Observe Care In Your Buying
( Originally Published 1924 )
We should have fewer regrets in our selection of clothes if more time were spent in their purchase as well as in the planning. Hurried decisions are apt to be disastrous. Something is overlooked in the quality or the weave, in the fit or the style, which will, when discovered later, prove to be an annoyance. Light should be taken into consideration. Colors seen in a grayish light are quite different in the bright sun. Materials for street wear should always be tested by daylight, while garments exclusively for evening wear should be chosen under artificial light. We are all familiar with the change of color caused by different light rays when twilight tricks the eye into seeing weird hallucinations in all things, completely transforming blues into greens and greens into blues, and confusing yellows and pinks past any distinguishing one from the other.
To be able to see which way the wind of the fashion world is blowing, will help you to select the dress, suit, or coat which will remain in style for more than one season. Early in the winter, spring styles are being considered. From many sources of information, one can gather their tendencies—silhouette, the neck line, the types of sleeves, the length of skirts and their fullness, all of these are fundamentals on which variations are played. Become posted in the details, so that you can read the weather vane. Then, when you are selecting clothes, try to find the ideas which the coming season's winds are beginning to whisper. You know that if you can incorporate such ideas in your present clothes, your costume will be in vogue the following year. By remembering how long a certain idea has been used, you will be able to estimate its length of life; for we know that change of costume moves in cycles. It is not economy to buy a garment whose style is at the apex of its popularity if you expect to wear it more than one season. If "everybody is wearing" a certain thing, you'll be wise not to get into the current, but instead to watch for the new winds that are beginning to blow.
Some women carry a trick up their sleeves whereby they contrive to keep an outfit still smart through a third season. By the same magic, they are never blinded into risking a hat whose black cherry trimming proves to be as common as dandelions in the spring. They are never too tired to slip trees into their shoes at night, or to spread out a damp veil so that it will dry smoothly. They wear washable gloves which are always fresh. They know how to buy an inexpensive hand-made waist, add dull rose embroidered dots, a touch of real Irish, and—behold! a blouse deliciously Parisienne. They can cloud a last year's lilac-and-white checked gingham with white organdie, add a bit of French blue ribbon, a formal little boutonnière of deep purple velvet pansies, and pass it off as a copy from a fashion magazine. They are women with highly developed dress-sense, envied by their less gifted sisters and profitably patterned after.
It is well to note, occasionally, whether we are continuing to develop good taste and judgment in dress. The all too frequent changing of fashions tends to unbalance our judgment, so that often we forget to study our individual type when we make a selection. A review of the things one has selected from year to year will show an evolution of personality and taste. A boy's rack of neckties will furnish ample proof of the foregoing statement.
It is not a good plan to let one's taste in garments change too frequently, for it is impossible to dress correctly and economically under such conditions. For some, it is especially difficult to dress in good taste when the amount that can be spent is limited; but those who seem to do it most successfully are those who live and dress according to a modest scale, and have, in consequence, given much thought to making the most of a little. She who can really make her clothes fit her individuality on a small income has a satisfaction which the rich will never know.
In every good-sized community, there is usually one store that has a reputation for a certain kind of merchandise. One store may be "the best place to buy linens," another is renowned for its silks, another for its laces. All stores handle certain standard goods, and by a comparison of the prices asked for these standard goods, can be estimated the best place to buy. It is wise to buy merchandise of whose quality you are not certain from merchants who have built their reputation upon the quality and price of standard goods, rather than to patronize one who specializes in style or in "sales." One should always go to a "sale" with her eyes wide open, for there is generally a reason why goods are sold at a low price.