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( Originally Published 1963 )
A choker necklace at or near the neck is the traditional addition to a high round neckline like this one, so lets go a bit further. Slightly off the beaten path, and just as nice, a slight drop necklace or a modified matinee length strand of pearls, either one of which lengthen the neckline of the dress and your neck at the same time.
If the dress is, say, beige, then gold or coral jewelry would be particularly attractive. Pearls would bring out a more sedate quality in the dress. While bead-color combinations of many strands, or necklaces of wood, satin, Mexican turquoise, and so forth would give the dress character.
A broach? If you were to wear a one-strand choker or a simple strand of beads at the neck of the dress you could also wear a broach without seeming too fussed-up. The size and amount of beading around the neck should decide whether or not to wear a broach and what kind of a broach to wear. If the beads of your choker are small you can wear a broach. With a double string of longer length you could use the broach to catch the necklace up at the side-draw the broach out a bit to the side and low. But if you have a broach that is very interesting or beautiful it may be so important looking in its own right that no necklace is possible. Try wearing the broach alone at the side of the neck of your dress, just off your skin and it will be a most effective replacement for a necklace.
People like myself, who do not have that long swan-like neck, should never wear the large collar-type necklace Egytian inspired which starts high and goes low covering a large expanse of the front of you. If you plan to wear a multiple strand collar-type necklace be sure it starts at a dropped level.
I have become tremendously sensitive to exactly what kind of earring I can wear and what kind I can't. A wide earring accentuates the width of my jaw and makes my neck look short. I can only wear a long dropped earring if I wear a totally bare strapless dress and no other jewelry. I believe women with short or average necks should stick to a moderately long drop earring, and avoid the really long ones. It's taken me years but now I know that the small delicate dainty earrings are right for me even though I am not a small girl, and without seeing me most fashion experts would say-"yes, she can wear big earrings." Not true. Only in slender rhinestone earrings, small fake (or real) emerald drop earrings, simple small diamonds or pearls do I look and feel well.
After I've finished putting my jewelry on I always remember something Lana Turner once said. She remarked that before leaving her house she looked in the mirror and automatically removed at least one piece of jewelry to be sure she had not overdone the effect.
There are so many ways a scarf can be used to beautify a dress that it's hard to know where to begin. Tied round the neck it can be tucked into an open shirtwaist top, a V-neck, a high simple round neckline, or caught at the side at shoulder point with a pin or broach. They can be wound loosely around the neck and dropped glamorously off the shoulders or worn loose off the neck and tied at the back in a regular sailor's knot (learn how) so that they fall and wave in the wind. If you have a long scarf you can wear it like a stole, or catch it with a pin at midpoint of a decollette. Should the weather turn windy you can always wear your scarf around your head. And, over a jacket, if its uncollared, a printed stole like crush of scarf moored with a fairly gigantic pin can be highly dramatic.
Scarves are one of the easiest and least expensive ways I know of to put color into a basic outfit, and there are such exquisite scarves available: from India, Japan, Thailand, Italy, France and other exotic corners of this now small globe-little gossamer thin, handrolled scarves of rich glowing colors, gorgeous printed silks. A red scarf at the neck of a pink suit, a lilac print against a solid purple coat; or for instance, with a simple beige dresswhite, brown, topaz, baby blue, gold, orange, yellow, turquoise, or prints that use few or many of those shades.
Working our way further down the human form we come to the waistline and-the belt. Designers distinguish the natural waistline (that indentation midway between your shoulders and your hips) from the designed waistline, which is, wherever the fashion designer chooses to put it. A dropped waistline means that the dress or suit or coat or whatever gives the visual illusion that the waist ends lower than it actually does. Any long sweater, blouse or shirt worn outside the skirt or slacks does this too. So do tunics, peplums, long jackets (especially if unfitted).
Whether or not to accentuate the natural waist is a recurring problem of high-fashion-a perpetual challenge to designers. Women with tiny waists are usually proud of them and no matter what fashion dictates, continue to emphasize their Scarlett O'Hara measurements with wide belts or with clothes that very definitely take notice of that area. The designers, however, feel for the most part (and I agree) that a too-emphasized waistline breaks the harmony of the entire form. Venus de Milo, they point out, did not, and does not in her sculpted immortal form, have an excessively tiny waistline. And though the hourglass figure was popular in the Victorian era (one not particularly remembered for its classic beauty) it was certainly not a female aspiration with the Greeks, the Romans, or the French Empire.
I very rarely like to see a belt in a contrasting color to a solid dress. It breaks up the form so completely that only the tallest and thinnest women can or ought to wear them.
Self-belts, that is belts of the same material as the dress or cut into or sewn into the dress, indicate the waist in a much simpler, less form-dividing way. Where a basic dress does not come with a belt you must decide whether or not a belt is a desirable accessory for you, and there's only one way to find out. Try it. If you are on the heavy side and not excessively tall, I'd say anything but a slender belt of the same color as the dress would be a mistake. You do not want many lines, as I said, chopping your body into horizontals. Even if you have a dress that comes with a belt, see how the dress looks unbelted. They are sometimes improved. Or-if the belt that comes with the dress is not rich looking, try adding a very good leather belt to it, and see what happens. A massive gold or ceramic broach on a self belt worn without any other touch of jewelry can be very attractive and individual.
SHOES AND STOCKINGS
Till recently a dark shoe and sheer flesh-colored stockings were considered standard foot attire from which few women dared deviate. Some allowances were made for summer-a sandal, a white shoe-but for the most part colored shoes were regarded with horror as a sign of bad taste, and our feet treated a bit like unwanted stepchildren-best when ignored.
Today we have a whole bright world at our toe tips. Don't overlook it. Shoes cover the color-scale, they come in every imaginable shade-pink, purple, blue, green, coral, even yellow. I do not advise any woman to stock her shoe closet full of circus-color shoes unless they are planned to go with the clothes she owns or plans to buy. A basic wardrobe based around various shades of brown, could, for instance, use a beige or a pink or a light green shoe as well as a brown shoe. A basic wardrobe with a central theme of blue and green could use an aqua or a bright green or a cream-colored shoe as well as a black one. But a beige dress could become much more exciting worn with bright purple or rich coral shoes.
European influence, so strong in U.S. fashion today, first made us conscious of the pale shoe. Now we realize that a pale shoe at the end of your pale stockinged leg makes for a much longer legline than a dark shoe which ends your bodyline at the ankle. The light shoe brings the eye all the way down to the ground and if you are not very tall, you will probably become increasingly enamoured of the pale shoe once you begin to wear it. Thus-if you've been a stick-in-the-mud about your shoe colors, pull yourself out. It's time.
This year, the square-toed shoe ousted the pointed shoe and no matter what your aesthetic feelings in the matter, it gives us all a little more room to wiggle our toes. The narrow metal heel however remains a subject of controversy. They leave their mark wherever they go, in tar, on Vinyl floors, on wood and tile, they get caught in tiny little holes, in gratings, in escalator steps. All this is definitely a reason for the solid stack-heeled shoes great popularity at present not only for sportswear but for any serious city walkers.
We've just (in the last few years) discovered colored stockings this side of the Atlantic and we're as thrilled as children with bright kites. Multi-colored hose can complete the look of an outfit in a wonderful way. Shade your legs up or down to your dress, then your shoes to your hose and you will look excitingly all-ofa-piece. If your legs are good-looking, flesh-colored nylons will always be fine for you, but some of the subtle grays and other pale colors can add extra glamour and cast emphasis on what is already beautiful. And for a woman whose legs may not be her first asset I think stockings that blend with the dress are an excellent idea.
For wintertime now we have the heavier nylon jersey or cotton knit stockings that come in all colors and give you a fascinating Toulouse Lautrec look and keep you warm at the same time. For everyday wear I do think these bright-colored stockings are more suitable for schoolgirls (anywhere from kindergarten to Ph.D.), than they are for career girls or housewives. But common sense should dictate you have a few pair of these on hand for cold cold days. Even warmer are the new tights (also called leotards) which look just like stockings but keep you comfortable in winter all the way from the waist down.