The first thing on my list with which I must deal is the recent meeting of the Amateur Swimming Association, at which the vexed question of a regulation dress for the women members was discussed; and there is a good chance that it will be wisely and properly decided so that there will be a regular uniform dress in future, and all misunderstanding will be avoided. The material to which the lady delegates appear to have given in their adhesion is stockingette; which they consider superior in every way to serge, flannel, silk or merino. A model costume made of it, shown by the Birmingham Ladies Club, was so much approved of by the large assembly of ladies present, that it was adopted as a guide, the fullest liberty as to trimmings being given, while only three colours were allowed, viz., navy blue, red and black. The Birmingham costume had flat facings of Turkey-red twill, but of course it is open to any club to select their own colours. It buttoned on the shoulders, and by means of gussets under the arms a short sleeve was formed. The great recommendation, however, was its cheapness, as it was announced that it could be produced in quantities of not less than one dozen at a fraction, over two shillings each, in the various sizes required by the wearers, Of course where there are so many working women’s clubs, this question of cost is a grave consideration. The costume finally recommended was much on this Birmingham model. With the additional advice that “it should reach, at least, to within three inches from the knee” should be cut square at the neck, and button on the shoulder, where it must be not less than thee inches in width, and where it must be shaped to the arm beneath, so as to form a short sleeve.
Now that swimming as a pastime has become so popular amongst women and girls, and when it is taught in so many schools, it is only wise to decide on a suitable dress, which can be modified to meet all views, and trimmed to please all wearers, and be attainable to limited purses, and above all, should be seemly to wear in a mixed assemblage of all ages.
Although we have worn the Eton jacket with more or less decoration for many years, it seems still to hold its own, and is very becoming indeed to many people. The same may be said of the Bolero fronts; both of these are braided and buttoned this autumn, and the braiding is generally in panels, while the buttons most used are of the fancy order. Basqued bodices with and without belts, three-quarter-length coats, quite tight to the figure, and a coat of the Directoire style, short at the waist in front, with a rounded basque and long coat-tails; all of these are in fashion, and, so far as I see, though all have basques, they may be long or short, according to individual fancy. The great desire of all women this winter is to present an appearance of height and thinness, and all draperies must be sweeping, and the outlines flowing, to meet with our approval. Flounces and frills are used with much discretion, so that they may not contradict the clinging effect. Skirts are, if possible, tighter than ever, and only show fullness at the feet, while as regards our sleeves, the last vestige of puffiness has deserted them, and not even a tiny pleat is permitted at the shoulder, and the whole appearance is that of the old coat-sleeve, which was originally introduced by the Princess of Wales.
Of course, with this clinging effect, we may naturally go on to say that the Princess dress that was worn by a few people last season will be adopted by many this winter; and the newest ones, if in cloth, have very generally strapped seams; the French Princess gowns having very generally a plastron, which is buttoned up on each side with handsome buttons.
In hats, we find the tre-corne much used in Paris; but this is a style only suitable to the very young, or very pretty, so that the wider brimmed felts are more generally popular. Many of the felt hats are made in two colours, the underpart being of a different colour to the upper, and very little trimming is used for them. Low-crowned hats of almost a sailor shape have been predicted, and the boat shape is one of the favourite winter models. Quills and wings have taken the place of the long and graceful ostrich feathers, the former being more suitable for winter weather; a large bow and ends, and jewelled buckles, form part of the trimming, and the hat-pins are sumptuously jewelled, and as every lady tries to select those that are most decorative to her hat or bonnet, they have become quite a feature in the head-dress of the day.
I spoke in my last chat on cloths, and dress in general, of the change that has taken place in the dressing of the hair, and that it is worn much lower; in fact in a coil that lies on the nape of the neck, the rest of the hair is waved in large waves, which lie regularly over the top of the head, and across it from ear to ear, while the front locks are curled over the forehead. The chief difficulty presented by this new departure is in finding a hat or bonnet to go with it; for all the French bonnets are made to go with the high rolled coiffure universally worn on the Continent, but never very becoming to Englishwomen who have good heads of hair and find a difficulty in producing the tiny knot of hair, which is the essential part of the high hair-dressing. The low knot is shown in our picture of the two figures representing the new winter gowns, and called “A Princess Dress of brown cloth”. These two gowns show exactly the prevailing styles of the winter.
Princess Dress of Brown Cloth
I daresay you will have already seen though perhaps not quite relished the change that dresses are now worn with bodices of the same material, and the sketch in question displays this alteration in style. The seated figure wears a Princess dress of brown cloth, with revers of cream-coloured satin, one of which overlaps the other so far as to close the gown on the side of the front, and the band of cream satin is continued across the front and terminates in a scroll. The satin has a scroll pattern braided on it with brown silk braid, and the cuffs are decorated in the same manner. To those who contemplate having a Princess gown, I would say, be careful to choose a good tailor or dressmaker, and a firm material of which to make your dress, in order to avoid dissatisfaction with your gown.
The second gown is of green face-cloth. The bodice and sleeves are tucked with small horizontal tucks all over them. The skirt is one of the new ones, and is in three tiers, cut away from the front, and each is edged with a small band of chinchilla fur.
Long Basqued Coat and Embroidered Jacket
The second sketch shows a sac jacket of smooth blue serge, with a skirt to match. The jacket is beautifully braided and embroidered in black, both in front and on the shoulders. The hat is of blue felt, trimmed with blue velvet and feathers. The second figure wears a long basqued coat with a fur collar, and wide revers in front which taper down to the waist, and end in two tails. The cuffs are turned back in the new shape, and the collar is high and closes in front. The skirt worn is plain, and is cut in the umbrella style. The hat is a small velvet one, with fur trimmings and white or cream lace. The mixture of lace and fur indeed with all our winter trimmings this year is very remarkable, and contributes to the very light effect of all the millinery worn.
Cape and Muff of Chinchilla and Green Silk
The pretty sketch next in order represents a gown made of one of the new fancy materials trimmed with chinchilla; cape of chinchilla trimmed with green silk and cream lace, and muff to match. The hat is a very charming model, which is called by some milliners a Trelawnley. It droops in front and is made of black velvet, found the crown a very handsome ostrich plume is laid, and under the brim of the hat is a cache peigne of pink roses. The new capes of this season are, many of them, pointed in front and back; and are often caught in at the waist behind. Violet cloth has been very much used for capes, and this is a colour that goes so well with fur of all kinds that it is likely to be popular. Where jackets are concerned, whether long or short in the basques, the latter must fit very snugly round the hips, without fullness, or they will not give the effect of the newest style. Many of the basques are added with a seam just below the waist, and are marvels of careful fitting.
There is a rather strong tendency to use a great quantity of orange in the French millinery; the hue of the moment being of the reddest and most vivid flame colour. The other colours in vogue for the same purpose are green, some shades of red, golden brown, wallflower and much blue in all shades. For capes and coats putty-colour and fawn are much used, and there is a large amount of white used for trimming.
I must not finish my chat without mentioning the ribbon trimmings which have so largely replaced lace, tulle and chiffon ruches, especially upon bodices and blouses. Skirts as well as bodices are ornamented with gathered ribbons. The prettiest effect is given by using two ribbons together, a narrow and a wider one. These may be of two different colours, or of black and white, the latter being placed on the top. Plain bands of ribbon edged with black velvet, or with baby ribbons gathered, are also much used; in fact there seems no style of design which cannot be turned to account in this decoration.