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Thursday, 10 October 2013

A guide to gracious living, Amy Vanderbilt, PART 3.

Hello there.

We are continuing the story of Etiquette.
You can read about BASIC COLORS and COATS & HATS by following the links.

Every wardrobe needs at least one good wool or tweed tailored suit. It should be cut on classic lines, so that with minor shortenings and lengthening from season to season it will be good for from five to seven years or even longer. A cheap dressmaker suit, cut in the latest fashion and color, is an extravagant abomination. A good tailored suit should cost usually at least seventy dollars and be sufficiently conservative in color, line, and fabric that it is entirely unremarkable. A tailored suit is a uniform. A good dressy suit is a short-run extravagance, nice only if you can afford it.

The perfect tailored suit can be worn both in town and in the country with achange of accessories. Shoes may be walking pumps for town (not high heels), and ties, brogues, moccasins, or any other solid country shoe out of town. Beware the effect of too light a shoe in color and heft with a dark tweed. The feet should be darkly shod, too, to furnish a base for the soundness of the suit. Two-tone shoes, especially of black and white or brown and white, should be avoided with tweed suits, except those in pastel shades, and should not be worn in town.

Too sheer blouses look just as bad as too delicate shoes with tweeds.

A slipover sweater or wool shirt or some heavy fabric with body is best with tweed for the country. In the city a simple, non-sheer tailored blouse with a round collar or a turnover collar on a shirt neckline is most appropriate. White is usually best, or soft pastel tones, but avoid brilliant contrasts which destroy the effect of the classic suit which should be, as I said, unremarkable.

Underwear should be simple, washable, and of excellent quality, devoid of imitation lace, sleazy ribbons, and machine embroidery. Hand-made real silk or fine nylon underwear is lovely, but machine-made underwear of good quality can do nicely, too, in a well-conceived wardrobe.

Nylon, unless it is the perforated knit variety, is hot in summer as per- spiration cannot evaporate beneath it readily. Sheer cotton, fresh and crisp every day, is the coolest during a hot spell. Fine quality silk, well-made, with strong, French seams, costs a lot initially but can last years with careful laundering. Cheap rayon, knit or woven, can look fairly good when you buy it, but proves expensive in that it does not keep its finish and becomes limp and drab after a few washings.

The most comfortable girdle is the two-way stretch, which allows free body movement and which is made at least partly of lastex. Its loose weave permits evaporation of perspiration. Any girdle that pulls you in unnaturally, into some semblance of the currently fashionable figure, is likely to make you so uncomfortable and irritable that any striking effect your new clothes can make is nullified by your tense expression. If you are conscious of your girdle, it's the wrong one for you. The most you should ask of a girdle, anyhow, is that it hold in your stomach somewhat, give a smooth line to your hips, and support your stockings. If it does more than that it is merely displacing fat pushing it from one spot, say your abdomen, to another, to your thighs or your diaphragm. And don't think the new bulges don't show.

Brassieres have come a long way since Aunt Nellie was an adolescent and they bound her flat with a straight, tight bra which eventually broke down her muscles and, in her otherwise attractive forties, made her droopy. For young people brassieres are not necessary except perhaps for active sports, unless support of abnormally heavy breasts is actually needed. For problem figures the various types of new brassieres may be carefully fitted with wire, but never pressing on the soft tissues. No woman need look droopy today, either in a dress or a bathing suit, or flat-chested either. Ready-made clothes fit better if the bust line is something like the ideal even if this approach to perfection is considerably helped along by uplifts or falsies or both.

Here, considering to what a degree fashion plays a part from season to season, we can talk about line and fabric, color and suitability, rather than what is current at the moment. The basic rules of good grooming don't change.

The first rule is to accept what you are. If you are medium height five feet three or so with small bones, the heavy, masculine fabrics and bulkness of line are never for you, no matter how much they are in style at the moment. You should dress to the lines of your body. If the line from the hip to your knee is relatively short, even if you have moderately long legs and an average waist, you will look overdressed in heavy tweeds, loosely cut clothes, large inverted or box pleats. Any next-to-the-body wools should be very light weight. Dress coats should be fitted and sport coats only moderately loose, or you will seem lost in bolts of material.

Most ready-made clothes are designed for the model figure the long- legged, long-thigh-boned, and long-waisted type who can drape herself in a portiere and look chic. The little woman, or even the medium-height one should choose clothes which have been scaled to her proportions, or she should have her clothes carefully altered to suit her figure, first avoiding too heavy fabrics and too dramatic lines.

On the contrary, the tall, rangy creature should avoid too fine, too closely fitted materials and concentrate on bulky, rough-textured fabrics, loose line, pleats, bold plaids and stripes, contrast in skirt and blouse, tall, even stag- gering hats, and those handsome, tongued brogues that make the little woman seem rooted to the good earth.

A short or middling woman should strive for continuance of line. A red hat, a white jacket, and a navy skirt will cut her in three pieces. She can have the patriotic effect, if that's what she yearns for, by having jacket and skirt the same blue, by having a white blouse relieve the neckline, and by trimming her blue hat with a red cockade and carrying a not too large red bag.

Large, obvious accessories such as huge bags, brightly colored gloves, bulkycostume jewelry and bright box jackets, heavy embroidery, enormous hats areonly for big women, preferably the big-boned ones. A slender, medium-height woman can get away with one of these things at a time, occasionally, but she should beware of the dumpy effect they can give. 

Till next time - have a great day!

♥♥ Pinky Honey

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