Sunday, 19 June 2016

28 August 1880 - 'The Dress of the Month' by Dora de Blaquiere

The June roses have fled, the heat of July and August is over, and before us spreads the cool September, from whence we shall gradually slide into the chilliness of October almost without recognising the change of seasons. In our dress, however, we are obliged to make some alteration, and for this, of all months, it is perhaps the most difficult to dress. The summer garments are a little too cool; the autumn ones not yet thought of, much less purchased. In this dilemma there is always black to fall back upon; black, in which everyone looks well, and in which no one can err on the side of over-dressing. It has been more valuable than ever to us since the introduction of the coloured kiltings, or balayeuses, enabled us to give a touch of colour, in a natural way, to the blackness of the costume. Nothing was ever more easy to make than they are, or more inexpensive to purchase. Turkey-red twill is quite good enough for a girl's use, and the kilting of the two-inch-wide frill can be done at any shop in town where the kilting machine is kept, for about a half-penny a yard. The kilting may be of any and every colour, but red and old-gold are the most popular; and the possessor of two or three sets of different colours need not be considered very extravagant.

The colour of the balayeuse must be repeated on the bonnet or hat, which, if red, may be effected by a red poppy or red satin bow at the throat as well. Small artificial sunflowers are now made, to be worn at the side of the neck, ensconced in the black lace necktie, quite a bunch being used. Indeed, these flora ornaments are quite a feature in everyone's dress, and I must confess that I like them, for what could be more suitable than flowers to the young? The floral bonnets have always been peculiarly pretty, and I shall never forget the pretty effect of a small bonnet of blue forget-me-nots which was worn by the fair-haired daughter of a noble family when they first came out, and the extreme suitability of the style to her modest and flower-like face.

In the evening young girls may wear the new floral collar, which is a ruffle of leafless flowers, tied round the throat, and having a few tendrils of hanging buds and leaves. Buttercups on black, scarlet pimpernel on pale blue, or violet would make pretty necklaces. Two of the most fashionable collars of the day - both to be worn with the lace frill - are illustrated on this page, the first being made of coloured-crossway-cut silk or India muslin, gathered at the back and on the shoulders, and extending scarf-like down the front, the edges being trimmed with lace, and a tiny flower bouquet making a finish at the neck.

Fig.2 is a linen collar, rounded at the corners, edged with lace, and tied with a coloured cord and tassel at the neck. Then there are the bows  for the neck, of lace and muslin, which form a finish to any dress. Little floral trinkets are much worn by young ladies, sprays of forget-me-nots and lilies of the valley being particularly popular.

I daresay that most of my readers have seen the small head-nets made of gold or silver thread. They are very easily manufactured for oneself, with a rather coarse steel crochet-hook. The pattern may be taken from any antimacassar wheel, or even a square which has a rounded centre, both of them being very open. The edges are finished with pearl beads, or else with tiny gold sequins, which can be purchased by the dozen at any fancy shop. These gold squares form a pretty finish to the hair-dressing of a young lady or to the top of a cap for her mamma. The border of the cap may be a wreath of some small buds and leaves, mounted on a wire, and the net laid lightly over them. "Mamma's caps" are a subject of great interest to so many girls, that I give them this hint in passing.

At Fig.3 an easy method of trimming-up an elbow sleeve, to be worn in the evening, is shown.

The newest lawn-tennis aprons are made of ecru silk sheeting, edged with red of the same material, as a border, on which is embroidered a wreath of flowers, the pockets and the bib are also red. Many young ladies are making themselves caps for tennis in the shape of the well-known Neapolitan fisherman's, which resembles a pointed jelly-bag more than anything else. It is finished by a tassel at the end, and may be of a dark red, or else may match the costume in colour. Many people crochet them in ordinary double crochet, but nearly any material answers for them, such as cashmere or sateen, as the cap can be made to fit the head by means of a wide elastic band run into it. Talking of aprons reminds me that I have seen some very pretty and useful ones made of the ordinary glass cloths, with their red and blue cross-bars, the border for them being made of crewel, or ingrain cotton, stars or sprays, embroidered in the squares of the border. These aprons, being of linen, are, of course, perfect as to their washing capabilities. The bibs of aprons are now gathered into the neck and waist-bands, and handkerchief aprons are more diversified than ever. The last one I saw was very simple, and consisted almost entirely of one large handkerchief, hemmed with a small gathering made to mark the waist-line, about five inches from one of the points. This turned that point into a bib, the gathered part being the waist, the two points on either side being tied back by ribbon strings. A square pocket of plain sateen was placed in the centre.

Everyone is still wearing the jaunty "creole turbans," or "toques"; they are so comfortable, so pretty, and so easily made at home to match any dress. The cost of them is a mere trifle. A net foundation, price sixpence; a quarter of a yard of velvet, 1s 6d, or less; and the top is found at home in the material of the dress, or else in one of the pretty Indian-looking materials to be found in every shop.

And now I must have a little chat about colours. Black and white, of course, are once more in fashion, especially in spots and stripes; and they will remain so during the autumn. Old-gold or buff and dark brown are frequently mixed in hats and bonnets, particularly for young people. Crimson and mauve, deep pink and violet, scarlet and deep plum colour, pale blue and violet, crimson and dark blue, purple and old gold, are all contrasts or harmonies of colour, allowable both in the dress and on the hat. All these facts are useful in guiding us in our way to making up either new or old dresses. Also that cotton and silk are now worn together, and linen and silk also. Cashmere is constantly made up with foulard and sateen, while serge may also be mixed with both. I have lately seen several old silks - especially black ones - "done up" most cleverly with spotted sateens, and made to look almost better than new. The same may be said of the deep red Turkey twill, which has been utilised for gathered fronts, sleeve gatherings, and the balayeuse kiltings; and there is no doubt but that clever people, having old dresses of any kind to "do up," are now revelling in the delights of an almost endless choice of material.

The dress illustration of the month gives a useful afternoon toilette - blue foulard, having spots of various colours. Under-skirt is of silk or cashmere and trimmings of foulard. The flounce is pleated and headed with flat loops of satin arranged in rows. The bodice trimmed with folds of foulard, and a plastron of satin. A satin scarf is folded round the basque, and is trimmed with two rows of loops; the folds are finished at the back by bows of satin. Another bow is placed at the side of the collar. The sleeves are finished with cross folds of satin.

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