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Monday, 1 December 2014

Matters of dressing up, part II

Hello everybody.

"No matter what I say, no one pays attention on me" - this is word-by-word what I have told my mom one evening, after a hard day at school. She knew what I was saying; but I was a young girl and I failed to understand. I looked like a boy, dressed up in baggy pants and oversized shirt.. and wondered why no one pays attention on my ides, on my plans.. on: me.
I started dressing up.
OK, not like majority of women my age; since I'm into vintage, and I prefer being conservative. An instant change in environment - people listen. To me.

Not every "dressing up" moment
is suitable for a conference room. :)

We continue reading
Florence Hartley's 
"Ladies book on etiquette and manual of politeness". 


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


It's been a lot to read, I know. But, considering that not many places online care about this subject, I like to accentuate it, every now and then. It's a good way to constantly remind ourselves that, people first SEE us, and then LISTEN to us.


  1. Stellar post, dear Marija. We are often told not to judge a book by its cover and I do believe that following that piece of advice is wise move, but it's a lot easier said than done. Most folks that we encounter will automatically sum us up based on how we look to them and treat us accordingly. I've faced it myself many, many times over the years (one doesn't wear vintage garb for half their lifetime without running into all manner of responses to it, as I'm certain you can relate), but thankfully it's usually been positive.

    Like yourself, a degree of conservatism is an absolute must with my attire. This has nothing to do with my religious beliefs or anything along those lines, but rather that fact that I genuinely have no desire to "put everything on show", so to speak, when it comes to my body. I feel more comfortable and at ease when I'm not dressed in an overly revealing manner and find that, not surprisingly, the kind of people who matter are far more apt to take you seriously. Thankfully most vintage clothing goes hand-in-hand with dressing modestly, which no doubt explains in part why I took to it (vintage clothing) like a duck to water. :)

    This really was a splendid read through which I nodded vigorously the whole time. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    ♥ Jessica

    1. You are most welcome, darling.

      Many time, like yourself, I have faced with criticism due to my fashion choice (more like a "lifestyle choice"); to be conservative 24-7. People find it hadr to comprehend WHY would someone young decide to dress, behave (and preach!) about modesty. :)
      I find it contradictory, to tell the truth: on one side we're are constantly bombarded with folk talikng about girls dressing up too flashy and showing too many parts of their body; and on the other side people find me "strange" when I dress the way I do.

      Fortunately, this vintage-loving, modest-looking comunbity of red-lipstick gals is great and suportive. :)