( Originally Published 1924 )
Women have passed the stage of inefficiency in dress as they have progressed in many other things, and are choosing their clothes with a definite idea of use and beauty. Girls and women are dressing more sanely, because of their wider outlook on life and a deeper understanding of their responsibility, a sense that they have an important role to play in life. They are now thinking of clothes in terms of simplicity, of physical comfort, and of health.
Because a Queen Anne, once upon a time, had a thirteen-inch waist line, a style was created, and from that time until some forty years ago, women prided themselves on their small waist measurements. They wore shoes two sizes too small for their feet, because small feet were supposed to indicate refinement. These women were consciously or subconsciously suffering for years; and, as a result, at forty years of age, they had wrinkles around their eyes. They learned, too late, if ever at all, that discomfort is never beautiful.
No one can be graceful in movement if her clothes are not easily and comfortably worn. Any portion of the wearing apparel that gives the impression of causing the wearer discomfort is displeasing to the eye. Girls of to-day will not be wrinkled at forty, because their clothes are worn with ease and permit the full, deep breathing that is essential to health. They have demanded comfort in footwear; flat-heeled shoes and sandals for day wear which insure a springy, graceful step in walking and are fashionable for all occasions, except the very formal dance when the wearer is, literally and figuratively, on tiptoe.
Shower-baths and other attractive aids to the daily toilette, which make for absolute cleanliness and constant elimination of poisons through the pores—the value of which can not be too much emphasized—have helped wonderfully to establish clear skins, clear minds, and clear estimates of values, or judgment.
In the bouyancy of health which comes from physical comfort and cleanliness, girls and women are going to become more and more powerful in the world's activities. Given more power they must cultivate more and more balance, so that they will not be led by fashion far afield into ideas which are extremes and out of proportion.
We must believe in the women of to-day. Bobbed hair, rolled stockings, corpse-like nose, and carmined lips are no more the expression of the real woman than are any other of the extreme and fad-dish trappings of previous periods. Young girls especially should learn to discriminate between the stare attracted by obtrusive color and style, and the glances of discriminating approval. The rouged, cigaret-smoking, cocktail-drinking, but sound-atheart girl gives way to the real, genuine girl who is endowed with brains as well as beauty.
The woman of today is learning that her clothes should be such a complete expression of her personality that she can be unconscious of them. Among our girls are many Portias whose mental ability will not rob them of being charmingly pretty individuals, but rather will establish them as those who have pleasing individuality coupled with power.
When all is said and done, one finds that attaining beauty in dress is not difficult if one goes about it in an intelligent manner, with thoughts of suitability and becomingness.
A knowledge of color, line, and fabric, with the general quality of unity and a reserved use of decoration, solves the problem admirably.
With all of one's understanding one should re-member that charm is being one's best self. This is the greatest factor in beauty, and in its development and manifestation let there be sincerity and individuality, possessing which, one will have the "three graces" not easily overshadowed by any others.