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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Accessories For Women

[Part 1]  [Part 2]  [Part 3] 

( Originally Published 1963 )



PART 2:

GLOVES

Gloves are lovely, feminine, and a most ladylike accessory. Don't automatically settle for the standard plain cotton glove. Look for delicate detail, interesting shades. In summer I personally much prefer the little hand-crocheted gloves to the nylon stretch ones, which not only look machine-made but can be very hot. The difference in price is negligible.

For the cooler seasons the new washable leathers come in all colors and styles. Because so many of the new coats and suits and dresses have sleeves which do not reach the wrist, elbowlength gloves (or even longer) are necessary for warmth as well as fashion. Do have are highly effective amazing how much with longish gloves.

When it comes to the color of your gloves, I really do not think any woman can go through summer without one pair of white gloves, or winter without a pair of good strong black leather ones. But after that, select colors to compliment your clothing. Intense pinks, purples, lilacs, reds, greens, blues come in daytime materials (leathers, wools, cottons) and in very dressy fabrics as well-satins, puckered silks, lace. Try a pair of long pink doeskin gloves to go with a brown or mocha suit, or lilac ones with black.

A cluster of little gold or silver bracelets worn over your gloves is an intriguing touch if they don't have to compete with too many other dramatic accessories.

BAGS

Time was when unless a pocketbook cost a mountain of money it looked shabby in no time at all. Those were the days when women, if not excessively wealthy, owned one good handbag and used it for almost all occasions. No matter how excellent the bag was it soon became a fixture-the lady grew bored with it, her children in some way identified mother with her big black or brown leather purse. It was an accessory to which the greatest possible compliment was-"a good strong bag."

All this is happily finished. A woman of moderate income may very well own four or five bags of various sizes and colors, even for various purposes. We can certainly give thanks for the new synthetic plastic patents and imitation leathers which look so much like leather and which last as long or longer. There are marvelous synthetic bags today. They copy the highest-fashion bags in styling and I frankly defy anyone to tell the difference without careful close-up examination. This is one of those areas where the fakes look real, act like real, are almost as good as real, cost a lot less than real.

The new sophisticated and vastly more interesting way to dress is to get a purse that does not "go with" your shoes or any other accessory you are wearing. Till recently many people (including me) had a tendency to accessorize in matched sets-brown suit, brown shoes, brown purse, and then, if they couldn't find brown gloves or brown jewelry they'd go mad. We have, thankfully, departed from this approach. We now feel that approach is too studied, too mechanical, and the effect is too planned. A bag today is treated much more as if it were just what it really is-a repository for just about everything a woman owns. Most are quite large, but well-shaped. Particularly popular in the last few years: the leather satchel, the carpet bag, bags in petti-point. They make no attempt to hide their purpose but seem on the contrary like a rather charming feminine admission of this particular almost universal female failing-the need to carry at least half their household with them. Nevertheless, do try and own one fairly small bag (besides a dress bag or purse) for occasions when you do not want to look as if you were leaving for India on the next packet.

HATS

Hats can change the whole mood of a dress, can make a lovely lady lovelier, can bring out so many aspects of a woman's personality that are not usually seen. But, as far as I can see, hats are the most difficult accessory of clothing to make any sort of wise statements about. There simply are no rules about what sort of hat is for what sort of a lady. I can not tell you what kind of hat to wear. Someone with all the "wrong" features can look wonderful in a hat that 99 out of 100 knowing experts would have sworn she'd look terrible in till the moment she put it on. Anyone who has ever sold hats knows this is true.

This does not mean that you should have no idea of what kind of hat you look good in. After years of trying all kinds of concoctions on her head and studying herself from all angles in mirrors a woman really should have some clue, and I'm certain you do. I know that I can only wear one kind of hat. It has to be the kind of hat that basically replaces my own hairdo-ergo, a hat with a high full crown. I can't wear a cloche, I look terrible in a floppy Greta Garbo sort of thing.

The two big general rules that do apply are: I ) Short womenbeware of big hats and 2 ) Tall women-beware of little ones.

As for the current vogue, fashion has left you a wide area of choice. A-la-mode in recent seasons-the small "adorable" back of the head hat, hats with varying size brims, with large swooping brims (especially the souwester'), slanting brims, small little hats that sit down on the brow.

ACCESSORIES ULTRA FANCY

Perfume-a whiff of you. Perfumes and colognes are wonderfulin moderation. But I have actually been in a theater and had to move because the lady sitting next to me was wearing so much perfume. It was undoubtedly a very good and costly perfume, but Madame smelled as if someone had dropped a bucket of it over her head as she walked out the door.

I feel so strongly about how delicately perfume must be used that I prefer to wear cologne for everyday use. To me, a woman should always have a faint and special whiff about her-but so faint it's almost not there. Perfumes and colognes have individual personalities just the way people do and they should be matched accordingly. Once you've found a perfume or cologne that is right for you I think this is what you should pretty much stick to, except for perhaps seasonal changes-a lighter odor for summer, a heavier weightier scent for winter.

I wear a very light quality perfume all year round. I am almost never without that particular cologne or perfume-which means that a definite fragrance has become connected with me. Once upon a time I used to wear any perfume or cologne someone gave me for Xmas or for my birthday. Then a woman well-known in the theater told me she had learned the art of establishing her own fragrance. I was very impressed. This is the sort of feminine philosophy you find in French novels and in detective stories where the detective finally finds the villain because he smells of the same perfume as the lady he killed. So I figured if the idea was good for detectives it was good enough for me.

Incidentally, a touch of perfume in your bathwater-your own perfume-is a lovely idea. More than a touch and your bathroom will reek for months afterwards, and I am very much against heavily perfumed baths or bubble-baths.

Where are the best places to put your perfume? Eternally favorite spots: in the crook of your arm, behind your ears, at the temples, in the inner bend of your knee, between your shoulder blades. But remember-only the smallest, most delicate dabs.

AH, THE LITTLE FUR

Furs have long been cherished by women for the psychological glow they produce as well as for their physical warmth. In many northern climates, of course, the wearing of fur has been a real necessity (for men as well as women) and Madame Eskimo wouldn't be found dead without her seal parka-or rather she would.

Nevertheless fur coats have their drawbacks. The first and most obvious one-fur costs money-good fur costs a lot of good money. And bad fur almost always looks like bad fur. The fur conoisseur (any woman who has a good fur coat immediately becomes one) is the first to spot a less than superior fur. Her disdain for a mediocre mink or a ratty sable far exceeds what she would feel for anyone wearing wool. In fact, the tables are beginning to turn a bit and it would seem that the little wool coat has so arrived in the world of high fashion that it can put its nubby nose up as far as chinchilla.

How did all this come to be? Our lovely first lady Jackie Kennedy is partly responsible for the switch. The day she sat through her husband's inauguration, on one of the coldest blowiest days in Washington's history in a simple wool chinchilla she helped put the little cloth coat up on a pedestal. Much of high society has since followed suit, and now it seems as if many of the women who can afford the real thing don't because they can and everyone knows they can.

To be frank, fur while beautiful on the animal who grew it can look a bit ridiculous if, for instance, it is a bulky fur worn by a lady not tall enough to carry it. And what sadder sight than those women who insist on wearing their mink or sable stoles on hot summer evenings no matter what. (Though on second thought, the air conditioning in some spots is so extreme mink is almost needed to survive.)

There are other reasons of course for the less furry look. A new more casual approach to clothes, perhaps a desire not to exhibit one's wealth too obviously in the face of a world primarily poor. Above all, some of the new wonderful fake furs can be bought anywhere, are warm and almost indistinguishable from the real thing, and amazingly inexpensive.

My conclusions:-if you can easily afford a fur coat and you look good in that fur coat, and you like fur, by all means buy fur. But, if buying a fur coat means you will have to take paperbag lunches to work for a year to be able to pay for it, I'd advise you to really look at those divine "fakes." Have you seen the highfashioned plush pale blond "otter" coats? They come casually elegant-belted or not belted-double or single breasted, with (or without) wonderful great collars that can stand up high and make you feel like the heroine of a Russian novel. Then there are the leopards-they look savage and completely real, even though they're made of Dynel and mohair.

The big warm "seal" furs (black or brown), the black Persian lambs, the "chinchillas" are better phonies than many real furs dyed to resemble them. And-should you buy one of these delicious frauds, just think how many little animals you will make happy.

AND NOW, HAND ME MY DIAMOND RING

While we're still on the subject of false goods that can look real, let's talk about jewelry. Jewelry has been faked for centuries but till recently even good fakes cost a lot of money. Today there are extremely convincing ersatz jewelry that you can buy for very little and which won't give you away unless you try to hock them.

The first and most important thing to remember if you do want your fake jewelry to pass for real, is to always wear pieces that could be real. Naturally if you wear a diamond ring with a stone as big as the uncut Hope diamond, everyone will know at once. But, if you wear a modest little stone (diamond, emerald, ruby, etc.) with perhaps two small seed-pearls at the side and in a simple setting, most people will assume that it is real. A single strand of pearls, even un-cultured ones, will look real if they are of a clear color without any pastebumps on them. And not-real gold or silver necklaces will be convincingly bonafide if the clasps are interesting and look good. The big clue in jewelry, as in everything else, is simplicity. Use few pieces, and use them discriminately, and you can go a long way toward making fakes look like the real thing.