An Excerpt from The Magic of Dress, 1911

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With the upcoming holidays, many of us will be attending many festive parties!  With that in mind, here is an excerpt from The Magic of Dress by Grace Margaret Gould written in 1911!

“With the evening comes more elaborate dress.  The fashionable woman needs dinner gowns, theater and opera gowns and ball costumes.  The more cultivated she is, the more she make the art of the dress the study it should be, the finer and more appropriate are the distinctions between these attires.  

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In planning them she must first have a definite idea of the prevailing mode as to fabric and outline.  Then, if she is wise, she will modify the present style to her own type; and whether she is planning one gown or a dozen gowns, let each be distinctive and each suit the occasion on which it is to be worn.  

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It is well to bear in mind that the trimming of a gown may give a distinctive touch to it, and that in a measure it acts as an index to the dress, putting the gown in its own class.  Never use the same type of trimming on your evening gowns.  If the dancing frock is trimmed with artificial flowers of chiffon and satin, have the ball gown trimmed with fur, or gold or silver embroideries. A woman with one trimming is a woman of one-dress idea, and not much of an idea at that.

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It goes without saying that a little good trimming is better than a lot of inferior trimming.  When economy must be given at least a passing thought, a good quality of velvet or brocade is a better investment than some prevailing fad in silks or even some exquisite shade of chiffon.  There is always the next year to bear in mind.”

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The Charm of Dress: Accessories

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“Of course, you know the woman who dresses like every other women?  You remember her in sort of a collective sense, and it is not a a very pleasing sense either.  She is a duplicate that makes no distinct impression on your mind.  She lacks personality.  She simply goes along.

Perhaps it is her manner which is devoid of character.  Perhaps it is her dress which is without individual charm.  But whatever the reason of the defect, there must be a remedy for it.

Since there are dress talks, let us consider the responsibility of dress in achieving distinctiveness, always remembering that when dress reaches its perfection a perfect manner attends it.

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If all women dressed alike, no matter how rich the fabric or how chic and clever the cut, their dress would be accepted without being noticed.  A uniform has its greatest distinction either when it has never been seen except on one person alone, and thus the sense of uniformity is entirely eliminated, or when it is worn by a number of persons acting together, because then it gives the impression of an individual charm.

Charm in dress is hard to define, yet all are swift to recognize it.  There is always an unexpected quality in it. It piques and holds the attention throughout a variation which is an improvement of the usual.

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And this unexpected quality is most often the expression of individual taste, introduced into the costume by different smart little accessories.  These give the touch of life to dress which saves it from monotony.

Of course, the wearing has much to do with it.  To each woman who wishes always to look her best, the accessory is often a saving grace.

Style and fashion are the features of the dress, but accessories are its expression.  The dress which lacks accessories – touches of individual taste – is like the dress on a form in the shop.  It is dumb.  The dress which is vibrant with impressions is the dress which reveals the life of the wearer.  It is distinctive, because its accessories make it so. They sound the personal note.

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An accessory may be a very humble detail of dress and yet give tone to the whole costume.  In selecting accessories for different costumes, it is important that the right accessory be used with the right costume.  In an attractive face, you know, the features and the expression match.  Together they make what charms.

The young woman, or the older woman for that matter, who has tried and found becoming some special accessory, should wear it so often that it is associated with her.  She should make it her own.

Wealth may buy these things, or thrift may make them; but it is taste that must put them on.  Taste, then, is the one thing needful.  Without it, a woman is clad; with it, a woman is dressed.

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Source:

The Magic of Dress: by Grace Margaret Gould.  1911

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