shoulders that end in knobs that obtrude above unfilled hollows, is an unpleasing vision that looms up conspicuously too often in opera−box and drawing−room.
[Illustration: NO. 61] The unattractive exhibition 61, is a familiar sight in the social world. How insufferably ugly such uncovered anatomy appears in the scenery of a rich and dainty music−room may be readily imagined by those who have been spared the unpleasing display. It is so obvious that shoulders like these should always be covered that it seems superfluous to remark that this type should never wear any sleeve that falls below the shoulder−line.
[Illustration: NO. 62] The sleeve falling off the shoulder was invented for the classic contour, set forth in No. 62. Nor ribbons, nor lace, nor jewel are needed to enhance the perfect beauty of a fine, slender, white throat, and the felicitous curves of sloping shoulders.
One whose individual endowments are as meagre as are those presented in No. 61 may improve her defects by adopting either style of corsage, shown in sketches Nos. 63 and 64.
A woman's throat may lack a certain desirable roundness, and her shoulders may recede in awkward lines, and yet between these defective features the curves may have a not unpleasing daintiness and delicacy in modelling that can be advantageously revealed. A modish velvet throat−band, such as is shown by No. 63, is one of the most graceful conceits of fashion. The too slim throat encircled by velvet or ornamented with a jewelled buckle or brooch is effectively framed. The unsightly lines of the shoulders are covered, and just enough individual robustness is disclosed to suggest with becoming propriety the conventional decollete corsage. The Princess of Wales is as constant to her velvet or pearl neck−band, as to her especial style of coiffure. Her throat, in evening dress, never appears unadorned by one or the other of these beautiful bands that so cleverly conceal defects and seem to bring out more richly the texture and coloring of handsome bare shoulders.
[Illustration: NO. 63] [Illustration: NO. 64] Those who do not approve of the decollete style of dress, or whose ungraceful proportions might well be entirely concealed, can wear with appropriateness and benefit the corsage shown in No. 64. This has much in its favor for a slender body. The upper part of the waist may be made of chiffon or crepe, which is beautifully—one might say benignly—translucent. It has an insinuating transparency that neither reveals nor conceals too much. The neck−band of velvet or satin, full and soft, apparently enlarges the throat. The sleeves may be in whatever style in cut prevails. This costume carries perfectly into effect the requirements of evening dress, and may be worn with equal fitness to formal functions or to informal affairs. A coat−sleeve of lace, crepe, or chiffon, beflounced at the wrist, may be inserted under the short satin sleeves when the occasion does not require gloves. The soft, white setting of thin textures around the throat and shoulders clears the complexion and brings into relief the pretty, delicate lines of a refined face.
[Illustration: NOS. 65 and 66] It is plain to be seen that the unattractive specimen of femininity, No. 65., with the long, wrinkled neck and sharply lined face is unbecomingly costumed in the V−shaped basque and corsage which apparently elongate her natural lankness. A charming and always fashionable yoke−effect that she can wear to advantage is shown
by No. 66. This style of corsage is equally effective for a too thin or a too muscular neck. The filling is of tulle.
A square−cut corsage is most becoming to the woman whose narrow shoulders have a consumptive droop.
The angular cut apparently heightens the shoulders and decreases their too steeple−like inclination. The round cut, if it frames a full throat, is also an effective style for sloping shoulders. The V−shaped cut is most becoming to the short−necked woman, whose aim should be to increase the length of her throat.
It is not only the too thin neck that needs to be clothed with discrimination. Throats and shoulders that are too robust are improved by being covered. The arms and shoulders, however, are often the chief beauty of a fleshy woman, and it is to her advantage to give them as effective a setting as possible.
[Illustration: NO. 68] [Illustration: NO. 67] As is obvious in No. 67, the stout woman apparently increases her breadth by wearing a flamboyant corsage, and she hides the most exquisite lines of her arm with her sleeves.
The princesse style of gown, in No. 68, gives her apparent length of waist. The modest lace flounce that falls in vertical folds decreases her formidable corsage. The knotted twist of silk reveals the full beauty of her arm.