( Originally Published 1898 )
" Corruptia optima, pessima !"
("The corruption of the best becomes the worst.")
With the above sentiment as an apology for a possible trespass on sacred ground, I venture to express my views in certain matters relating to toilets. Undoubtedly society is to be sincerely congratulated on the great artistic renaissance in the fitness of the colors and materials Of modern costumes. Instead of the positive and glaring colors and fabrics formerly displayed " en salon," the prevailing fashions present a delicate blending of shades and sheens to which the most fastidious of critics have given unqualified approval, and with whose verdict it would be preposterous for any but the most distinguished leaders of the " Illuminati " to disagree.
In our Galveston society there is to be observed a delicate and at the same time an independent taste, that cannot be too much admired, or too highly commended ; and that is, in the marked absence at our full-dress entertainments of toilets in the " extreme mode," i.e., almost exclusively composed of " skirt."
The fashion-plates, the " Letters of Lucy Hooper," and the " Extracts from the Note-Book of a Parisian Lady of Fashion," have not been permitted to revolutionize the purity of our social taste ; and although an habitue of the drawing-rooms at the court of St. James or of the "salons " of Paris, suddenly transferred from a " crush" at Windsor or Les Turneries to Artillery Hall at the annual chef d'oeuvre of our social reunions, might stare, and utter a " By Jove ! " or a " Ma foil " his moral eye, if an artistic and truly delicate one, would be charmed, in spite of his European prejudices and precedents.
Long may this custom of full dressing prevail ; and may no sudden great success of Turkish or Russian arms produce such a hegira in our fashions as followed, for a short time, the social convulsions of the Franco-Prussian war !
The only votaries of (a certain) fashion to be pleased by an introduction of Turkish toilets would be Dr. Mary Walker, and her followers ; and possibly Mr. Beecher ; while the Russian styles would be advantageous only in a commercial way, from the inducements offered to the ladies to " bear the market " in furs.
The one incongruous feature of our ball-room dresses is the train. Beautiful, graceful, and appropriate when gliding over a green lawn or a parlor carpet, or posed "en regle" in a "tete-a-tete," they are yet certainly out of place in a crowded ball-room ; and altogether opposed to the proprieties of neatness when sweeping a pavement or street-crossing.
In the dressing of children at the present day, there is perhaps a greater regard for the laws of health, and better taste as to material and proportion, displayed, than ever before ; and although it is sometimes the case, that little girls' stockings are too short at the top, their toes crushed one over the other in stilted shoes, their hats poised a little nervously over their brows, and their sashes tied somewhat too tightly about their knees, it is to be admitted that their clothing generally is loose enough and light enough to afford ample space for the growth and development of the limbs and muscles, and to permit the natural exercise of all the vital organs.
The subject of dress in its relations to the health, morality, and artistic intellectuality of civilized peoples, is one offering a broad and engaging field of discussion for the physician and physiologist ; but which in aspects so profound could not, consistently with the modest intentions and limited abilities of the present writer, find an appropriate place within these pages. Suffice it to say in concluding these crude reflections, " 'Tis not the cloth that makes the man ; " neither do rich fabrics, gay colors, and costly jewels, enhance the loveliness of a chaste and beautiful woman.
Dancing At Home And Abroad:
The Glide, Or Dodworth's Boston
The German, Or Cotillon
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