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Monday, 14 October 2013

A guide to gracious living, Amy Vanderbilt, PART 4


Let me continue with Amy Vanderbilt's book.
In case you have missed the previous parts, you can find them:
1. General part
2. Coats and Hats
3. Suits, dresses and all that follows.

Evening clothes
Evening clothes for small and medium women should follow the body line and not be of heavy, bulky, or too stiff fabrics unless the wearer is very slender. Chiffon, satin (not heavy slipper satin on the plump), crepe, velvet(for the slender), moire, taffeta are all suitable if simple in line and very restrained in trimming. Trains, panniers, bustles, wide sashes, bordered fabrics, and bouffant effects, when in style, tend to cut height and increase girth, as do all bold, two-or-more-color effects. The tall woman can wear heavier, bolder materials, unless she is heavy. In the latter case darker tones, lighter weight materials, smaller, but not tiny, patterns are more suitable. 

Except for the very social woman, an evening dress is a luxury worn only a few times during a season. If a new dinner or evening dress is velvet its season is very short indeed it begins to look outmoded by late December or January when the new Palm Beach prints make their appearance and it is not smartly worn after the end of February. Prints worn much before January first seem to be left over from the summer. But they are worn by smart women from January until the end of August. Print street dresses, especially in challis, often appear in the early fall, of course. 

The best choice for an evening dress, if it is to have real use, is crepe, chiffon, or cotton lace in a non-assertive color or black. It can be worn in any season and can be changed by various accessories a scarf, a bright sash, or colored elbow-or-longer evening gloves in doeskin or cotton doeskin or glace kid, loosely fitting and with bracelets (but never rings) worn over them. Such gloves are part of a costume and are not removed during the evening, though the hand of the glove is pushed back over the wrist when one eats or drinks and the gloves should be removed entirely at the dinner table. To be avoided, usually, are embroidered or fancily stitched gloves and any made of weird materials such as silver or gold tissue or, to anticipate wildly, fur fabric. Gloves should be background, not bull's-eye, for a costume except on an entertainer. 

A wise woman never discards an evening or dinner dress that's been becoming to her, no matter how often she's worn it around home. If she goes first class on an ocean liner or cruise ship she will want to dress for dinner most nights, and a well-chosen evening dress five years old can look brand new to people who have never seen it before. Good evening clothes for women approach the uniform and date very slowly. 

Dinner dresses
A dinner dress has short cap or long sleeves but rarely leaves arms and shoulders completely bare, though arms and shoulders may show through net, lace, or tulle. It is usually cut on body lines and except for its length could be a formal afternoon dress. It can be worn either with an evening wrap or, better, with a fur coat or jacket or in summer a short, simple fabric jacket or fur scarf. It is worn with or without an evening hat to the theater, to informal dinners (where men wear dark suits or tuxedos), to restaurants. It is best in dark or neutral colors beige, taupe, moleskin, amethyst, blue and is not necessarily evening-length, though it is longer than day-length. The satin dinner suit, a little longer than street-length, is good for town wear and a fine solution for suburbanites with no pied-d-terre in town who must catch the eleven-forty home after the theater. Unlike evening-length dinner dresses, which are not worn before six, dinner suits can appear from four-thirty on and are very convenient for cocktail parties that lengthen out into dinner and the theater
Next time, we are talking about proper beauty routine!

♥♥ Pinky Honey


  1. What a fabulous series! Can't wait to read more.

    1. I'm glad you liked it.. stay tuned, there's one more coming up soon.


  2. It's a shame that more people don't still aspire to really go all out with their evening attire. Many modern magazines are content ro suggest one changes shoes after they leave the office or put on a bit more of a smoky eye, and see that as "dressing" up come night fall. I for one, love the old school approach of having a whole segment of your wardrobe devote to glamorous, elegant, perpetually beautiful evening attire, be it cocktail dresses, party frocks, ball gowns or a combo of all three, with plenty of eye-catching accessories, shoes and handbags to match. There's much to be said for dressing up, though it seems the fewer and fewer people do when the sunsets any more.

    Tons of hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. I like your take on this matter.
      Truth is: I fail to accept the story of turning daytime makeup into a glamorous nighttime one. My work day lasts for 8 hours, and my makeup is strong (but not magical). I'm a firm believer in removing one's makeup before applying the new one. For me, there's NO switching of any kind.
      I like my job and my personal life quite separated.