Clothing When The Budget Is Limited
( Originally Published 1924 )
There are certain pretty safe rules to follow when the dress allowance is limited. The first and most important, perhaps, is to choose one color—that which is most becoming to you as your keynote —in all your purchases. Remember, however, the adaptability of black, and also its inconspicuousness, which permits almost continual wearing. Never select too bright colors in anything.
Never indulge in fads in garments unless you can afford to throw them away when they are no longer in style. Certain lines best suit your figure and they should be employed in all your garments.
Simplicity in design should be faithfully observed, since it is efficient from a standpoint of economy and is always graceful as well.
Many silks and wools, as well as cotton and linen fabrics, can be washed in suds made with pure soap. These are always a better investment than clothes which must be dry-cleaned. Chiffons, Georgettes, and other delicate materials if they are plainly made, can be safely washed.
It is always a question whether one gets more wear from a suit or a dress. But before making your purchase, it is well to decide whether you are a suit type. A dress is more economical, because it dispenses with the need of blouses, and, if one is much indoors, is more satisfactory, especially in the winter season when an extra wrap is essential anyway.
Many school girls and business women wear un-lined jersey suits, or those of similar material, with tailored blouses, keeping on the coats for indoor wear. A bright waistcoat makes such an outfit interesting. Such a suit, with fresh tailored blouses, string ties or bows of dainty colors, may solve one's problem of how to look neat and trim. An outfit of this type would answer the need of a spring suit and be economical as well.
In buying blouses avoid over-ornamented ones, but choose instead those where simplicity in cut and material are sure to give permanent satisfaction.
The dress or the suit should be given first consideration when buying clothes, for it is the foundation upon which the other parts of the wardrobe are planned. But whatever you decide upon, be sure that you are satisfied with its quality.
Cheap fabrics are always expensive in the end; so it is wiser to buy less frequently and buy better. Good workmanship goes a long way toward smartness and in giving a garment insurance against wrinkling or sagging of the pockets and collar when the garment is wet. It is far better to buy a good suit or coat and wear it two or three years, freshening it up meanwhile with new hats, blouses, or vests, than it is to buy cheap suits which, almost from the beginning, show poor material and workmanship.
But if your purse-strings are not elastic, it is even more important not to be tempted into buying the "very latest" suit, when what you really need is a top-coat to wear over dresses which you already have. Be blind to many things which you think you want. It is consoling to know that after all they are not really essential to smartness. If you can give the time, spend one shopping day looking, then go home and think it over, and when you return, shop to possess.
Buy on a three-year plan. Have special periods of each year for replenishing certain garments according to the market, such as muslin underwear in January.
Fifty-four per cent. of one's allowance for outer apparel should go to a coat and a coat-dress or a well-made tailor suit.
A plain color is best but more expensive, for good material is requisite to good appearance. For general wear, choose one that can be worn in and out of each season.
For the afternoon dress, one may choose a black satin or crêpe frock which may have different sleeves or be worn without any. The long lace sleeves can be worn with a lace apron for afternoon teas. No sleeves should be worn for a dinner.
The evening dress should be of material which is durable, and there should be a black cape to wear with it or the afternoon dress.
One may be able to arrange her limited budget so that she can manage some extra outer apparel; but if she can not, she will find aid in the little touches that freshen up a wardrobe. Here is a little economy : the thrifty one always chooses small hats, not because she is getting more for her money, but because a small hat is generally in style, is less noticeable, and can be worn longer without showing its age. Two hats, if one is resourceful, will do nicely; for a brilliant pin, a bit of lace, or an added rose will almost transform them.
Silk stockings may be regarded as luxuries, but whether they are or not depends a great deal on how one plans. A half dozen pairs worn alternately will last longer than when worn incessantly. For evening-wear, sheer ones. Buy two pairs alike, so that a good one from each pair will make a whole pair later on, but they must be worn and laundered an equal number of times. One must be very careful in putting them on or taking them off; just a little rough place on one's finger-nail can break a thread. The evening shades are light apricot, rose beige, or sheerest black. Heavier hose are best adapted for day-wear; a mixture of lisle and wool may be worn with a suit or sports clothes.
A word about gloves will not be amiss here. One pair of heavy gray washable suède, button or clasp, will be • just the thing to wear with the suit. A pair of washable gloves will be needed to wear with the crêpe de Chine dress, and these can be obtained in light-weight washable suède mousquetaire. Two pairs of rose beige light-weight suède gloves should alternate in days of wear and cleaning. Fortunately, white gloves are not worn as of old, so cleaning bills are thereby lessened.
Underwear for everyday use should be tailored and of good material, The fabrics for general hard usage should be of durable quality. Avoid cheap embroideries and lace.
Since the popularity of silk underwear has in-creased, silk tubing can be obtained for undervests, and is attractive and easily made up. This tube, cut the length desired (usually twenty-seven inches), is hemmed with an inch hem on both ends. Ribbon shoulder straps are sewed on, and a ribbon run through the top completes the simple garment.
The tubing is not always obtainable in widths over thirty-six inches, however, so the woman with large bust dimensions sometimes has to seek a substitute. A vest of knitted silk, which gives little bulk under the corset, bloomers well fitted but large enough to give service without tearing, and a carefully fitted brassière make up the practical under-clothing of the modern woman.