A Complete Course in Dressmaking/Lesson 1/What does style mean to you?



Of course you want to be stylish. Every sensible woman does. But do you know how to acquire the well-dressed look? Is it something you are able to accomplish one time and not another? Or perhaps, you can select smart clothes for yourself and can’t help Cousin Louise overcome a dowdy appearance. Or do you admire Mrs. Jones’ new blue dress just because it has that quality "chic" and accept as inevitable your own unbecoming brown dress?

Has it occurred to you that you and Cousin Louise and in fact every other woman can be stylishly dressed? People may be born beautiful, but certainly they are not born stylish. It’s a clothes sense that they acquire. They learn to wear clothes that are suitable. And there is the whole secret summed up in one word.

If I were asked to give a synonym for the word stylish, I think I’d say suitable. You know that it doesn’t make any difference how beautiful a dress may be, just as a dress, if it is inappropriate for the place or unbecoming to the wearer, you never think of it as stylish. Now do you? There are three great big important things to remember when you are selecting a dress, whether it is for yourself or for someone else.

First: It is important that the style of the dress suit the place or occasion for which it is intended.
Second: The design of the dress must suit the season—in other words be near enough to the prevailing mode not to be conspicuous.
Third: See to it that the lines and color of the dress suit the wearer.

If your dress will pass these tests, you may rest assured that it is stylish. After all, style in the true sense of the word is more than a mere Paris label, a pretty picture or a fine texture. It isn’t enough for a piece of material to be charming on the counter or a style pretty in the picture. Ask yourself how the dress is going to look when you make it up and put it on or when Sally Jones wears it. Put it through the little suitability test.

Probably more errors are committed in selecting extreme styles than in any other way. To be sure, there are people who can carry off the bizarre in dress but they are the dashing type. We might as well recognize the fact in the beginning that we can’t all dash.

Make the most of the looks and personality which you have. If you are demure or dignified or just pleasantly in between, watch out or the ultra styles will eclipse you.

You don’t want to be remembered as a dressmaker’s dummy carrying around a pretty frock or the woman who wore the tight skirt, the big collar or the queer sleeves.

I think one of the finest compliments which can be paid a person’s appearance is the exclamation, "I can’t remember exactly what she wore but she was dressed in such good taste and her clothes suited her splendidly".

Remember that your clothes ought to make you look your very best. Clothes can do kindly things—bring out the pretty lights in your hair, make you look an inch taller or hide the awkward curve of your hips—or they can be very, very unkind. It is not always the out-of-date dress either that is the hard task master.

A ruffle may be a charming accessory in the shop window but when rolly polly Louise wears it, it just attracts attention to the fact that her hips are unusually large. Just the fact that a dress is the latest mode—that last word in fashion—is no guarantee that it is the stylish selection for every woman.

It is well to keep in mind that every season brings a few extremes along with many charming wearable clothes.

There is the matter of dollars and cents, too. It is another place where it is easy to lose the true value of style. Expensive is not a synonym for stylish. It’s line and cut and becomingness that counts everytime. There is no truer saying in the world that clothes are more often overdone than underdone.

Costly materials may be very beautiful in themselves but they must be cleverly handled to equal the simple charm of an inexpensive goods well cut and well made.
Fig. (1) Elaborate material is just as out of place in an everyday environment as calico is in a ballroom.
As a matter of fact, where the dress is becoming as a whole, in admiring it one forgets to analyse the texture. If you will just stop and think of the pretty dresses which you have seen lately, I am sure that you will agree with me. One must remember too, that an elaborate material is just as much out of place in an everyday environment as calico is in a ballroom.
Fig. (2) Do you know what to wear for every occasion?
Perhaps, I ought not to have specified calico for it has come up in the world so lately that one would hardly be surprised to find it rubbing elbows with silks and satins. But this brings us back to the question of suitability again and the first rule on page 2.

In order to be stylish, your clothes must suit the purpose and the occasion for which they are intended.

You may not have thought of it in just this way, but there is etiquette in clothes just the same as in table manners. Here are a few of the general rules.