«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. 69] In dressing the throat there are a few rules to be remembered. A too long, stem−like neck may be apparently shortened by a standing ruff or a full, soft band of velvet. The tight, plain band of velvet should never be worn by a woman with a very slim neck, as is plainly discernible in sketch No. 69.
[Illustration: NO. 70] The plain, military collar emphasizes the thinness of the slender woman's throat; but the soft crushed fold of velvet apparently enlarges the pipe−like proportions of the thin woman's neck, as may be seen in sketch No.
70. The tight−fitting collar should not be worn by the corpulent woman with a thick neck, as is shown by sketch No. 71.
[Illustration: NO. 71] The thickness of the throat of the woman pictured in No. 72 may seem due to the folds of the velvet, which give a pleasing hint of a slender throat, a delusion not to be despised by the woman burdened with flesh.
[Illustration: NO. 72] All the sisterhood,—stout, thin, long−throated, or short,—should know the hour when the withering touch of age begins to shrink the soft, round curves distinctive of the full, sweet throat of healthful youth. No regretful vanity should be allowed to glamour their eyes to the fact that Time has them by the throat, to put it melodramatically. The wise woman will not please herself with a fatal delusion. She will realize it is illusion she needs−yards of it—lace or velvet, or any beautifying texture that will conceal the deadly lines of age.
Dress has much to do with a youthful or aged appearance. Shawls and long mantles that fall from the shoulders give even youthful figures a look of age, because the lines are long and dignified and without especial grace. Beautiful wraps, or coats that do not come very far below the hip−line, can be worn becomingly by elderly ladies, neither emphasizing their years nor making them appear too frivolously attired.
There is a smack of truth in the maxim, As a woman grows old the dress material should increase in richness and decrease in brightness. Handsome brocades, soft, elegant silks, woollen textures, and velvets are eminently suitable and becoming to women who are growing old.
Black, and black−and−white, soft white chiffon veiled in lace, cashmeres, and such refined tissues should be selected by those in “the first wrinkles of youth.” Grays combined with filmy white material, dull bronzes lightened with cream−tinted lace, are also charmingly appropriate. Pale blue veiled in chiffon is another grateful combination.
White should be worn more than it is by old ladies. It is so suggestive of all that is clean, bright, and dainty;
and if there is anything an old lady should strive to be in her personal appearance it is dainty. Exquisite cleanliness is one of the most necessary attributes of attractive old age, and any texture that in its quality and color emphasizes the idea of cleanliness should commend itself to those in their “advanced youth.” Little old thin women, large ones too, for that matter, who are wrinkled and colorless, should not wear diamonds. The dazzling white gems with pitiless brilliancy bring out the pasty look of the skin. The soft glow of pearls, the cloudlike effects of the opal, the unobtrusive lights of the moonstone harmonize with the tints of hair and skin of the aged.
Elderly women should not wear bright flowers on their bonnets or hats. Fresh−looking roses above a face that has lost its first youthfulness only make that fact more obvious. Forget−me−nots, mignonettes, certain pretty white flowers, the palest of pink roses, or the most delicate tint of yellow veiled with lace are not inappropriate for those who do not enjoy wearing sombre bonnets and hats which are composed only of rich, black textures. Lace cleverly intermingled with velvet and jewelled ornaments of dull, rich shades are exceedingly effective on the head−gear of the old.
Those who are gray−haired—and indeed all women as they grow old—should wear red above their brows instead of under their chins. A glint of rich cardinal velvet, or a rosette of the same against gray hair is beautiful.
Lace! Lace! Lace! and still more Lace for the old. Lace is an essential to the dress of a woman more than forty years of age. Jabots, ruches, yokes, cascades, vests, and gowns of lace, black or white, are all for the old.
Rich lace has an exquisitely softening effect on the complexion. Thin women with necks that look like the strings of a violin should swathe, smother, decorate, and adorn their throats with lace or gossamer fabrics that have the same quality as lace. These airy textures, in which light and shadow can so beautifully shift, subdue roughnesses of the skin and harshness in lines. Old Dame Nature is the prime teacher of these bewitching artifices. Note her fine effects with mists and cobwebs, with lace−like moss on sturdy old oaks, the bloom on the peach and the grape. Nature produces her most enchanting colorings with dust and age. Laces, gauzes, mulls, chiffons, net, and gossamer throw the same beautiful glamour over the face and they are fit and charming accompaniments of gray hair, which is a wonderful softener of defective complexions and hard facial lines.
Too much cannot be written upon the proper arrangement in the neck−gear of the aged. The disfiguring wrinkles that make many necks unsightly may be kept in obeyance by massaging. No matter what the fashion in neck−gear, the aged must modify it to suit their needs. An old lady with a thin, pipe−stem neck should
CHAPTER VI. HINTS ON DRESS FOR ELDERLY WOMEN. 19
Old ladies may keep in the style, thus being in the picture of the hour; but it is one of the divine privileges of age that it can make its own modes. Absolute cleanliness, cleanliness as exacting as that proper nurses prescribe for babies, is the first and most important factor in making old age attractive. Rich dress, in artistic colors, soft, misty, esthetic, comes next; then the idealizing scarfs, collars, jabots, and fichus of lace and tulles.
Old people becomingly and artistically attired have the charm of rare old pictures. If they have soul−illumined faces they are precious masterpieces.
CHAPTER VII. HOW MEN CARICATURE THEMSELVES WITH THEIRCLOTHES.
Although in the dress of man there are fewer possibilities of caricature than in that of woman, yet, “the masterpieces of creation" frequently exaggerate in a laughable—and sometimes a pitiable—way, certain physical characteristics by an injudicious choice of clothes.
As the fashion in hair−dressing does not grant man the privilege of enhancing his facial attractions; nor of obscuring his defects by a becomingly arranged coiffure; and, as the modes in neck−gear are such that he cannot modify the blemishes of a defective complexion by encircling his athletic or scrawny throat with airy tulle, or dainty lace, that arch−idealizer of pasty−looking faces; and as he has forsworn soft, trailing garments that conceal unclassic curves and uninspiring lines of nether limbs, it behooves him to be more exactingly particular even than woman in the selection of his wearing apparel.
Far be it from me, however, to remind man of his many limitations—in dress. That he can never know the rapture of donning a becoming spring bonnet, nor the pleasure of possessing “real lace" things, nor the sensuous charm of being enwrapped in caressing furs, or sleazy, silken garments as exquisite in color and texture as beautiful, fresh flowers, only delicate consideration for his feelings constrains me from expatiating upon at length.
I would rather be able to remind him that he can make his limitations his advantages, than reveal to him what he misses in not being a woman.
To treat of this important subject adequately and convincingly, one would require the masterly discernment of a skillful and accomplished tailor, the experienced knowledge of a well−dressed man, and the alertly critical perception of a loving woman who, even in the matter of clothes, wishes the dearest of men to her, to do full justice to himself and her ideal of him on all occasions.
Although certain of the foregoing qualifications must needs be lacking, nevertheless this timorous pen, with more trepidation than courage it must be confessed, begs to call attention to a few obvious details in masculine attire that caricature, more or less, peculiarities in the forms and features of men.
To be sure, in the matter of head−gear man is not conspicuously at the mercy of burlesquing ribbons, flowers, and feathers, and he has fewer opportunities than women to make himself ridiculous, yet a few suggestions regarding certain shapes of head−gear for certain types of faces, applicable to women are equally applicable to him.
The same rule that applies to the women of the wedge−shaped type of face applies to the man of the wedge−shaped type, as may be seen in sketches Nos. 75 and 76. It is obvious that the youth depicted in No. 75
detracts from the manliness of his face and emphasizes the pointed appearance of his countenance by wearing a hat with a broad brim projecting over his ears. This style of hat appears more frequently in straw than in any other texture, but the effect of a wide, projecting rim is the same in any material. No. 76, it is plain, improves the appearance of the long, slim−faced man. An alpine hat would not be unbecoming to him, the high oval of the crown forming a balance for the lower part of the face.
[Illustration: NO. 75] [Illustration: NO. 76] The man with a pugilistic chin should endeavor to select a hat that will not make his heavy jaw as prominent as does the stiff derby, in No. 77.
[Illustration: NO. 77] A soft alpine hat, or one somewhat of the style of No. 78, improves his appearance. The high crown and wide, gracefully rolling brim counter−balance the weight and prominence of the jaw.
[Illustration: NO. 78] Apropos of the minor details of man's garments, the button as a feature of clothes has never been fully done justice to. It is a sustaining thing we know, something we can hang to, fasten to, and even tie to. That properly placed buttons contribute to our mental poise and therefore to our physical repose, is hinted in that absurdly engaging story, anent the smart boy who was the envy of his spelling−class, because he always stood first.
You remember, no doubt, that an envious but keen−eyed classmate observed that the smart speller worked off his nervous apprehensiveness by twirling the top button of his coat as he correctly spelled word after word, day in and day out; and how the keen−eyed one played the part of a stealthy villain and surreptitiously cut the button off the coat. And do you remember the dramatic ending? How the smart one on the fatal day sought to “press the button” and finding it gone, lost his wits completely and failed ignominiously? Many of us when we have lost a sustaining button, have we not felt as ridiculously helpless and wit−benumbed as the smart speller?
[Illustration: NO. 79] We all sub−consciously acknowledge our dependence upon buttons, but not many of us, evidently, have observed that even buttons have a certain possibility of caricature in them; and that they may add to, or detract from, the appearance of manly forms. The consideration of properly placed buttons may seem trivial to you, but if you will observe sketches Nos. 79 and 80, you may discern that a thin man may apparently increase his breadth and add a certain manly touch to his figure, by changing the buttons at the waist−line of his coat. The buttons placed so near together, in No. 79, really make his toothpick proportions too obvious. His back is made to look broader by placing the buttons wider apart, as shown in No. 80, and changing the cut of his coat−tail.
[Illustration: NO. 80] That the fat man may also present a more attractive back to his enemies by considering the placing of his buttons, may be seen in drawings Nos. 81 and 82. The buttons decorating No. 81 are placed so far apart that they increase in an ungainly way the breadth of the back at the waist−line. If they are placed nearer together, and the seams graduated to meet them, they give the illusion of better and more desirable proportions, as may be seen in No. 82.
[Illustration: NO. 81] [Illustration: NO. 82] That the thin man may also present a more imposing and broader front to the world, is suggested in sketches Nos. 83 and 84. The contracted look of the coat in No. 83 is somewhat due to the buttons of his double−breasted coat being placed too closely together. The slender man who wishes to give the impression of being broad−chested may have the buttons on his coat placed a little farther apart than fashion may allow, as shown in sketch 84. The proportions may be easily preserved by a careful adjustment of the shoulder−seams and the seams under the arms.
[Illustration: NO. 83] [Illustration: NO. 84] [Illustration: NO. 85] The waist−line is not so much “a danger line” to man as to woman, yet man should not wholly ignore his equator. If he is long−waisted he can apparently balance his proportions by having his skirt shortened, as in No. 85, and his waist−line raised the merest bit. If he is too short−waisted he can lengthen his skirt and lower his waist−line, as shown in No. 86. In the one he escapes appearing too long and lanky in body, and in the other he obscures a lack of becoming inches that tends to give him a dumpy appearance.