Q Dear Miss Abigail:
I am baffled by all of the fashion tips today, which are filled with mixed messages. I live in a small town in Florida, nowhere near the high-fashion world of New York City. What advice do you have about hemlines for a woman like me?
P.S. Your dress is beautiful!
Skirted in the Sunshine State
A Dear Skirted:
You are in luck, sweetie. I searched through my books from the 1940s and 1960s, as requested, and found a few bits of advice. I even threw in a few bonus sewing tips for you!
1945: Following Fashion Has Little In Common With Beauty
Fashion has the power to appear temporarily in the guise of beauty, though it is the antithesis of beauty as often as not. If you doubt it, look at old fashion plates. Even the women of beautiful taste succumbs occasionally to the epidemics of fashion, but she is more immune than most. All women who have any clothes sense whatever know more or less the type of things that are their style ~ unless they have such an attack of “fashionitis” that they are irresponsibly delirious.
There is one unchanging principle which much be followed by everyone who would be well dressed ~ SUITABILITY.
Source: Post, Emily. Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company,1945.
~ p. 455 ~
It’s very hard, in thinking or writing about clothes, to make what I say apply equally to the life and climate of every part of the country or fit the requirements of every kind of setting, from big city through small town or suburb to real country. But I’m sure it’s safe to say that the modern cosmopolitan woman’s attitude on clothes might be called “variations on a single theme.” And that theme is sophisticated simplicity. It holds for town and country, and in every price range . . . .
Except for extremely formal receptions, or as part of a wedding party, a long dress, before dinner, makes a hostess look too anxious for words, unless you’re wearing a smart, hostessy housecoat for a few friends, or if you’re alone. If you want to wear a long skirt to receive at a large afternoon reception or a cocktail party, choose a dinner dress with sleeves in your most becoming color, or else a long black skirt with a brilliant evening blouse. It looks far smarter than a housecoat or a tea gown, no matter how beautiful they may be.
Source: Bloom, Vera. The Entertaining Lady: An Informal Guide to Good Living. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1949.
~ pp. 139, 147 ~
1963: Fashion Principles of the Refined That Never Change
CONSPICIOUS DRESS IS NOT SMART DRESS OR IS IT IN KEEPING WITH GOOD TASTE. The old saying “be not the first to try the new or the last one to put the old aside” proves forever timely. Applied it means that when a fashion is introduced which calls for DRASTIC CHANGE, a change that will not be accepted by the MAJORITY of women particularly the first season, it finds no place in her wardrobe. Experience has taught her that a drastic change in style will be modified the next season if it is to become acceptable, or chances are it will die completely. She allows, therefore, a group of women who have not quite distinguished between a “how ridiculous” stare and a “how lovely” one to test the fate of some fashion designer’s dream. But she never consents to being conspicious by being among the first to wear it. She would be concerned, however, if she did not change her style and length of dress when the majority of good women did, knowing that the truly outdated would also make her conspicuous; and this, again, is not her desire.
Source: Culkin, Anne. Charm for Young Women. New York: Deus Books, 1963.
1967: Anyone Can Sew
~ When hemming a skirt, mark a cardboard the desired width of the hem, then notch the spot with the scissors. This gives an exact guide as you pin the hem. It is quicker and easier than using a ruler, as you have to check the numbers each time you move it and the ruler slips easily.
~ When you are trying to raise the hem on a net dress that will not hold pins, place a clip clothespin over the folded fabric and you can easily put your hem in.
Source: Laird, Jean E. Around the House Like Magic. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper and Row,1967.
~ p. 145 ~