Seven Steps to a Successful and Happy Life

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It can be really hard to recognize when something in our lives needs to change.

It’s harder to implement that change when the unknown waits on the other side.

Harder still, is thinking of the future with nothing changing.

At some point in all our lives, we are faced with an opportunity.  It can be family-based, career-based, or emotionally-based.  Sometimes it can be the right decision not to take the opportunity….and other times, it is the only and right thing to do.

It is the last of the two choices that I want to focus on today.

Everyone defines success as something different and more often than not, happiness is tied up with that success.  Is there something in your life right now that you feel must change?  Is there some decision that needs to be made to ensure future happiness?  Are you on the brink of success and need a little extra push to see it all come true?

 Then read on as I share seven steps I have cultivated and learned on my journey to success and happiness.

 It is important to note that these steps are not on a time limit, and are not keys to over night success.  Yet followed faithfully, they will become fast companions on your journey to contentment.

But before I share step one, I want you to take some time to think about what it is that you want or need to change in your life.  When that change happens, what does the final outcome look like?  Format that thought into one specific and direct sentence.  Write that sentence out and continue to refer to it as you read through and ponder each step.

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This is the core of all the following steps.  If you don’t believe that you can do something than you won’t.  Period.  It is vitally important that you value the essence of yourself and trust that little voice which leads and guides your life.  Recognize your strengths and put them to good use!

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Nothing of value and longevity comes in this life with out the exchange of hard work.  Understand that basic principle and embrace that work with sleeves rolled up!

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This one can be really hard to follow.  In fact, it’s down right scary.  But that’s okay…just think of the first time you jumped into the deep end of the pool.  Sure it was frightening, but there was that refreshing water waiting for you after you took that leap!

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 Stand strong, but be willing to change when you need to.  Success comes to those who see their glass half-full…even if they have to switch to another glass!

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Accept your own limitations and recognize the value that can from working and collaborating with others!  Employ those like-minded people to encourage you and aid you on your road to success.

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Engaging in competition with others, career based or not, distracts you from focusing on your own goals and dreams.  And that’s a big no no! 🙂

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Success isn’t measured on the number of things you’ve done that have worked out.  It is measured by your dedication to following your heart even when things didn’t work out.  Always keep planning , dreaming, and believing in yourself and your happiness!

Decide what you want out of life and go for it!  

Life will deliver only what you ask from it…no more and no less.  The speed bumps we encounter, that may shake our resolve, should be viewed as opportunities to show our strength and determination.

Now, my friends, go and be happy and successful!

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An Interview with Beth Shaw of Historical Designs

Historical Designs

I am so excited about today’s post, as it introduces you to someone in the historical sewing world I have longed admired!  

Beth Shaw of Historical Designs  graciously accepted my request to interview her and share her work and knowledge with all of you.  Beth is someone, who once you learn more about her and her determined spirit, instantly inspires you!  Focusing on authentic historical reproduction items, Beth offers a wide range (I’m talking Renaissance to Edwardian and everything in-between) of historical garments both inner and outer.  Her attention to detail and passion for the art of historical sewing is truly admiring!

 I hope you enjoy learning more about this incredible woman and her love of all things historical and furry! 🙂

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Beth and her adorable cat!

The Interview

1.Your Etsy Shop and website Historical Designs has been a top choice for many men and women interested in historical reenactment and historical fashion. Can you share with us the journey that led you to historical sewing and owning your own business?

I actually started this whole expedition in theatrical costuming after realizing I was never going to cut it as an actor; acting made me super neurotic and just weird! In college I was performing in a large cast play at a small college so everyone had to work a technical job as well. I was afraid of power tools, so I went to the costume shop to find work that was more my speed. My first job was working on my own costume but I discovered I really liked sewing and was sort of good at it. Over time I found I preferred historical plays and was really quite interested in solving the mystery of what was going on under those layers. I moved on to being the Costume Designer for the New York Renaissance Faire, which I did for 3 seasons. During that steep learning curve I decided to really pursue truly historical Renaissance clothing but I could only do it with the Royal characters; everyone else had to be Faire-wear peasants which were certainly fun to build but not authentic. So I outgrew that position and decided that, since I now lived near Gettysburg, I would branch out into the Civil War.

I tried working for another clothing business but was frustrated at the utter lack of organization, the overpriced wares, then they stopped paying me but still wanted me to work. Major management problems! I just knew I could do a better job on my own so I leaped and opened my Etsy shop! The first few years were hard, it takes a while to build a following, I was living in a camper in my parents driveway so I could use my old room as a sewing room, and I still had a staggering amount to learn. I’m still learning now, you never stop learning or you stagnate and that’s a sad place to be. Etsy was a good avenue for selling what I’d built because I could sell a little bit at a time and fill in the gaps over time to create a complete line of items. Now I have a nice, ever growing following and product line. I am so grateful to all my clients who have helped build that following through word of mouth! I also have 2 wonderful employees who help keep me sane and pointed in the right direction. I really couldn’t be where I am now without them all!

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2. Your shop features a wide range of historical time periods. Do you have a personal favorite and, if so, how do you gather inspiration for that period?

Oh my favorite time period changes every year or so. I’m that way with favorite colors too. Right now, my favorites are Renaissance and the color purple. Before that is was Regency and blue. I feel Edwardian and dusty pink coming on soon though! Change is good. My inspiration comes from fashion plates, vintage clothing, movies/television, and my brain! I’ve been building historical pieces (and fantasy pieces) long enough to be able to take it off the page and still remain historical.

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3. Which time period is the most challenging to recreate and do you have any tips to share with us?

The Late Victorian bustle era is the most challenging for me. I’ve had the least experience with this time period so there are still foggy question marks in my mind regarding construction. So I guess it was pretty risky for me to choose 1870 as the time period for my Wedding gown! It was a bit of a hail Mary but I love a challenge. And it worked out!

Tip- 1. Research! There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with historical costuming. Even if you’re doing a cosplay rendition that takes history off the page like say Lord of the Rings or Cinderella, the work is done, it exists somewhere. Find it and go for it!
Tip-2. Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Your sewing machine should be heavy, fast, and precise. Always use a heavy duty machine, whether you’re building corsetry, billowy skirts, or Men’s tailored jackets. Lightweight home use machines are too light, you’ll pull them right off the table. They have baby small motors which make them slow and weak; they won’t punch through thick fabrics or many layers of fabric. Useless! They’re also usually more expensive than their heavy duty or commercial grade counterparts. Boo…

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4. What is your favorite part of the sewing process?
Seeing the final product! Or rather seeing my client’s reaction to the final product. While seeing my design in my mind is nice and I can enjoy it up there, there is really no comparison to seeing the finished piece and knowing it’s going to make my client so very happy! It’s truly gratifying to get those little messages from my clients telling me how much they love their clothes! I know I done good! 🙂

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5. What is the most challenging aspect of running your own online business?

Multitasking is the single most difficult part of running an online business! I think that rings true for brick and mortar businesses as well. Instead of having a single full time job as a designer or stitcher, I am full time designer, stitcher, secretary, book keeper, web content manager, employee manager, and a general maid-of-all-work. It’s hard to keep it all together and have time for family and friends. But the work is more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done and my friends and family are supportive and help me stay positive when I get bogged down. My husband especially gives me pep talks and helps me work through complicated situations. He’s a total pro at making sense of my hysterical blathering when I get overwhelmed!

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6. Do you have any advice to my readers who might be interested in starting a creative business of their own?
Do it! Running your own business is a lot of work to be sure but it’s completely worth it! Instead of working a job your don’t care for and playing with your hobbies in your spare time, your hobbies ARE your job. At the end of the day you feel tired in a good way because you spent all day doing what you love rather than listening to tiresome folks drone on about stuff you don’t care about and feel exhausted at the effort of keeping your true feelings on the inside. If you think you might like to start your own business, I strongly recommend reading Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The author interviewed a collection of people who became millionaires during the Great Depression about how they did it when everyone else couldn’t find work. It’s a truly great read, very inspiring. I have no interest in becoming a millionaire but the book really helped me develop a clear path for Historical Designs and turn it into a career!

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I love the advice that Beth gives about being determined and doing what you love!  She truly is a model for all of us looking to turn our passion into a career.  I hope you have enjoyed meeting and learning more about Beth.  To see and learn more about what Beth offers, please visit her Etsy Shop and her website Historical Designs.

With a big thank you to Beth, I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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The Tea Set

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Every woman needs her very own tea set.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, ornate, or exhibiting fine examples of hand painting (although none of that can hurt!)  The only requirement for any proper set is that it hold enough tea for all one’s friends.  While I am more of a coffee drinker and do not know all the in’s and out’s of proper tea, I have come to realize that a tea set is something more than just porcelain.

 Below is my personal tea set and it comes with a story that will always make it dear to my heart …though the colors no longer match my kitchen.

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I came across this set ten years ago while I was in my senior year of college.  Like many college students, money was tight, and I happened to be out one day trying to find a few clothing bargains for my senior student-placement.  I wandered through the mall and ended up in Bon Ton, unsuccessful on my search up to this point.  I began ambling my way through the home section and came across a small box containing this tea set.  It had, as one can see, two tea cups, a tea pot, and of course a matching creamer and sugar bowl.  It was greatly reduced in price, but still would take all of the money I had in my meager clothing budget.

As with many purchases, I took sometime to think about it and mulled the decision over in my head.  I needed the clothes.  Yet the tea set suddenly came to represent more than just a few pretty dishes, and the pressing issue of expanding my tiny wardrobe began to melt away.  I started to view these little pieces of china as my future.  As something that showed I was ready for the more “adult” aspects of life.  As an investment in the future me, who, I was convinced, would need a tea set.

The choice became crystal clear.

After I had reached my definite conclusion, I made a bee line to the store, plunked down every last cent I had in my wallet, and carried my purchase back to the college townhouse proud as a peacock.  Ten years later it still has a special place in my kitchen.  Though the bold maroon flowers clash with the soft pinks and turquoise of my current color scheme, the set still reminds me of the investment I made in myself and my future.  So it is true when they say that every tea cup has a story…and this is mine.

Oh and the clothing situation?  

Well, when you live with seven other girls of the same size…the problem sort of takes care of itself! 🙂

 

So whether it be mismatched, chipped around the rim, or covered in painted flowers, bring out from hiding that most beloved set.  It stands for more than just tea! 🙂

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Sewing Alternatives for Fur

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It’s cold.  

And when it is cold, one wants to wrap up in something warm, cozy, and soft.  One wants to make sure that any piece of clothing that touches one’s body is warm, cozy, and soft.  Yet, in our 21st century world, what was once our grandmothers choice of warm and cozy…isn’t such a great option today.  I’m talking about fur. Real fur.  And besides the cost, I don’t feel comfortable or right putting it on my outfits.

Still, when one sees stunning dresses such as these, it is tempting to want that textural trim everywhere!

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But never fear, I have collected several alternatives that will add dimension, depth, and character to your outfits, all while keeping the fur on the little bodies who were born with it.

Option 1

Faux Fur

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Available in bolts or as trim, faux fur is the obvious alternative to real fur.  Like many things in life, the more it costs the better the quality.  Just note that the more inexpensive varieties can shed and it, like many fabrics, does have a clear direction of fibers, so cut accordingly.

Option 2

Velvet Ribbon

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An elegant upgrade, velvet trim is available in a variety of widths and colors.  And at a reasonable price, it can be used to trim and edge many parts of a gown.

Option 3

Grosgrain Ribbon

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Silky ribbon’s coarser cousin, grosgrain ribbon adds an element of homeyness and sweetness to a dress.  Use in rows to turn a skirt into something special and unique!

Option 4

Beaded Trim

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Requiring careful application, beaded trim in multiple widths is a great option for necklines, cuffs, and under bust seams.  Options that include pearls and sequins are also wonderful decorations for any outfit!

Option 5

Feather Trim

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A recent discovery, I have not had the opportunity to sew with feather trim, but I would imagine it creates a stunning finished product!  I have never seen any in a brick and mortar store, but was able to track options down online at websites such as Lamplight Feather.

Option 6

Lace

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While lace may not add stiff and bold texture, it nonetheless is an elegant option for blouses, coats, and dresses.

So embrace the many wonderful options available for all your warm, winter sewing!

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1943 Ruffled Blouse Tutorial with Pattern

1943 Ruffled Blouse

Sweet and elegant both describe this little blouse from the 1940’s.  I had such a fun time creating it, that I wanted to share the pattern with you!  However, unlike patterns I have created in the past, this one is a bit different.  I have created a drafting guide with the hopes of allowing anyone of any size the ability to recreate this pattern just for them!

If you try this, I would love to hear from you!!  Send me an email or connect with me on Facebook!

Happy Sewing!

Tools to Draft Pattern:
  • Ruler
  • Curved Ruler for Armholes and Hip Curves
  • Pencil
  • Craft or Wrapping Paper
  • Meausuring Tape
  • Knowledge of your own upper body measurements

1945 Ruffled Blouse Pattern

How To Draft:
  1. Following the guide below, write down all the proper measurements.
  2. On a large piece of craft or wrapping paper, begin marking and drawing the patterns using the picture above and your measurements as a guide.
  3. Once completed, cut out and drape on body or dress form.  Note needed alterations and adjust accordingly.
  4. Once base pattern is satisfactory, cut out of fabric making sure to add in seam allowances and extra width on one side for the zipper.  Check armhole fit for comfort and ease of movement.
  5. I also recommend to test the pattern first out of muslin for proper fit.
Guide:

 

1943 Ruffled Blouse Pattern Drafting Guide

Cut 2 of Bodice Front Top.  Cut 1 on fold of Bodice Front Bottom.  Cut 1 on Fold of Bodice Back.

You will also need a long piece of fabric measuring 3″ wide by length of total neckline plus 10″-15″

Supplies:
  • 1-1/2 yards of fabric
  • 9″ zipper
Process:
  1. Stitch back dart if needed.
  2. Run gathering stitch along bottom of Bodice Front Top.
  3. Pull gathering stitches to fit the angle of the Bodice Front Bottom making sure that most of the gathers are closest to the top.  Pin and stitch right sides together.  Repeat with the other side.
  4. Stitch shoulder seams.
  5. Choose side for the zipper and insert.
  6. Stitch other side seam.
  7. Give a narrow hem to sleeves and to the bottom of the blouse.
  8. Turn long strip right sides together and stitch the ends only.  Turn out and press.
  9. Run a gathering stitch along the long strip of fabric wrong sides together.  Tie off one end of gathering threads and then gently gather to fit in neckline.
  10. Pin to neckline so raw edges line up.  Stitch.  Trim or serge seams.
  11. Optional: Apply a facing to raw edges of neckline for a neat trim.
  12. Press and enjoy!

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Winter Hats for the Winter Chill

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I am not much of a hat person…but I want to be.  I sometimes wish that hats would come back in fashion so that it would sway me to buy one….or even three!  While it is perfectly acceptable to wear hats on the beach, gardening in the summer, and skiing down the slope, it isn’t all the common in one’s everyday life.  A few bold women will wear those wonderful wide brim hats or the fedora hat so apart of the bohemian style, but that’s about it.  At least where I live.

So how can I change this sad state of affairs?  How can I welcome a little fashion topper for my bare head?  Well, there is no time like the present, and the present is winter, soooooo winter hats, here I come!

To get the hat wearing juices flowing, I have collected a few of my most favorites for the winter months, both past and modern.  Maybe you will see something you like as well! 😉

1890’s

I love when one’s hat, scarf, and muff all coordinate.

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1900’s

Feathers and flowers? Perfect!

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1910’s

Same hat, different outfit.  That’s the sign of a classic hat.

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1920’s

I love any of the outfits from the show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, but this is truly stunning!

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1930’s

Marlene Dietrich knows how to rock a fur hat!

1937: Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) American actor and singer. She was born Maria Magdalene Dietrich von Losch in Berlin. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Any of the hats from Green Trunk Designs are stunning! This Rustic Green Felt Hat, though, is one of my favorites.

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1940’s

Matching the hat and the purse….that’s a good idea!

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1950’s

I don’t think I could pull this look off, but I still thought it was a stunning ensemble.

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Interested in making your own millinery masterpiece? Mrs. Depew has many wonderful options available if hat making is your thing!  Here is one of my favorites:

1930’s Eugenie Hats

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Image from Mrs. Depew

 

With so many choices and styles to pick from, it will be fun to see what strikes my wintery-fashion sense!

Have a wonderful day!

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General Rules of Fashion: Part 2

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Today we will complete the general rules of fashion and advice that are truly timeless for women of any century.

 Hope you enjoy!

Style and form of dress

Be always careful when making up the various parts of your wardrobe, that each article fits you accurately. Not in the outside garments alone must this rule be followed, an ill-fitting pair of corsets, or wrinkles in any other article of the under-clothes, will make a dress set badly, even if it has been itself fitted with the utmost accuracy. A stocking which is too large, will make the boot uncomfortably tight, and too small will compress the foot, making the shoe loose and untidy. In a dress, no outlay upon the material will compensate for a badly fitting garment. A cheap calico made to fit the form accurately and easily, will give the wearer a more lady-like air than the richest silk which either wrinkles or is too tightly strained over the figure. Collars or sleeves, pinned over or tightly strained to meet, will entirely mar the effect of the prettiest dress.

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Economy

And by economy I do not mean mere cheapness. To buy a poor, flimsy fabric merely because the price is low, is extravagance, not economy; still worse if you buy articles because they are offered cheap, when you have no use for them. In purchasing goods for the wardrobe, let each material be the best of its kind. The same amount of sewing that is put into a good material, must be put into a poor one, and, as the latter will very soon wash or wear out, there must be another one to supply its place, purchased and made up, when, by buying a good article at first, this time and labor might have been saved. A good, strong material will be found cheapest in the end, though the actual expenditure of money may be larger at first.

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Comfort

Many ladies have to trace months of severe suffering to an improper disregard of comfort, in preparing their wardrobe, or in exposure after they are dressed. The most exquisite ball costume will never compensate for the injury done by tight lacing, the prettiest foot is dearly paid for by the pain a tight boot entails, and the most graceful effects will not prevent suffering from exposure to cold. A light ball dress and exquisite arrangement of the hair, too often make the wearer dare the inclemency of the coldest night, by wearing a light shawl or hood, to prevent crushing delicate lace or flowers. Make it a fixed rule to have the head, feet, and chest well protected when going to a party, even at the risk of a crushed flower or a stray curl. Many a fair head has been laid in a coffin, a victim to consumption, from rashly venturing out of a heated ball room, flushed and excited, with only a light protection against keen night air. The excitement of the occasion may prevent immediate discomfort in such cases, but it adds to the subsequent danger.

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Details

Be careful always that the details of your dress are perfectly finished in every point. The small articles of a wardrobe require constant care to keep in perfect order, yet they will wofully revenge themselves if neglected. Let the collar, handkerchief, boots, gloves, and belts be always whole, neat, and adapted to the dress. A lace collar will look as badly over a chintz dress, as a linen one would with velvet, though each may be perfect of its kind. Attention to these minor points are sure tests of taste in a lady’s dress. A shabby or ill fitting boot or glove will ruin the most elaborate walking dress, while one of much plainer make and coarser fabric will be becoming and lady-like, if all the details are accurately fitted, clean, and well put on. In arranging a dress for every occasion, be careful that there is no missing string, hook, or button, that the folds hang well, and that every part is even and properly adjusted. Let the skirts hang smoothly, the outside ones being always about an inch longer than the under ones; let the dress set smoothly, carefully hooked or buttoned; let the collar fit neatly, and be fastened firmly and smoothly at the throat; let shoes and stockings be whole, clean, and fit nicely; let the hair be smooth and glossy, the skin pure, and the colors and fabric of your dress harmonize and be suitable for the occasion, and you will always appear both lady-like and well-dressed.

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Click to see PART ONE.

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Source:

Hartley, Florence. The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness. 1860. G.W. Cottrell Publisher. Boston


General Rules of Fashion: Part 1

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I am such a big believer in the idea that fashion rules are timeless.  With only the garment in question changing shape and length over the years, the motivating focus and purpose of fashion has stayed the same.  So with that in mind, and especially for you 1860’s lovers out there, here are some general rules of fashion straight from the decade.

 Stay tuned for Part Two on Friday!

Neatness

This is the first of all rules to be observed with regard to dress. Perfect cleanliness and careful adjustment of each article in the dress are indispensable in a finished toilet. Let the hair be always smooth and becomingly arranged, each article exquisitely clean, neat collar and sleeves, and tidy shoes and stockings, and the simplest dress will appear well, while a torn or soiled collar, rough hair, or untidy feet will entirely ruin the effect of the most costly and elaborate dress. The many articles required in a lady’s wardrobe make a neat arrangement of her drawers and closets necessary, and also require care in selecting and keeping goods in proper order. A fine collar or lace, if tumbled or soiled, will lose its beauty when contrasted with the same article in the coarsest material perfectly pure and smooth. Each article of dress, when taken off, should be placed carefully and smoothly in its proper place. Nice dresses should be hung up by a loop on the inside of the waistband, with the skirts turned inside out, and the body turned inside of the skirt. Cloaks should hang in smooth folds from a loop on the inside of the neck. Shawls should be always folded in the creases in which they were purchased. All fine articles, lace, embroidery, and handkerchiefs, should be placed by themselves in a drawer, always laid out smoothly, and kept from dust. Furs should be kept in a box, alone, and in summer carefully packed, with a quantity of lump camphor to protect from moths. The bonnet should always rest upon a stand in the band-box, as the shape and trimming will both be injured by letting it lie either on the face, sides, or crown.

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Adaptiveness

Let each dress worn by a lady be suitable to the occasion upon which she wears it. A toilet may be as offensive to good taste and propriety by being too elaborate, as by being slovenly. Never wear a dress which is out of place or out of season under the impression that “it will do for once,” or “nobody will notice it.” It is in as bad taste to receive your morning calls in an elaborate evening dress, as it would be to attend a ball in your morning wrapper.

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Harmony

To appear well dressed without harmony, both in color and materials, is impossible. When arranging any dress, whether for home, street, or evening, be careful that each color harmonizes well with the rest, and let no one article, by its glaring costliness, make all the rest appear mean. A costly lace worn over a thin, flimsy silk, will only make the dress appear poorer, not, as some suppose, hide its defects. A rich trimming looks as badly upon a cheap dress, as a mean one does  upon an expensive fabric. Observe this rule always in purchasing goods. One costly article will entirely ruin the harmony in a dress, which, without it, though plain and inexpensive, would be becoming and beautiful. Do not save on the dress or cloak to buy a more elaborate bonnet, but let the cost be well equalized and the effect will be good. A plain merino or dark silk, with a cloth cloak, will look much better than the most expensive velvet cloak over a cheap delaine dress.

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Fashion

Do not be too submissive to the dictates of fashion; at the same time avoid oddity or eccentricity in your dress. There are some persons who will follow, in defiance of taste and judgment, the fashion to its most extreme point; this is a sure mark of vulgarity. Every new style of dress will admit of adaptation to individual cases, thus producing a pleasing, as well as fashionable effect. Not only good taste, but health is often sacrificed to the silly error of dressing in the extreme of fashion. Be careful to have your dress comfortable and becoming, and let the prevailing mode come into secondary consideration; avoiding, always, the other extreme of oddity or eccentricity in costume.

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Source:

Hartley, Florence. The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politiness. 1860. G.W. Cottrell Publisher. Boston.