Woman as Decoration



OOTWEAR points the costume; every child should be taught this.

Give most careful attention to your extremities,—shoes, gloves and hats. The genius of fashion's greatest artist counts for naught if his costume may not include hat, gloves, shoes, and we would add, umbrella, parasol, stick, fan, jewels; in fact every detail.

If you have the good sense to go to one who deservedly ranks as an authority on line and colour in woman's costume, have also the wisdom to get from this man or woman not merely your raiment; go farther, and grasp as far as you are able the principles underlying his or her creations. Common sense tells one that there must be principles which underlie the planning of every hat and gown,—serious reasons why certain lines, colours and details are employed.

Principles have evolved and clarified themselves in the long journey which textiles, colours and lines have made, travelling down through the ages. A great cathedral, a beautiful house, a perfect piece of furniture, a portrait by a master, sculpture which is an object of art, a costume proclaimed as a success; all are the results of knowing and following laws. The clever woman of slender means may rival her friends with munition incomes, if only she will go to an expert with open mind, and through the thoughtful purchase of a completed costume,—hat, gown and all accessories,—learn an artist-modiste's point of view. Then, and we would put it in italics; take seriously, with conviction, all his or her instructions as to the way to wear your clothes. Anyone can buy costumes, many can, perhaps own far more than you, but it is quite possible that no one can more surely be a picture—a delightfully decorative object on every occasion, than you, who knows instinctively (or has been taught), beyond all shadow of doubt, how to put on and then how to sit or walk in, your one tailored suit, your one tea gown, your one sport suit or ball gown.


An ideal example of the typical costume of fashionable England in the eighteenth century, when picturesqueness, not appropriateness, was the demand of the times.

This picture is known as The Morning Promenade: Squire Hallet with His Lady. Painted by Thomas Gainsborough and now in the private collection of Lord Rothschild, London.

Courtesy of Braun & Co., New York, London & Paris
Eighteenth Century England
Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough

If you want to wear light spats, stop and think whether your heavy ankles will not look more trim in boots with light, glove-fitting tops and black vamps.

We have seen women with such slender ankles and shapely insteps, that white slippers or low shoes might be worn with black or coloured stockings. But it is playing safe to have your stockings match your slippers or shoes.

Buckles and bows on slippers and pumps can destroy the line of a shoe and hence a foot, or continue and accentuate line. There are fashions in buckles and bows, but unless you bend the fashion until it allows nature's work to appear at its best, it will destroy artistic intention.

Some people buy footwear as they buy fruit; they like what they see, so they get it! You know so many women, young and old, who do this, that our advice is, try to recall those who do not. Yes, now you see what we aim at; the women you have in mind always continue the line of their gowns with their feet. You can see with your mind's eye how the slender black satin slippers, one of which always protrudes from the black evening gown, carry to its eloquent finish the line from her head through torso, hip to knee, and knee down through instep to toe,—a line so frequently obstructed by senseless trimmings, lineless hats, and footwear wrong in colour and line.

If your gown is white and your object to create line, can you see how you defeat your purpose by wearing anything but white slippers or shoes?

At a recent dinner one of the young women who had sufficient good taste to wear an exquisite gown of silk and silver gauze, showing a pale magenta ground with silver roses, continued the colour scheme of her designer with silver slippers, tapering as Cinderella's, but spoiled the picture she might have made by breaking her line and enlarging her ankles and instep with magenta stockings. This could have been avoided by the use of silver stockings or magenta slippers with magenta stockings.

When brocades, in several colours, are chosen for slippers, keep in mind that the ground of the silk must absolutely match your costume. It is not enough that in the figure of brocade is the colour of the dress. Because so distorting to line, figured silks and coloured brocades for footwear are seldom a wise choice.

To those who cannot own a match in slippers for each gown, we would suggest that the number of colours used in gowns be but few, getting the desired variety by varying shades of a colour, and then using slippers a trifle higher in shade than the general colour selected.

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