Beyond any shadow of doubt the most important accessory of dress for the woman of to-day is found in her neck-wear arrangements. She cannot go far astray in waist or skirt, for the ready-made dresses and the designs of the leading paper-pattern firms will keep her correctly attired in this respect, but it is the little things that show the woman who thinks, and who will not have any detail out of the picture. And so the first consideration is the arrangement of the neck.
Making a tour of the women’s neckwear departments in the leading department-stores of any large city is the best way of getting at the thought of the woman of the moment. In New York, “where the styles come from” we find a decided preference for low styles. So strong is the preference in this direction that we find only a small number of examples of any other kind. This is in direct contradiction to the indications of the earlier season.
The collars of embroidered batiste in ecru and a slightly lighter shade are perhaps the best liked. Indeed they are really hard to get at all, at this late date. Some of them are plain and hand-embroidered, and others are put together with little beading hardly wider than a vein in a leaf. These collars come in sets with cuffs, and often with a hip-belt as well. The low-waisted Balkan styles brought this last into evidence, and the use of a belt to match the collar was a novelty that met with instant favor. Fancy eponge was also used in the same manner and, like batiste, it is all but unobtainable at present.
Low collars with fichu-jabots are also liked. Those which are made of embroidered or plain net are best liked. The Martha Washington type, made of plain chiffon is the winner among fichus, and as a direct opposite of this type we find the high Medici collar. This is shown in many modifications. There is the very high collar, closely resembling the original model, then there are smaller editions, which leave an opening at the front and are only a couple of inches high, and wired so that the upper edge may be rolled a trifle away from the neck. The lace frill which edges many a neck-opening is another variation of the Medici idea. Sometimes this lace is wired along the edges, and sometimes it is allowed to fall softly as it will. It rarely falls becomingly, however, so the idea of wiring it and thus controlling it is a wise one.
The Elizabethan ruff is not exactly a novelty, for it has been used in past seasons as a boa, but it is now made of malines, net or chiffon, and is made an integral part of the dress, wired, and arranged to stand up in the Medici fashion. Maline ruffs are very popular, and as we have had so much cool weather this summer, they gave continued in evidence in the shops, as well as on women. Saxe-blue, and the new sand-yellow are much used in the newer ruffs.
Guimpes, with high collars and without, are holding their own. There are many women who do not boast a neck fit for public exhibition, who are too wise to expose it in the low styles of the hour, and these still insist upon a high collar on the guimpe, and the long sleeve often accompanies it. Indeed, no matter how pretty the arm may be, it does not look well bare as a rule, unless we except the styles of real evening wear, which display the arm for some distance above the elbow.
In the new low effects in guimpes we find them finished at the sides and back with the Medici and Elizabethan ruffs. It is not uncommon to find fancy allover lace or net used for the body-portion, and plain net for the frill or ruche. One highly novel guimpe has a high neck, but is designed and trimmed to have a low or V-neck effect.
Plaitings and frillings are used a great deal on all neck-trimmings, and indeed they are a very popular article in all points of dress. In fact a ruching craze seems to have struck the town. Plaited tulle ruchings, about two inches in width are basted in long sleeves both of waists and of coats, and also in the neck and down the front of tailored coats. Many costumes have the low neck of the bodice finished with these plaitings. In addition to the flat side plaitings in tulle, rose plaitings and fluted trimmings of net and tulle are in evidence.
No costume ever looks its best unless the hat be given a finishing touch with a smart face-veil. The governing note in the best class of veilings lies in the preference for neat meshes, and for conservative separated designs. Hexagon, craquele, and the filet meshes are liked, and make a good background for other designs.
Inquiring of a saleswoman, the answer came: “Hexagons are selling by the mile. No matter what a customer buys, she is sure to want a hexagon as well.” While the liking at present is beyond doubt for neat square patterns on simple meshes, there is a tendency toward larger patterns and more intricate meshes. If hats become larger this winter, this taste will undoubtedly increase, but all depends on the milliner.
Colored veilings are somewhat worn, but not extensively. White is the all-important color. Novelty-veilings are worn by the very fashionable, but these require frequent changes, as they are always striking and cannot be worn too continuously. There is one veil which is called the frame veil. This is made with a large wreath or other design, which is so placed as to form a frame for the face when the veil is worn. The effect is unique, but unless one has a more than ordinarily attractive face the attention is draws is apt to be trying, as people do not seem to care whether or not their remarks in criticism are overheard by the wearer.
It is hardly worth while at this late date to announce the popularity of ribbon. The vogue of sashes has done much for this popularity. Numerous as are the weaves, moire leads in favor, and we also see numbers of velvet ribbons and of failles. Fancy warp prints and velours novelties are worn, and there is one ribbon which shows a fancy stripe of ratine.
The brassiere, bust-bodice, or soutien-gorge, as it is variously called, is one of the most important articles of a woman’s underneath to-day. As the vogue for corsets cut very low around the top has increased, so the bust-bodice has become an essential addition to every figure that is not of the slimmest description. And how splendidly the brassiermakers have come to Dame Fashion’s aid in the matter, producing and perfecting any number of beautifully shaped bust-bodices. Of late the fashion of very transparent blouses has further complicated the bust-bodice question, making it essential for us all to possess a few daintily trimmed models. So at last we have the ideal style, molding the figure into slim lines, and at the same time, by its dainty appearance, rendering a slip unnecessary in warm weather.
We now have these brassieres opening in the front as well as in the back, cut to show a round neck, a V-shaped neck, or a square neck, as desired, and each and all of these in high, medium and low effects. Then there is the little support that merely crosses the bosom, giving support and preventing any give at this point, greatly to the comfort of the wearer as well as to an improved appearance.