Alta Costura en la historia


Woman as Decoration is intended as a sequel to The Art of Interior Decoration (Grace Wood and Emily Burbank).

Having assisted in setting the stage for woman, the next logical step is the consideration of woman, herself, as an important factor in the decorative scheme of any setting,—the vital spark to animate all interior decoration, private or public. The book in hand is intended as a brief guide for the woman who would understand her own type,—make the most of it, and know how simple a matter it is to be decorative if she will but master the few rules underlying all successful dressing. As the costuming of woman is an art, the history of that art must be known—to a certain extent—by one who would be an intelligent student of our subject. With the assistance of thirty-three illustrations to throw light upon the text, we have tried to tell the beguiling story of decorative woman, as she appears in frescoes and bas reliefs of Ancient Egypt, on Greek vases, the Gothic woman in tapestry and stained glass, woman in painting, stucco and tapestry of the Renaissance, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century woman in portraits.

Contemporary woman's costume is considered, not as fashion, but as decorative line and colour, a distinct contribution to the interior decoration of her own home or other setting. In this department, woman is given suggestions as to the costuming of herself, beautifully and appropriately, in the ball-room, at the opera, in her boudoir, sun-room or on her shaded porch; in her garden; when driving her own car; by the sea, or on the ice.

Woman as Decoration has been planned, in part, also to fill a need very generally expressed for a handbook to serve as guide for beginners in getting up costumes for fancy-dress balls, amateur theatricals, or the professional stage.

We have tried to shed light upon period costumes and point out ways of making any costume effective.

Costume books abound, but so far as we know, this is the first attempt to confine the vast and perplexing subject within the dimensions of a small, accessible volume devoted to the principles underlying the planning of all costumes, regardless of period.

The author does not advocate the preening of her feathers as woman's sole occupation, in any age, much less at this crisis in the making of world history; but she does lay great emphasis on the fact that a woman owes it to herself, her family and the public in general, to be as decorative in any setting, as her knowledge of the art of dressing admits. This knowledge implies an understanding of line, colour, fitness, background, and above all, one's own type. To know one's type, and to have some knowledge of the principles underlying all good dressing, is of serious economic value; it means a saving of time, vitality and money.

The watchword of to-day is efficiency, and the keynote to modern costuming, appropriateness. And so the spirit of the time records itself in the interesting and charming subdivision of woman's attire.

One may follow Woman Decorative in the Orient on vase, fan, screen and kakemono; as she struts in the stiff manner of Egyptian bas reliefs, across walls of ancient ruins, or sits in angular serenity, gazing into the future through the narrow slits of Egyptian eyes, oblivious of time; woman, beautiful in the European sense, and decorative to the superlative degree, on Greek vase and sculptured wall. Here in rhythmic curves, she dandles lovely Cupid on her toe; serves as vestal virgin at a woodland shrine; wears the bronze helmet of Minerva; makes laws, or as Penelope, the wife, wearily awaits her roving lord. She moves in august majesty, a sore-tried queen, and leaps in merry laughter as a care-free slave; pipes, sings and plies the distaff. Sauntering on, down through Gothic Europe, Tudor England, the adolescent Renaissance, Bourbon France, into the picturesque changes of the eighteenth century, we ask, can one possibly escape our theme—Woman as Decoration? No, for she is carved in wood and stone; as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven gleams in the jeweled windows of the church, looks down in placid serenity on lighted altar; is woven in tapestry, in fact dominates all art, painting, stucco or marble, throughout the ages.

If one would know the story of Woman's evolution and retrogression—that rising and falling tide in civilisation—we commend a study of her as she is presented in Art. A knowledge of her costume frequently throws light upon her age; a thorough knowledge of her age will throw light upon her costume.

A study of the essentials of any costume, of any period, trains the eye and mind to be expert in planning costumes for every-day use. One learns quickly to discriminate between details which are ornaments, because they have meaning, and those which are only illiterate superfluities; and one learns to master many other points.

It is not within the province of this book to dwell at length upon national costume, but rather to follow costume as it developed with and reflected caste, after human society ceased to be all alike as to occupation, diversion and interest.

In the world of caste, costume has gradually evolved until it aims through appropriateness, at assisting woman to fulfil her rôle. With peasants who know only the traditional costume of their province, the task must often be done in spite of the costume, which is picturesque or grotesque, inconvenient, even impossible; but long may it linger to divert the eye! Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Scandinavia,—all have an endless variety of costumes, rich in souvenirs of folk history, rainbows of colour and bizarre in line, but it is costuming the woman of fashion which claims our attention.

The succeeding chapters will treat of woman, the vital spark which gives meaning to any setting—indoors, out of doors, at the opera, in the ball-room, on the ice—where you will. Each chapter has to do with modern woman and the historical paragraphs are given primarily to shed light upon her costume.

It is shown that woman's decorative appearance affects her psychology, and that woman's psychology affects her decorative appearance.

Some chapters may, at first glance, seem irrelevant, but those who have seriously studied any art, and then undertaken to tell its story briefly in simple, direct language, with the hope of quickly putting audience or reader in touch with the vital links in the chain of evidence, will understand the author's claim that no detour which illustrates the subject can in justice be termed irrelevant. In the detours often lie invaluable data, for one with a mind for research—whether author or reader. This is especially true in connection with our present task, which involves unravelling some of the threads from the tangled skein of religion, dancing, music, sculpture and painting—that mass of bright and sombre colour, of gold and silver threads, strung with pearls and glittering gems strangely broken by age—which tells the epic-lyric tale of civilisation.

While we state that it is not our aim to make a point of fashion as such, some of our illustrations show contemporary woman as she appears in our homes, on our streets, at the play, in her garden, etc. We have taken examples of women's costumes which are pre-eminently characteristic of the moment in which we write, and as we believe, illustrate those laws upon which we base our deductions concerning woman as decoration. These laws are: appropriateness of her costume to the occasion; consideration of the type of wearer; background against which costume is to be worn; and all decoration (which includes jewels), as detail with raison d'être. The body should be carried with form (in the sporting sense), to assist in giving line to the costume.

The chic woman is the one who understands the art of elimination in costumes. Wear your costumes with conviction—by which we mean decide what picture you will make of yourself, make it and then enjoy it! It is only by letting your personality animate your costume that you make yourself superior to the lay figure or the sawdust doll.


IA Few Hints for the Novice who Would Plan Her Costumes1
 Rules having economic value while aiming at decorativeness.—Lines and colouring emphasised or modified by costuming.—Temperaments affect carriage of the body.—Line of body affects costume.—Technique of controlling the physique.—The highly sensitised woman.—Costuming an art.—Studying types.—Starring one's own good points.—Beauty not so fleeting as is supposed if costume is adapted to its changing aspects.—Masters in art of costuming often discover and star previously unrecognised beauty.—Establishing the habit of those lines and colours in gowns, hats, gloves, parasols, sticks, fans and jewels which are your own.—The intelligent purchaser.—The best dressed women.—Value of understanding one's background.—Learning the art of understanding one's background.—Learning the art of costuming from masters of the art.—How to proceed with this study.—Successful costuming not dependent upon amount of money spent upon it.—An example 
IIThe Laws Underlying All Costuming of Woman23
 Appropriateness keynote of costuming to-day.—Five salient points to be borne in mind when planning a costume.—Where English, French, and American women excel in art of costuming.—Feeling for line.—To make our points clear constant reference to the stage is necessary.—Bakst and Poiret.—Turning to the Orient for line and colour.—Keeping costume in same key as its settings.—How to know your period; its line, colours and characteristic details.—Studying costumes in Gothic illuminations 
IIIHow to Dress Your Type46
 A Few Points Applying to all Costumes.—Background.—Line and colour of costumes to bring out the individuality of wearer.—The chic woman defined.—Intelligent expressing of self in mise-en-scène.—Selecting one's colour scheme 
IVThe Psychology of Clothes54
 Effect of clothes upon manners.—The natural instinct for costuming, "clothes sense."—Costuming affecting psychology of wearer.—Clothes may liberate or shackle the spirit of women, be a tyrant or magician's wand.—Follow colour instinct in clothes as well as housefurnishings 
VEstablish Habits of Carriage Which Create Good Line66
 Woman's line result of habits of a mind controlled by observations, conventions, experiences and attitudes which make her personality.—Training lines of physique from childhood; an example.—A knowledge of how to dress appropriately leads to efficiency 
VIColour In Woman's Costume74
 Colour hall-mark of to-day.—Bakst, Rheinhardt and Granville Barker, teachers of the new colour vocabulary.—PORTABLE BACKGROUNDS 
 Importance of carefully considering extremities.—What constitutes a costume.—Importance of learning how to buy, put on and wear each detail of costume if one would be a decorative picture.—Spats.—Stockings.—Slippers.—Buckles 
VIIIJewelry as Decoration94
 Considered as colour and line not with regard to intrinsic worth.—To complete a costume or furnish keynote upon which to build a costume.—Distinguished jewels with historic associations worn artistically; examples.—Know what jewels are your affair as to colour, size, and shape.—To know what one can and cannot wear in all departments of costuming prepares one to grasp and make use of expert suggestions. How fashions come into being.—One of the rules as to how jewels should be worn.—Gems and paste 
IXWoman Decorative in Her Boudoir111
 Negligée or tea-gown belongs to this intimate setting.—Fortuny the artist designer of tea-gowns.—Sibyl Sanderson.—The decorative value of a long string of beads.—Beauty which is the result of conscious effort.—Bien soiné a hall-mark of our period 
XWoman Decorative in Her Sun-Room116
 Since a winter sun-room is planned to give the illusion of summer, one's costuming for it should carry out the same idea.—The sun-room provides a means for using up last summer's costumes.—The hat, if worn, should suggest repose, not action.—The age and habits of those occupying a sun-room dictate the exact type of costume to be worn.—Colour scheme 
XII. Woman Decorative in Her Garden124
 In the garden the costume should have a decorative outline but simple colour scheme which harmonises with background of flowers.—White, grey, or one note of colour preferable.—The flowers furnish variety and colour.—Lady de Bathe (Mrs. Langtry) in her garden at Newmarket, England 
 II. Woman Decorative on the Lawn 
 One may be a flower or a bunch of flowers for colour against the unbroken sweep of green underfoot and background of shrubs and trees.—Chic outline and interesting detail, as well as colour, of distinct value in a costume for lawn.—How to cultivate an unerring instinct for what is a successful costume for any given occasion 
 III. Woman Decorative on the Beach 
 If one would be a contribution to the picture, figure as white or vivid colour on beach, deck of steamer or yacht 
XIIWoman As Decoration When Skating134
 Line of the body all important.—The necessity of mastering form to gain efficiency in any line; examples.—The traditional skating costume has the lead 
XIIIWoman Decorative in Her Motor Car 145
 The colour of one's car inside and out important factor in effect produced by one's carefully chosen costume 
XIVHow To Go About Planning A Period Costume154
 Period.—Background.—Outline.—Materials.—Colour scheme.—Detail with meaning.—Authorities.—Consulting portraits by great masters.—Geraldine Farrar.—Distinguished collection of costume plates.—One result of planning period costumes is the opening up of vistas in history.—Every detail of a period costume has its fascinating story worth the knowing.—Brief historic outline to serve as key to the rich storehouse of important volumes on costumes and the distinguished textless books of costume plates.—Period of fashions in costumes developing without nationality.—Nationality declared in artistry of workmanship and the modification or exaggeration of an essential detail according to national or individual temperament.—Evolution of woman's costume.—Assyria.—Egypt.—Byzantium.—Greece.—Rome.—Gothic Europe.—Europe of the Renaissance,—seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century through Mid-Victorian period.—Cord tied about waist origin of costumes for women and men 

The Story Of Period Costumes

A Résumé
 Woman as seen in Egyptian sculpture-relief; on Greek vase; in Gothic stained glass; carved stone; tapestry; stucco; and painting of the Renaissance; eighteenth and nineteenth century portraits.—Art throughout the ages reflects woman in every rôle; as companion, ruler, slave, saint, plaything, teacher, and voluntary worker.—Evolution of outline of woman's costume, including change in neck; shoulder; evolution of sleeve; girdle; hair; head-dress; waist line; petticoat.—Gradual disappearance of long, flowing lines characteristic of Greek and Gothic periods.—Demoralisation of Nature's shoulder and hip-line culminates in the Velasquez edition of Spanish fashion and the Marie Antoinette extravaganzas 
XVIDevelopment Of Gothic Costume192
 Gothic outline first seen as early as fourth century.—Costume of Roman-Christian women.—Ninth century.—The Gothic cape of twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries made familiar on the Virgin and saints in sacred art.—The tunic.—Restraint in line, colour, and detail gradually disappear with increased circulation of wealth until in fifteenth century we see humanity over-weighted with rich brocades, laces, massive jewels, etc.

The Virgin in Art

Late Middle Ages.—Sovereignty of the Virgin as explained in "The Cathedrals of Mont St. Michel and Chartres," by Henry Adams.—Woman as the Virgin dominates art of twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries.—The girdle.—The round neck.—The necklace, etc.

The Renaissance

Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries
 Pointed and other head-dresses with floating veils.—Neck low off shoulders.—Skirts part as waist-line over petticoat.—Wealth of Roman Empire through new trade channels had led to importation of richly coloured Oriental stuffs.—Same wealth led to establishing looms in Europe.—Clothes of man like his over-ornate furniture show debauched and vulgar taste.—The good Gothic lines live on in costumes of nuns and priests.—The Davanzati Palace collection, Florence, Italy.—Long pointed shoes of the Middle Ages give way to broad square ones.—Gorgeous materials.—Hats.—Hair.—Sleeves.—Skirts.—Crinolines.—Coats.—Overskirts draped to develop into panniers of Marie Antoinette's time.—Directoire reaction to simple lines and materials 
XVIIIEighteenth Century233
 Political upheavals.—Scientific discoveries.—Mechanical inventions.—Chemical achievements.—Chintz or stamped linens of Jouy near Versailles.—Painted wall-papers after the Chinese.—Simplicity in costuming of woman and man 
XIXWoman In The Victorian Period241
 First seventy years of nineteenth century.—"Historic Dress in America" by Elizabeth McClellan.—Hoops, wigs, absurdly furbished head-dresses, paper-soled shoes, bonnets enormous, laces of cobweb, shawls from India, rouge and hair-grease, patches and powder, laced waists, and "vapours."—Man still decorative 
XXSex In Costuming 244
 "European dress."—Progenitor of costume worn by modern men.—The time when no distinction was made between materials used for man and woman.—Velvets, silks, satins, laces, elaborate cuffs and collars, embroidery, jewels and plumes as much his as hers 
XXILine And Colour Of Costumes In Hungary252
 In a sense colour a sign of virility.—Examples.—Studying line and colour in Magyar Land.—In Krakau, Poland,—A highly decorative Polish peasant and her setting 
XXIIStudying Line and Colour in Russia265
 Kiev our headquarters.—Slav temperament an integral part of Russian nature expressed in costuming as well as folk songs and dances of the people.—Russian woman of the fashionable world.—The Russian pilgrims as we saw them tramping over the frozen roads to the shrines of Kiev, the Holy City and ancient capital of Russia at the close of the Lenten season.—Their costumes and their psychology 
XXIIIMark Twain's Love of Colour in all Costuming276
 Wrapped in a crimson silk dressing-gown on a balcony of his Italian villa in Connecticut, Mark Twain dilated on the value of brilliant colour in man's costuming.—His creative, picturing-making mind in action.—Other themes followed 
XXIVThe Artist And His Costume283
 A God-given sense of the beautiful.—The artist nature has always assumed poetic license in the matter of dress.—Many so-called affectations have raison d'être.—Responding to texture, colour and line as some do to music and scenery.—How Japanese actors train themselves to act women's parts by wearing woman's costumes off the stage.—This cultivates the required feeling for the costumes.—The woman devotee to sports when costumed.—Richard Wagner's responsiveness to colour and texture.—Clyde Fitch's sensitiveness to the same.—The wearing of jewels by men.—King Edward VII.—A remarkable topaz worn by a Spaniard.—Its undoing as a decorative object through its resetting 
XXVIdiosyncrasies in Costume292
 Fashions in dress all powerful because they seize upon the public mind.—They become the symbol of manners and affect human psychology.—Affectations of the youth of Athens.—Les Merveilleux, Les Encroyables, the Illuminati.—Schiller during the Storm and Stress Period.—Venetian belles of the sixteenth century.—The Cavalier Servente of the seventeenth century.—Mme. Récamier scandalised London in eighteenth century by appearing costumed à la Greque.—Mme. Jerome Bonaparte, a Baltimore belle, followed suit in Philadelphia.—Hour-glass waist-line and attendant "vapours" were thought to be in the rôle of a high-born Victorian miss.—Appropriateness the contribution of our day to the story of woman's costuming 
XXVINationality In Costume296
 When seen with perspective the costumes of various periods appear as distinct types though to the man or woman of any particular period the variations of the type are bewildering and misleading.—Having followed the evolution of the costume of woman of fashion which comes under the general head of European dress, before closing we turn to quite another field, that of national costumes.—Progress levels national differences, therefore the student must make the most of opportunities to observe.—Experiences in Hungary 
 Historical interest attaches to fashions in woman's costuming.—One of the missions of art is to make subtle the obvious.—Examples as seen in 1917 
XXVIIIWoman Costumed for Her War Job313
 The Pageant of Life shows that woman has played opposite man with consistency and success throughout the ages.—Apropos of this, we quote from Philadelphia Public Ledger, for March 25, 1917, an impression of a woman of to-day costumed appropriately to get efficiency in her war work 
 In Conclusion324
 A brief review of the chief points to be kept in mind by those interested in the costuming of woman so that she figures as a decorative contribution to any setting 


IMme. Geraldine Farrar in Greek Costume as Thaïs
Sketched by Thelma Cudlipp
IIWoman in Ancient Egyptian Sculpture-Relief9
IIIWoman in Greek Art19
IVWoman on Greek Vase29
VWoman in Gothic Art
Portrait Showing Pointed Head-dress
VIWoman in Art of the Renaissance
Sculpture-relief in Terra-cotta: The Virgin
VIIWoman in Art of the Renaissance
Sculpture-relief in Terra-cotta: Holy Women
VIIITudor England
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth
IXSpain--Velasquez Portrait79
XEighteenth Century England
Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough
XIBourbon France
Portrait of Marie Antoinette by Madame Vigée Le Brun
XIICostume of Empire Period
An English Portrait
XIIIEighteenth Century Costume
Portrait by Gilbert Stuart
XIVVictorian Period (About 1840)
Mme. Adeline Genée in Costume
XVLate Nineteenth Century (About 1890) A Portrait by John S. Sargent139
XVIA Modern Portrait
By John W. Alexander
XVIIA Portrait of Mrs. Philip M. Lydig
By I. Zuloaga
XVIIIMrs. Langtry (Lady de Bathe) in Evening Wrap169
XIXMrs. Condé Nast in Street Dress
Photograph by Baron de Meyer
XXMrs. Condé Nast in Evening Dress189
XXIMrs. Condé Nast in Garden Costume199
XXIIMrs. Condé Nast in Fortuny Tea Gown209
XXIIIMrs. Vernon Castle in Ball Costume219
XXIVMrs. Vernon Castle in Afternoon Costume--Winter229
XXVMrs. Vernon Castle in Afternoon Costume--Summer239
XXVIMrs. Vernon Castle Costumed À La Guerre for a Walk249
XXVIIMrs. Vernon Castle--A Fantasy259
XXVIIIModern Skating Costume--1917
Winner of Amateur Championship of Fancy Skating
XXIX AModern Silhouette--1917
Tailor-Made. Drawn from Life by Elisabeth Searcy
XXXTappé's Creations
Sketched for Woman as Decoration by Thelma Cudlipp
XXXIMiss Elsie De Wolfe in Costume of Red Cross Nurse299
XXXIIMme. Geraldine Farrar in Spanish Costume as Carmen
From Photograph by Courtesy of Vanity Fair
XXXIIIMme. Geraldine Farrar in Japanese Costume as Madame Butterfly
Sketched by Thelma Cudlipp

"The Communion of men upon earth abhors identity more than nature does a vacuum. Nothing so shocks and repels the living soul as a row of exactly similar things, whether it consists of modern houses or of modern people, and nothing so delights and edifies as distinction."

Coventry Patmore.

"Whatever piece of dress conceals a woman's figure, is bound, in justice, to do so in a picturesque way."

From an Early Victorian Fashion Paper.

"When was that 'simple time of our fathers' when people were too sensible to care for fashions? It certainly was before the Pharaohs, and perhaps before the Glacial Epoch."

W. G. Sumner, in Folkways.



HERE are a few rules with regard to the costuming of woman which if understood put one a long way on the road toward that desirable goal—decorativeness, and have economic value as well. They are simple rules deduced by those who have made a study of woman's lines and colouring, and how to emphasise or modify them by dress.

Temperaments are seriously considered by experts in this art, for the carriage of a woman and her manner of wearing her clothes depends in part upon her temperament. Some women instinctively feel line and are graceful in consequence, as we have said, but where one is not born with this instinct, it is possible to become so thoroughly schooled in the technique of controlling the physique—poise of the body, carriage of the head, movement of the limbs, use of feet and hands, that a sense of line is acquired. Study portraits by great masters, the movements of those on the stage, the carriage and positions natural to graceful women. A graceful woman is invariably a woman highly sensitised, but remember that "alive to the finger tips"—or toe tips, may be true of the woman with few gestures, a quiet voice and measured words, as well as the intensely active type.

The highly sensitised woman is the one who will wear her clothes with individuality, whether she be rounded or slender. To dress well is an art, and requires concentration as any other art does. You know the old story of the boy, who when asked why his necktie was always more neatly tied than those of his companions, answered: "I put my whole mind on it." There you have it! The woman who puts her whole mind on the costuming of herself is naturally going to look better than the woman who does not, and having carefully studied her type, she will know her strong points and her weak ones, and by accentuating the former, draw attention from the latter. There is a great difference, however, between concentrating on dress until an effect is achieved, and then turning the mind to other subjects, and that tiresome dawdling, indefinite, fruitless way, to arrive at no convictions. This variety of woman never gets dress off her chest.

The catechism of good dressing might be given in some such form as this: Are you fat? If so, never try to look thin by compressing your figure or confining your clothes in such a way as to clearly outline the figure. Take a chance from your size. Aim at long lines, and what dressmakers call an "easy fit," and the use of solid colours. Stripes, checks, plaids, spots and figures of any kind draw attention to dimensions; a very fat woman looks larger if her surface is marked off into many spaces. Likewise a very thin woman looks thinner if her body on the imagination of the public subtracting is marked off into spaces absurdly few in number. A beautifully proportioned and rounded figure is the one to indulge in striped, checked, spotted or flowered materials or any parti-coloured costumes.

Never try to make a thin woman look anything but thin. Often by accentuating her thinness, a woman can make an effect as type, which gives her distinction. If she were foolish enough to try to look fatter, her lines would be lost without attaining the contour of the rounded type. There are of course fashions in types; pale ash blonds, red-haired types (auburn or golden red with shell pink complexions), dark haired types with pale white skin, etc., and fashions in figures are as many and as fleeting.

Artists are sometimes responsible for these vogues. One hears of the Rubens type, or the Sir Joshua Reynolds, Hauptner, Burne-Jones, Greuse, Henner, Zuloaga, and others. The artist selects the type and paints it, the attention of the public is attracted to it and thereafter singles it out. We may prefer soft, round blonds with dimpled smiles, but that does not mean that such indisputable loveliness can challenge the attractions of a slender serpentine tragedy-queen, if the latter has established the vogue of her type through the medium of the stage or painter's brush.

A woman well known in the world of fashion both sides of the Atlantic, slender and very tall, has at times deliberately increased that height with a small high-crowned hat, surmounted by a still higher feather. She attained distinction without becoming a caricature, by reason of her obvious breeding and reserve. Here is an important point. A woman of quiet and what we call conservative type, can afford to wear conspicuous clothes if she wishes, whereas a conspicuous type must be reserved in her dress. By following this rule the overblown rose often makes herself beautiful. Study all types of woman. Beauty is a wonderful and precious thing, and not so fleeting either as one is told. The point is, to take note, not of beauty's departure, but its gradually changing aspect, and adapt costume, line and colour, to the demands of each year's alterations in the individual. Make the most of grey hair; as you lose your colour, soften your tones.

Always star your points. If you happen to have an unusual amount of hair, make it count, even though the fashion be to wear but little. We recall the beautiful and unique Madame X. of Paris, blessed by the gods with hair like bronze, heavy, long, silken and straight. She wore it wrapped about her head and finally coiled into a French twist on the top, the effect closely resembling an old Roman helmet. This was design, not chance, and her well-modeled features were the sort to stand the severe coiffure, Madame's husband, always at her side that season on Lake Lucerne, was curator of the Louvre. We often wondered whether the idea was his or hers. She invariably wore white, not a note of colour, save her hair; even her well-bred fox terrier was snowy white.

Worth has given distinction to more than one woman by recognising her possibilities, if kept to white, black, greys and mauves. A beautiful Englishwoman dressed by this establishment, always a marked figure at whatever embassy her husband happens to be posted, has never been seen wearing anything in the evening but black, or white, with very simple lines, cut low and having a narrow train.


Woman in ancient Egyptian sculpture-relief about 1000 B.C.

We have here a husband and wife. (Metropolitan Museum.)

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Woman in Ancient Egyptian

It may take courage on the part of dressmaker, as well as the woman in question, but granted you have a distinct style of your own, and understand it, it is the part of wisdom to establish the habit of those lines and colours which are yours, and then to avoid experiments with outré lines and shades. They are almost sure to prove failures. Taking on a colour and its variants is an economic, as well as an artistic measure. Some women have so systematised their costuming in order to be decorative, at the least possible expenditure of vitality and time (these are the women who dress to live, not live to dress), that they know at a glance, if dress materials, hats, gloves, jewels, colour of stones and style of setting, are for them. It is really a joy to shop with this kind of woman. She has definitely fixed in her mind the colours and lines of her rooms, all her habitual settings, and the clothes and accessories best for her. And with the eye of an artist, she passes swiftly by the most alluring bargains, calculated to undermine firm resolution. In fact one should not say that this woman shops; she buys. What is more, she never wastes money, though she may spend it lavishly.

Some of the best dressed women (by which we always mean women dressed fittingly for the occasion, and with reference to their own particular types) are those with decidedly limited incomes.

There are women who suggest chiffon and others brocade; women who call for satin, and others for silk; women for sheer muslins, and others for heavy linen weaves; women for straight brims, and others for those that droop; women for leghorns, and those they do not suit; women for white furs, and others for tawny shades. A woman with red in her hair is the one to wear red fox.

If you cannot see for yourself what line and colour do to you, surely you have some friend who can tell you. In any case, there is always the possibility of paying an expert for advice. Allow yourself to be guided in the reaching of some decision about yourself and your limitations, as well as possibilities. You will by this means increase your decorativeness, and what is of more serious importance, your economic value.

A marked example of woman decorative was seen on the recent occasion when Miss Isadora Duncan danced at the Metropolitan Opera House, for the benefit of French artists and their families, victims of the present war. Miss Duncan was herself so marvelous that afternoon, as she poured her art, aglow and vibrant with genius, into the mould of one classic pose after another, that most of her audience had little interest in any other personality, or effect. Some of us, however, when scanning the house between the acts, had our attention caught and held by a charmingly decorative woman occupying one of the boxes, a quaint outline in silver-grey taffeta, exactly matching the shade of the woman's hair, which was cut in Florentine fashion forming an aureole about her small head,—a becoming frame for her fine, highly sensitive face. The deep red curtains and upholstery in the box threw her into relief, a lovely miniature, as seen from a distance. There were no doubt other charming costumes in the boxes and stalls that afternoon, but none so successful in registering a distinct decorative effect. The one we refer to was suitable, becoming, individual, and reflected personality in a way to indicate an extraordinary sensitiveness to values, that subtle instinct which makes the artist.

With very young women it is easy to be decorative under most conditions. Almost all of them are decorative, as seen in our present fashions, but to produce an effect in an opera box is to understand the carrying power of colour and line. The woman in the opera box has the same problem to solve as the woman on the stage: her costume must be effective at a distance. Such a costume may be white, black and any colour; gold, silver, steel or jet; lace, chiffon—what you will—provided the fact be kept in mind that your outline be striking and the colour an agreeable contrast against the lining of the box. Here, outline is of chief importance, the silhouette must be definite; hair, ornaments, fan, cut of gown, calculated to register against the background. In the stalls, colour and outline of any single costume become a part of the mass of colour and black and white of the audience. It is difficult to be a decorative factor under these conditions, yet we can all recall women of every age, who so costume themselves as to make an artistic, memorable impression, not only when entering opera, theatre or concert hall, but when seated. These are the women who understand the value of elimination, restraint, colour harmony and that chic which results in part from faultless grooming. To-day it is not enough to possess hair which curls ideally: it must, willy nilly, curl conventionally!

If it is necessary, prudent or wise that your purchases for each season include not more than six new gowns, take the advice of an actress of international reputation, who is famous for her good dressing in private life, and make a point of adding one new gown to each of the six departments of your wardrobe. Then have the cleverness to appear in these costumes whenever on view, making what you have fill in between times.

To be clear, we would say, try always to begin a season with one distinguished evening gown, one smart tailor suit, one charming house gown, one tea gown, one negligée and one sport suit. If you are needing many dancing frocks, which have hard wear, get a simple, becoming model, which your little dressmaker, seamstress or maid can copy in inexpensive but becoming colours. You can do this in Summer and Winter alike, and with dancing frocks, tea gowns, negligées and even sport suits. That is, if you have smart, up-to-date models to copy.

One woman we know bought the finest quality jersey cloth by the yard, and had a little dressmaker copy exactly a very expensive skirt and sweater. It seems incredible, but she saved on a ready made suit exactly like it forty dollars, and on one made to measure by an exclusive house, one hundred dollars! Remember, however, that there was an artist back of it all and someone had to pay for that perfect model, to start with. In the case we cite, the woman had herself bought the original sport suit from an importer who is always in advance with Paris models.

If you cannot buy the designs and workmanship of artists, take advantage of all opportunities to see them; hats and gowns shown at openings, or when your richer friends are ordering. In this way you will get ideas to make use of and you will avoid looking home-made, than which, no more damning phrase can be applied to any costume. As a matter of fact it implies a hat or gown lacking an artist's touch and describes many a one turned out by long-established and largely patronised firms.


A Greek vase. Dionysiac scenes about 460 B.C. Interesting costumes. (Metropolitan Museum.)

Metropolitan Museum of Art Woman on Greek Vase

The only satisfactory copy of a Fortuny tea gown we have ever seen accomplished away from the supervision of Fortuny himself, was the exquisite hand-work of a young American woman who lives in New York, and makes her own gowns and hats, because her interest and talent happen to be in that direction. She told a group of friends the other day, to whom she was showing a dainty chiffon gown, posed on a form, that to her, the planning and making of a lovely costume had the same thrilling excitement that the painting of a picture had for the artist in the field of paint and canvas. This same young woman has worked constantly since the European war began, both in London and New York, on the shapeless surgical shirts used by the wounded soldiers. In this, does she outrank her less accomplished sisters? Yes, for the technique she has achieved by making her own costumes makes her swift and economical, both in the cutting of her material and in the actual sewing and she is invaluable as a buyer of materials.



HAT every costume is either right or wrong is not a matter of general knowledge. "It will do," or "It is near enough" are verdicts responsible for beauty hidden and interest destroyed. Who has not witnessed the mad mental confusion of women and men put to it to decide upon costumes for some fancy-dress ball, and the appalling ignorance displayed when, at the costumer's, they vaguely grope among battered-looking garments, accepting those proffered, not really knowing how the costume they ask for should look?

Absurd mistakes in period costumes are to be taken more or less seriously according to temperament. But where is the fair woman who will say that a failure to emerge from a dressmaker's hands in a successful costume is not a tragedy? Yet we know that the average woman, more often than not, stands stupefied before the infinite variety of materials and colours of our twentieth century, and unless guided by an expert, rarely presents the figure, chez-elle, or when on view in public places, which she would or could, if in possession of the few rules underlying all successful dressing, whatever the century or circumstances.

Six salient points are to be borne in mind when planning a costume, whether for a fancy-dress ball or to be worn as one goes about one's daily life:

First, appropriateness to occasion, station and age;

Second, character of background you are to appear against (your setting);

Third, what outline you wish to present to observers (the period of costume);

Fourth, what materials of those in use during period selected you will choose;

Fifth, what colours of those characteristic of period you will use;

Sixth, the distinction between those details which are obvious contributions to the costume, and those which are superfluous, because meaningless or line-destroying.

Let us remind our reader that the woman who dresses in perfect taste often spends far less money than she who has contracted the habit of indefiniteness as to what she wants, what she should want, and how to wear what she gets.

Where one woman has used her mind and learned beyond all wavering what she can and what she cannot wear, thousands fill the streets by day and places of amusement by night, who blithely carry upon their persons costumes which hide their good points and accentuate their bad ones.

The rara avis among women is she who always presents a fashionable outline, but so subtly adapted to her own type that the impression made is one of distinct individuality.

One knows very well how little the average costume counts in a theatre, opera house or ball-room. It is a question of background again. Also you will observe that the costume which counts most individually, is the one in a key higher or lower than the average, as with a voice in a crowded room.

The chief contribution of our day to the art of making woman decorative is the quality of appropriateness. I refer of course to the woman who lives her life in the meshes of civilisation. We have defined the smart woman as she who wears the costume best suited to each occasion when that occasion presents itself. Accepting this definition, we must all agree that beyond question the smartest women, as a nation, are English women, who are so fundamentally convinced as to the invincible law of appropriateness that from the cradle to the grave, with them evening means an evening gown; country clothes are suited to country uses and a tea-gown is not a bedroom negligée. Not even in Rome can they be prevailed upon "to do as the Romans do."

Apropos of this we recall an experience in Scotland. A house party had gathered for the shooting,—English men and women. Among the guests were two Americans; done to a turn by Redfern. It really turned out to be a tragedy, as they saw it, for though their cloth skirts were short, they were silk-lined; outing shirts were of crêpe—not flannel; tan boots, but thinly soled; hats most chic, but the sort that drooped in a mist. Well, those two American girls had to choose between long days alone, while the rest tramped the moors, or to being togged out in borrowed tweeds, flannel shirts and thick-soled boots.


Greek Kylix. Signed by Hieron, about 400 B.C. Athenian. The woman wears one of the gowns Fortuny (Paris) has reproduced as a modern tea gown. It is in two pieces. The characteristic short tunic reaches just below waist line in front and hangs in long, fine pleats (sometimes cascaded folds) under the arms, the ends of which reach below knees. The material is not cut to form sleeves; instead two oblong pieces of material are held together by small fastenings at short intervals, showing upper arm through intervening spaces. The result in appearance is similar to a kimono sleeve. (Metropolitan Museum.)

Metropolitan Museum of Art Woman in Greek Art about 400 B.C.

That was some years back. We are a match for England to-day, in the open, but have a long way to go before we wear with equal conviction, and therefore easy grace, tea-gown and evening dress. Both how and when still annoy us as a nation. On the street we are supreme when tailleur. In carriage attire the French woman is supreme, by reason of that innate Latin coquetry which makes her feel line and its significance. The ideal pose for any hat is a French secret.

The average woman is partially aware that if she would be a decorative being, she must grasp conclusively two points: first, the limitations of her natural outline; secondly, a knowledge of how nearly she can approach the outline demanded by fashion without appearing a caricature, which is another way of saying that each woman should learn to recognise her own type. The discussion of silhouette has become a popular theme. In fact it would be difficult to find a maker of women's costumes so remote and unread as not to have seized and imbedded deep in her vocabulary that mystic word.

To make our points clear, constant reference to the stage is necessary; for from stage effects we are one and all free to enjoy and learn. Nowhere else can the woman see so clearly presented the value of having what she wears harmonise with the room she wears it in, and the occasion for which it is worn.

Not all plays depicting contemporary life are plays of social life, staged and costumed in a chic manner. What is taught by the modern stage, as shown by Bakst, Reinhardt, Barker, Urban, Jones, the Portmanteau Theatre and Washington Square Players, is values, as the artist uses the term—not fashions; the relative importance of background, outline, colour, texture of material and how to produce harmonious effects by the judicious combination of furnishings and costumes.

To-day, when we want to say that a costume or the interior decoration of a house is the last word in modern line and colour, we are apt to call it à la Bakst, meaning of course Leon Bakst, whose American "poster" was the Russian Ballet. If you have not done so already, buy or borrow the wonderful Bakst book, showing reproductions in their colours of his extraordinary drawings, the originals of which are owned by private individuals or museums, in Paris, Petrograd, London, and New York. They are outré to a degree, yet each one suggests the whole or parts of costumes for modern woman—adorable lines, unbelievable combinations of colour! No wonder Poiret, the Paris dressmaker, seized upon Bakst as designer (or was it Bakst who seized upon Poiret?).

Bakst got his inspiration in the Orient. As a bit of proof, for your own satisfaction, there is a book entitled Six Monuments of Chinese Sculpture, by Edward Chauvannes, published in 1914, by G. Van Oest & Cie., of Brussels and Paris. The author, with a highly commendable desire to perpetuate for students a record of the most ancient speciments of Chinese sculpture, brought to Paris and sold there, from time to time, to art-collectors, from all over the world; selected six fine speciments as theme of text and for illustrations.

Plate 23 in this collection shows a woman whose costume in outline might have been taken from Bakst or even Vogue. But put it the other way round: the Vogue artist to-day—we use the word as a generic term—finds inspiration through museums and such works as the above. This is particularly true as our little handbook goes into print, for the reason that the great war between the Central Powers and the Entente has to a certain extent checked the invention and material output of Europe, and driven designers of and dealers in costumes for women, to China and Japan.

Our great-great-grandmothers here in America wore Paris fashions shown on the imported fashion dolls and made up in brocades from China, by the Colonial mantua makers. So we are but repeating history.

To-day, war, which means horror, ugliness, loss of ideals and illusions, holds most of the world in its grasp, and we find creative artists—apostles of the Beautiful, seeking the Orient because it is remote from the great world struggle. We hear that Edmund Dulac (who has shown in a superlative manner, woman decorative, when illustrating the Arabian Nights and other well-known books), is planning a flight to the Orient. He says that he longs to bury himself far from carnage, in the hope of wooing back his muse.

If this subject of background, line and colour, in relation to costuming of woman, interests you, there are many ways of getting valuable points. One of them, as we have said, is to walk through galleries looking at pictures only as decorations; that is, colour and line against the painter's background.

Fashions change, in dress, arrangement of hair, jewels, etc., but this does not affect values. It is la ligne, the grand gesture, or line fraught with meaning and balance and harmony of colour.

The reader knows the colour scheme of her own rooms and the character of gowns she is planning, and for suggestions as to interesting colour against colour, she can have no higher authority than the experience of recognised painters. Some develop rapidly in this study of values.

If your rooms are so-called period rooms, you need not of necessity dress in period costumes, but what is extremely important, if you would not spoil your period room, nor fail to be a decorative contribution when in it, is that you make a point of having the colour and texture of your house gowns in the same key as the hangings and upholstery of your room. White is safe in any room, black is at times too strong. It depends in part upon the size of your room. If it is small and in soft tones, delicate harmonising shades will not obtrude themselves as black can and so reduce the effect of space. This is the case not only with black, but with emerald green, decided shades of red, royal blue, and purple or deep yellows. If artistic creations, these colours are all decorative in a room done in light tones, provided the room is large.

A Louis XVI salon is far more beautiful if the costumes are kept in Louis XVI colouring and all details, such as lace, jewelry, fans, etc., kept strictly within the picture; fine in design, delicate in colouring, workmanship and quality of material. Beyond these points one may follow the outline demanded by the fashion of the moment, if desired. But remember that a beautiful, interesting room, furnished with works of art, demands a beautiful, interesting costume, if the woman in question would sustain the impression made by her rooms, to the arranging of which she has given thought, time and vitality, to say nothing of financial outlay; she must take her own decorative appearance seriously.


Example of the pointed head-dress, carefully concealed hair (in certain countries at certain periods of history, a sign of modesty), round necklace and very long close sleeves characteristic of fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Observe angle at which head-dress is worn.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Woman in Gothic Art
Portrait showing pointed head-dress

The writer has passed wonderful hours examining rare illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages (twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), missals, "Hours" of the Virgin, and Breviaries, for the sole purpose of studying woman's costumes,—their colour, line and details, as depicted by the old artists. Gothic costumes in Gothic interiors, and Early Renaissance costumes in Renaissance interiors.

The art of moderns in various media, has taken from these creations of mediæval genius, more than is generally realized. We were looking at a rare illuminated Gothic manuscript recently, from which William Morris drew inspirations and ideas for the books he made. It is a monumental achievement of the twelfth century, a mass book, written and illuminated in Flanders; at one time in the possession of a Cistercian monastery, but now one of the treasures in the noted private collection made by the late J. Pierpont Morgan. The pages are of vellum and the illuminations show the figures of saints in jewel-like colours on backgrounds of pure gold leaf. The binding of this book,—sides of wood, held together by heavy white vellum, hand-tooled with clasps of thin silver, is the work of Morris himself and very characteristic of his manner. He patterned his hand-made books after these great models, just as he worked years to duplicate some wonderful old piece of furniture, realising so well the magic which lies in consecrated labour, that labour which takes no account of time, nor pay, but is led on by the vision of perfection possessing the artist's soul.

We know women who have copied the line, colour and material of costumes depicted in Gothic illuminations that they might be in harmony with their own Gothic rooms. One woman familiar with this art, has planned a frankly modern room, covering her walls with gold Japanese fibre, gilding her woodwork and doors, using the brilliant blues, purples and greens of the old illuminations in her hangings, upholstery and cushions, and as a striking contribution to the decorative scheme, costumes herself in white, some soft, clinging material such as crêpe de chine, liberty satin or chiffon velvet, which take the mediæval lines, in long folds. She wears a silver girdle formed of the hand-made clasps of old religious books, and her rings, neck chains and earrings are all of hand-wrought silver, with precious stones cut in the ancient way and irregularly set. This woman got her idea of the effectiveness of white against gold from an ancient missal in a famous private collection, which shows the saints all clad in marvellous white against gold leaf.

Whistler's house at 2 Cheyne Road, London, had a room the dado and doors of which were done in gold, on which he and two of his pupils painted the scattered petals of white and pink chrysanthemums. Possibly a Persian or Japanese effect, as Whistler leaned that way, but one sees the same idea in an illumination of the early sixteenth century; "Hours" of the Virgin and Breviary, made for Eleanor of Portugal, Queen of John II. The decorations here are in the style of the Renaissance, not Gothic, and some think Memling had a hand in the work. The borders of the illumination, characteristic of the Bruges School, are gold leaf on which is painted, in the most realistic way, an immense variety of single flowers, small roses, pansies, violets, daisies, etc., and among them butterflies and insects. This border surrounds the pictures which illustrate the text. Always the marvellous colour, the astounding skill in laying it on to the vellum pages, an unforgettable lesson in the possibility of colour applied effectively to costumes, when background is kept in mind. This Breviary was bound in green velvet and clasped with hand-wrought silver, for Cardinal Rodrigue de Castro (1520-1600) of Spain. It is now in the private collection of Mr. Morgan. The cover alone gives one great emotion, genuine ancient velvet of the sixteenth century, to imitate which taxes the ingenuity of the most skilful of modern manufacturers.



A Few Points Applying to All Costumes

EEDLESS to say, when considering woman's costumes, for ordinary use, in their relation to background, unless some chameleon-like material be invented to take on the colour of any background, one must be content with the consideration of one's own rooms, porches, garden, opera-box or automobile, etc. For a gown to be worn when away from home, when lunching, at receptions or dinners, the first consideration must be becomingness,—a careful selection of line and colour that bring out the individuality of the wearer. When away from one's own setting, personality is one of the chief assets of every woman. Remember, individuality is nature's gift to each human being. Some are more markedly different than others, but we have all seen a so-called colourless woman transformed into surprising loveliness when dressed by an artist's instinct. A delicate type of blond, with fair hair, quiet eyes and faint shell-pink complexion, can be snuffed out by too strong colours. Remember that your ethereal blond is invariably at her best in white, black (never white and black in combination unless black with soft white collars and frills) and delicate pastel shades.


Fifteenth-century costume. "Virgin and Child" in painted terra-cotta.

It is by Andrea Verrocchio, and now in Metropolitan Museum. We have here an illustration of the costume, so often shown on the person of the Virgin in the art of the Middle Ages.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Woman in Art of the Renaissance Sculpture-Relief in Terra-Cotta: The Virgin

The richly-toned brunette comes into her own in reds, yellows and low-tones of strong blue.

Colourless jewels should adorn your perfect blond, colourful gems your glowing brunette.

What of those betwixt and between? In such cases let complexion and colour of eyes act as guide in the choice of colours.

One is familiar with various trite rules such as match the eyes, carry out the general scheme of your colouring, by which is meant, if you are a yellow blond, go in for yellows, if your hair is ash-brown, your eyes but a shade deeper, and your skin inclined to be lifeless in tone, wear beaver browns and content yourself with making a record in harmony, with no contrasting note.

Just here let us say that the woman in question must at the very outset decide whether she would look pretty or chic, sacrificing the one for the other, or if she insists upon both, carefully arrange a compromise. As for example, combine a semi-picture hat with a semi-tailored dress.

The strictly chic woman of our day goes in for appropriateness; the lines of the latest fashion, but adapted to bring out her own best points, while concealing her bad ones, and an insistance upon a colour and a shade of colour, sufficiently definite to impress the beholder at a glance. This type of woman as a rule keeps to a few colours, possibly one or two and their varieties, and prefers gowns of one material rather than combinations of materials. Though she possess both style and beauty, she elects to emphasise style.

In the case of the other woman, who would star her face at the expense of her tout ensemble, colour is her first consideration, multiplication of detail and intelligent expressing of herself in her mise-en-scène. Seduisant, instead of chic is the word for this woman.

Your black-haired woman with white skin and dark, brilliant eyes, is the one who can best wear emerald green and other strong colours. The now fashionable mustard, sage green, and bright magentas are also the affaire of this woman with clear skin, brilliant colour and sparkling eyes.

These same colours, if subdued, are lovely on the middle-aged woman with black hair, quiet eyes and pale complexion, but if her hair is grey or white, mustard and sage green are not for her, and the magenta must be the deep purplish sort, which combines with her violets and mauves, or delicate pinks and faded blues. She will be at her best in shades of grey which tone with her hair.



AS the reader ever observed the effect of clothes upon manners? It is amazing, and only proves how pathetically childlike human nature is.

Put any woman into a Marie Antoinette costume and see how, during an evening she will gradually take on the mannerisms of that time. This very point was brought up recently in conversation with an artist, who in referring to one of the most successful costume balls ever given in New York—the crinoline ball at the old Astor House—spoke of how our unromantic Wall Street men fell to the spell of stocks, ruffled shirts and knickerbockers, and as the evening advanced, were quite themselves in the minuette and polka, bowing low in solemn rigidity, leading their lady with high arched arm, grasping her pinched-in waist, and swinging her beruffled, crinolined form in quite the 1860 manner.

Some women, even girls of tender years, have a natural instinct for costuming themselves, so that they contribute in a decorative way to any setting which chance makes theirs. Watch children "dressing up" and see how among a large number, perhaps not more than one of them will have this gift for effects. It will be she who knows at a glance which of the available odds and ends she wants for herself, and with a sure, swift hand will wrap a bright shawl about her, tie a flaming bit of silk about her dark head, and with an assumed manner, born of her garb, cast a magic spell over the small band which she leads on, to that which, without her intense conviction and their susceptibility to her mental attitude toward the masquerade, could never be done.

This illustrates the point we would make as to the effect of clothes upon psychology. The actor's costume affects the real actor's psychology as much or more than it does that of his audience. He is the man he has made himself appear. The writer had the experience of seeing a well-known opera singer, when a victim to a bad case of the grippe, leave her hotel voiceless, facing a matinee of Juliet. Arrived in her dressing-room at the opera, she proceeded to change into the costume for the first act. Under the spell of her rôle, that prima donna seemed literally to shed her malady with her ordinary garments, and to take on health and vitality with her Juliet robes. Even in the Waltz song her voice did not betray her, and apparently no critic detected that she was indisposed.

In speaking of periods in furniture, we said that their story was one of waves of types which repeated themselves, reflecting the ages in which they prevailed. With clothes we find it is the same thing: the scarlet, and silver and gold of the early Jacobeans, is followed by the drabs and greys of the Commonwealth; the marvellous colour of the Church, where Beauty was enthroned, was stamped out by the iron will of Cromwell who, in setting up his standard of revolt, wrapped soul and body of the new Faith in penal shades.

New England was conceived in this spirit and as mind had affected the colour of the Puritans' clothes, so in turn the drab clothes, prescribed by their new creed, helped to remove colour from the New England mind and nature.


Fifteenth-century costumes on the Holy Women at the Tomb of our Lord.

The sculpture relief is enamelled terra-cotta in white, blue, green, yellow and manganese colours. It bears the date 1487.

Note character of head-dresses, arrangement of hair, capes and gowns which are Early Renaissance. (Metropolitan Museum.)

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Woman in Art of the Renaissance
Sculpture-Relief in Terra-Cotta: Holy Women

But observe how, as prosperity follows privation, the mind expands, reaching out for what the changed psychology demands. It is the old story of Rome grown rich and gay in mood and dress. There were of course, villains in Puritan drab and Grecian white, but the child in every man takes symbol for fact. So it is that to-day, some shudder with the belief that Beauty, re-enthroned in all her gorgeous modern hues, means near disaster. The progressives claim that into the world has come a new hope; that beneath our lovely clothes of rainbow tints, and within our homes where Beauty surely reigns, a new psychology is born to radiate colour from within.

Our advice to the woman not born with clothes sense, is: employ experts until you acquire a mental picture of your possibilities and limitations, or buy as you can afford to, good French models, under expert supervision. You may never turn out to be an artist in the treatment of your appearance, instinctively knowing how a prevailing fashion in line and colour may be adapted to you, but you can be taught what your own type is, what your strong points are, your weak ones, and how, while accentuating the former, you may obliterate the latter.

There are two types of women familiar to all of us: the one gains in vital charm and abandon of spirit from the consciousness that she is faultlessly gowned; the other succumbs to self-consciousness and is pitifully unable to extricate her mood from her material trappings.

For the darling of the gods who walks through life on clouds, head up and spirit-free, who knows she is perfectly turned out and lets it go at that, we have only grateful applause. She it is who carries every occasion she graces—indoors, out-of-doors, at home, abroad. May her kind be multiplied!

But to the other type, she who droops under her silks and gold tissue, whose pearls are chains indeed, we would throw out a lifeline. Submerged by clothes, the more she struggles to rise above them the more her spirit flags. The case is this: the woman's mind is wrong; her clothes are right—lovely as ever seen; her jewels gems; her house and car and dog the best. It is her mind that is wrong; it is turned in, instead of out.

Now this intense and soul-, as well as line-destroying self-consciousness, may be prenatal, and it may result from the Puritan attitude toward beauty; that old New England point of view that the beautiful and the vicious are akin. Every young child needs to have cultivated a certain degree of self-reliance. To know that one's appearance is pleasing, to put it mildly, is of inestimable value when it comes to meeting the world. Every child, if normal, has its good points—hair, eyes, teeth, complexion or figure; and we all know that many a stage beauty has been built up on even two of these attributes. Star your good points, clothes will help you. Be a winner in your own setting, but avoid the fatal error of damning your clothes by the spirit within you.

The writer has in mind a woman of distinguished appearance, beauty, great wealth, few cares, wonderful clothes and jewels, palatial homes; and yet an envious unrest poisons her soul. She would look differently, be different and has not the wisdom to shake off her fetters. Her perfect dressing helps this woman; you would not be conscious of her otherwise, but with her natural equipment, granted that she concentrated upon flashing her spirit instead of her wealth, she would be a leader in a fine sense. The Beauty Doctor can do much, but show us one who can put a gleam in the eye, tighten the grasp, teach one that ineffable grace which enables woman, young or old, to wear her clothes as if an integral part of herself. This quality belongs to the woman who knows, though she may not have thought it out, that clothes can make one a success, but not a success in the enduring sense. Dress is a tyrant if you take it as your god, but on the other hand dress becomes a magician's wand when dominated by a clever brain. Gown yourself as beautifully as you can afford, but with judgment. What we do, and how we do it, is often seriously and strangely affected by what we have on. The writer has in mind a literary woman who says she can never talk business except in a linen collar! Mark Twain, in his last days, insisted that he wrote more easily in his night-shirt. Richard Wagner deliberately put on certain rich materials in colours and hung his room with them when composing the music of The Ring. Chopin says in a letter to a friend: "After working at the piano all day, I find that nothing rests me so much as to get into the evening dress which I wear on formal occasions." In monarchies based on militarism, royal princes, as soon as they can walk, are put into military uniforms. It cultivates in them the desired military spirit. We all associate certain duties with certain costumes, and the extraordinary response to colour is familiar to all. We talk about feeling colour and say that we can or cannot live in green, blue, violet or red. It is well to follow this colour instinct in clothes as well as in furnishing. You will find you are at your best in the colours and lines most sympathetic to you.

We know a woman who is an unusual beauty and has distinction, in fact is noted for her chic when in white, black or the combination. She once ventured a cerise hat and instantly dropped to the ranks of the commonplace. Fine eyes, hair, skin, teeth, colour and carriage were still hers, but her effectiveness was lessened as that of a pearl might be if set in a coral circle.



OMAN'S line is the result of her costume, in part only. Far more is woman's costume affected by her line. By this we mean the line she habitually falls into, the pose of torso, the line of her legs in action, and when seated, her arms and hands in repose and gesture, the poise of her head. It is woman's line resulting from her habit of mind and the control which her mind has over her body, a thing quite apart from the way God made her, and the expression her body would have had if left to itself, ungoverned by a mind stocked with observations, conventions, experience and attitudes. We call this the physical expression of woman's personality; this personality moulds her bodily lines and if properly directed determines the character of the clothes she wears; determines also whether she be a decorative object which says something in line and colour, or an undecorative object which says nothing.


Queen Elizabeth in the absurdly elaborate costume of the late Renaissance. Then crinoline, gaudy materials, and ornamentations without meaning reached their high-water mark in the costuming of women.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Tudor England Portrait of Queen Elizabeth

Woman to be decorative, should train the carriage of her body from childhood, by wearing appropriate clothing for various daily rôles. There is more in this than at first appears. The criticism by foreigners that Americans, both men and women, never appear really at home in evening clothes, that they look as if they felt dressed, is true of the average man and woman of our country and results from the lax standards of a new and composite social structure. America as a whole, lacks traditions and still embodies the pioneer spirit, equally characteristic of Australia and other offshoots from the old world.

The little American girl who is brought up from babyhood to change for the evening, even though she have a nursery tea, and be allowed only a brief good-night visit to the grown-ups, is still the exception rather than the rule. A wee English maiden we know, created a good deal of amused comment because, on several occasions, when passing rainy afternoons indoors, with some affluent little New York friends, whose luxurious nurseries and marvellous mechanical toys were a delight, always insisted upon returning home,—a block distant,—to change into white before partaking of milk toast and jam, at the nursery table, the American children keeping on their pink and blue linens of the afternoon. The fact of white or pink is unimportant, but our point is made when we have said that the mother of the American children constantly remarked on the unconscious grace of the English tot, whether in her white muslin and pink ribbons, her riding clothes, or accordion-plaited dancing frock. The English woman-child was acquiring decorative lines by wearing the correct costume for each occasion, as naturally as a bird wears its feathers. This is one way of obviating self-consciousness.

The Eton boy masters his stick and topper in the same way, when young, and so more easily passes through the formless stage conspicuous in the American youth.

Call it technique, or call it efficiency, the object of our modern life is to excel, to be the best of our kind, and appropriate dress is a means to that end, for it helps to liberate the spirit. We of to-day make no claim to consistency or logic. Some of us wear too high heels, even with strictly tailored suits, which demand in the name of consistency a sensible shoe. Also our sensible skirt may be far too narrow for comfort. But on the whole, women have made great strides in the matter of costuming with a view to appropriateness and efficiency.



OLOUR is the hall-mark of our day, and woman decoratively costumed, and as decorator, will be largely responsible for recording this age as one of distinct importance—a transition period in decoration.

Colour is the most marked expression of the spirit of the times; colour in woman's clothes; colour in house furnishing; colour on the stage and in its setting; colour in prose and verse.

Speaking of colour in verse, Rudyard Kipling says (we quote from an editorial in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Jan. 7, 1917):

"Several songs written by Tommy and the Poilu at the front, celebrate the glories of camp life in such vivid colors they could not be reproduced in cold, black, leaden type."

It is no mere chance, this use of vivid colour. Man's psychology to-day craves it. A revolution is on. Did not the strong red, green, and blue of Napoleon's time follow the delicate sky-blues, rose and sunset-yellows of the Louis?

Colour pulses on every side, strong, clean, clear rainbow colour, as if our magicians of brush and dye-pot held a prism to the sun-beam; violet, orange and green, magentas and strong blue against backgrounds of black and cold grey.

We had come to think of colour as vice and had grown so conservative in its use, that it had all but disappeared from our persons, our homes, our gardens, our music and our literature. More than this, from our point of view! The reaction was bound to come by reason of eternal precedent.

Half-tones, antique effects, and general monotony,—the material expression of complacent minds, has been cast aside, and the blasé man of ten years ago is as keen as any child with his first linen picture book,—and for the same reason.

Colour, as we see it to-day, came out of the East via Persia. Bakst in Russia translated it into terms of art, and made the Ballet Russe an amazing, enthralling vision! Then Poiret, wizard among French couturières, assisted by Bakst, adapted this Oriental colour and line to woman's uses in private life. This supplemented the good work of le Gazette du Bon Ton of Paris, that effete fashion sheet, devoted to the decoration of woman, whose staff included many of the most gifted French artists, masters of brush and pen. Always irregular, no issue of the Bon Ton has appeared of late. It is held up by the war. The men who made it so fascinating a guide to woman "who would be decorative," are at the front, painting scenery for the battlefield—literally that: making mock trees and rocks, grass and hedges and earth, to mislead the fire of the enemy, and doubtless the kindred Munich art has been diverted into similar channels.

This Oriental colour has made its way across Europe like some gorgeous bird of the tropics, and since the war has checked the output of Europe's factories, another channel has supplied the same wonderful colours in silks and gauze. They come to us by way of the Pacific, from China and from Japan. There is no escaping the colour spell. Writers from the front tell us that it is as if the gods made sport with fate's anvil, for even the blackened dome of the war zone is lurid by night, with sparks of purple, red, green, yellow and blue; the flare of the world-destroying projectiles.


A Velasquez portrait of the Renaissance, when the human form counted only as a rack on which was heaped crinoline and stiff brocades and chains and gems and wigs and every manner of elaborate adornment, making mountains of poor tottering human forms, all but lost beneath.

Vienna Hofmuseum
Spain-Velasquez Portrait

The present costuming of woman, when she treats herself as decoration, owes much to the prophets of the "new" theatre and their colour scale. These men have demonstrated, in an unforgettable manner, the value of colour; the dependence of every decorative object upon background; shown how fraught with meaning can be an uncompromising outline, and the suggestiveness of really significant detail.

Bakst, Rheinhardt and Granville Barker have taught us the new colour vocabulary. Gordon Craig was perhaps the first to show us the stage made suggestive by insisting on the importance of clever lighting to produce atmosphere and elimination of unessential objects, the argument of his school being that the too detailed reproducing of Nature (on the stage) acts as a check to the imagination, whereas by the judicious selection of harmonics, the imagination is stimulated to its utmost creative capacity. One detects this creed to-day in certain styles of home decoration (woman's background), as well as in woman's costumes.

Portable Backgrounds

The staging of a recent play showed more plainly than any words, the importance of background. In one of the scenes, beautiful, artistic gowns in delicate shades were set off by a room with wonderful green walls and woodwork (mignonette). Now, so long as the characters moved about the room, they were thrown into relief most charmingly, but the moment the women seated themselves on a very light coloured and characterless chintz sofa, they lost their decorative value. It was lacking in harmony and contrast. The two black sofa cushions intended possibly to serve as background, being small, instantly disappeared behind the seated women.

A sofa of contrasting colour, or black, would have looked better in the room, and served as immediate background for gowns. It might have been covered in dark chintz, a silk damask in one or several tones, or a solid colour, since the gowns were of delicate indefinite shades.

One of the sofas did have a dark Chinese coat thrown over the back, with the intent, no doubt, of serving as effective background, but the point seemed to escape the daintily gowned young woman who poured tea, for she failed to take advantage of it, occupying the opposite end of the sofa. A modern addition to a woman's toilet is a large square of chiffon, edged with narrow metal or crystal fringe, or a gold or silver flexible cord. This scarf is always in beguiling contrast to the costume, and when not being worn, is thrown over the chair or end of sofa against which our lady reclines. To a certain degree, this portable background makes a woman decorative when the wrong colour on a chair might convert her lovely gown into an eyesore.

One woman we know, who has an Empire room, admires the lines of her sofa as furniture, but feels it ineffective unless one reclines á la Mme. Récamier. To obviate this difficulty, she has had made a square (one and a half yards), of lovely soft mauve silk damask, lined with satin charmeuse of the same shade, and weighted by long, heavy tassels, at the corners; this she throws over the Empire roll and a part of the seat, which are done in antique green velvet. Now the woman seated for conversation with arm and elbow resting on the head, looks at ease,—a part of the composition. The square of soft, lined silk serves at other times as a couvrepied.



OOTWEAR points the costume; every child should be taught this.

Give most careful attention to your extremities,—shoes, gloves and hats. The genius of fashion's greatest artist counts for naught if his costume may not include hat, gloves, shoes, and we would add, umbrella, parasol, stick, fan, jewels; in fact every detail.

If you have the good sense to go to one who deservedly ranks as an authority on line and colour in woman's costume, have also the wisdom to get from this man or woman not merely your raiment; go farther, and grasp as far as you are able the principles underlying his or her creations. Common sense tells one that there must be principles which underlie the planning of every hat and gown,—serious reasons why certain lines, colours and details are employed.

Principles have evolved and clarified themselves in the long journey which textiles, colours and lines have made, travelling down through the ages. A great cathedral, a beautiful house, a perfect piece of furniture, a portrait by a master, sculpture which is an object of art, a costume proclaimed as a success; all are the results of knowing and following laws. The clever woman of slender means may rival her friends with munition incomes, if only she will go to an expert with open mind, and through the thoughtful purchase of a completed costume,—hat, gown and all accessories,—learn an artist-modiste's point of view. Then, and we would put it in italics; take seriously, with conviction, all his or her instructions as to the way to wear your clothes. Anyone can buy costumes, many can, perhaps own far more than you, but it is quite possible that no one can more surely be a picture—a delightfully decorative object on every occasion, than you, who knows instinctively (or has been taught), beyond all shadow of doubt, how to put on and then how to sit or walk in, your one tailored suit, your one tea gown, your one sport suit or ball gown.


An ideal example of the typical costume of fashionable England in the eighteenth century, when picturesqueness, not appropriateness, was the demand of the times.

This picture is known as The Morning Promenade: Squire Hallet with His Lady. Painted by Thomas Gainsborough and now in the private collection of Lord Rothschild, London.

Courtesy of Braun & Co., New York, London & Paris
Eighteenth Century England
Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough

If you want to wear light spats, stop and think whether your heavy ankles will not look more trim in boots with light, glove-fitting tops and black vamps.

We have seen women with such slender ankles and shapely insteps, that white slippers or low shoes might be worn with black or coloured stockings. But it is playing safe to have your stockings match your slippers or shoes.

Buckles and bows on slippers and pumps can destroy the line of a shoe and hence a foot, or continue and accentuate line. There are fashions in buckles and bows, but unless you bend the fashion until it allows nature's work to appear at its best, it will destroy artistic intention.

Some people buy footwear as they buy fruit; they like what they see, so they get it! You know so many women, young and old, who do this, that our advice is, try to recall those who do not. Yes, now you see what we aim at; the women you have in mind always continue the line of their gowns with their feet. You can see with your mind's eye how the slender black satin slippers, one of which always protrudes from the black evening gown, carry to its eloquent finish the line from her head through torso, hip to knee, and knee down through instep to toe,—a line so frequently obstructed by senseless trimmings, lineless hats, and footwear wrong in colour and line.

If your gown is white and your object to create line, can you see how you defeat your purpose by wearing anything but white slippers or shoes?

At a recent dinner one of the young women who had sufficient good taste to wear an exquisite gown of silk and silver gauze, showing a pale magenta ground with silver roses, continued the colour scheme of her designer with silver slippers, tapering as Cinderella's, but spoiled the picture she might have made by breaking her line and enlarging her ankles and instep with magenta stockings. This could have been avoided by the use of silver stockings or magenta slippers with magenta stockings.

When brocades, in several colours, are chosen for slippers, keep in mind that the ground of the silk must absolutely match your costume. It is not enough that in the figure of brocade is the colour of the dress. Because so distorting to line, figured silks and coloured brocades for footwear are seldom a wise choice.

To those who cannot own a match in slippers for each gown, we would suggest that the number of colours used in gowns be but few, getting the desired variety by varying shades of a colour, and then using slippers a trifle higher in shade than the general colour selected.



HE use of jewelry as colour and line has really nothing to do with its intrinsic worth. Just as when furnishing a house, one selects pictures for certain rooms with regard to their decorative quality alone, their colour with relation to the colour scheme of the room (The Art of Interior Decoration), so jewels should be selected either to complete costumes, or to give the keynote upon which a costume is built. A woman whose artist-dressmaker turns out for her a marvellous green gown, would far better carry out the colour scheme with some semi-precious stones than insist upon wearing her priceless rubies.

On the other hand, granted one owns rubies and they are becoming, then plan a gown entirely with reference to them, noting not merely the shade of their colour, but the character of their setting, should it be distinctive.

One of the most picturesque public events in Vienna each year, is a bazaar held for the benefit of a charity under court patronage. To draw the crowds and induce them to give up their money, it has always been the custom to advertise widely that the ladies of the Austro-Hungarian court would conduct the sale of articles at the various booths and that the said noble ladies would wear their family jewels. Also, that there be no danger of confusing the various celebrities, the names of those selling at each booth would be posted in plain lettering over it. Programmes are sold, which also inform patrons as to the name and station of each lovely vendor of flowers and sweets. It is an extraordinary occasion, and well worth witnessing once. The jewels worn are as amazing and fascinating as is Hungarian music. There is a barbaric sumptuousness about them, an elemental quality conveyed by the Oriental combining of stones, which to the western European and American, seem incongruous. Enormous pearls, regular and irregular, are set together in company with huge sapphires, emeralds, rubies and diamonds, cut in the antique way. Looking about, one feels in an Arabian Nights' dream. On the particular occasion to which we refer, the most beautiful woman present was the Princess Metternich, and in her jewels decorative as any woman ever seen.

The women of the Austrian court, especially the Hungarian women, are notably beautiful and fascinating as well. It is the Magyar élan, that abandon which prompts a woman to toss her jewelled bangle to a Gypsy leader of the orchestra, when his violin moans and flashes out a czardas.

But the rule remains the same whether your jewels are inherited and rich in souvenirs of European courts, or the last work of Cartier. They must be a harmonious part of a carefully designed costume, or used with discretion against a background of costumes planned with reference to making them count as the sole decoration.

We recall a Spanish beauty, representative of several noble strains, who was an artist in the combining of her gems as to their class and colour. Hers was that rare gift,—infallible good taste, which led her to contribute an individual quality to her temporary possessions. She counted in Madrid, not only as a beautiful and brilliant woman, but as a decorative contribution to any room she entered. It was not uncommon to meet her at dinner, wearing some very chic blue gown, often of velvet, the sole decoration of which would be her sapphires, stones rare in themselves, famous for their colour, their matching, the manner in which they were cut, and their setting,—the unique hand-work of some goldsmith of genius. It is impossible to forget her distinguished appearance as she entered the room in a princess gown, made to show the outline of her faultless figure, and cut very low. Against the background of her white neck and the simple lines of her blue gown, the sapphires became decoration with artistic restraint, though they gleamed from a coronet in her soft, black hair, encircled her neck many times and fell below her waist line, clasped her arms and were suspended from her ears in long, graceful pendants. They adorned her fingers and they composed a girdle of indescribable beauty.


Marie Antoinette in a Portrait by Madame Vigée le Brun, one of the greatest portrait painters of the eighteenth century. Here we see the lovely queen of Louis XVI in the type of costume she made her own which is still referred to as the Marie Antoinette style.

This portrait is in the Musée National, Versailles.

Courtesy of Braun & Co., New York, London & Paris
Bourbon France Marie Antoinette Portrait by Madame Vigée Le Brun

Later, the same night, one would meet this woman at a ball, and discover that she had made a complete change of costume and was as elegant as before, but now all in red, a gown of deep red velvet or some wonderful soft satin, unadorned save by her rubies, as numerous and as unique as her sapphires had been.

There were other women in Madrid wearing wonderful jewels, one of them when going to court functions always had a carriage follow hers, in which were detectives. How strange this seems to Americans! But this particular woman in no way illustrated the point we would make, for she had lost control of her own lines, had no knowledge of line and colour in costume, and when wearing her jewels, looked very much like the show case of a jeweller's shop.

Jewelry must be worn to make lines, continue or terminate lines, accentuate a good physical point, or hide a bad one. Remember that a jewel like any other object d'art, is an ornament, and unless it is ornamental, and an added attraction to the wearer, it is valueless in a decorative way. For this reason it is well to discover, by experimenting, what jewelry is your affair, what kind of rings for example, are best suited to your kind of hands. It may be that small rings of delicate workmanship, set with colourless gems, will suit your hands; while your friend will look better in the larger, heavier sort, set with stones of deeper tones.

This finding out what one can and cannot wear, from shoe leather to a feather in the hat (and the inventory includes even width of hem on a linen handkerchief), is by no means a frivolous, fruitless waste of time; it is a wise preparedness, which in the end saves time, vitality and money. And if it does not make one independent of expert advice (and why should one expect to be that, since technique in any art should improve with practice?) it certainly prepares one to grasp and make use of, expert suggestions.

We have often been told, and by those whose business it is to know such things, that the models created by great Paris dressmakers are not always flashes of genius which come in the night, nor the wilful perversion of an existing fashion, to force the world of women into discarding, and buying everything new. It may look suspiciously like it when we see a mere swing of the pendulum carrying the straight sheath out to the ten-yard limit of crinoline skirts.

As a matter of fact, decorative woman rules the fashions, and if decorative woman makes up her mind to retain a line or a limit, she does it. The open secret is that every great Paris house has its chic clientele, which in returning from the Riviera—Europe's Peacock Alley—is full of knowledge as to how the last fashions (line and colour), succeeded in scoring in the rôle designated. Those points found to be desirable, becoming, beautiful, comfortable, appropriate, séduisant—what you will—are taken as the foundation of the next wardrobe order, and with this inside information from women who know (know the subtle distinction between daring lines and colours, which are good form, and those which are not), the men or women who give their lives to creating costumes proceed to build. These are the fashions for the exclusive few this year, for the whole world the next year.

In conclusion, to reduce one of the rules as to how jewels should be worn to its simplest form, never use imitation pearl trimming if you are wearing a necklace and other ornaments of real pearls. The pearl trimming may be very charming in itself, but it lessens the distinction of your real pearls.

In the same way rhinestones may be decidedly decorative, but only a woman with an artist's instinct can use her diamonds at the same time. It can be done, by keeping the rhinestones off the bodice. An artist can conceive and work out a perfect adjustment of what in the mind and hand of the inexperienced is not to be attempted. Your French dressmaker combines real and imitation laces in a fascinating manner. That same artist's instinct could trim a gown with emerald pastes and hang real gems of the same in the ears, using brooch and chain, but you would find the green glass garniture swept from the proximity of the gems and used in some telling manner to score as trimming,—not to compete as jewels. We have seen the skirt of French gowns of black tulle or net, caught up with great rhinestone swans, and at the same time a diamond chain and diamond earrings worn. Nothing could have been more chic.

We recall another case of the discreet combining of gems and paste. It was at the Spring races, Longchamps, Paris. The decorative woman we have never forgotten, had marvellous gold-red hair, wore a costume of golden brown chiffon, a close toque (to show her hair) of brown; long topaz drops hung from her ears, set in hand-wrought Etruscan gold, and her shell lorgnettes hung from a topaz chain. Now note that on her toque and her girdle were buckles made of topaz glass, obviously not real topaz and because made to look like milliner's garniture and not jeweler's work, they had great style and were as beautiful of their kind as the real stones.


The portrait of an Englishwoman painted during the Napoleonic period.

She wears the typical Empire gown, cloak, and bonnet.

The original of this portrait is the same referred to elsewhere as having moistened her muslin gowns to make them cling to her, in Grecian folds.

Among her admiring friends was Lord Byron.

A descendant who allows the use of the charming portrait, explains that the fair lady insisted upon being painted in her bonnet because her curling locks were short—a result of typhoid fever.

Costume of Empire Period
An English Portrait



Y the way, do you know that boudoir originally meant pouting room, a place where the ceremonious grande dame of the Louis might relax and express a ruffled mood, if she would? Which only serves to prove that even the definition of words alter with fashion, for we imagine that our supinely relaxed modern beauty, of the country club type, has on the whole more self-control than she of the boudoir age.

Since a boudoir is of all rooms the most personal, we take it for granted that its decoration is eloquent with the individuality and taste of its owner. Walls, floors, woodwork, upholstery, hangings, cushions and objects d'art furnish the colour for my lady's background, and will naturally be a scheme calculated to set off her own particular type. Here we find woman easily made decorative in negligée or tea gown, and it makes no difference whether fashion is for voluminous, flowing robes, ruffled and covered with ribbons and lace, or the other extreme, those creations of Fortuny, which cling to the form in long crinkled lines and shimmer like the skin of a snake. The Fortuny in question, son of the great Spanish painter, devotes his time to the designing of the most artistic and unique tea gowns offered to modern woman. We first saw his work in 1910 at his Paris atelier. His gowns, then popular with French women, were made in Venice, where M. Fortuny was at that time employing some five hundred women to carry out his ideas as to the dyeing of thin silks, the making and colouring of beads used as garniture, and the stenciling of designs in gold, silver or colour. The lines are Grecian and a woman in her Fortuny tea gown suggests a Tanagra figure, whether she goes in for the finely pleated sort, kept tightly twisted and coiled when not in use, to preserve the distinguishing fine pleats, or one with smooth surface and stenciled designs. These Fortuny tea gowns slip over the head with no opening but the neck, with its silk shirring cord by means of which it can be made high or low, at will; they come in black, gold and the tones of old Venetian dyes. One could use a dozen of them and be a picture each time, in any setting, though for the epicure they are at their best when chosen with relation to a special background. The black Fortunys are extraordinarily chic and look well when worn with long Oriental earrings and neck chains of links or beads, which reach—at least one strand of them—half-way to the knees.

The distinction which this long line of a chain or string of pearls gives to the figure of any woman is a point to dwell upon. Real pearls are desirable, even if one must begin with a short necklace; but where it can be afforded, woman cannot be urged too strongly to wear a string extending as near to and as much below the waist-line as possible. A long string of pearls gives great elegance, whether wearer is standing or seated. You can use your short string of pearls, too, but whatever your figure is, if you are not a young girl it will be improved by the long line, and if you would be decorative above everything, we insist that a long chain or string of less intrinsic value is preferable to one of meaningless length and priceless worth. Very young girls look best in short necklaces; women whose throats are getting lined should take to jeweled dog-collars, in addition to their strings of pearls or diamond chains. The woman with firm throat and perfect neck was made for pearls. For those less blessed there are lovely things too, jewels to match their eyes, or to tone in with skin or hair; settings to carry out the line of profile, rings to illuminate the swift gesture or nestle into the soft, white, dimpled hand of inertia. Every type has its charm and followers, but we still say, avoid emphasising your lack of certain points by wearing unsuitable costumes and accessories, and by so doing lose the chance of being decorative.

Sibyl Sanderson, the American prima donna, whose career was in Paris, was the most irresistibly lovely vision ever seen in a tea gown. She was past-mistress at the art of making herself decorative, and the writer recalls her as she last saw her in a Doucet model of chiffon, one layer over another of flesh, palest pink and pinkish mauve that melted into the creamy tones of her perfect neck and arms.

Sibyl Sanderson was lovely as nature turned her out, but Paris taught her the value of that other beauty, the beauty which comes of art and attained like all art, only through conscious effort. An artistic appearance once meant letting nature have its way. It has come to mean, nature directed and controlled by Art, and while we do not resort to the artificiality (in this moment) of hoops, crinoline, pyramids of false hair, monstrous head-dresses, laced waists, low neck and short sleeves for all hours and all seasons, paper-soled shoes in snow-drifts, etc., we do insist that woman be bien soiné—hair, complexion, hands, feet, figure, perfection par tout.

Woman's costumes, her jewels and all accessories complete her decorative effect, but even in the age of powder and patches, hair oil and wigs, no more time nor greater care was given to her grooming, and what we say applies to the average woman of affairs and not merely to the parasite type.



SUN-ROOOM as the name implies, is a room planned to admit as much sun as is possible. An easy way to get the greatest amount of light and sun is to enclose a steam heated porch with glass which may be removed at will. Sometimes part of a conservatory is turned into a sun-room, awnings, rugs, chairs, tables, couches, making it a fascinating lounge or breakfast room, useful, too, at the tea hour. Often when building a house a room on the sunny side is given one, two, or three glass sides. To trick the senses, ferns and flowering plants, birds and fountains are used as decorations, suggesting out-of-doors.


Portrait by Gilbert Stuart of Doña Matilda, Stoughton de Jaudenes. (Metropolitan Museum.)

We use this portrait to illustrate the period when woman's line was obliterated by the excessive decoration of her costume.

The interest attached to this charming example of her time lies in colour and detail. It is as if the bewitching Doña Matilda were holding up her clothes with her person. Her outline is that of a ruffled canary. How difficult for her to forget her material trappings, when they are so many, and yet she looks light of heart.

For sharp contrast we suggest that our reader turn at once to the portrait by Sargent (Plate XV) which is distinguished for its clean-cut outline and also the distinction arrived at through elimination of detail in the way of trimming. The costume hangs on the woman, suspended by jewelled chains from her shoulders.

The Sargent has the simplicity of the Classic Greek; the Gilbert Stuart portrait, the amusing fascination of Marie Antoinette detail.

The gown is white satin, with small gold flowers scattered over its surface. The head-dress surmounting the powdered hair is of white satin with seed-pearl ornaments.

The background is a dead-rose velvet curtain, draped to show blue sky, veiled by clouds. The same dead-rose on table and chair covering. The book on table has a softly toned calf cover. Gilbert Stuart was fond of working in this particular colour note.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Eighteenth Century Costume Portrait by Gilbert Stewart

The woman who would add to the charm of her sun-room in Winter by keeping up the illusion of Summer, will wear Summer clothes when in it, that is, the same gowns, hats and footwear which she would select for a warm climate. To be exquisite, if you are young or youngish, well and active, you would naturally appear in the sun-room after eleven, in some sheer material of a delicate tint, made walking length, with any graceful Summer hat which is becoming, and either harmonises with colour of gown or is an agreeable contrast to it. By graceful hat we mean a hat suggesting repose, not the close, tailored hat of action. One woman we know always uses her last Summer's muslins and wash silks, shoes, slippers and hats in her sun-room during the Winter. In her wardrobe there are invariably a lot of sheer muslins, voiles and wash silks in white, mauve, greys, pinks, or delicate stripes, the outline following the fashion, voluminous, straight or clinging, the bodice tight with trimmings inset or full, beruffled, or kerchiefed. Her hats are always entirely black or entirely white, in type the variety we know as picturesque, made very light in weight and with no thought of withstanding the elements. The woman who knows how, can get the effect of a picture hat with very little outlay of money. It is a matter of line when on the head, that look of lightness and general airiness which gives one the feeling that the wearer has just blown in from the lawn! The artist's hand can place a few simple loops of ribbon on a hat, and have success, while a stupid arrangement of costly feathers or flowers may result in failure. The effect of movement got by certain line manipulation, suggesting arrested motion, is of inestimable value, especially when your hat is one with any considerable width of brim. The hat with movement is like a free-hand sketch, a hat without movement like a decalcomania.

If the owner of the sun-room is resting or invalided then away with out-of-door costume. For her a tea-gown and satin slippers are in order, as they would be under similar conditions on her furnished porch.

If the mistress of the sun-room is young and athletic, one who never goes in for frou-frous, but wears linen skirts and blouses when pouring tea for her friends, let her be true to her type in the sun-room, but always emphasising immaculate daintiness, rather than the ready-for-sport note. A sheer blouse and French heels on white pumps will transpose the plain linen skirt into the key of picturesque relaxation, the hall-mark of sun-rooms. More than any other room in the house, the sun-room is for drifting. One cannot imagine writing a cheque there, or going over one's monthly accounts.

We assume that the colour scheme in the sun-room was dictated by the owner and is therefore sympathetic to her. If this be true, we can go farther and assume that the delicate tones of her porch gowns and tea gowns will harmonise. If her sun-room is done in yellows and orange and greens, nothing will look better than cream-white as a costume. If the walls, woodwork and furniture have been kept very light in tone, relying on the rugs and cushions and dark foliage of plants to give character, then a costume of sheer material in any one of the decided colours in the chintz cushions, will be a welcome contribution to the decoration of the sun-room. Additional effect can be given a costume by the clever choice of colour and line in a work-bag.



N your garden, if you would count as decoration, keep to white or one colour; the flowers furnish a variegated background against which your costume of colour, grey or white stands out. The great point is that your outline be one with pictorial value, from the artist's point of view. If merely strolling through your garden to admire it, keeping to the well-made paths, a fragile gown of sheer material and dainty shoes, with perishable hat or fragile sunshade, is in order. But if yours is the task to gather flowers, then wear stout linen or pretty, bright ginghams, good to the eye and easily laundered, while resisting the briars and branches.

Smocks, those loose over-all garments of soft-toned linens, reaching from neck half-way to the knees and unbelted, are ideal for garden work, and to the young and slender, add a distinct charm, for one catches the movement of the lithe form beneath.

You can be decorative in your garden in a large enveloping apron of gingham, if you are wise in choosing a colour which becomes you. One lover of flowers, who has an instinct for fitness and colour, may be seen on a Summer morning, trimming her porch-boxes in snowy white,—shoes and all,—over which she wears a big, encircling apron, extending from neck to skirt hem; deep pockets cross the entire front, convenient for clippers, scissors and twine. This apron is low-necked with shoulder straps and no sleeves. The woman in question is tall and fair, and on her soft curling hair she wears sun hats of peanut straw, the edges sewn over and over with wool to match her gingham apron, which is a solid pink, pale green or lavender.

Dark women look uncommonly well in khaki colour, and so do some blonds. Here is a shade decorative against vegetation and serviceable above all.

Garden costumes for actual work vary according to individual taste and the amount and character of the gardening indulged in.

Lady de Bathe (Mrs. Langtry) owns one of the most charming gardens in England, though not as famous as some. It is attached to Regal Lodge, her place at Newmarket. The Blue Walk is something to remember, with its walls of blue lavender flanking the blue paving stones, between the cracks of which lovely bluebells and larkspur spring up in irrelevant, poetic license.

Lady de Bathe digs and climbs and clips and gathers, therefore she wears easily laundered garments; a white linen or cotton skirt and blouse, a Chinese coat to the knees, of pink cotton crêpe and an Isle-of-Jersey sun-bonnet, a poke with curtain, to protect the neck and strings to tie it on. So while she claims never to have consciously considered being a decorative note in her own garden, her trained instinct for costuming herself appropriately and becomingly brings about the desirable decorative effect.


Madame Adeline Genée, the greatest living exponent of the art of toe dancing. She wears an early Victorian costume (1840) made for a ballet she danced in London several seasons ago. The writer did not see the costume and neglected, until too late, to ask Madame Genée for a description of its colouring, but judging by what we know of 1840 colours and textures as described by Miss McClellan (Historic Dress in America) and other historians of the period as well as from portraits, we feel safe in stating that it may well have been a bonnet of pink uncut velvet, trimmed with silk fringe and a band of braided velvet of the same colour; or perhaps a white shirred satin; or dove-coloured satin with pale pink and green figured ribbon. For the dress, it may have been of dove-grey satin, or pink flowered silk with a black taffeta cape and one of black lace to change off with.

Victorian Period about 1840
Mme. Adeline Genée in Costume


When on your lawn with the unbroken sweep of green under foot and the background of shrubs and trees, be a flower or a bunch of flowers in the colour of your costume. White,—hat, shoes and all, cannot be excelled, but colour has charm of another sort, and turning the pages of memory, one realises that not a shade or artistic combination but has scored, if the outline is chic. Since both outline and colour scheme vary with fashion we use the word chic or smart to imply that quality in a costume which is the result of restraint in the handling of line, colour and all details, whatever the period.

A chic outline is very telling on the lawn; gown or hat must be appropriate to the occasion, becoming to the wearer, its lines following the fashion, yet adapted to type, and the colour, one sympathetic to the wearer. The trimming must accentuate the distinctive type of the gown or hat instead of blotting out the lines by an overabundance of garniture. The trimming must follow the constructive lines of gown, or have meaning. A buckle must buckle something, buttons must be used where there is at least some semblance of an opening. Let us repeat: To be chic, the trimming of a hat or gown must have a raison d'être. When in doubt omit trimming. As in interior decoration, too much detail often defeats the original idea of a costume. An observing woman knows that few of her kind understand the value of restraint. When turned out by an artist, most women recognise when they look their best, but how to achieve it alone, is beyond them. This sort of knowledge comes from carefully and constantly comparing the gown which is a success with those which are failures.

Elimination characterises the smart costume or hat, and the smart designer is he or she who can make one flower, one feather, one bow of ribbon, band of fur, bit of real lace or hand embroidery, say a distinct something.

It is the decorative value gained by the judicious placing of one object so that line and colour count to the full. As we have said in Interior Decoration, one pink rose in a slender Venetian glass vase against a green silk curtain may have far more decorative value than dozens of costly roses used without knowledge of line and background. So it is with ornaments on wearing apparel.


With a background of grey sand, steel-blue water and more or less blue sky, woman is given a tempting opportunity to figure as colour when by the sea. That it is gay colour or white which makes decorative effects on the beach, even the least knowing realise. Plein air artists have stamped on our mental visions impressions of smart society disporting itself on the sands of Dieppe, Trouville, Brighton, and where not. Whatever the period, hence outline, white and the gay colours impress one. Most conspicuous is white on woman (and man); then each colour in the rainbow with its half-tones, figures as sweaters, veils, hats and parasols; the striped marquise and gay wares of the venders of nosegays, balloons and lollypops. The artist picks out the telling notes when painting, learn from him and figure as one of these.

On the beach avoid being a dull note; dead greys and browns have no charm there.

What is true of costuming for the beach applies equally to costumes to be worn on the deck of a steamer or yacht.



O be decorative when skating, two things are necessary: first, know how to skate; then see to it that you are costumed with reference to appropriateness, becomingness and the outline demanded by the fashion of the moment.

The woman who excels in the technique of her art does not always excel in dressing her rôle. It is therefore with great enthusiasm that we record Miss Theresa Weld of Boston, holder of Woman's Figure Skating Championship, as the most chicly costumed woman on the ice of the Hippodrome (New York) where amateurs contested for the cup offered by Mr. Charles B. Dillingham, on March 23, 1917, when Miss Weld again won,—this time over the men as well as the women.

Miss Weld combined good work with perfect form, and her edges, fronts, ins, outs, threes, double-threes, etc., etc., were a delight to the eye as she passed and repassed in her wine-coloured velvet, trimmed with mole-skin, a narrow band on the bottom of the full skirt (full to allow the required amount of leg action), deep cuffs, and a band of the same fur encircling the close velvet toque. This is reproduced as the ideal costume because, while absolutely up-to-date in line, material, colour and character of fur, it follows the traditional idea as to what is appropriate and beautiful for a skating costume, regardless of epoch. We have seen its ancestors in many parts of Europe, year after year. Some of us recall with keen pleasure, the wonderful skating in Vienna and Berlin on natural and artificial ice, invariably hung with flags and gaily lighted by night. We can see now, those German girls,—some of them trim and good to look at, in costumes of sapphire blue, deep red, or green velvet, fur trimmed,—gliding swiftly across the ice, to the irresistible swing of waltz music and accompanied by flashing uniforms.

In the German-speaking countries everyone skates: the white-bearded grandfather and the third generation going hand in hand on Sunday mornings to the nearest ice-pond. With them skating is a communal recreation, as beer garden concerts are. With us in America most sports are fashions, not traditions. The rage for skating during the past few seasons is the outcome of the exhibition skating done by professionals from Austria, Germany, Scandinavian countries and Canada, at the New York Hippodrome. Those who madly danced are now as madly skating. And out of town the young women delight the eye in bright wool sweaters, broad, long wool scarfs and bright wool caps, or small, close felt hats,—fascinating against the white background of ice and snow. The boots are high, reaching to top of calf, a popular model having a seam to the tip of the toe.

No sport so perfectly throws into relief command of the body as does skating. Watch a group of competitors for honours at any gathering of amateur women skaters and note how few have command of themselves—know absolutely what they want to do, and then are able to do it. One skater, in the language of the ice, can do the actual work, but has no form. It may be she lacks temperament, has no abandon, no rhythm; is stiff, or, while full of life, has bad arms. It is as necessary that the fancy skater should learn the correct position of the arms as that the solo dancer should. Certain lines must be preserved, say, from fingers of right arm through to tip of left foot, or from tip of left hand through to tip of right foot.


A portrait by John S. Sargent. (Metropolitan Museum, painted about 1890.)

We have here a distinguished example of the dignity and beauty possible to a costume characteristic of the period when extreme severity as to outline and elimination of detail followed the elaboration of Victorian ruffles, ribbons and lace over hoops and bustle; curled hair and the obvious cameo brooch, massive bracelets and chains.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Late Nineteenth Century Costume about 1890
A Portrait by John S. Sargent

"Form" is the manipulation of the lines of the body to produce perfect balance, perfect freedom and, when required, perfect control in arrested motion. This is the mastery which produces in free skating that "melting" of one figure into another which so hypnotises the onlooker. It is because Miss Weld has mastered the above qualifications that she is amateur champion in fancy skating. She has mastered her medium; has control of every muscle in her body. In consequence she is decorative and delightful to watch.

To be decorative when not on skates, whether walking, standing or sitting, a woman must have cultivated the same feeling for line, her form must be good. It is not enough to obey the A. B. C.'s of position; head up, shoulders back, chest out, stomach in. One must study the possibilities of the body in acquiring and perfecting poses which have line, making pictures with one's self.

In the Art of Interior Decoration we insist that every room be a beautiful composition. What we would now impress upon the mind of the reader is that she is a part of the picture and must compose with her setting. To do this she should acquire the mastery of her body, and then train that body until it has acquired "good habits" in the assuming of line, whether in action or repose. This can be done to an astonishing degree, even if one lacks the instinct. To be born with a sense of line is a gift, and the development of this sense can give artistic delight to those who witness the results and thrill them quite as sculpture or music, or any other art does.

The Greek idea of regarding the perfectly trained body as a beautiful temple is one to keep in mind, if woman would fulfil her obligation to be decorative.

Form means efficiency, if properly understood and carried out according to the spirit, not the letter of the law. Form implies the human body under control, ready for immediate action. The man or woman with form, will be the first to fall into action when required, because, so to speak, no time is lost in collecting and aiming the body.

One of the great points in the teaching of the late Theodore Leschetizky, the world's greatest master in the art of piano playing, was that the hand should immediately assume the correct position for the succeeding chord, the instant it was lifted from the keys;—preparedness!

The crack regiments of Europe, noted for their form, have for years been the object of jests in those new worlds where brawn and muscle, with mental acumen, have converted primeval forests into congested commercial centers. But that form, so derided by the pioneer spirit, has proved its worth during the present European war. The United States and the Central Powers are now at war and military guards have been stationed at vulnerable points. Only to-day we saw one of Uncle Sam's soldiers, one of three, patrolling the front of a big armory,—standing in an absolutely relaxed position, his gun held loosely in his hand, and its bayonet propped against the iron fence. One could not help thinking; no form, no preparedness, no efficiency. It goes without saying that prompt obedience cannot be looked for where there is lack of form, no matter how willing the spirit.

The modern woman when on parole,—walking, dancing, driving, riding or engaged in any sport, to be efficient must have trained the body until it has form, and dress it appropriately, if she would be efficient as well as decorative in the modern sense of the term. No better illustration of our point can be found than in the popular sport cited at the beginning of this chapter.



T is not easy to be decorative in your automobile now that the manufacturers are going in for gay colour schemes both in upholstery and outside painting. A putty-coloured touring car lined with red leather is very stunning in itself, but the woman who would look well when sitting in it does not carelessly don any bright motor coat at hand. She knows very well that to show up to advantage against red, and be in harmony with the putty-colour paint, her tweed coat should blend with the car, also her furs. Black is smart with everything, but fancy how impossible mustard, cerise and some shades of green would look against that scarlet leather!

An orange car with black top, mud-guards and upholstery calls for a costume of white, black, brown, tawny grey, or, if one would be a poster, royal blue.

Some twenty-five years ago the writer watched the first automobile in her experience driven down the Champs Elysées. It seemed an uncanny, horseless carriage, built to carry four people and making a good deal of fuss about it.

A few days later, while lunching at the Café de Reservoir, Versailles, we were told that some men were starting back to Paris by automobile, and if we went to a window giving on to the court, we might see the astonishing vehicle make its start. It was as thrilling as the first near view of an aëroplane, and all-excitement we watched the two Frenchmen getting ready for the drive. Their elaborate preparation to face the current of air to be encountered en route was not unlike the preparation to-day for flying. It was Spring—June, at that—but those Frenchmen wearing very English tweeds and smoking English pipes, each drew on extra cloth trousers and coats and over these a complete outfit of leather! We saw them get into the things in the public courtyard, arrange huge goggles, draw down cloth caps, and set out at a speed of about fifteen miles an hour!


A portrait of Mrs. Thomas Hastings of New York painted by the late John W. Alexander.

We have chosen this—one of the most successful portraits by one of America's leading portrait painters—as a striking example of colour scheme and interesting line. Also we have here a woman who carries herself with form. Mrs. Hastings is an accomplished horsewoman. Her fine physique is poised so as to give that individual movement which makes for type; her colour—wonderful red hair and the complexion which goes with it—are set off by a dull gold background; a gown in another tone of gold, relieved by a note or two of turquoise green; and the same green appearing as a shadow on the Victory in the background.

We see the sitter, as she impressed an observer, transferred to the canvas by the consummate skill of our deeply lamented artist.

A Modern Portrait By John W. Alexander

The above seems incredible, now that we have passed through the various stages of motor car improvements and motor clothes creations. The rapid development of the automobile, with its windshields, limousine tops, shock absorbers, perfected engines and springs, has brought us to the point where no more preparation is needed for a thousand-mile run across country with an average speed of thirty miles an hour, than if we were boarding a train. One dresses for a motor as one would for driving in a carriage and those dun-colored, lineless monstrosities invented for motor use have vanished from view. More than this, woman to-day considers her decorative value against the electric blue velvet or lovely chintz lining of her limousine, exactly as she does when planning clothes for her salon. And why not? The manufacturers of cars are taking seriously their interior decoration as well as outside painting; and many women interior decorators specialise along this line and devote their time to inventing colour schemes calculated to reflect the personality of the owner of the car.

Special orders have raised the standard of the entire industry, so that at the recent New York automobile show, many effects in cars were offered to the public. Besides the putty-coloured roadster lined with scarlet, black lined with russet yellow, orange lined with black; there were limousines painted a delicate custard colour, with top and rim of wheels, chassis and lamps of the same Nattier Blue as the velvet lining, cushions and curtains. A beautiful and luxurious background and how easy to be decorative against it to one who knows how!

Another popular colour scheme was a mauve body with top of canopy and rims of wheels white, the entire lining of mauve, like the body. Imagine your woman with a decorative instinct in this car. So obvious an opportunity would never escape her, and one can see the vision on a Summer day, as she appears in simple white, softest blue or pale pink, or better still, treating herself as a quaint nosegay of blush roses, for-get-me-nots, lilies and mignonette, with her chiffons and silks or sheerest of lawns.

"But how about me?" one hears from the girl of the open car—a racer perhaps, which she drives herself. You are easiest of all, we assure you; to begin with, your car being a racer, is painted and lined with durable dark colours—battleship grey, dust colour, or some shade which does not show dirt and wear. The consequence is, you will be decorative in any of the smart coats, close hats and scarfs in brilliant and lovely hues,—silk or wool.



ERE is a plan to follow when getting up a period costume:

We will assume that you wish to wear a Spanish dress of the time of Philip IV (early seventeenth century). The first thing to give your attention to is the station in life which you propose to represent. Granted that you decide on a court costume, one of those made so familiar by the paintings of the great Velasquez, let your first step be to get a definite impression of the outline of such a costume. Go to art galleries and look at pictures, go to libraries and ask for books on costumes, with plates.

You will observe that under the head of crinoline and hoop-skirt periods, there are a variety of outlines, markedly different. The slope of the hip line and the outline of the skirt is the infallible hall-mark of each of these periods.

Let it be remembered that the outline of a woman includes hair, combs, head-dress, earrings, treatment of neck, shoulders, arms, bust and hips; line to the ankles and shoes; also fan, handkerchief or any other article, which if a silhouette were made, would appear. The next step is to ascertain what materials were available at the time your costume was worn and what in vogue. Were velvets, satins or silks worn, or all three? Were materials flowered, striped, or plain? If striped, horizontal or perpendicular? For these points turn again to your art gallery, costume plates, or the best of historical novels. If you are unable to resort to the sources suggested, two courses lie open to you. Put the matter into the hands of an expert; there are many to be approached through the columns of first-class periodicals or newspapers (we do not refer to the ordinary dealer in costumes or theatre accessories); or make the effort to consult some authority, in person or by letter: an actor, historian or librarian. It is amazing how near at hand help often is, if we only make our needs known. If the reader is young and busy, dancing and skating and sleeping, and complains, in her winsome way, that "days are too short for such work," we would remind her that as already stated, to carefully study the details of any costume, of any period, means that the mind and the eye are being trained to discriminate between the essentials and non-essentials of woman's costume in every-day life. The same young beauty may be interested to know that at the beginning of Geraldine Farrar's career the writer, visiting with her, an exhibition of pictures in Munich, was amazed at the then, very young girl's familiarity with the manner of artists—ancient and modern,—and exclaimed "I did not know you were so fond of pictures." "It's not that," Farrar said, "I get my costumes from them, and a great many of my poses."


Portrait of Mrs. Philip M. Lydig, patron of the arts, exhibited in New York at Duveen Galleries during Winter of 1916-1917 with the Zuloaga pictures. The exhibition was arranged by Mrs. Lydig.

This portrait has been chosen to illustrate two points: that a distinguished decorative quality is dependent upon line which has primarily to do with form of one's own physique (and not alone the cut of the costume); and the great value of knowing one's own type.

Mrs. Lydig has been transferred to the canvas by the clever technique of one of the greatest modern painters, Ignacio Zuloaga, an artistic descendant of Velasquez. The delightful movement is that of the subject, in this case kept alive through its subtle translation into terms of art.

A Portrait of Mrs. Philip M. Lydig.
By I. Zuloago

Outline and material being decided, give your attention to the character of the background against which you are to appear. If it is a ball-room, and the occasion a costume-ball, is it done in light or dark colours, and what is the prevailing tone? See to it that you settle on a colour which will be either a harmonious note or an agreeable, hence impressive contrast, against the prevailing background. If you are to wear the costume on a stage or as a living picture against a background arranged with special reference to you, and where you are the central figure, be more subtle and combine colours, if you will; go in for interesting detail, provided always that you make these details have meaning. For example, if it be trimming, pure and simple, be sure that it be applied as during your chosen period. Trimming can be used so as to increase effectiveness of a costume by accentuating its distinctive features, and it can be misused so as to pervert your period, whether that be the age of Cleopatra, or the Winter of 1917. Details, such as lace, jewels, head-dresses, fans, snuff-boxes, work baskets and flowers must be absolutely of the period, or not at all. A few details, even one stunning jewel, if correct, will be far more convincing than any number of makeshifts, no matter how attractive in themselves. Paintings, plates and history come to our rescue here. If you think it dry work, try it. The chances are all in favour of your emerging from your search spell-bound by the vistas opened up to you; the sudden meaning acquired by many inanimate things, and a new pleasure added to all observations.

That Spanish comb of great-great-grandmother's is really a treasure now. The antique Spanish plaque you own, found to be Moorish lustre, and out of the attic it comes! A Spanish miracle cross proves the spiritual superstition of the race, so back to the junk-shop you go, hoping to acquire the one that was proffered.

Yes, Carmen should wear a long skirt when she dances, Spanish pictures show them; and so on.

The collecting of materials and all accessories to a costume, puts one in touch, not only with the dress, but the life of the period, and the customs of the times. Once steeped in the tradition of Spanish art and artists, how quick the connoisseur is to recognize Spanish influence on the art of Holland, France and England. Lead your expert in costumes of nations into talking of history and we promise you pictures of dynasties and lands that few historical writers can match. This man or woman has extracted from the things people wore the story of where they wore them, and when, and how; for the lover of colour we commend this method of studying history.

If any one of our readers is casting about for a hobby and craves one with inexhaustible possibilities, we would advise: try collecting data on periods in dress, as shown in the art treasures of the world, for of this there is verily no end.

We warn the novice in advance that each detail of woman's dress has for one in pursuit of such data the allure of the siren.

There is the pictured story of head-dresses and hats, and how the hair is worn, from Cleopatra's time till ours; the evolution of a woman's sleeve, its ups and downs and ins and outs as shown in art; the separation of the waist from skirt, and ever changing line of both; the neck of woman's gown so variously cut and trimmed and how the necklace changed likewise to accord; the passing of the sandals of the Greeks into the poetic glove-fitting slippers of to-day.

One sets out gaily to study costumes, full of the courage of ignorance, the joyous optimism of an enthusiast, because it is amusing and looks so simple with all the material,—old and new, lying about one.

Ah, that is the pitfall—the very abundance of those plates in wondrous books, old coloured prints and portraits of the past. To some students this kaleidoscopic vision of period costumes never falls into definite lines and colour; or if the types are clear, what they come from or merge into remains obscure.

For the eager beginner we have tried to evolve out of the whole mass of data a system of origin and development as definite as the anatomy of the human body, a framework on which to build. If our historical outline be clear enough to impress the mental vision as indelibly as those primary maps of the earth did, then we feel persuaded, the textless books of wonderful and beguiling costume plates will serve their end as never before. We humbly offer what we hope may prove a key to the rich storehouse.

Simplicity, and pure line, were lost sight of when overabundance dulled the senses of the world. We could prove this, for art shows that the costuming of woman developed slowly, preserving, as did furniture, the same classic lines and general characteristics until the fifteenth century, the end of the Middle Ages.

With the opening up of trade channels and the possibilities of easy and quick communication between countries we find, as we did in the case of furniture, periods of fashion developing without nationality. Nations declared themselves in the artistry of workmanship, as to-day, and in the modification and exaggeration of an essential detail, resulting from national or individual temperament.

If you ask, "Where do fashions come from,—why 'periods'?" we would answer that in the last analysis one would probably find in the conception of every fashion some artist's brain. If the period is a good one, then it proves that fate allowed the artist to be true to his muse. If the fashion is a bad one the artist may have had to adapt his lines and colour or detail to hide a royal deformity, or to cater to the whim of some wilful beauty ignorant of our art, but rich and in the public eye.

A fashion if started is a demon or a god let loose. As we have said, there is an interesting point to be observed in looking at woman as decoration; whether the medium be fresco, bas relief, sculpture, mosaic, stained glass or painting, the decorative line, shown in costumes, presents the same recurrent types that we found when studying the history of furniture.

For our present purposes it is expedient to confine ourselves to the observation of that expression of civilisation which had root, so far as we know, in Assyria and Egypt, and spread like a branching vine through Byzantium, Greece, Rome, Gothic Europe and Europe of the Renaissance, on through the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, down to the present time.

Costumes for woman and man are supposed to have had their origin in a cord tied about the waist, from which was suspended crude implements (used for the slaying of beasts for food, and in self-defence); trophies of war, such as teeth, scalps, etc. The trophies suspended, partly concealed the body and were for decoration, as was tattooing of the skin. Clothes were not the result of modesty; modesty followed the partial covering of the human body. Modesty, or shame, was the emotion which developed when man, accustomed to decoration—trophies or tattooing—was deprived of all or part of such covering. What parts of the body require concealment, is purely a matter of the customs prevailing with a race or tribe, at a certain time, and under certain conditions.


Mrs. Langtry (Lady de Bathe) who has been one of the greatest beauties of modern times and a marked example of a woman who has always understood her own type, to costume it.

She agrees that this photograph of her, in an evening wrap, illustrates a point she has always laid emphasis on: that a garment which has good lines—in which one is a picture—continues wearable even when not the dernier cri of fashion.

This wrap was worn by Mrs. Langtry about two years ago.

Mrs. Langtry (Lady de Bathe) in Evening Wrap

This is a theme, the detailed development of which lies outside the purpose of our book. It has delightful possibilities, however, if the plentiful data on the subject, given in scientific books, were to be condensed and simplified.



A Résumé

"UR present modes of dress (aside from the variations imposed by fashion) are the resultant of all the fashions of the last 2000 years."

W. G. Sumner in Folkways.

The earliest Egyptian frescoes, invaluable pre-historic data, show us woman as she was costumed, housed and occupied when the painting was done. On those age-old walls she appears as man's companion, his teacher, plaything, slave, and ruler;—in whatever rôle the fates decreed. The same frescoed walls have pictured records of how Egypt tilled the soil, built houses, worked in metals, pottery and sculpture. Woman is seen beside her man, who slays the beasts, at times from boats propelled through reeded jungles; and hers is always that rigid outline, those long, quiet eyes depicted in profile, with massive head-dress, and strange upstanding ornaments, abnormally curled wig, and close, straight garments to the feet (or none at all), heavy collar, wristbands and anklets of precious metals with gems inset, or chased in strange designs. About her, the calm mysterious poise and childlike acquiescence of those who know themselves to be the puppets of the gods. In this naïveté lies one of the great charms of Egyptian art.

As sculptured caryatide, we see woman of Egypt clad in transparent sheath-like skirt, nude above the waist, with the usual extinguishing head-dress and heavy collar, bracelets and anklets. We see her as woman, mute, law-abiding, supporting the edifice; woman with steady gaze and silent lips; one wonders what was in the mind of that lotus eater of the Nile who carved his dream in stone.

Those would reproduce Egyptian colour schemes for costumes, house or stage settings, would do well to consult the book of Egyptian designs, brought out in 1878 by the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, and available in the large libraries.

On the walls of the Necropolis of Memphis, Thi and his wife (Fifth Dynasty) appear in a delightful hunting scene. The man in the prow of his boat is about to spear an enormous beast, while his wife, seated in the bottom, wraps her arm about his leg!

Among the earliest portraits of an Egyptian woman completely clothed, is that of Queen Taia, wife of Amenophis, Eighteenth Dynasty, who wears a striped gown with sleeves of the kimono type and a ribbon tied around her waist, the usual ornamental collar and bracelets of gold, and an elaborate head-dress with deep blue curtain, extending to the waist, behind.

Full of illuminating suggestions is an example of Woman in Egyptian decoration, to be seen as a fresco in the Necropolis of Thebes. It shows the governess of a young prince (Eighteenth Dynasty) holding the child on her lap. The feet of the little prince rest on a stool, supported by nine crouching human beings—men; each has a collar about his neck, to which a leash is attached, and all nine leashes are held in the hands of the child!

The illustrations of the Egyptian funeral papyrus, The Book of the Dead, show woman in the rôle of wife and companion. It is the story of a high-born Egyptian woman, Tutu, wife of Ani, Royal Scribe and Scribe of the Sacred Revenue of all the gods of Thebes. Tutu, the long-eyed Egyptian woman, young and straight, with raven hair and active form, a Kemäit of Amon, which means she belonged to the religious chapter or congregation of the great god of Thebes. She was what might be described as lady-in-waiting or honorary priestess, to the god Amon. She, too, wears the typical Egyptian head-dress and straight, long white gown, hanging in close folds to her feet. One vignette shows Tutu with arm about her husband's leg. This seems to have been a naïve Egyptian way of expressing that eternal womanliness, that tender care for those beloved, that quality inseparable from woman if worthy the name, and by reason of which with man, her mate, she has run the gamut of human experience, meeting the demands of her time. There is no dodging the issue, woman's story recorded in art, shows that she has always responded to Fate's call; followed, led, ruled, been ruled, amused, instructed, sent her men into battle as Spartan mothers did to return with honour or on their shields, and when Fate so decreed, led them to battle, like Joan of Arc.


In Egypt and Assyria the lines of the torso were kept straight, with no contracting of body at waist line. Woman was clad in a straight sheet-like garment, extending from waist to feet with only metal ornaments above; necklace, bracelets and armlets; or a straight dress from neck to meet the heavy anklets. Sandals were worn on the feet. The head was encased in an abnormally curled wig, with pendent ringlets, and the whole clasped by a massive head-dress, following the contour of head and having as part of it, a curtain or veil, reaching down behind, across shoulders and approaching waist line. The Sphinx wears a characteristic Egyptian head-dress.


Mrs. Condé Nast, artist and patron of the arts, noted for her understanding of her own type and the successful costuming of it.

Mrs. Nast was Miss Clarisse Coudert. Her French blood accounts, in part, for her innate feeling for line and colour. It is largely due to the keen interest and active services of Mrs. Nast that Vogue and Vanity Fair have become the popular mirrors and prophetic crystal balls of fashion for the American woman.

Mrs. Nast is here shown in street costume. The photograph is by Baron de Meyer, who has made a distinguished art of photography.

We are here shown the value of a carefully considered outline which is sharply registered on the background by posing figure against the light, a method for suppressing all details not effecting the outline.

Photograph by Baron de Meyer
Mrs. Condé Nast in Street Dress


During the periods antedating Christ, when the Roman empire was all-powerful, the women of Egypt, Byzantium, Greece and Rome, wore gilded wigs (see Plate I, Frontispiece), arranged in Psyche knots, and banded; sandals on their feet, and a one-piece garment, confined at the waist by a girdle, which fell in close folds to the feet, a style to develop later into the classic Greek.

The Greek garment consisted of a great square of white linen, draped in the deft manner of the East, to adapt it to the human form, at once concealing and disclosing the body to a degree of perfection never since attained. There were undraped Greek garments left to hang in close, clinging folds, even in the classic period. It is this undraped and finely-pleated robe (see Plate XXI) hanging close to the figure, and the two-piece garment (see Plate IV) with its short tunic of the same material, extending just below the waist line in front, and drooping in a cascade of ripples at the sides, as low as the knees, that Fortuny (Paris) has reproduced in his tea gowns.

An Englishwoman told us recently that her great-great-grandmother used to describe how she and others of her time (Empire Period) wet their clothes to make them cling to their forms, à la Grecque!

The classic Greek costume was often a sleeveless garment, falling in folds, and when confined at waist line with cord the upper part bloused over it; the material was draped so as to leave the arms free, the folds being held in place by ornamental clasps upon the shoulders. The fitting was practically unaided by cutting; squares or straight lengths of linen being adjusted to the human form by clever manipulation. The adjusting of these folds, as we have said, developed into an art.

The use of large squares or shawls of brilliantly dyed linen, wool and later silk, is conspicuous in all the examples showing woman as decoration.

The long Gothic cape succeeds it, that enveloping circular garment, with and without the hood, and clasped at the throat, in which the Mother of God is invariably depicted. Her cape is the celestial royal blue.

The stained silk gauzes, popular with Greek dancers, were made into garments following the same classic lines, and so were the gymnasium costumes of the young girls of Greece. Isadora Duncan reproduces the latter in many of her dances.

In the chapter entitled "The Story of Textiles" in The Art of Interior Decoration, we have given a résumé of this branch of our subject.

The type of costume worn by woman throughout the entire Roman Empire during its most glorious period, was classic Greek, not only in general outline, but in detail. Note that the collarless neck was cut round and a trifle low; the lines of gown were long and followed each other; the trimming followed the hem of neck and sleeves and skirt; the hair, while artificially curled and sometimes intertwined with pearls and other gems, after being gilded, was so arranged as to show the contour of the head, then gathered into a Psyche knot. Gold bands, plain or jewelled, clasped and held the hair in place.

In the Gold Room of the Metropolitan Museum; in noted collections in Europe; in portraits and costume plates, one sees that the earrings worn at that period were great heavy discs, or half discs, of gold; large gold flowers, in the Etruscan style; large rings with groups of pendants,—usually three on each ring, and the drop earrings so much in vogue to-day.

Necklaces were broad, like collars, round and made of hand-wrought links and beads, with pendants. These filled in the neck of the dress and were evidently regarded as a necessary part of the costume.

The simple cord which confined the Greek woman's draperies at the waist, in Egypt and Byzantium, became a sash; a broad strip of material which was passed across the front of body at the waist, crossed behind and then brought tight over the hips to tie in front, low down, the ends hanging square to knees or below.

In Egypt a shoulder cape, with kerchief effect in front, broadened behind to a square, and reached to the waist line.

We would call attention to the fact that when the classic type of furniture and costume were revived by Napoleon I and the Empress Josephine, it was the Egyptian version, as well as the Greek. One sees Egyptian and Etruscan styles in the straight, narrow garment of the First Empire reaching to ankles, with parallel rows of trimming at the bottom of skirt.

The Empire style of parted hair, with cascade of curls each side, riotous curling locks outlining face, with one or two ringlets brought in front of ears, and the Psyche knot (which later in Victorian days lent itself to caricature, in a feather-duster effect at crown of head), were inspired by those curled and gilded creations such as Thaïs wore.

Hats, as we use the term to-day, were worn by the ancients. Some will remember the Greek hat Sibyl Sanderson wore with her classic robes when she sang Massenet's "Phédre," in Paris. It was Chinese in type. One sees this type of hat on Tanagra Statuettes in our museums.

Apropos of hats, designers to-day are constantly resurrecting models found in museums, and some of us recognise the lines and details of ancient head-dresses in hats turned out by our most up-to-date milliners.

Parasols and umbrellas were also used by Assyrians and Greeks. Sandals which only covered the soles of the feet were the usual footwear, but Greeks and Etruscans are shown in art as wearing also moccasin-like boots and shoes laced up the front.

Of course, the strapped slippers of the Empire were a version of classic sandals.

As we have said, the Greek gown and toga are found wherever the Roman Empire reached. The women of what are now France and England clothed themselves at that time in the same manner as the cultured class of Rome. Naturally the Germanic branch which broke from the parent stem, and drifted northward to strike root in unbroken forests, bordering on untried seas, wore skins and crudely woven garments, few and strongly made, but often picturesque.

Though but slightly reminiscent of the traditional costume, we know that the women of the third and fourth centuries wore a short, one-piece garment, with large earrings, heavy metal armlets above the elbow and at wrists. The chain about the waist, from which hung a knife, for protection and domestic purposes, is descendent from the savage's cord and ancestor to that lovely bauble, the chatelaine of later days, with its attached fan, snuff-box and jewelled watch.


Mrs. Condé Nast in an evening gown. Here again is a costume the beauty of which evades the dictum of fashion in the narrow sense of the term.

This picture has the distinction of a well-posed and finely executed old master and because possessing beauty of a traditional sort will continue to give pleasure long after the costume has perished.

Mrs. Condé Nast in Evening Dress



O the Romans, all who were not of Rome and her Empire, were foreigners,—outsiders, people with a strange viewpoint, so they were given a name to indicate this; they were called "barbarians."

Conspicuous among those tribes of barbarians, moved by human lust for gain to descend upon the Roman Empire and eventually bring about its fall, was the tribe of Goths, and in the course of centuries "Gothic" has become a generic term, implying that which is not Roman. We speak of Gothic architecture, Gothic art, Gothic costumes, when we mean, strictly speaking, the characteristic architecture, art and costuming of the late Middle Ages (twelfth to fifteenth centuries).

But we find the so-called Gothic outline in costume as early as the fourth century. Over the undraped, one-piece robe of classic type, a second garment is now worn, cut with straight lines. It usually fastens behind, and the uncorseted figure is outlined. The neck is still collarless and cut round, the space filled in with a necklace. The sleeves of the tunic appear to be the logical evolution of the folds of the toga, which fall over the arms when bent. They cling to the outline of the shoulder, broadening at the hand into what is called "angel" sleeves; in art, the traditional angel wears them.

Roman-Christian women wore their hair parted, no Psyche knot, and interesting, large earrings. The gowns were not draped, but were in one piece and with no fulness. A tunic, following lines of the form, reached below the knees and was belted. This garment was trimmed with bands from shoulders to hem of tunic and kept the same width throughout, if narrow; but if wide, the bands broadened to the hem. The neck continued to be cut round, and filled in with a necklace.

The cape, fastening on shoulders or chest, remnant of the Greek toga, was worn, and veils of various materials were the usual head coverings.

Between the fifth and tenth centuries there are examples of the overgarment or tunic having a broad stomacher of some contrasting material, held in place with a cord, which is tied behind, brought around to the front, knotted and allowed to hang to bottom of skirt.

Byzantine art between 800 and 1000 A. D. still shows women wearing tunics, but hanging straight from neck to hem of skirt, fastened on shoulders and opened at sides to show gown beneath; close sleeves with trimming at the wrists, often large, roughly cut jewels forming a border on tunic, and the hair worn in long braids on each side of the face; the coil of hair, which was wrapped with pearls or other beads, was parted and used to frame the face.

This fashion was carried to excess by the Franks. We see some of their women between 400 and 600 A. D. wearing these heavy, rope-like braids to the hem of the skirt in front.

In the fourteenth century the Gothic costume was perhaps at its most beautiful stage. The long robe, the upper part following the lines of the figure, with long close sleeves half covering hands, or flowing sleeves, that touched the floor. About the waist was worn a silk cord or jewelled girdle, finely wrought and swung low on hips; from the end of which was suspended the money bag, fan and keys.

The girdle begins now to play an important part as decoration. This theme, the evolution of the girdle, may be indefinitely enlarged upon but we must not dwell upon it here.

In some cases we see that the tunic opened in the front and that the large, square, shawl-like outer garment of Greece now became the long circular cape, clasped on the chest (one or two clasps), made so familiar by the art of the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Turn to the illuminated manuscripts of those periods, to paintings, on wood, frescoes, stained glass, stucco, carved wood, and stone, and you will find the Mother of God invariably costumed in the simple one-piece robe and circular clasped cape.

In most of the sacred art of the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Virgin and other saints are depicted in the current costume of woman. The Virgin was the most frequent subject of artists in every medium, during the ages when the Church dominated the State in Europe.

The refurnishing of the Virgin's wardrobe has long been and still is, a pious task and one clamoured for by adherents to the churches in which the Virgin's image is displayed to worshippers. We regret to say, for æsthetic reasons, that there is no effort made on the part of modern devotees to perpetuate the beautiful mediæval type of costume.

In some old paintings which come under the head of Folk Art, the Holy Family appears in national costume. The writer recalls a bit of eighteenth century painting, showing St. Anne holding the Virgin as child. St. Anne wears the bizarre fête attire of a Spanish peasant; a gigantic head-dress and veil, large earrings, wide stiff skirts, showing gay flowers on a background of gold. The skirt is rather short, to display wide trousers below it. Her sleeves have filmy frills of deep white lace executed with skill.


Mrs. Condé Nast in a garden costume. She wears a sun-hat and carries a flower-basket, which are decorative as well as useful.

We have chosen this photograph as an example of a costume made exquisitely artistic by being kept simple in line and free from an excess of trimming.

This costume is so decorative that it gives distinction and interest to the least pretentious of gardens.

Mrs. Condé Nast in Garden Costume

To return to the girdle, as we have said, it slipped from its position at the waist line, where it confined the classic folds, and was allowed to hang loosely about the hips, clasped low in front. From this clasp a chain extended, to which were attached the housewife's keys or purse and the dame of fashion's fan. In fact one can tell, to a certain extent, the woman's class and period by carefully inspecting her chatelaine.

The absence of waist line, and the long, straight effect produced in the body of gown by wearing the girdle swung about the hips, gives it the so-called Moyen Age silhouette, revived by the fashion of to-day.

In the thirteenth century the round collarless neck, low enough to admit a necklace of links or beads, persists. A new note is the outer sleeve laced across an inner sleeve of white.

Let us remember that the costume of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was distinguished by a quality of beautiful, sweeping line, massed colour, detail with raison d'être, which produced dignity with graceful movement, found nowhere to-day, unless it be on the Wagnerian stage or in the boudoir of a woman who still takes time, in our age of hurry, to wear her negligée beautifully.

In the fourteenth century the round neck continued, but one sees low necks too, which left the shoulders exposed (our 1830 style).

Another new note is the tunic grown into a garment reaching to the feet, a one-piece "princess" gown, with belt or girdle. Sometimes a Juliet cap was worn to merely cover the crown of head, with hair parted and flowing, while on matrons we see head coverings with sides turned up, like ecclesiastical caps, and floating veils falling to the waist.

Notice that through all the periods that we have named, which means until the fourteenth century, the line of shoulder remains normal and beautiful, sloping and melting into folds of robe or line of sleeve. We see now for the first time an inclination to tamper with the shoulder line. An inoffensive scallop appears,—or some other decoration, as cap to sleeve. No harm done yet!

The fifteenth century shows another style, a long sleeveless overgarment, reaching to the floor, fastened on shoulders and swinging loose, to show at sides the undergown. It suggests a priest's robe. Here we discover one more of the Moyen Age styles revived to-day.

The fourteenth century gowns, with necks cut out round, to admit a necklace with pendants, are still popular. The gowns are long on the ground, and the most beautiful of the characteristic head-dresses—the long, pointed one, with veil covering it, and floating down from point of cap to hem of flowing skirt behind, continues the movement of costume—the long lines which follow one another.

When correctly posed, this pointed head-dress is a delight to the eye. We recently saw a photograph of some fair young women in this type of Mediæval or Gothic costume worn by them at a costume ball. Failing to realise that the pose of any head-dress (this means hats as well) is all-important, they had placed the quaint, long, pointed caps on the very tops of their heads, like fools' caps!

The angle at which this head-dress is worn is half the battle.

The importance of every woman's cultivating an eye for line cannot be overstated.

In the fifteenth century we first see puffs at the elbow, otherwise the outlines of gown are the same. The garment in one piece, the body of it outlining the form, its skirts sweeping the ground; a girdle about the hips, and long, close or flowing sleeves, wide at the hem.

Despite the fourteenth century innovation of necks cut low and off the shoulders (berated by the Church), most necks in the fifteenth century are still cut round at the throat, and the necklace worn instead of collar. Some of the gowns cut low off the shoulders are filled in with a puffed tucker of muslin. The pointed cap with a floating veil is still seen.

Notice that the restraint in line, colour and detail, gradually disappears, with the abnormal circulation of wealth, in those departments of Church and State to which the current of material things was diverted. We now see humanity tricked out in rich attire and staggering to its doom through general debaucheries.

Rich brocades, once from Damascus, are now made in Venice; and so are wonderful satins, velvets and silks, with jewels many and massive.

Sometimes a broad jewelled band crossed the breast from shoulder diagonally to under arm, at waist.

The development of the petticoat begins now. At first we get only a glimpse of it, when our lady of the pointed cap lifts her long skirts, lined with another shade. It is of a rich contrasting colour and is gradually elaborated.

The waist-line, when indicated, is high.

A new note is the hair, with throat and neck completely concealed by a white veil, a style we associate with nuns and certain folk costumes. As fashion it had a passing vogue.

Originally, the habit of covering woman's hair indicated modesty (an idea held among the Folk), and the gradual shrinking of the dimensions of her coif, records the progress of the peasant woman's emancipation, in certain countries. This is especially conspicuous in Brittany, as M. Anatol Le Braz, the eminent Breton scholar, remarked recently to the writer.

Note the silk bag, quite modern, on the arm; also the jewelled line of chain hanging from girdle down the middle of front, to hem of skirt,—both for use and ornament.

To us of a practical era, a mysterious charm attaches to the long-pointed shoes worn at this period.

In the fifteenth century, the marked division of costume into waist and skirt begins, the waist line more and more pinched in, the skirt more and more full, the sleeves and neck more elaborately trimmed, the head-dresses multiplied in size, elaborateness and variety. Textiles developed with wealth and ostentation.

In the sixteenth century the neck was usually cut out and worn low on the shoulders, sometimes filled in, but we see also high necks; necks with small ruffs and necks with large ruffs; ruffs turned down, forming stiff linen-cape collars, trimmed with lace, close to the throat or flaring from neck to show the throat.

The hair is parted and worn low in a snood, or by young women, flowing. The ears are covered with the hair.


Mrs. Condé Nast wearing one of the famous Fortuny tea gowns.

This one has no tunic but is finely pleated, in the Fortuny manner, and falls in long lines, closely following the figure, to the floor.

Observe the decorative value of the long string of beads.

Mrs. Condé Nast in a Fortuny Tea Gown

The Virgin in Art

When writing of the Gothic period in The Art of Interior Decoration, we have said "… Gothic art proceeds from the Christian Church and stretches like a canopy over western Europe during the late Middle Ages. It was in the churches and monasteries that Christian Art, driven from pillar to post by wars, was obliged to take refuge, and there produced that marvellous development known as the Gothic style, of the Church, for the Church and by the Church, perfected in countless Gothic cathedrals, crystallised glorias, lifting their manifold spires to heaven; ethereal monuments of an intrepid Faith which gave material form to its adoration, its fasting and prayer, in an unrivalled art…"

"Crystallised glorias" (hymns to the Virgin) is as concise a defining of the nature and spirit of this highest type of mediæval art—perfected in France—as we can find. Here we have deified woman inspiring an art miraculously decorative.

Chartres Cathedral and Rheims (before the German invasion in 1914) with Mont Saint Michel, are distinguished examples.

If the readers would put to the test our claim that woman as decoration is a beguiling theme worthy of days passed in the broad highways of art, and many an hour in cross-roads and unbeaten paths, we would recommend to them the fascinations of a marvellous story-teller, one who, knowing all there is to know of his subject, has had the genius to weave the innumerable and perplexing threads into a tapestry of words, where the main ideas take their places in the foreground, standing out clearly defined against the deftly woven, intelligible but unobtruding background. The author is Henry Adams, the book, The Cathedrals of Mont St. Michel and Chartres. He tells you in striking language, how woman was translated into pure decoration in the Middle Ages, woman as the Virgin Mother of God, the manifestation of Deity which took precedence over all others during the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; and if you will follow him to the Chartres Cathedral (particularly if you have been there already), and will stand facing the great East Window, where in stained glass of the ancient jewelled sort, woman, as Mother of God, is enthroned above all, he will tell you how, out of the chaos of warring religious orders, the priestly schools of Abelard, St. Francis of Assisi and others, there emerged the form of the Virgin.

To woman, as mother of God and man, the instrument of reproduction, of tender care, of motherhood, the disputatious, groping mind of man agreed to bow, silenced and awed by the mystery of her calling.

In view of the recent enrolling of womanhood in the stupendous business of the war now waging in Europe, and the demands upon her to help in arming her men or nursing back to life the shattered remains of fair youth, which so bravely went forth, the thought comes that woman will play a large part in the art to arise from the ashes of to-day. Woman as woman ready to supplement man, pouring into life's caldron the best of herself, unstinted, unmeasured; woman capable of serving beyond her strength, rising to her greatest height, bending, but not breaking to the end, if only assured she is needed.



Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

HE marked departure is necks cut square, if low, and elaborate jewelled chains draped from shoulders, outlining neck of gown and describing a festoon on front of waist, which is soon to become independent of skirt to develop on its own account.

As in the fifteenth century, when necks were cut low off the shoulders, they were on occasions filled in with tuckers.

The skirt now registers a new characteristic; it parts at the waist line over a petticoat, and the opening is decorated by the ornamental, heavy chain which hangs from girdle to hem of gown.

One sees the hair still worn coiled low in the neck, concealing the ears and held in a snood or in Italy cut "Florentine" fashion with fringe on brow.

Observe how the wealth of the Roman Empire, through its new trade channels opening up with the East (the result of the crusades) led to the importation of rich and many-coloured Oriental stuffs; the same wealth ultimately established looms in Italy for making silks and velvets, to decorate man and his home. There was no longer simplicity in line and colour scheme; gorgeous apparel fills the frames of the Renaissance and makes amusing reading for those who consult old documents. The clothes of man, like his over-ornate furniture, show a debauched and vulgar taste. Instead of the lines which follow one another, solid colours, and trimmings kept to hem of neck and sleeve and skirt, great designs, in satins and velvet brocades, distort the lines and proportions of man and woman.

The good Gothic lines lived on in the costumes of priests and nuns.

Jewelry ceased to be decoration with meaning; lace and fringe, tassels and embroidery, with colour combinations to rival the African parrots, disfigured man and woman alike.

During November of 1916, New York was so fortunate as to see, at the American Art Galleries, the great collection of late Gothic and early Renaissance furniture and other art treasures, brought together in the restored Davanzati Palace of Florence, Italy. The collection was sold at auction, and is now scattered. Of course those who saw it in its natural setting in Florence, were most fortunate of all. But with some knowledge and imagination, at the sight of those wonderful things,—hand-made all of them,—the most casual among those who crowded the galleries for days, must have gleaned a vivid impression of how woman of the Early Renaissance lived,—in her kitchen, dining-room, bedroom and reception-rooms. They displayed her cooking utensils, her chairs and tables, her silver, glass and earthenware, her bed, linen, satin damask, lace and drawn work; the cushions she rested against; portraits in their gorgeous Florentine frames, showing us how those early Italians dressed; the colored terra-cottas, unspeakably beautiful presentments of the Virgin and Child, moulded and painted by great artists under that same exaltation of Faith which brought into being the sister arts of the time, imbuing them with something truly divine. There is no disputing that quality which radiates from the face of both the Mother and the Child. One all but kneels before it. Their expression is not of this world.


Mrs. Vernon Castle who set to-day's fashion in outline of costume and short hair for the young woman of America. For this reason and because Mrs. Castle has form to a superlative degree (correct carriage of the body) and the clothes sense (knowledge of what she can wear and how to wear it) we have selected her to illustrate several types of costumes, characteristic of 1916 and 1917.

Another reason for asking Mrs. Castle to illustrate our text is, that what Mrs. Castle's professional dancing has done to develop and perfect her natural instinct for line, the normal exercise of going about one's tasks and diversions can do for any young woman, provided she keep in mind correct carriage of body when in action or repose. Here we see Mrs. Castle in ball costume.

Mrs. Vernon Castle in Ball Costume

That is woman as the Mother of God in art Woman as the mother of man, who looked on these inspired works of art, lived for the most part in small houses built of wood with thatched roofs, unpaved streets, dirty interiors, which were cleaned but once a week—on Saturdays! The men of the aristocracy hunted and engaged in commerce, and the general rank and file gave themselves over to the gaining of money to increase their power. It sounds not unlike New York to-day.

Gradually the cities grew large and rich. People changed from simple sober living to elaborate and less temperate ways, and the great families, with their proportionately increased wealth gained through trade, built beautiful palaces and built them well. The gorgeous colouring of the frescoed walls shows Byzantine influence. In The Art of Interior Decoration we have described at length the house furnishing of that time. Against this background moved woman, man's mate; note her colour scheme and then her rôle. (We quote from Jahn Rusconi in Les Arts, Paris, August, 1911.)

"Donna Francesca dei Albizzi's cloak of black cloth ornamented on a yellow background with birds, parrots, butterflies, pink and red roses, and a few other red and green figures; dragons, letters and trees in yellow and black, and again other figures made of white cloth with red and black stripes."

Extravagance ran high not only in dress, but in everything, laws were made to regulate the amount spent on all forms of entertainment, even on funerals, and the cook who was to prepare a wedding feast had to submit his menu for approval to the city authorities. More than this, only two hundred guests could be asked to a wedding, and the number of presents which the bride was allowed to receive was limited by law. But wealth and fashion ran away with laws; the same old story.

As the tide of the Renaissance rose and swept over Europe (the awakening began in Italy), the woman of the gorgeous cloak and her contemporaries, according to the vivid description of the last quoted author, were "subject to their husbands' tyranny, not even knowing how to read in many cases, occupied with their household duties, in which they were assisted by rough and uncouth slaves, with no other mission in life than to give birth to a numerous posterity… This life ruined them, and their beauty quickly faded away; no wonder, then, that they summoned art to the aid of nature. The custom was so common and the art so perfect that even a painter like Taddeo Gaddi acknowledged that the Florentine women were the best painters in the world!… Considering the mental status of the women, it is easy to imagine to what excesses they were given in the matter of dress." The above assertions relate to the average woman, not the great exceptions.

The marriage coffers of woman of the Renaissance in themselves give an idea of her luxurious tastes. They were about six feet long, three feet high, and two and a half feet deep. Some had domed covers opening on hinges—the whole was carved, gilded and painted, the background of reds and blues throwing the gold into relief. Scenes taken from mythology were done in what was known as "pastille," composition work raised and painted on a gold background. On one fifteenth century marriage coffer, Bacchus and Ariadne were shown in their triumphal car drawn by winged griffins, a young Bacchante driving them on. Another coffer decorated in the same manner had as decoration "The Rape of Proserpine."

Women rocked their infants in sumptuous carved and emblazoned walnut cradles, and crimson satin damask covered their beds and cushions. This blaze of gold and silver, crimson and blue we find as the wake of Byzantine trade, via Constantinople, Venice, Rome, Florence on to France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Flanders and England. Carved wood, crimson, green and blue velvets, satin damask, tapestries, gold and silver fringe and lace. Against all this moved woman, costumed sumptuously.

Gradually the line of woman's (and man's) neck is lost in a ruff, her sweeping locks, instead of parted on her brow, entwined with pearls or other gems to frame her face and make long lines down the length of her robe, are huddled under grotesque head-dresses, monstrous creations, rising and spreading until they become caricatures, defying art.

In some sixteenth century Italian portraits we see the ruff flaring from a neck cut out square and low in front, then rising behind to form a head covering.

The last half of the sixteenth century is marked by gowns cut high in the neck with a close collar, and the appearance of a small ruff encircling the throat. This ruff almost at once increased to absurd dimensions.

The tightly laced long-pointed bodice now appears, with and without padded hips. (The superlative degree of this type is to be seen in portraits by Velasquez (see Plate IX).)

Long pointed toes to the shoes give way to broad, square ones.

Another sixteenth century departure is the absurdly small hat, placed as if by the wind, at a careless angle on the hair, which is curled and piled high.

Also we see hats of normal size with many plumes, on both men and women.

Notice the sleeves: some are still flowing, with tight undersleeves, others slashed to show full white sleeve beneath. But most important of all is that the general license, moral and artistic, lays its ruthless hand on woman's beautiful, sweeping shoulder line and distorts it. Anne of Cleves, or the progressive artist who painted her, shows in a portrait the Queen's flowing sleeves with mediæval lines, clasped by a broad band between elbow and shoulder, and then pushed up until the sleeve forms an ugly puff. A monstrous fashion, this, and one soon to appear in a thousand mad forms. Its first vicious departure is that small puffy, senselessly insinuated line between arm-hole and top of sleeve in garments for men as well as women.

Skirts button from point of basque to feet just before we see them, in the seventeenth century, parting down the front and separating to show a petticoat. In Queen Elizabeth's time the acme of this style was reached by Spanish women as we see in Velasquez's portraits. Gradually the overskirt is looped back, (at first only a few inches), and tied with narrow ribbons.


Mrs. Vernon Castle in Winter afternoon costume, one which is so suited to her type and at the same time conservative as to outline and detail, that it would have charm whether in style or not.

Victor Georg—Chicago
Mrs. Vernon Castle in Afternoon Costume—Winter

The second quarter of the seventeenth century shows the waist line drawn in and bodice with skirts a few inches in depth. These skirts are the hall-mark of a basque.

Very short, full coats flaring from under arms now appear.

After the skirt has been pushed back and held with ribbons, we find gradually all fulness of upper skirt pushed to hips to form paniers, and across the back to form a bustle effect, until we have the Marie Antoinette type, late eighteenth century. Far more graceful and séduisant than the costume of Queen Elizabeth's time.

The figures presented by Marie Antoinette and her court, powdered wigs and patches, paniers and enormous hats, surmounting the horsehair erections, heavy with powder and grease, lace, ribbon flowers and jewels, are quaint, delightful and diverting, but not to be compared with the Greek or mediæval lines in woman's costume.

Extremely extended skirts gave way to an interlude of full skirts, but flowing lines in the eighteenth century English portraits.

The Directoire reaction towards simplicity was influenced by English fashion.

Empire formality under classic influence came next. Then Victorian hoops which were succeeded by the Victorian bustles, pantalets, black velvet at throat and wrists, and lockets.



HE eighteenth century is unique by reason of scientific discoveries, mechanical inventions and chemical achievements, coupled with the gigantic political upheaval of the French Revolution.

It is unique, distinguished and enormously fruitful. For example, the modern frenzy for chintz, which has made our homes burst into bloom in endless variety, had its origin in the eighteenth century looms at Jouy, near Versailles, under the direction of Oberkampf.

Before 1760 silks and velvets decorated man and his home. Royal patronage co-operating with the influence of such great decorators as Percier and Fontaine gave the creating of beautiful stuffs to the silk factories of Lyons.

Printed linens and painted wall papers appeared in France simultaneously, and for the same reason. The Revolution set mass-taste (which is often stronger than individual inclination), toward unostentatious, inexpensive materials for house furnishing and wearing apparel.

The Revolution had driven out royalty and the high aristocracy who, with changed names lived in seclusion. Society, therefore, to meet the mass-desire, was driven to simple ways of living. Men gave up their silks and velvets and frills, lace and jewels for cloth, linen, and sombre neck-cloths. The women did the same; they wore muslin gowns and their own hair, and went to great length in the affectation of simplicity and patriotic fervour.

We hear that, apropos of America having at this moment entered the great struggle with the Central Powers, simplicity is decreed as smart for the coming season, and that those who costume themselves extravagantly, furnish their homes ostentatiously or allow their tables to be lavish, will be frowned upon as bad form and unpatriotic.

These reactions are inevitable, and come about with the regularity of tides in this world of perpetual repetition.

The belles of the Directorate shook their heads and bobbed their pretty locks at the artificiality Marie Antoinette et cie had practised. I fear they called it sinful art to deftly place a patch upon the face, or make a head-dress in the image of a man-of-war.

Mme. de Staël's familiar head-dress, twisted and wrapped around her head à la Turque, is said to have had its origin in the improvisation of the court hairdresser. Desperately groping for another version of the top-heavy erection, to humour the lovely queen, he seized upon a piece of fine lace and muslin hanging on a chair at hand, and twisting it, wrapped the thing about the towering wig. As it happened, the chiffon was my lady's chemise!

We begin the eighteenth century with a full petticoat, trimmed with rows of ruffles or bands; an overskirt looped back into paniers to form the bustle effect; the natural hair powdered; and head-dress of lace, standing out stiffly in front and drooping in a curtain behind.

It was not until the whim of Marie Antoinette decreed it so, that the enormous powdered wigs appeared.

Viennese temperament alone accounts for the moods of this lovely tragic queen, who played at making butter, in a cap and apron, over simple muslin frocks, but outdid her artificial age in love of artifice (not Art) in dress.

This gay and dainty puppet of relentless Fate propelled by varying moods must needs lose her lovely head at last, as symbol of her time.


Mrs. Vernon Castle in a summer afternoon costume appropriate for city or country and so adapted to the wearer's type that she is a picture, whether in action; seated on her own porch; having tea at the country club; or in the Winter sun-parlour.

Mrs. Vernon Castle in Afternoon Costume—Summer



HE first seventy years of the nineteenth century seem to us of 1917 absolutely incredible in regard to dress. How our great-great-grandmothers ever got about on foot, in a carriage or stage-coach, moved in a crowd or even sat in any measure of serenity at home, is a mystery to us of an age when comfort, convenience, fitness and chic have at last come to terms. For a vivid picture of how our American society looked between 1800 and 1870, read Miss Elizabeth McClellan's Historic Dress in America, published in 1910 by George W. Jacobs & Co., of Philadelphia. The book is fascinating and it not only amuses and informs, but increases one's self-respect, if a woman, for modern woman dressed in accordance with her rôle.

We can see extravagant wives point out with glee to tyrant mates how, in the span of years between 1800 and 1870 our maternal forebears made money fly, even in the Quaker City. Fancy paying in Philadelphia at that time, $1500 for a lace scarf, $400 for a shawl, $100 for the average gown of silk, and $50 for a French bonnet! Miss McClellan, quoting from Mrs. Roger Pryor's Memoirs, tells how she, Mrs. Pryor, as a young girl in Washington, was awakened at midnight by a note from the daughter of her French milliner to say that a box of bonnets had arrived from Paris. Mamma had not yet unpacked them and if she would come at once, she might have her pick of the treasures, and Mamma not know until too late to interfere. And this was only back in the 50's, we should say.

Then think of the hoops, and wigs and absurdly furbished head-dresses; paper-soled shoes, some intended only to sit in; bonnets enormous; laces of cobweb; shawls from India by camel and sailing craft; rouge, too, and hair grease, patches and powder; laced waists and cramped feet; low necks and short sleeves for children in school-rooms.

Man was then still decorative here and in western Europe. To-day he is not decorative, unless in sports clothes or military uniform; woman's garments furnish all the colour. Whistler circumvented this fact when painting Theodore Duret (Metropolitan Museum) in sombre black broadcloth,—modern evening attire, by flinging over the arm of Duret, the delicate pink taffeta and chiffon cloak of a woman, and in M. Duret's hand he places a closed fan of pomegranate red.



UROPEAN dress" is the term accepted to imply the costume of man and woman which is entirely cosmopolitan, decrying continuity of types (of costume) and thoroughly plastic in the hands of fashion.

To-day, we say parrot-like, that certain materials, lines and colours are masculine or feminine. They are so merely by association. The modern costuming of man the world over, if he appear in European dress (we except court regalia), is confined to cloth, linen or cotton, in black, white and inconspicuous colours; a prescribed and simple type of neckwear, footwear, hat, stick, and hair cut.

The progenitor of the garments of modern men was the Lutheran-Puritan-Revolutionary garb, the hall-mark of democracy.

It is true that when silk was first introduced into Europe, from the Orient, the Greeks and early Romans considered it too effeminate for man's use, but this had to do with the doctrine of austere denial for the good of the state. To wear the costume of indolence implied inactivity and induced it. As a matter of fact, some of the master spirits of Greece did wear silks.

In Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Media, Persia and the Far East, men and women wore the same materials, as in China and Japan to-day. Egyptian men and their contemporaries throughout Byzantium, wore gowns, in outline identical with those of the women. Among the Turks, trousers were always considered as appropriate for women as for men, and both men and women wore over the trousers, a long garment not unlike those of the women in the Gothic period.

Thaïs wore a gilded wig, but so did the men she knew, and they added gilded false beards.

Assyrian kings wore earrings, bracelets and wonderful clasps with chains, by which the folds of their draped garment,—cut like the woman's, might be caught up and held securely, leaving feet, arms and hands free for action.

When the genius of the Byzantine, Greek and Venetian manufacturers of silks and velvets, rich in texture and ablaze with colour, were offered for sale to the Romans, whose passion for display had increased with their fortunes, and consequent lives of dissipation, we find there was no distinction made between the materials used by man and woman.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Renaissance spells brocade. Great designs and small ones sprawled over the figures of man and woman alike.

Lace was as much his as hers to use for wide, elaborate collars and cuffs. Embroidery belonged to both, and the men (like the women) of Germany, France, Italy and England wore many plumes on their big straw hats and metal helmets. The intercommunication between the Orient and all of the countries of the Western Hemisphere, and the abundance and variety of human trappings bewildered and vitiated taste.


Mrs. Vernon Castle costumed à la guerre for a walk in the country.

The cap is after one worn by her aviator husband.

This is one of the costumes—there are many—being worn by women engaged in war work under the head of messengers, chauffeurs, etc.

The shoes are most decidedly not for service, but they will be replaced when the time is at hand, for others of stout leather with heavy soles and flat heels.

Mrs. Vernon Castle Costumed á la Guerre for a Walk

Unfortunately the change in line of costume has not moved parallel to the line in furniture. The revival of classic interior decoration in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, England, etc., did not at once revive the classic lines in woman's clothes.



HE idea that man decorative, by reason of colour or line in costume, is of necessity either masquerading or effeminate, proceeds chiefly from the conventional nineteenth and twentieth century point of view in America and western Europe. But even in those parts of the world we are accustomed to colour in the uniforms of army and navy, the crimson "hood" of the university doctor, and red sash of the French Legion of Honour. We accept colour as a dignified attribute of man's attire in the cases cited, and we do not forget that our early nineteenth century American masculine forebears wore bright blue or vivid green coats, silver and brass buttons and red or yellow waistcoats. The gentleman sportsman of the early nineteenth century hunted in bright blue tailed coats with brass buttons, scarlet waistcoat, tight breeches and top hat! We refer to the same class of man who to-day wears rough, natural coloured tweeds, leather coat and close cap that his prey may not see him.

In a sense, colour is a sign of virility when used by man. We have the North American Indian with his gay feathers, blankets and war paint, and the European peasant in his gala costume. In many cases colour is as much his as his woman's. Some years ago, when collecting data concerning national characteristics as expressed in the art of the Slavs, Magyars and Czechs, the writer studied these peoples in their native settings. We went first to Hungary and were disappointed to find Buda Pest far too cosmopolitan to be of value for the study of national costume, music or drama. The dominating and most artistic element in Hungary is the Magyar, and we were there to study him. But even the Gypsies who played the Magyar music in our hotel orchestra, wore the black evening dress of western Europe and patent leather shoes, and the music they played was from the most modern operettas. It was not until a world-famous Hungarian violinist arrived to give concerts in Buda Pest that the national spirit of the Gypsies was stirred to play the Magyar airs in his honour. (Gypsies take on the spirit of any adopted land). We then realised what they could make of the Recockzy march and other folk music.

The experience of that evening spurred us to penetrate into southern Hungary, the heart of Magyar land, armed with letters of introduction, from one of the ministers of education, to mayors of the peasant villages.

It was impossible to get on without an interpreter, as usually even the mayors knew only the Magyar language—not a word of German. That was the perfect region for getting at Magyar character expressed in the colour and line of costume, manner of living, point of view, folk song and dance. It is all still vividly clear to our mind's eye. We saw the first Magyar costumes in a village not far from Buda Pest. To make the few miles quickly, we had taken an electric trolley, vastly superior to anything in New York at the time of which we speak; and were let off in the centre of a group of small, low thatched cottages, white-washed, and having a broad band of one, two or three colours, extending from the ground to about three feet above it, and completely encircling the house. The favourite combination seemed to be blue and red, in parallel stripes. Near one of these houses we saw a very old woman with a long lashed whip in her hand, guarding two or three dark, curly, long-legged Hungarian pigs. She wore high boots, many short skirts, a shawl and a head-kerchief. Presently two other figures caught our eye: a man in a long cape to the tops of his boots, made of sheepskin, the wool inside, the outside decorated with bright-coloured wools, outlining crude designs. The black fur collar was the skin of a small black lamb, legs and tail showing, as when stripped off the little animal. The man wore a cone-shaped hat of black lamb and his hair reached to his shoulders. He smoked a very long-stemmed pipe with a china bowl, as he strolled along. Behind him a woman walked, bowed by the weight of an immense sack. She wore boots to the knees, many full short skirts, and a yellow and red silk head-kerchief. By her head-covering we knew her to be a married woman. They were a farmer and his wife! Among the Magyars the man is very decidedly the peacock; the woman is the pack-horse. On market days he lounges in the sunshine, wrapped in his long sheepskin cape, and smokes, while she plies the trade. In the farmers' homes of southern Hungary where we passed some time, we, as Americans, sat at table with the men of the house, while wife and daughter served. There was one large dish of food in the centre, into which every one dipped! The women of the peasant class never sit at table with their men; they serve them and eat afterwards, and they always address them in the second person as, "Will your graciousness have a cup of coffee?" Also they always walk behind the men. At country dances we have seen young girls in bright, very full skirts, with many ribbons braided into the hair, cluster shyly at a short distance from the dancing platform in the fair grounds, waiting to be beckoned or whistled to by one of the sturdy youths with skin-tight trousers, tucked into high boots, who by right of might, has stationed himself on the platform. When they have danced, generally a czardas, the girl goes back to the group of women, leaving the man on the platform in command of the situation! Yet already in 1897 women were being admitted to the University of Buda Pest. There in Hungary one could see woman run the whole gamut of her development, from man's slave to man's equal.


Mrs. Vernon Castle in one of her dancing costumes.

She was snapped by the camera as she sprang into a pose of mere joyous abandon at the conclusion of a long series of more or less exacting poses.

Mrs. Castle assures us that to repeat the effect produced here, in which camera, lucky chance and favourable wind combined, would be well-nigh impossible.

Mrs. Vernon Castle
A Fantasy

We found the national colour scheme to have the same violent contrasts which characterise the folk music and the folk poetry of the Magyars.

Primitive man has no use for half-tones. It was the same with the Russian peasants and with the Poles. Our first morning in Krakau a great clattering of wheels and horses' hoofs on the cobbled court of our hotel, accompanied by the cracking of a whip and voices, drew us to our window. At first we thought a strolling circus had arrived, but no, that man with the red crown to his black fur cap, a peacock's feather fastened to it by a fantastic brooch, was just an ordinary farmer in Sunday garb. In the neighbourhood of Krakau the young men wear frock coats of white cloth, over bright red, short tight coats, and their light-coloured skin-tight trousers, worn inside knee boots, are embroidered in black down the fronts.

One afternoon we were the guests of a Polish painter, who had married a pretty peasant, his model. He was a gentleman by birth and breeding, had studied art in Paris and spoke French, German and English. His wife, a child of the soil, knew only the dialect of her own province, but with the sensitive response of a Pole, eagerly waited to have translated to her what the Americans were saying of life among women in their country. She served us with tea and liquor, the red heels of her high boots clicking on the wooden floor as she moved about. As colour and as line, of a kind, that young Polish woman was a feast to the eye; full scarlet skirt, standing out over many petticoats and reaching only to the tops of her knee boots, full white bodice, a sleeveless jacket to the waist line, made of brightly coloured cretonne, outlined with coloured beads; a bright yellow head-kerchief bound her soft brown hair; her eyes were brown, and her skin like a yellow peach. On her neck hung strings of coral and amber beads. There was indeed a decorative woman! As for her background, it was simple enough to throw into relief the brilliant vision that she was. Not, however, a scheme of interior decoration to copy! The walls were whitewashed; a large stove of masonry was built into one corner, and four beds and a cradle stood on the other side of the room, over which hung in a row five virgins, the central one being the Black Virgin beloved by the Poles. The legend is that the original was painted during the life of the Virgin, on a panel of dark wood. Here, too, was the marriage chest, decorated with a crude design in bright colours. The children, three or four of them, ran about in the national costume, miniatures of their mother, but barefoot.

It was the same in Hungary, when we were taken by the mayor of a Magyar town to visit the characteristic farmhouse of a highly prosperous farmer, said to be worth two hundred thousand dollars. The table was laid in the end of a room having four beds in it. On inquiring later, we were told that they were not ordinarily used by the family, but were heaped with the reserve bedding. In other words, they were recognised by the natives as indicating a degree of affluence, and were a bit of ostentation, not the overcrowding of necessity.



ROM Hungary we continued our quest of line and colour of folk costume into Russia.

Strangely enough, Russia throws off the imperial yoke of autocracy, declaring for democratic principles, at the very moment we undertake to put into words the vivid picturesqueness resulting largely from the causes of this astounding revolution. Have you been in Russia? Have you seen with your own eyes any phase of the violent contrasts which at last have caused the worm to turn? Our object being to study national characteristics as expressed in folk costume, folk song, folk dance, traditional customs and fêtes, we consulted students of these subjects, whom we chanced to meet in London, Paris, Vienna and Buda Pest, with the result that we turned our faces toward southern or "Little" Russia, as the part least affected by cosmopolitan influences.

Kiev was our headquarters, and it is well to say at once that we found what we sought,—ample opportunity to observe the genuine Russian, the sturdy, dogged, plodding son of toil, who, more than any other European peasant seems a part of the soil, which in sullen persistency he tills. We knew already the Russians of Petrograd and Moscow; one meets them in Paris, London, Vienna, at German and Austrian Cures and on the Riviera. They are everywhere and always distinctive by reason of their Slav temperament; a magnetic race quality which is Asiatic in its essence. We recognise it, we are stirred by it, we are drawn to it in their literature, their music, their painting and in the Russian people themselves. The quality is an integral part of Russian nature; polishing merely increases its attraction as with a gem. One instance of this is the folk melody as treated by Tschaikowsky compared with its simple form as sung or danced by the peasant.


A skating costume worn by Miss Weld of Boston, holder of the Woman's Figure Skating Championship.

This photograph was taken in New York on March 23, 1917, when amateurs contested for the cup and Miss Weld won—this time over the men.

The costume of wine-coloured velvet trimmed with mole-skin, a small close toque to match, was one of the most appropriate and attractive models of 1916-1917.

Courtesy of New York Herald Modern Skating Costume 1917 Winner of Amateur Championship of Fancy Skating

Some of the Russian women of the fashionable world are very decorative. Our first impression of this type was in Paris, at the Russian Church on Christmas (or was it some other holy day?) when to the amazement of the uninitiated the Russian women of the aristocracy appeared at the morning service hatless and in full evening dress, wearing jewels as if for a function at some secular court. Their masculine escorts appeared in full regalia, the light of the altar candles adding mystery to the glitter of gold lace and jewels. Those occasions are picturesque in the extreme.

The congregation stands, as in the Jewish synagogues, and those of highest rank are nearest the altar, invariably ablaze with gold, silver and precious stones, while on occasions the priest wears cloth of gold.

In Paris this background and the whole scene was accepted as a part of the pageant of that city, but in Kiev it was different. There we got the other side of the picture; the man and the woman who are really Russia, the element that finds an outlet in the folk music, for its age-old rebellious submission. One hears the soul of the Russian pulsating in the continued reiteration of the same theme; it is like the endless treadmill of a life without vistas. We were looking at the Russia of Maxim Gorky, the Russia that made Tolstoy a reformer; that has now forced its Czar to abdicate.

We reached Kiev just before the Easter of the Greek Church, the season when the pilgrims, often as many as fifty thousand of them, tramp over the frozen roads from all parts of the empire to expiate their sins, kneeling at the shrine of one of their mummied, sainted bishops.

The men and women alike, clad in grimy sheepskin coats, moved like cattle in straggling droves, over the roads which lead to Kiev. From a distance one cannot tell man from woman, but as they come closer, one sees that the woman has a bright kerchief tied round her head, and red or blue peasant embroidery dribbles below her sheepskin coat. She is as stocky as a Shetland pony and her face is weather-beaten, with high cheekbones and brown eyes. The man wears a black astrachan conical cap and his hair is long and bushy, from rubbing bear grease into it. He walks with a crooked staff, biblical in style, and carries his worldly goods in a small bundle flung over his shoulder. The woman carries her own small burden. As they shuffle past, a stench arises from the human herd. It comes from the sheepskin, which is worked in, slept in, and, what is more, often inherited from a parent who had also worn it as his winter hide. Added to the smell of the sheepskin is that of an unwashed human, and the reek of stale food, for the poorest of the Russian peasants have no chimneys to their houses. They cannot afford to let the costly heat escape.

Kiev, the holy city and capital of Ancient Russia, climbs from its ancestral beginnings, on the banks of the River Dneiper, up the steep sides and over the summit of a commanding hilltop, crowned by an immense gold cross, illumined with electricity by night, to flash its message of hope to foot-sore pilgrims. The driver of our drosky drove us over the rough cobbles so rapidly, despite the hill, that we were almost overturned. It is the manner of Russian drosky drivers. The cathedral, our goal, was snowy-white, with frescoes on the outer walls, onion-shaped domes of bronze turned green; or gold, or blue with stars of gold.

We entered and found the body of the church well filled by peasants, women and men in sheepskin. One poor doe-eyed creature crouched to press his forehead twenty times at least on the stone floor of the church. Eagerly, like a flock of sheep, they all pushed forward to where a richly-robed priest held a cross of gold for each to kiss, taking their proffered kopeks.

The setting sun streamed through the ancient stained glass, dyeing their dirty sheepskin crimson, and purple, and green, until they looked like illuminations in old missals. To the eye and the mind of western Europe it was all incomprehensible. Yet those were the people of Russia who are to-day her mass of armed defenders; the element that has been counted on from the first by Russia and her allies stood penniless before an altar laid over with gold and silver and precious stones. Just before we got to Kiev, one of those men in sheepskins with uncut hair and dogged expression, who had a sense of values in human existence, broke into the church and stole jeweled chalices from the altar. They were traced to a pawnshop in a distant city and brought back. It was a common thing to see men halt in the street and stand uncovered, while a pitiful funeral cortege passed. A wooly, half-starved, often lame horse, was harnessed with rope to a simple four-wheeled farm wagon, a long-haired peasant at his head, women and children holding to the sides of the cart as they stumbled along in grief, and inside a rough wooden coffin covered with a black pall, on which was sewn the Greek cross, in white. Heartless, hopeless, weary and underfed, those peasants were taking their dead to be blessed for a price, by the priest in cloth of gold, without whose blessing there could be no burial.



HE public thinks of Mark Twain as being the apostle of white during the last years of his life, but those who knew him well recall his delightfully original way of expressing an intense love for bright colours. This brings to mind a week-end at Mark Twain's beautiful Italian villa in Reading, Connecticut, when, one night during dinner, he held forth on the compelling fascination of colours and the American Indian's superior judgment in wearing them. After a lengthy elaboration—not to say exaggeration—of his theme, he ended by declaring in uncompromising terms, that colour, and plenty of it, crimson and yellow and blue, wrapped around man, as well as woman, was an obligation shirked by humanity. It was all put as only Mark Twain could have put it, with that serious vein showing through broad humour. This quality combined with an unmatched originality, made every moment passed in his company a memory to treasure. It was not alone his theme, but how he dealt with it, that fascinated one.


One of the 1917 silhouettes.

Naturally, since woman to-day dresses for her occupation—work or play—the characteristic silhouettes are many.

This one is reproduced to illustrate our point that outline can be affected by the smallest detail.

The sketch is by Elisabeth Searcy.

Drawn from Life by Elisabeth Searcy A Modern Silhouette—1917 Tailor-made

Mark Twain was elemental and at the same time a great artist,—the embodiment of extreme contradictions, and his flair for gay colour was one proof of his elemental strain. We laughed that night as he made word pictures of how men and women should dress. Next morning, toward noon, on looking out of a window, we saw standing in the middle of the driveway a figure wrapped in crimson silk, his white hair flying in the wind, while smoke from a pipe encircled his head. Yes, it was Mark Twain, who in the midst of his writing, had been suddenly struck with the thought that the road needed mending, and had gone out to have another look at it! It was a blustering day in Spring, and cold, so one of the household was sent to persuade him to come in. We can see him now, returning reluctantly, wind-blown and vehement, gesticulating, and stopping every few steps to express his opinion of the men who had made that road! The flaming red silk robe he wore was one his daughter had brought him from Liberty's, in London, and he adored it. Still wrapped in it, and seemingly unconscious of his unusual appearance, he joined us on the balcony, to resume a conversation of the night before.

The red-robed figure seated itself in a wicker chair and berated the idea that mortal man ever could be generous,—act without selfish motives. With the greatest reverence in his tone, sitting there in his whimsical costume of bright red silk, at high noon,—an immaculate French butler waiting at the door to announce lunch, Mark Twain concluded an analysis of modern religion with "—why the God I believe in is too busy spinning spheres to have time to listen to human prayers."

How often his words have been in our mind since war has shaken our planet.



HE world has the habit of deriding that which it does not understand. It is the most primitive way of bolstering one's limitations. How often the woman or man with a God-given sense of the beautiful, the fitting, harmony between costume and setting, is described as poseur or poseuse by those who lack the same instinct. In a sense, of course, everything man does, beyond obeying the rudimentary instincts of the savage, is an affectation, and it is not possible to claim that even our contemporary costuming of man or woman always has raison d'être.

We accept as the natural, unaffected raiment for woman and man that which custom has taught us to recognise as appropriate, with or without reason for being. For example, the tall, shiny, inflexible silk hat of man, and the tortuous high French heels of woman are in themselves neither beautiful, fitting, nor made to meet the special demands of any setting or circumstance. Both hat and heels are fashions, unbeautiful and uncomfortable, but to the eye of man to-day serve as insignia of formal dress, decreed by society.

The artist nature has always assumed poetic license in the matter of dress, and as a rule defied custom, to follow an inborn feeling for beauty. That much-maligned short velvet coat and soft loose tie of the painter or writer, happen to have a most decided raison d'être; they represent comfort, convenience, and in the case of the velvet coat, satisfy a sensitiveness to texture, incomprehensible to other natures. As for the long hair of some artists, it can be a pose, but it has in many cases been absorption in work, or poverty—the actual lack of money for the conventional haircut. In cities we consider long hair on a man as effeminate, an indication of physical weakness, but the Russian peasant, most sturdy of individuals, wears his hair long, and so do many others among extremely primitive masculine types, who live their lives beyond the reach of Fashion and barbers.

The short hair of the sincere woman artist is to save time at the toilette.

There is always a limited number of men and women who, in ordinary acts of life, respond to texture, colour or line, as others do to music or scenery, and to be at their best in life, must dress their parts as they feel them. Japanese actors who play the parts of women, dress like women off the stage, and live the lives of women as nearly as possible, in order to acquire the feeling for women's garments; they train their bodies to the proper feminine carriage, counting upon this to perfect their interpretations.

The woman who rides, hunts, shoots, fishes, sails her own boat, paddles, golfs and plays tennis, is very apt to look more at home in habit, tweeds and flannels, than she does in strictly feminine attire; the muscles she has acquired in legs and arms, from violent exercise, give an actual, not an assumed, stride and a swing to the upper body. In sports clothes, or severely tailored costume, this woman is at her best. Most trying for her will be demi-toilette (house gowns). She is beautiful at night because a certain balance, dignity and grace are lent her by the décolletage and train of a dinner or ball gown. English women who are devotees of sport, demonstrate the above fact over and over again.

While on the subject of responsiveness to texture and colour we would remind the reader that Richard Wagner hung the room in which he worked at his operas with bright silks, for the art stimulus he got from colour, and it is a well-known fact that he derived great pleasure from wearing dressing gowns and other garments made from rich materials.

Clyde Fitch, our American playwright, when in his home, often wore velvet or brocaded silks. They were more sympathetic to his artist nature, more in accord with his fondness for wearing jewelled studs, buttons, scarf-pins. In his town and country houses the main scheme, leading features and every smallest detail were the result of Clyde Fitch's personal taste and effort, and he, more than most men and women, appreciated what a blot an inartistic human being can be on a room which of itself is a work of art.


Souvenirs of an artist designer's unique establishment, in spirit and accomplishment vrai Parisienne. Notice the long cape in the style of 1825.

Tappé himself will tell you that all periods have had their beautiful lines and colours; their interesting details; that to find beauty one must first have the feeling for it; that if one is not born with this subtle instinct, there are manifold opportunities for cultivating it.

His claim is the same as that made in our Art of Interior Decoration; the connoisseur is one who has passed through the schooling to be acquired only by contact with masterpieces,—those treasures sifted by time and preserved for our education, in great art collections.

Tappé emphasises the necessity of knowing the background for a costume before planning it; the value of line in the physique beneath the materials; the interest to be woven into a woman's costume when her type is recognised, and the modern insistence on appropriateness—that is, the simple gown and close hat for the car, vivid colours for field sports or beach; a large fan for the woman who is mistress of sweeping lines, etc., etc.

Tappé is absolutely French in his insistence upon the possible eloquence of line; a single flower well poised and the chic which is dependent upon how a hat or gown is put on. We have heard him say: "No, I will not claim the hat in that photograph, though I made it, because it is mal posé."

Sketched for "Woman as Decoration" by Thelma Cudlipp
Tappé's Creations

In England, and far more so in America, men are put down as effeminate who wear jewelry to any marked extent. But no less a person than King Edward VII always wore a chain bangle on his arm, and one might cite countless men of the Continent as thoroughly masculine—Spaniards in particular—who wear as many jewelled rings as women. Apropos of this, a famous topaz, worn as a ring for years by a distinguished Spaniard was recently inherited by a relation in America—a woman. The stone was of such importance as a gem, that a record was kept of its passing from France into America. As a man's ring it was impressive and the setting such as to do it honour, but being a man's ring, it was too heavy for a woman's use. A pendant was made of the stone and a setting given it which turned out to be too trifling in character. The consequence was, the stone lost in value as a Rubens' canvas would, if placed in an art nouveau frame.

Whether it is a precious stone, a valued painting or a woman's costume—the effect produced depends upon the character of its setting.



ASHIONS in dress as in manners, religion, art, literature and drama, are all powerful because they seize upon the public mind.

The Chelsea group of revolutionary artists in New York doubtless see,—perhaps but dimly, the same star that led Goethe and Schiller on, in the storm and stress period of their time. We smile now as we recall how Schiller stood on the street corners of Leipzig, wearing a dressing-gown by day to defy custom; but the youth of Athens did the same in the last days of Greece. In fact then the darlings of the gilded world struck attitudes of abandon in order to look like the Spartans. They refused to cut their hair and they would not wash their hands, and even boasted of their ragged clothes after fist fights in the streets. Yes, the gentlemen did this.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries there was a cult that wore furs in Summer and thin clothes in Winter, to prove that love made them strong enough to resist the elements! You will recall the Euphuists of England, the Precieuses of France and the Illuminati of the eighteenth century, as well as Les Merveilleux and Les Encroyables. The rich during the Renaissance were great and wise collectors but some followed the fashion for collecting manuscripts even when unable to read them. It is interesting to find that in the fourth and fifth centuries it was fashionable to be literary. Those with means for existence without labour, wrote for their own edification, copying the style of the ancient poets and philosophers.

As early as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Venetian women were shown the Paris fashions each Ascension Day on life-size dolls, displayed by an enterprising importer.

It is true that fashions come and go, not only in dress, but how one should sit, stand, and walk; how use the hands and feet and eyes. To squint was once deemed a modest act. Women of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries stood with their abdomens out, and so did some in 1916! There are also fashions in singing and speaking.

The poses in portraits express much. Compare the exactly prim Copley miss, with a recent portrait by Cecilia Beaux of a young girl seated, with dainty satin-covered feet outstretched to full extent of the limbs, in casual impertinence,—our age!

To return to the sixteenth century, it is worthy of note that some Venetian belles wore patines—that is, shoes with blocks of wood, sometimes two feet high, fastened to the soles. They could not move without a maid each side! As it was an age when elemental passions were "good form," jealous husbands are blamed for these!

In the seventeenth century the idle dancing youth of to-day had his prototype in the Cavalier Servente, who hovered at his lady's side, affecting extravagant and effeminate manners.

The corrupt morals of the sixteenth century followed in the wake of social intercourse by travel, literature, art and styles for costumes.

Mme. Récamier, the exquisite embodiment of the Directoire style as depicted by David in his famous portrait of her, scandalised London by appearing in public, clad in transparent Greek draperies and scarfs. Later Mme. Jerome Bonaparte, a Baltimore belle, quite upset Philadelphia by repeating Mme. Récamier's experiment in that city of brotherly love! We are also told on good authority that one could have held Madame's wedding gown in the palm of the hand.

Victorian hoops for public conveyances, paper-soled slippers in snow-drifts, wigs immense and heavy with powder, hair-oil and furbelows, hour-glass waist lines producing the "vapours" fortunately are no more.

Taken by and large, we of the year 1917 seem to have reached the point where woman's psychology demands of dress fitness for each occasion, that she may give herself to her task without a material handicap. May the good work in this direction continue, as the panorama of costumes for women moves on down the ages that are to come.



HEN seen in perspective, the costumes of various periods, as well as the architecture, interior decoration and furnishings of the homes of men appear as distinct types, though to the man or woman of any particular period the variations of the type are bewildering and misleading. It is the same in physical types; when visiting for the first time a foreign land one is immediately struck by a national cast of feature, English, French, American, Russian, etc. But if we remain in the country for any length of time, the differences between individuals impress us and we lose track of those features and characteristics the nation possesses in common. To-day, if asked what outline, materials and colour schemes characterise our fashions, some would say that almost anything in the way of line, materials and colour were worn. There is, however, always an epoch type, and while more than ever before the law of appropriateness has dictated a certain silhouette for each occasion,—each occupation,—when recorded in costume books of the future we will be recognised as a distinct phase; as distinct as the Gothic, Elizabethan, Empire or Victorian period.


Costume of a Red Cross Nurse, worn while working in a French war hospital, by Miss Elsie de Wolfe, of New York. An example of woman costumed so as to be most efficient for the work in hand.

Miss de Wolfe's name has become synonymous with interior decoration, throughout the length and breadth of our land, but she established a reputation as one of the best-dressed women in America, long before she left the stage to professionally decorate homes. She has done an immeasurable amount toward moulding the good taste of America in several fields. At present her energies are in part devoted to disseminating information concerning a cure for burns, one of the many discoveries resulting from the exigencies of the present devastating war.

Miss Elsie de Wolfe in Costume of Red Cross Nurse

As we have said, in studying the history of woman decorative, one finds two widely separated aspects of the subject, which must be considered in turn. There is the classifying of woman's apparel which comes under the head of European dress, woman's costume affected by cosmopolitan influences; costumes worn by that part of humanity which is in close intercommunication and reflecting the ebb and flow of currents—political, geographical and artistic. Then we have quite another field for study, that of national costumes, by which we mean costumes peculiar to some one nation and worn by its men and women century after century.

It is interesting as well as depressing for the student of national characteristics to see the picturesque distinguishing lines and colours gradually disappear as railroads, steamboats and electric trolleys penetrate remote districts. With any influx of curious strangers there comes in time, often all too quickly, a regrettable self-consciousness, which is followed at first by an awkward imitation of the cosmopolitan garb.

We recall our experience in Hungary. Having been advised to visit the peasant villages and farms lying out on the püstas (plains of southern Hungary) if we would see the veritable national costumes, we set out hopefully with letters of introduction from a minister of education in Buda Pest, directed to mayors of Magyar villages. One of these planned a visit to a local celebrity, a Magyar farmer, very old, very prosperous, rich in herds of horses, sheep and magnificent Hungarian oxen, large, white and with almost straight, spreading horns, like the oxen of the ancient Greeks. There we met a man of the old school, nearly eighty, who had never in his life slept under cover, his duty being to guard his flocks and herds by night as well as day, though he had amassed what was for his station in life, a great fortune. He had never been seen in anything but the national costume, the same as worn in his part of the world for several hundred years. And so we went to see him in his home. We were all expectation! You can imagine our disappointment, when, upon arrival, we found our host awaiting us, painfully attired in the ordinary dark cloth coat and trousers of the modern farmer the world over. He had donned the ugly things in our honour, taking an hour to make his toilet, as we were secretly informed by one of the household. We tell this to show how one must persevere in the pursuit of artistic data. This was the same occasion cited in The Art of Interior Decoration, when the highly decorative peasant tableware was banished by the women in the house, to make room, again in our honour, for plain white ironstone china.

The feeling for line accredited to the French woman is equally the birthright of the Magyar—woman and man. One sees it in the dash of the court beauty who can carry off a mass of jewels, barbaric in splendour, where the average European or American would feel a Christmas tree in the same. And no man in Europe wears his uniform as the Hungarian officer of hussars does; the astrachan-trimmed short coat, slung over one shoulder, cap trimmed with fur, on the side of his head, and skin-tight trousers inside of faultless, spurred boots reaching to the knees. One can go so far as to say there is something decorative in the very temperament of Hungarian women, a fiery abandon, which makes line in a subtle way quite apart from the line of costume. This quality is also possessed by the Spanish woman, and developed to a remarkable degree in the professional Spanish dancer. The Gipsy woman has it too,—she brought it with her from Asia, as the Magyar's forebears did.

Speaking of the Magyar, nothing so perfectly expresses the national temperament as the czardas—that peasant dance which begins with calm, stately repression, and ends in a mad ecstasy of expression, the rapid crescendo, the whirl, ending when the man seizes his partner and flings her high in the air. Watch the flash of the eyes and see that this is genuine temperament, not acting, but something inherent in the blood. The crude colour of the national costume and the sharp contrast in the folk music are equally expressions of national character, the various art expressions of which open up countless enticing vistas.

The contemplation of some of these vistas leads one to the conclusion that woman decorative is so, either as an artist (that is, in the mastery of the science of line and colour, more or less under the control of passing fashion), or in the abandonment to the impulse of an untutored, unconscious, child of nature. Both can be beautiful; the art which is so great as to conceal conscious effort by creating the illusion of spontaneity, and the natural unconscious grace of the human being in youth or in the primitive state.



N historical interest attaches to fashions in women's costuming, which the practised eye is quick to distinguish, but not always that of the novice. Of course the most casual and indifferent of mortals recognises the fact when woman's hat follows the lines of the French officer's cap, or her coat reproduces the Cossack's, with even a feint at his cartridge belt; but such echoes of the war are too obvious to call for comment.


Madame Geraldine Farrar as Carmen.

In each of the three presentations of Madame Farrar we have given her in character, as suggestions for stage costumes or costume balls. (By courtesy of Vanity Fair.)

Courtesy of Vanity Fair
Mme. Geraldine Farrar in Spanish Costume as Carmine

It is one of the missions of art to make subtle the obvious, and a distinguished example of this, which will illustrate our theme,—history mirrored by dress,—was seen recently. One of the most famous among the great couturières of Paris, who has opened a New York branch within two years, having just arrived with her Spring and Summer models, was showing them to an appreciative woman, a patron of many years. It is not an exaggeration to say that in all that procession of costumes for cool days or hot, ball-room, salon, boudoir or lawn, not one was banal, not one false in line or its colour-scheme. Whether the style was Classic Greek, Mediæval or Empire (these prevail), one felt the result, first of an artist's instinct, then a deep knowledge of the pictorial records of periods in dress, and to crown all, that conviction of the real artist, which gives both courage and discretion in moulding textiles,—the output of modern genius, to the purest classic lines. For example, one reads in every current fashion sheet that beads are in vogue as garniture for dresses. So they are, but note how your French woman treats them. Whether they are of jet, steel, pearl or crystal, she presses them into service as so much colour, massing them so that one is conscious only of a shimmering, clinging, wrapped-toga effect, à la Grecque, beneath the skirt and bodice of which every line and curve of the woman's form is seen. Evidently some, at least, are to be gleaming Tanagras. Even a dark-blue serge, for the motor, shopping or train, had from hips to the bust parallel lines of very small tube-like jet beads, sewn so close together that the effect was that of a shirt of mail.

The use of notes of vivid colour caught the eye. In one case, on a black satin afternoon gown, a tiny nosegay of forget-me-not blue, rose-pink and jessamine-white, was made to decorate the one large patch-pocket on the skirt and a lapel of the sleeveless satin coat. Again on a dinner-dress of black Chantilly lace, over white chiffon (Empire lines), a very small, deep pinkish-red rose had a white rose-bud bound close to it with a bit of blue ribbon. This was placed under the bertha of cobweb lace, and demurely in the middle of the short-waisted bodice. Again a robe d'interior of white satin charmeuse, had a sleeveless coat of blue, reaching to knees, and a dashing bias sash of pinkish-red, twice round the waist, with its long ends reaching to skirt hem and heavily weighted.

Not at once, but only gradually, did it dawn upon us that most of the gowns bore, in some shade or form, the tricolour of France!



VERY now and then a sex war is predicted, and sometimes started, usually by woman, though some predicted that when the present European war is over and the men come home to their civilian tasks, now being carried on by women, man is going to take the initiative, in the sex conflict. We doubt it. Without deliberate design to prove this point,—that a complete collaboration of the sexes has always made the wheels of the universe revolve, many of the illustrations studied showed woman with man as decoration, in Ancient Egypt, Greece, and during later periods.

The Legend of Life tells us that man can not live alone, hence woman; and the Pageant of Life shows that she has played opposite with consistency and success throughout the ages.

The Sunday issue of the Philadelphia Public Ledger for March 25, 1917, has a headline, "Trousers vs. Skirts," and, continues Margaret Davies, the author of the article:

"This war will change all things for European women. Military service, of a sort, has come for them in both France and England, where they are replacing men employed in clerical and other non-combatant departments, including motor driving. The moment this was decided upon in England, it was found that 30,000 men would be released for actual fighting, with prospects of the release of more than 200,000 more. What the French demand will be is not known as I write, but it will equal that of England.

"How will these women dress? Will they be given military uniforms short of skirt or even skirtless? Of course they won't; but the world on this side of the ocean would not gasp should this be done. War industry already has worked a revolution.

"Study the pictures which accompany this article. They are a new kind of women's 'fashion pictures'; they are photographs of women dressed as European circumstances now compel them to dress. Note the trousers, like a Turkish woman's, of the French girl munitions workers. Thousands of girls here in France are working in such trousers. Note the smart liveries of the girls who have taken the places of male carriage starters, mechanics and elevator operators, at a great London shop. They are very natty, aren't they? Almost like costumes from a comic opera. Well, they are not operatic costumes. They are every-day working liveries. Girls wear them in the most mixed London crowds—wear them because the man-shortage makes it necessary for these girls to do work which skirts do not fit. All French trams and buses have 'conductresses.'

"The coming of women cabmen in London is inevitable—indeed, it already has begun. In Paris they have been established sparsely for some time and have done well, but they have not been used on taxis, only on the horse cabs.

"I have spent most of my time in Paris for some months now, and have ridden behind women drivers frequently. They drive carefully and well and are much kinder to their horses than the old, red-faced, brutal French cochérs are. I like them. They have a wonderful command of language, not always entirely or even partially polite, but they are accommodating and less greedy for tips than male drivers.

"At Selfridge's great store—the largest and most progressive in London, operated on Chicago lines—skirtless maidens are not rare enough to attract undue attention. The first to be seen there, indeed, is not in the store at all, but on the sidewalk, outside of it, engaged in the gentle art of directing customers to and from their cars and cabs and incidentally keeping the chauffeurs in order.

"An extremely pretty girl she is, too, with her frock-coat coming to her knees, her top-boots coming to the coat, and now and then, when the wind blows, a glimpse of loose knickers. She tells me that she's never had a man stare at her since she appeared in the new livery, although women have been curious about it and even critical of it. Women have done all the staring to which she has been subjected.

"Within the store, many girls engaged in various special employments, are dressed conveniently for their work, in perfectly frank trousers. Among these are the girls who operate the elevators. There is no compromise about it. These girls wear absolutely trousers every working hour of every working day in a great public store, in a great crowded city, rubbing elbows (even touching trousered knees, inevitably) with hundreds of men daily.


Madame Geraldine Farrar. The value of line was admirably illustrated in the opera "Madame Butterfly" as seen this winter at the Metropolitan Opera House. Have you chanced to ask yourself why the outline of the individual members of the chorus was so lacking in charm, and Madame Farrar's so delightful? The great point is that in putting on her kimono, Madame Farrar kept in mind the characteristic silhouette of the Japanese woman as shown in Japanese art; then she made a picture of herself, and one in harmony with her Japanese setting. Which brings us back to the keynote of our book—Woman as Decoration—beautiful Line.

Sketched for "Woman as Decoration" by Thelma Cudlipp
Mme. Geraldine Farrar in Japanese Costume as Madame Butterfly

"And they like it. They work better in the new uniforms than they used to in skirts and are less weary at each day's end. And nobody worries them at all. There has not been the faintest suspicion of an insult or an advance from any one of the thousands of men and boys of all classes whom they have ridden with upon their 'lifts,' sometimes in dense crowds, sometimes in an involuntary tête-à-tête.

"Other employments which girls follow and dress for bifurcatedly in this great and progressive store are more astonishing than the operation of elevators. A charming young plumber had made no compromise whatever with tradition. She was in overalls like boy plumbers wear, except that her trousers were not tight, but they were well fitted. A little cap of the same material as the suit, completed her jaunty and attractive costume. And cap and suit were professionally stained, too, with oil and things like that, while her small hands showed the grime of an honest day's competent, hard work.

"The coming summer will see an immense amount of England's farming done by women and, I think, well done. Organisations already are under way whereby women propose to help decrease the food shortage by intelligent increase of the chicken and egg supply, and this is being so well planned that undoubtedly it will succeed. Eggs and chickens will be cheap in England ere the summer ends.

"I have met three ex-stenographers who now are at hard work, two of them in munition factories (making military engines of death) and one of them on a farm. I asked them how they liked the change.

"'I should hate to have to go back to work in the old long skirts,' one replied. 'I should hate to go back to the old days of relying upon some one else for everything that really matters. But—well, I wish the war would end and I hope the casualty lists of fine young men will not grow longer, day by day, as Spring approaches, although everybody says they will.'

"Mrs. John Bull takes girls in pantaloons quite calmly and approvingly, now that she has learned that if there are enough of them, dad and the boys will pay no more attention to them in trousers than they would pay to them in skirts."

We have preferred to quote the exact wording of the original article, for the reason that while the facts are familiar to most of us, the manner of putting them could not, to our mind, be more graphic. Some day, when the Wateaus of the future are painting the court ladies who again dance pavanes in sunlit glades, wearing wigs and crinoline, such data will amuse.

That the women of Finland make worthy members of their parliament does not prove anything outside of Finland. That the exigencies of the present hour in England have made women equal to every task of men so far entrusted to them, proves much for England. Women, like men, have untold, untried abilities within them, women and men alike are marvellous under fire—capable of development in every direction. What human nature has done it can do again, and infinitely more under the pressure of necessity which opens up brain cells, steels the heart, hardens the muscles, and like magic fire, licks up the dross of humanity, aimlessly floating on the surface of life, awaiting a leader to melt and mould it at Fate's will into clearly defined personalities, ready to serve. This point has been magnificently proved by the war now waging in Europe.

Let us repeat; that from the beginning the story of woman's costuming proves her many-sidedness, the inexhaustible stock of her latent qualities which, like man's, await the call of the hour.


The foregoing chapters have aimed at showing the decorative value of woman's costume as seen in the art of Egypt, Greece, Gothic Europe, Europe of the Renaissance and during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To prove the point that woman is a telling note in the interior decoration of to-day, the vital spark in any setting, we have not dwelt upon the fashions so much as decorative line, colour-scheme and fitness for the occasion.

It is costume associated with caste which interests us more than folk costume. We have shown that it is the modern insistence on efficiency that has led to appropriate dress for work and recreation, and that our idea of the chic and the beautiful in costume is based on appropriateness. Also we have shown that line in costumes is in part the result of one's "form"—the absolute control of the body, its "carriage," poise of the head, action of legs, arms, hands and feet, and that form means successful effort in any direction, because through it the mind may control the physical medium.

It is the woman who knows what she should wear, what she can wear and how to wear it, who is most efficient in whatever she gives her mind to. She it is who will expend the least time, strength and money on her appearance, and be the first to report for duty in connection with the next obligation in the business of life.

Therefore let us keep in mind a few rules for the perfect costuming of woman:

Appropriateness for each occasion so as to get efficiency, or be as decorative as possible.

Outline.—Fashion in silhouette adapted to your own type.

Background.—Your setting.

Colour scheme.—Fashionable colours chosen and combined to express your personality as well as to harmonise with the tone of setting, or, if preferred, to be an agreeable contrast to it.

Detail.—Trimming with raison d'être,—not meaningless superfluities.

It is, of course, understood that the attainment of beauty in the costuming of woman is our aim when stating and applying the foregoing principles.

The art of interior decoration and the art of costuming woman are occasionally centred in the same individual, but not often. Some of the most perfectly dressed women, models for their less gifted sisters, are not only ignorant as to the art of setting their stage, but oblivious of the fact that it may need setting.

Remember, that while an inartistic room, confused as to line and colour-scheme can absolutely destroy the effect of a perfect gown, an inartistic, though costly gown can likewise be a blot on a perfect room.




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