Three Unusual Portraits

portraits

Sometimes, on my researching adventures, I come across paintings or photographs of individuals that stop my wandering eyes in an instant.  Whether it is something about their pose, or their outfit, or the fact that I feel like I can connect with their personality, images like the ones in today’s post just fascinate me.  

This first one features the wonderful giggliness of a young girl from the 1850’s! What a sweetheart!!!  And a wonderful example of children’s fashion.  

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This next painting I found to be a fantastic example of late 1700’s styling and fashion.  The smile, the gown, THAT HAT….its all absolutely beautiful!

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Portrait Of E. N. Arsenyeva
By Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1796

This last portrait (c. 1860) caught my eye as the riding gown this woman is wearing has the most amazing placement of tucks.  I can just envision her riding a horse with that long, flowy skirt fluttering behind her!

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Such beautiful examples of fashion, creativity, and personality!

I see images of individuals from various time periods everyday…hundreds of pictures, drawings, paintings….and yet, only a few cause me to stop and admire. I like to think that it is something from their spirit reaching out to me.  I also like to think that if these individuals were around today, I bet they would be close friends!

And then I also wonder, if in a hundred years or so, someone like myself will come across my picture.  Someone who has an interest in historical fashion and I wonder if they will think my picture, my outfit, my smile may be worthy of a second glance……. 🙂

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The Gowns that have Inspired My Sewing…

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I have been sewing since I was a little girl and dabbled in the usual assortment of projects that new sewers try.  A few handbags, a dress or two, and perhaps a little quilting.  But there comes a time in every sewer’s journey when they begin to discover their particular niche.  While they still may sew a variety of things, they often find one particular style, or area, or system that is their most favorite.  And that is the beautiful thing about sewing.  Sewing is one of those rare hobbies that can be truly for enjoyment while still offering a wonderful service.  It will always be a needed talent and one that should be carefully and lovingly cultivated.

I went on my own little journey of sewing during my summer vacations of college.  This was of course in the days before Pinterest and my access to historical fashion was limited, but I was able to Google a lot of the various images.  Through this process, I began finding gowns that spoke to me and continue to inspire me today (over a decade later.)  They are the pieces that really pushed me into historical sewing without having any idea or knowledge on how to do any of it.  But like many things in life, sewing is a puzzle with various pieces that must be figured out so they, together, can create one overall picture.  So that is how my summer days were spent…figuring out how these gowns were created, how they went together, and how the heck I could do it on my own.  Of course all of this happened in between my summer jobs! 🙂

So as I now enter into my 15th year of historical/vintage sewing, I thought I would share with you the pieces that inspired it all…maybe they have inspired you as well!

This late 18th century gown is a true example of how a perfect fit can create a stunning creation.91ce968d0c5ffb4ba3efeb3639cd6a08

This Regency era gown was the first time where I looked at a picture and tried to recreate the best I could….it turned out alright! 🙂

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This 1850’s raspberry gown has been one of my favorites for years….I adore the vibrant color!

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This 1870’s bustle gown is part technical amazingness and part mint-green amazingness…both parts are equally important!

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This one you had to pull my chin off from the floor when I first saw it.  It’s all about the cut….simply, sleek, and exquisitely tailored!

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I am still in the process of trying to recreate a pattern for this 1930’s silk blouse…and when I do, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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Someday, I will have acquired enough skill to create this 1940’s dress..not today…but someday!

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What has been your inspiration for sewing?  Have you been able to recreate that inspiration?
I would love to hear about it in the comments! 🙂
Happy Monday!!!

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Cover Photo: The Ball Gown by Jules Trayer, 1860


The June Bride

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One of my favorite songs from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies) is the song “June Bride.”  It is extremely catchy and can pop into my head at random times…even when I haven’t watched the movie  in months!  If you haven’t seen/heard of this musical before, than close out this post and go find yourself a copy!!!  You won’t regret it! 🙂

In the meantime, feel free to click the link below to watch the song!

June Bride

And while getting married in June is not as common today (as I am a May bride), I still thought it would be fun to take a little look back at the do’s and don’ts of bridal wear!

One of my good friends is getting married, and watching her go through the fun of finding a wedding dress makes me feel just as excited as if it were for my own wedding (well, almost!)  She finally found a dress through Alfred Angelo after much debate and what seemed like an endless stream of gowns.  But she did it!  And as I was researching for this post, I came across this wonderful advertisement for Alfred Angelo gowns from the 1950’s.  After viewing this gown, I thought about how much wedding gown designs have changed…and not changed, as I feel like I saw this gown on display….just maybe not as fluffy!

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But one thing that that hasn’t change too much over time is the color of the gown.  This excerpt from a book written in the 1870’s explains what goes into a proper bridal ensemble…and it seems like quite a bit!  And just in case you are interested, all sources quoted are listed at the bottom of this post.

“The dress for a bride will admit of such immense variety in materials, style, expense, and fashion, that it is difficult to give general directions.  Yet from the millionaire’s daughter to the mechanic’s child, there is always one rule, that the dress must be white throughout.  Dress, veil, gloves, slippers, wrapper, or bonnet all must be pure white for a full bridal dress.  The material varies; moire antique, alpaca, muslin, or fine bishop’s lawn, are all suitable for the wedding-dress.  The veil may be of illusion, lace, or very fine tulle, but should be long, very full, and fine.  It is fastened by the wreath, but whether to fall over the face or not, is a matter left to Fashion.  

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The slippers should be of white satin, and the gloves of white kid, trimmed with white lace or white satin ribbon.

No jewelry is suitable for a bride, excepting diamonds or pearls.  

The same variety of selection of material, quality, and quantity, that applies to the wedding-dress, is equally applicable to the trousseau, but for a person in moderate circumstances, we give the usual quantity, which may be varied indefinitely, according to the purse or taste of the fair bride, or her parents.” (1)

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Here is a 1920’s chart on bridal wear as created by Mary Brook Pickens.  I adore this chart as it gives instructions on what to wear based on location and time of day!  Fascinating!! (2)00000231-s

Taking inspiration from the chart, one can see the changes in these two 1920’s gown pairings based on location and time of day!

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And while many brides look back with pride on their wedding day and the choices they have made…one has to wonder if the other members of the bridal party feel the same way.  Like this florally group:

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To all you brides out there planning your wedding, no matter what month it happens to be in, I wish you happiness and great gown choices!

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Sources:

(1)The Art of Dressing Well: A Complete Guide to Economy, Style, and Propriety of Costume by Annie S. Frost, 1870

(2)Guide to Correct Dress for the Bride: Harmony in Dress by Mary Brooks Picken, 1925

 

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My Favorite 1860’s Sewing Patterns and Finished Projects

1860's patterns

Today’s post has been a blast to put together!  I wanted to share some of my favorite sewing patterns, but I wasn’t sure which ones I wanted to share.  So as I was looking back at some of my sewing projects, I decided to do a true throwback and share my favorite 1860’s patterns.  Plus, with reenactment season almost in full swing, this could be the perfect time for all you re-enactors to whip up something new!

If you have been following my blog since its beginning, you might have noticed that over the last year  I have expanded my sewing focus from mid 19th century to include more recent decades.  The reasons for this are numerous but the overarching one is passion.  I have learned, the hard way at times, to let my creativity go where it wants to.  If I restrict it to simply one area (decade, century…) I will get burnt out rather quickly and will end up with large droughts of uninspired nothingness.  This is why I choose to let my creative soul lead the way!

But that still doesn’t mean I can’t look back fondly on some of my most favorite creations!  And with that said, I feel the need to list a few fun things I noticed and remember about the following pictures:

  1. I photographed all of these on a black background…I don’t know why…but I did.
  2. I hand-hemmed every one one of these dresses..including the cover photo…and I developed a pretty impressive callous as a result.

So without further ado, let’s get started.  Each pattern I feature can be reached by clicking the underlined link below the pattern picture!

Enjoy!

1860’s Garibaldi Blouse by Past Patterns

This lovely blouse is great for beginners as it doesn’t require any darts or fitting.  The only thing you need to have patience for is sewing all the buttonholes.  Below you will see one of the blouses I made in a royal blue.

 

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Garibaldi Blouse Pattern

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1860’s Day Dress by Peachtree Mercantile

This pattern is probably one of my favorites and most made pieces.  I could make it with my eyes closed…or at least without looking at the instructions.  The wonderful thing about this pattern is the fabulous instruction booklet that comes with it.  Unfortunately it is rather tricky to track down and the only size I could find is the 18-28 size on Etsy, however one of my lovely readers found the smaller patterns size available on Amazon Dry Goods.     Also, below is one of my favorite versions of this gown!

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Peach Tree Mercantile Pattern

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Period Impression Day/Camp Dress

Okay, this pattern is in some ways my favorite and in others, not so much.   The dress itself is rather awkward to make as it has a gored skirt with a front closure….it looks awkward and it wear awkward….at least in my opinion.  However, I adore the bodice of it and have found it to be one of the best for basic 1860’s dresses.  I will most often make just the bodice and pair it with a basic 5 yard skirt.  The picture below shows such a combination….

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Period Impressions Camp/Day Dress

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Period Impression 1860’s Tea Bodice

Another one of my favorites, this bodice features as basque and small pagoda sleeves.  I love using fun trims and contrasting colors to create a truly unique day dress.  I have received many compliments when I have worn a bodice like this…plus, it is surprisingly easy to make!  Below is one of my favorite versions made out of fabric purchased from www.reproductionfabrics.com…although, I am not sure if this particular fabric is still available.

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Period Impressions Day Bodice

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Do you have a favorite 1860’s pattern you would like to share?  Or have you created a piece from any of the patterns listed?  Let’s share by commenting below!

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS?????

Very soon I will be sharing some exciting details about the official release date for my vintage pattern book entitled Aimee’s Vintage Armoire: 1940’s-1950’s AND information about my new vintage fashion line inspired by the patterns featured in the book!

With a fun giveaway and sneak peeks to be featured both on my blog AND my newsletter, you won’t want to miss out!

Thank you all for your support and love….none of this would be possible without you!


On My Inspiration Board: Calico Gowns

calico cover

It is hard to believe that a fabric which evokes simplicity, homey-ness, and (if you are me) Little House on the Prairie, has a very fascinating and international history.  Originating from Calicut, India, the fabric we know as calico gained popularity from it’s early 11th century birth and well into our modern age.  Known for a sold color on which a simply design repeats all over, calico has become a much used piece of fabric.

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An example of an early calico fabric

Long used for a variety of sewing projects which ranged from dresses to quilts to kitchen linens, calico is easily one of the most widely used and widely appreciated fabrics around.  The other wonderful thing about calico is it’s very affordable price tag.  I love picking up yards of happy calico, even if I don’t have a particular project in mind, because of its versatility.  While not exactly known for it’s luxury, there are many examples of gowns constructed from calico.  In fact, Hollywood has some wonderfully fun samples of calico dresses, even if they aren’t completely accurate:

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Little House on the Prairie

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Jane Eyre, 2014

So with all these wonderful choices, I had a very fun time creating this month’s inspiration board!  I hope you enjoy!

Calico

Click HERE to visit my Pinterest Page for more examples.

Have a wonderful Monday,

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What to Wear in the Morning…or Dream versus Reality

dream

My morning routine…..well, I must say I am a creature of habit, but it isn’t exactly a pretty picture.  My alarm goes off at 5, and I stumble to take my shower.  Once clean, I shuffle off to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee and turn on the Hallmark channel so I can listen to I Love Lucy as I try to get some blogging done.  Then I begin the 45 minute procedure of preparing myself to go out into the world.  And up until that moment of when I put on my street clothes, I am wearing a very warm, very comfortable, but not very flattering, purple flannel robe.  I have tried to switch to something a bit nicer, but after a few days of flying powder dust, wildly applied hairspray, and coffee dribbles, I end up back in something a bit more durable.  Of course, this doesn’t stop me from continuing to hunt for a robe thats both comfy and more attractive.

I know I am not alone in this dilemma of comfort versus beauty.  And in discussions with fellow friends, I was comforted to realize that while many of us want to feel more attractive in the early morning hours, removing oneself from a warm bed to put on some lacy, thin thing isn’t very appealing…especially during the winter months.  And as I further mulled over the morning ritual, I began to search for examples of past robes or morning gowns to see what women in the past would have put on during their morning routines.  And based on my findings, there are quite a few I would love to wear!

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Known as wrappers during the 1840’s-1860’s, these robe-like gowns were often worn over all a woman’s undergarments (hoop skirt included).  While I love the idea of a loose, flowy gown, still having to have on your corset isn’t always my ideal.  However, the pattern on this example is simply stunning.

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1870

Another example of a morning gown or wrapper, this particular one has a lovely royal blue contrast with tassel tie.

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1900

So, this is absolutely, positively, without a doubt, gorgeous!!  The lace, the color, the ribbon tie…..sheer perfection….and a little too chilly for me in the mornings.  I love it, but I personally wouldn’t wear it.

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1920

The Kimono robe, and the robe as we know it today, began to emerge in the late 1910’s to 1920’s.  While I would struggle keeping the long sleeves clean, this is exactly the sort of thing I would love to slip on and wear around the house.  I probably wouldn’t get much accomplished, but I sure would look and feel great while wearing it!

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1930

While these 1930’s options are not exactly robes, they are morning dresses and would be lovely to wear around the house.  While I  still feel like it would require quite a few wardrobe changes throughout the day, the look is adorable.

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1940

Now this is something right up my alley!  I love the quilted versions of these robes along with their tailored construction.

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So let your morning routine be beautified by a lovely (and comfortable) robe! 

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General Rules of Fashion: Part 2

rules of fashion 2

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.