1913 08, page 10
The most striking phase of midsummer fashion is found in the sudden craze for all white dresses. It is safe to say that there is never a summer when white is not worn to a great extent, but this season bade fair to prove an exception to the usual rule. Earlier in the day, say in late May and June, there was very little white worn or exhibited. Everything seemed to trend in the direction of colors more or less violent, to one-tone frocks and to combinations. The few all-white dresses that were shown were either very dressy late-afternoon models or tailormade suites of the fancy order.
A change has come over the spirit of our dreams with the persistence of the summer heat. All-white frocks are now seen in every grade, from the hand-embroidered crepe-de-Chine gowns which are advertised as beach gowns for morning wear, to the simple batiste frock of flouncing that can be made at home in a day, almost in a morning.
It is these more simple frocks that have the greatest interest for women in general. The use of flouncing does a great deal to simplify the making of them, for the skirt can be made of a single width of the 45-inch embroideries or of two or three flounces of narrower widths. The lower edge of the skirt is almost always finished with a band of some plain color, and this is an economy as well as a very attractive finishing-touch, for it does not soil as readily as would the plain white and if it is sewed on by hand it can be ripped off and cleansed with gasoline without affecting the rest of the dress.
This little lower edge is sometimes duplicated at the end of each flounce, when two or three are used, and of course a similar color is placed somewhere on the bodice to hold the dress together, as it were. The most usual place for it is around the outline of the neck, which is almost always low, or down the line of the closing, if the surplice-closing is used. Somewhere on the cuff also must a touch of the same color be placed, and perhaps a girdle of it added, and the dress is complete. The new manner of making the skirt, with gathers at the waistline, also has its share in simplifying the manufacture of such a dress, for the wide flouncing is soft and can be neatly gathered without producing any impression of bulkiness.
While we are on this subject we must call attention to the importance of the belt to-day. A rather prominent society bride the other day, when questioned about her trousseau, remarked that all she was going to get was a number of belts, nothing more would be needed. Of course she did not foresee the laugh this announcement would cause, but she struck the keynote of the situation: inasmuch as the belt, if cleverly chosen makes an entirely new costume out of an old one, by changing its character completely.
We must admit that the fashion of belts is very economical. All that is necessary is to have a varied collection of belts in order to give quite a different appearance to the same frock or to rejuvenate completely a last-season’s dress. This famous feminine accessory, which had such an important signification in antiquity, occupies our attention as much as it occupied that of the woman who lived thousands of years before the Christian era. Indeed it seems that the belt was born with woman. The earliest girdle on record. Eve’s invention of fig-leaves, was a very light and fanciful affair, no doubt. Later we find it ornamented with claws of beasts, shells and incrustations of fish-bones, which were, I suppose, the only substitute for the jewels which women of to-day take such delight in using.
But nothing is lost and nothing is new under the sun, especially in matters of fashion, and although we have ceased to wear fishbones, we will love shells, and the little pearly ornaments gleam charmingly from leather or silk, just as the shone on queens in days long gone by. For at one time only queens were allowed to wear belts. To-day the poorest little maid may use a belt to brighten her old tailormade costume, and this simple accessory, which the queen of Sheba might well have copied with advantage to herself gives the wearer a decided piquancy.
For this new and striking fancy we put under contribution all the peoples of the east and west; classic and modern alike. We go to the antique frescoes to study the knotted belt that confines so gracefully the folds of our modern robes and from the Assyrians we borrow the sumptuous embroideries and gold-weighted fabrics that form our principal trimmings to-day.
We have the Egyptian, the Assyrian, the Japanese, the Zouave and the Bulgarian belt. We have the ecclesiastical belt and the sash of the bayadere. We may choose the Arab or the Greek belt, or we may have every kind mingled. According to our beauty or dress, or even according to our passing fancy may we choose it.
For the simple costume there is the simple cord, finished with a tassel, dangling to our ankles, like the girdle of some severe monk, or copied exactly from that which the oriental priesthood wore on days of high festival; for other frocks there is the wide, flat band of the priest of to-day; still other styles are found in the beaded and broidered tissues which we wind about our no longer slender waists when wearing transparent and clinging fabrics. Yet again there is the wide Empire girdle of many different fabrics which is worn to give tone to the lingerie gown.
The charm of this lingerie frock is a very potent one, and there are many reasons why this should be so. Few things are more becoming alike to old and young wearers. Again, these frocks are easily cleaned and consequently, in addition to being delightfully fresh-looking, are economical in wear. One cannot imagine anything more appropriate or charming on a hot summer day. To see the lingerie gown in its most chic and fascinating form one has only to look over the models displayed in the large city shops. There is the simple linen dress with hemstitching or embroidery done by hand; there is also the frock of cotton crepe, richly embroidered by hand in some one color, Nattier blue or Mell rose, or in shades of brown, now so fashionable. The material is lined with net; net tucked horizontally, appears at the front opening, and real lace medallions and other insertions add to the beauty and to the cost of the dress.
To wear with lingerie gowns there are cunning little coats made of brocaded cotton eponge, a very handsome and modish fabric, yet quite light in weight; these coats are usually cutaway in shape, and are usually of bright colors with white collars and cuffs.
On some of the white frocks a little colored embroidery is introduced; this is very effective, worked in light tints directly on the dress. Very simple, but particularly attractive are the summer dresses of voile and lace. The models with short tunics are extremely popular. These draperies are now shorter in front and longer in the back, and are thus more becoming to the average figure. Smart outing-dresses of ratine and linen in white are touched up with colored collars and cuffs, and show white buttons with colored rims and centers. These dresses are just the type for outing-dresses and for morning wear.
For all these simple white suits we find the greatest favor accorded to ratine in fine, medium and heavy grades. Closely following in popularity are the crepes plain and printed, in cheap and medium grades. The fancy for printed crepes has come late, but is very pronounced, and we find the brilliant colorings known to us as Bulgarian, and the very dainty Pompadour effects with small flowers on a faintly tinted ground. Favor is equally divided between these two types.
Printed voiles are also very popular, and silk and cotton fabrics in sheer, medium and heavy weights. These have the appearance of a silk charmeuse. They are among the best of the printed materials, and are widely used for trimmings.
Jacquard designs, however, are perhaps the most used. They are so very effective in suits in which two styles of material are used. The jacquard material is usually employed for the skirt, and the plain for the coat or blouse, although the reverse arrangement is my no means uncommon.
House-dresses have this season made a high place for themselves in the favor of the feminine world. There was a time when they were relegated to the wrapper-departments of the large department-stores. To-day, however, they are to be found in the regular suit-departments, sometimes even in a division devoted to them alone. This is doubtless owing to the fact that as the popularity of house-dresses grew their quality improved also. Among the best liked of these dresses are models of percale in stripes, plaids and checks, also chambrays, piques and figured lawns. Ginghams are also used in a variety of effects. Some of these gingham dresses have ratine collars and cuffs, and leather belts. The more pretentious models have fancy collars, in simple embroidered patterns and with scalloped edges, and narrow leather belts. Black-and-white checks are often finished off with white pique bandings, with embroidered scalloped edges worked out in blue.
The finer-quality percales have machine-embroidery and ratine collars and cuffs in contrasting colors. Fancy collars, cuffs, buttons and vest-effects are often seen on the better-quality percales. Handsomer house-dresses are made of imported tissues embroidery-trimmed, natural linen, madras cloth in plain, check and stripe effects, and the finer grades of white pique, Bedford cord and ratine.
The waists which now seem to be the favorites are the white models in shadow-lace and net; also those of crepe de Chine, China silk and messaline. Prejudice against the sharp contrast between white waist and dark-colored skirt is now a thing of the past. It was necessary, however, to educate women to the broken line by the continued use of contrasting materials in the waist-section of dresses. This change in the color-lines began with the use of colored chiffons over white lace and net. Then came the partial veiling of the colored lining with contrasting diaphanous fabrics. Gradually the colored overdraping has been lessened until now the plain white stands out as a thoroughly popular article.
This does not mean that the colored chiffon waists are not good style, but it does mean that they are no longer the only style.
In the matter of separate skirts, choice is practically unlimited. There are attractive models in eponge, linen, and pique. Fancy eponge skirts in woven stripes or with plain grounds and pencil-stripes in colors, also brocaded eponges are high class and novel.
For all practical purposes the plain skirt, fastening at the side or center-front, and with a few gathers in the back, is the best liked. Among the novelty eponge skirt are many with draped effects, some on both sides, some on one side only, and others again with the drapery caught up in front in Oriental effect.
The favorite trimming is undoubtedly buttons. Crystal is the favorite, plain white, plain colors, or white with colored centers and the reverse.
In addition to white washable skirts there is quite a fancy for check material in lightweight woolen goods. The sizes of these checks are varied, ranging from pin size to an inch check. Black-and-white is the favorite combination, but some blue and brown with white are also see. Striped skirts are also seen, but the stripes are not aggressive in type and the fine, almost invisible line on a solid ground is perhaps the most popular.
The summer suit is a source of endless delight in its variety. For morning wear there are the smart suits of linen, eponge and cotton corduroy. As a rule these are made with a cutaway coat, the fronts crossed well over each other and fastened with one or two buttons. The skirts are of a simple type and there is rarely any trimming except the buttons and buttonholes. These are not always placed where they are needed, but where they will add most to the appearance of the suit. The shirring of the back is universal in the tailored skirts, and there is usually some attempt at a belt, fastening with a buckle.
The more elaborate models for afternoon wear are made of Russian linen and also of ramie, of plain and brocaded eponge, cretonne and hand-embroidered linen. The coats of dresses of this class vary far more widely than those of the suits for more informal wear. They are cutaway, Russian-blouse, Chinese-coat, Balkan-blouse and other dressy shapes. In all the more elaborate models we find the fancy vest and ornamental collars and cuffs. Cretonne and printed eponge are frequently used as a trimming, and they are very effective. Plain colored eponge is also used in the newer designs, and the nets in the new futurist designs make very effective trimmings.
The skirts to these more dressy suits usually show a suggestion of drapery. In some there is a little fulness at either side of the front panel, and others are draped at one side or directly in front, as with less dressy models. In the matter of color all the brown tints lead, but Saxe blue, white, tan, gold, rose, leather, and Paquin green are all favored.
With these suits the more dressy styles of waist are worn. Those of lace or chiffon, richly embroidered, are the best liked. Of course there is an immense variety of styles in waists to choose from, not only for dressy suits but for all other purposes. In silks white crepe de Chine leads, especially in designs which have a frill-finish. The familiar double frill is still a feature of popular waists, and we also find many narrow frills, which outline the front plaits, or follow the side-fastenings. Narrow plaitings to match the frills are used as a finish to the flat collars and turnback cuffs. Among the semitailored waists we find the button-through collar and cuffs, and the long shoulder and plaited frills. In the novelty waists we find crepe de Chine in combination with printed net or printed silk.
No waists are more popular for general wear than the China-silk waists. These also show the frill-finish, but the designs are more conservative, more akin to the tailored cut. These are the practical waists, and are used for outing-purposes and also for office wear by the girl or woman who works for others.
For traveling, striped wash-silk waists are especially popular, and these are also much used for morning wear. In some cases these waist show the white groundwork, with broad or narrow stripes in purple, gray, blue, rose, yellow or brown. Then again the groundwork sometimes shows a soft shade of gray, blue, rose or tan with white stripes. These models are usually made on the general lines of a man’s shirt. Silk-and-linen materials are also much used for waists in this same class.
Lace and net waists are also extremely popular, and are shown in such a wide range of style and price that anyone can find some model to her taste. The unlined net waists are also popular, and this largely because they are so practical. They can be laundered, whereas the lined models cannot, and this does away with both inconvenience and expense.
So many inquiries come to us with each month as to the correct millinery to wear with one or other style of dress selected, that a word on this topic will not be out of place in these columns. There are very few large shapes worn at present even in the evening. The small hat is the thing for the daytime, and the half large hat for the evening, if a hat must be worn, or a little fancy cap of embroidery, with an aigrette or other ornament when the hat can be dispensed with.
Colors in hats have followed those in dresses, and we find a wonderful increase of the all-white hat. This is very pretty in its way, but we cannot help thinking that a hat that has something striking about it makes the best possible finish for an all-white costume. Thus black and white, strikingly places, not mixed together, is good, and a touch of bright green or red or blue on a white hat will all be enlivening and effective. Many women prefer an all-black hat with a white dress, and this is also extremely effective. Some of the new black hats are of medium size with a frilled brim, in the baby-hat style, and with malines covering the crown. Sometimes such a hat will have a band of colored ribbon across the crown or a bunch of some very bright flowers at one side on the brim.
The sailor-hat in its original form is one of the season’s arrivals, and it is good to see it once again, so trim, so stylish and so youthful. It is perhaps the one girlish had that the gray-haired woman can wear without being accused of trying to get up mutton in lamb fashion.
The Panama shapes are in excellent style for wear with the simple tailormade suits, the plainer one-piece dresses and the traveling-suit of simple serge or other cloth. These hats are usually simply trimmed with a scarf of bright colors, the ends of which are allowed to hang loosely down the back or side. Sometimes one finds merely a few narrow folds of colored ratine, or a band of feathers, of the flat varieties.
The tall trimmings, sharp pheasant-feathers, manufactured aigrettes, and the like, are all much used; and they are variously placed either directly at the back of the hat, or directly in front; rarely, but sometimes, they are seen at the side. The use of large wired bows is not uncommon. These are always placed across the back of the hat, and sometimes they are made of ribbon, at others of net or lace. Plain black, plain white, and black and white mixed, are the most popular colors.
The curled ostrich bands which surround the crowns of hats are very much used even on simple hats, and for dressy occasions a short plume or two can be added. I am happy to say that the willow plume is not used at all. Of course one sees it, but so does one see wide skirts and other things that are none the less “not worn.”
The ornaments which are made of ribbon and which are very upstanding are extremely popular. Some of them look as if they were knotted around a stiff bit of wood or metal, and have generally a bunch of short loops at the end. These bows stand up smartly, and take the place of feathers or aigrettes at the back of the hat.
The small hat is most popular of all. It is no longer pulled down over the face like an extinguisher, and it is therefore a hundredfold more becoming than formerly. It is possible now to show the hair, whereas a year ago the hat would have looked just as well on a bald pate, so completely was the head extinguished.