Saturday, 9 January 2016

26 March 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress, and How to Make It'

Say NO! to the crinoline, people.

We fear that in the spring we shall all be obliged to make a stand, firm and bold, against the invasion of that most inconvenient and needless incumbrance, the crinoline. All through the winter at the extremely fashionable modistes, the "dress improver" has been dangling before our eyes, but very few even of the most outré dressers have adopted it. We hope the same right feeling will continue in the spring. It is the duty of us all as individuals to make a resolute stand, and prevent a foolish and atrociously ugly fashion from enslaving us again. So we shall look to the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, as warm and hearty auxiliaries in the matter, as to them we are always endeavouring to show a duty in all things, small and great; so that even in their dress, as well as in their demeanour, they may display to the world the highest possible ideal of a fair and Christian womanhood, and a girlhood so thoughtful in spirit and so beautiful in taste, that it could not stoop to extremes of dress or to the adoption of unseemly and monstrous fashions.

Happily for us of late, we English women have become much emancipated from the control of French fashions, and we are not so much afraid of displaying a little individuality in our dress. For this change we are indebted in a great measure to the high-art votaries or aesthetes, who, in spite of extravagance, amounting even to foolishness, have done good service in many ways. There is something dreadfully degrading to our womanhood in the accounts given lately of a Polish countess in Paris, who surprised the world by a harlequin dress, the skirt of which was composed of diamond-shaped pieces of satin and velvet sewn together; and of the eccentric foreigner who created "immense excitement" by a parti-coloured costume - pink on the left, blue on the right, from the crown of her head to the tip of her shoes.

Large and small bonnets are flourishing together in London, so that no one can feel out of date with either one or the other. Plain white straw hats are beginning to show themselves again, and are warmed up with soft crushed-looking poppies, and red strings or trimmings to match. This may be a useful idea to some of our readers who have white straw bonnets of last summer lying by them. They should have them cleaned and re-blocked, and then line them with black velvet, and trim them outside as before directed. The velvet lining should be put in on the bias, and velvet used  for the purpose can be obtained, cut in that way in the shops, at less than 2s per yard. Half a yard should suffice.


The popular flower  for the spring is the humble little violet, we are glad to say, as we do not like any fashion which introduces large and gaudy flowers. Mixed with violets we sometimes see a tuft of yellow cowslips or tender buttercups, just as they sometimes grow beside each other in the hedges. These violets are greatly used on the small black straw princess bonnets, to cover the front in a wreath-like form, and with them are used violet velvet or silk strings, a simple and pretty method of trimming our winter bonnets.

The favourite colours  for the spring for every-day and walking dress are grey and brown in all shades, from dark to light. Very few plaids are to be seen, and they will be mainly used for trimmings, being placed on dresses of a quiet uni-colour, such as brown, in flat bias bands, sewn on by the machine. They are also let in down the front of the bodice in a pointed shape, and also as yoke-shaped pieces on the shoulders. The new plaids are in very quiet tones of colour, and where brighter hues are introduced it is only in stripes of pale and delicate tints. A great many striped fabrics are amongst the new spring materials, the width of the generality of the stripes being one inch, both contrasting stripes of even width. The colours are quiet, grey and brown, grey and dark blue, brown and old gold, and grey and tan colour.

For those who are obliged to consider the cost of their clothes, and dress on £10 to £15 per annum, the custom of wearing brown is very good; indeed, brown is the colour par excellence of the economical, not a washed-out ugly shade, a rich, warm, old-fashioned brown, never found save in fairly good materials and never-failing dyes. This brown, whether in cashmere, cloth, serge or silk, can always be matched and remade, and it never looks out of place at any season of the year. It shows very few spots or stains and, if of good quality, should not fade or become rusty. The best materials are those which are all wool, such as cashmeres and merinos, beiges, or vigognes; they do not easily crush, and they will make and remake any number of times. Mixtures of silk and wool and wool and cotton are all objectionable, and should be avoided. A French lady gives it as an axiom that the fewer dresses, mantles and bonnets purchased the better, as the quality of them will then be vastly superior to what it would be were the same amount of money spread out over a quantity of cheap dresses - thin mantles and poor finery. The drawback to this good advice is that very few girls, or "grown-ups" either, take sufficient care of their clothes, and in this matter I fear that French women are superior to us.

Our illustrations this month give, amongst other things, two delightful models of hats, the one turning up at the side, the other turning down all round. The first is of black straw, chip, or felt; the brim is lined with velvet, and a fold of the same is lightly arranged round the crown, while a handsome ostrich feather falls over the side. The second is an entirely new shape, which has just appeared this spring. It may be of black or white straw - in the model illustrated it was black, with white lace turned up over the edge. Black Spanish lace is placed round the crown, and forms the strings, while a feature of small size decorates the side, the colour of which is decided by the dress of the individual wearing the hat.

The five figures composing our large picture represent some of our girls in their pretty home costumes, one only wearing the neat double-breasted tailor-made jacket - the favourite out-of-door dress of our neat English maiden. The one in question is of tweed, with velvet collar, and a flat braid laid on round the edge. The hat is of straw, bound with velvet and a small upright wing in front. The skirt of the dress might be of tweed to match the jacket.

The sitting figure at the piano wears one of the new season materials, of wool, flecked with colour, in a sort of chine pattern all over its surface. The bodice has revers in front, and is pointed both at the back and front of the long basque, a belt being worn round the waist The over-skirt is plain, and draped in folds, while the skirt has two kilted flounces, and a row of pointed tabs over the top of the lower one. The next standing figure has a skirt wholly kilted, with two tiny flounces at the edge. The long bodice is buttoned down the front, and the over-skirt is draped at the edge, so as to hide the union of the bodice and skirt. The large collar and cuffs are of coloured plush, edged with lace. The sitting figure at the extreme right has a striped polonaise, with a plastron deeply pointed in front, of velveteen. The polonaise is edged with fringe and draped up very high on the hips, and the skirt is of plain velveteen. The young lady at the extreme left, who is buried in a reverie - which seems a delightful one, whatever the subject may be - is attired in a cashmere dress, of a light colour, trimmed with velveteen. The bodice is pointed, the deep kiltings underneath extending to the back, where they meet the points as they do in front. The front is opened, and a folded plastron so introduced. The cuffs are of velvet; the skirt is plain, and edged with two narrow kiltings of the same, and the trimmings at the side consist of a band of velvet and cords to match it in colour.

The new materials of this season are remarkable both for their cheapness and their goodness.  Amongst the best of the novelties are those materials which have a border for trimming running along one side of the piece, which is sometimes figured, and sometimes plain. We very much admired a pretty dark prune-coloured beige, and we thought how pretty it would be with silver buttons to match. But we cannot say how these pretty tinsel materials will wear.

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