Friday, 21 August 2015

'Standard Dress' for Women

From The Illustrated London News, 21st August 1915.


Women's dress will very likely be permanently affected by the war.  The removal from working life of so many of our men in the prime of their productive powers must necessitate the permanent continuance of a large number of women in the novel tasks that they are now undertaking, and it will become clear that their dress must be suitable for the work that they must do.  For instance, the women "postmen" in the country districts now ride the official bicycle, and many of them do so, as common-sense requires, in knickers.

For the period of continuance of the war, a committee of Society ladies has just been formed to promote economy amongst women, and one of their pledges is not to take any notice of changes of fashion.  Lady Juliet Duff is one of the Hon. Secretaries, and the office is at Denison House, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London. It should be noted that the suggestion now made that there should be a standard dress for women, instead of constant changes of style, was practically almost adopted even before the war as far as workaday costume is concerned; a coat-and-skirt was, and is, now, almost universally worn, with a simple loose blouse under the coat for indoors.  This uniform—for the slight diversities in cut, braiding, buttons, and so forth, are so unimportant as not to affect the essence of the matter—is worn for business in town, for country life and for travelling, so generally as to constitute it a "standard" dress, in fact.  Yet so recently as five-and-twenty years ago, Miss Clo Graves, the clever woman who has now won fame under the nom-de-plume of "Richard Dehan," was considered to "dress like a man" because she always wore, both for day and evening toilettes, a severely simple coat-and-skirt.

Mr. Rochfort Maguire suggests a standard evening-dress.  The very name implies that the dress is only to be worn in the shelter of the house, and a certain fragility and fancifulness are in keeping with those conditions.  Laces and embroideries that are already possessed, at any rate, may as well be worn, even in war-time.  Change of costume is the only sort of variety in many women's lives; and love of colour, and of harmonising it with the individual complexion, eyes and hair, is a harmless indulgence that need not be costly, while the result gives real pleasure both to wearer and onlookers.  Again, we must remember that any abrupt changes, such as the universal adoption of a simply made black satin evening gown for every woman, as Lady Tree suggests, would disorganise a vast mass of labour and cause much misery.


A FASHION OF THE MOMENT. This fashionable coat-and-skirt is of burnt-orange Gabardine with black braid; with it is worn a blouse of black-and-white striped silk, with black buttons. The hat is of black taffetas and white ribbon. 

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