Did you ever observe, dear comrade, what an element of caricature lurks in clothes? A short, round coat on a stout man seems to exaggerate his proportions to such a ridiculous degree that the profile of his manly form suggests ?the robust bulge of an old jug.? A bonnet decorated with loops of ribbon and sprays of grass, or flowers that fall aslant, may give a laughably tipsy air to the long face of a saintly matron of pious and conservative ...
Did you ever observe, dear comrade, what an element of caricature lurks in clothes? A short, round coat on a stout man seems to exaggerate his proportions to such a ridiculous degree that the profile of his manly form suggests “the robust bulge of an old jug.”
A bonnet decorated with loops of ribbon and sprays of grass, or flowers that fall aslant, may give a laughably tipsy air to the long face of a saintly matron of pious and conservative habits.
A peaked hat and tight-fitting, long-skirted coat may so magnify the meagre physical endowments of a tall, slender girl that she attains the lank and longish look of a bottle of hock.
Oh! the mocking diablery in strings, wisps of untidy hair, queer trimmings, and limp hats. Alas! that they should have such impish power to detract from the dignity of woman and render man absurd.
Because of his comical attire, an eminent Oxford divine, whose life and works commanded reverence, was once mistaken for an ancient New England spinster in emancipated garments. His smoothly shaven face, framed in crinkly, gray locks, was surmounted by a soft, little, round hat, from the up-turned brim of which dangled a broken string. His long frock-coat reached to just above his loosely fitting gaiters.
The fluttering string, whose only reason for being at all was to keep the queer head-gear from sailing away on the wind, gave a touch of the ludicrous to the boyish hat which, in its turn, lent more drollery than dignity to the sanctified face of the old theologian. Who has not seen just such, or a similar sight, and laughed? Who has not, with the generosity common to us all, concluded these were the mistakes and self-delusions of neighbors, relatives, and friends, in which we had no share?
I understand how it is with you. I am one of you. Before I studied our common errors I smiled at my neighbor's lack of taste, reconstructed my friends, and cast contemptuous criticism upon my enemies. One day I took a look at myself, and realized that “I, too, am laughable on unsuspected occasions.”
The humbling knowledge of seeing myself objectively, gave me courage to speak to the heart of you certain home truths which concern us all, in homely language which we can all understand.
That you may discern the comicality and waggery in ill-chosen clothes, I have endeavored to hint to you in these talks some of the ways gew-gaws and garments make game of us.
May you discover that your dress is not making you a laughable object; but if, by any chance, you should note that your clothes are caricaturing you, take heart. Enjoy the joke with the mirth that heals and heartens, and speedily correct your mistakes.
The lines of your form, the modelling of your face, are they not worthy of your discerning thought? Truly! Whatever detracts from them detracts from sculpture, painting, and poetry, and the world is the loser.
A word to the thinking is sufficient.
• WHAT DRESS MAKES OF US.
• CHAPTER I. HOW WOMEN OF CERTAIN TYPES SHOULD DRESS THEIR HAIR.
• CHAPTER II. HINTS FOR THE SELECTION OF BECOMING AND APPROPRIATE STYLES IN HEAD-GEAR.
• CHAPTER III. LINES THAT SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED AND CONSIDERED IN MAKING COSTUMES.
• CHAPTER IV. HOW PLUMP AND THIN BACKS SHOULD BE CLOTHED.
• CHAPTER V. CORSAGES APPROPRIATE FOR WOMEN WITH UNBEAUTIFULLY MODELLED THROATS AND SHOULDERS.
• CHAPTER VI. HINTS ON DRESS FOR ELDERLY WOMEN.
• CHAPTER VII. HOW MEN CARICATURE THEMSELVES WITH THEIR CLOTHES.