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How to Dress Well: 1959 style

Some fashion is timeless. Some fashion is quick, dirty and something you'd like to forget. No matter what the time there's always some timeless rules to follow.
I'm going to share one of my favorite fashion possession, "How to Dress Well," a booklet published by the Int'l Ladies Garmet Union Worker in 1959.

The booklet helps ladies understand what fashion is and how to incorporate it into their lives. In fashion class yesterday we were sort of doing the opposite. My teacher was encouraging us to present out figures with lots of layers and over the top style because even though we don't dress like that in the day to day, on a run way you want people to see the whole things and pick their favorite piece, the piece they'll actually buy.
This blooklet reads,"Just what is fashion? High-style originals and diamond necklaces? Those lean modles in the high-fashion magazines? They are not fashion. They are, bless them, fashion's test pilots."
See, timeless concepts. Models are hangers to help us decide what to wear.
"Most people want to learn how to dress attractively. Some have more natural style sence than others- but all can learn... A good comment on this came from a man! 'To be in fashion is to be at home in the world, at home in one's epoch. It is to build at least the foundation of psychic peace'."

Here are the three basics of fashion:
  • Simplicity: "Ask any 'best-dressed' woman her secret. Lack of clutter, she will say, is understanding what to leave off as well as what to put on. 
  • Harmony: "A beautiful costume is the total effect of colors, textures, lines and pleasing accessories. In clothes, as in music, there are many ways to achieve harmony. For the beginner, the simple chord: a pleasing figure outline plus interesting, becoming colors, and the proper balance of your head to your figure via the right hairdo and/or right hat. Remember the hat is not an independent entity. It must "key in" matching perfectly or adding a bright note of contrast. It can add height, or make you look less tall. The smart woman is seldom seen in public without some form of head covering, plus neat gloves." I'm falling way behind in this area.
  • Proportion: "A carefully chosen dress can fool the eye as to your figure proportion. The trick is to think of your waistline as the equator of your silhouette; raise the line slightly to make your legs seem longer, lower it if you want to look slimmer through the bust."
  • Personal Taste: "Fitting your particular figure into the current fashion shapes, then adding the best colors and accessories, requires intelligence, up-to-date information, careful selectivity, plus that mysterious, very personal thing called taste. Good taste can be acquired by reading (not just skimming) fashion articles, by looking at fashion pictures with yourself in mind, and, by taking the time when you shop to try on many different styles before choosing one."
These rules are pretty timeless, I think hat styles and the importance of head covering isn't as important anymore. Everything else holds true, we are more accepting of lots of layers and even a cluttered look, but it's because everyone is so expressive and individualistic these days.

Here are some good shopping tips laid out in the booklet;

Look for good workmanship: 
  • Buttonhols: are they well-bound?
  • Belt: firmly stitched, reinforced where necessary?
  • Seams: are they generous, 1/2" or wider?
  • Hem: Is it even and deep enough to lengthen? The most becoming hem curves very slightly down at the back.
Read the Labels: "The manufacturer has put them there for your benefit. The information they contain is vital to the life and care of your garment... the newest label you will find is small but potent: the little ILGWU union label attached to an inside seam, showing that the garment has been produced by skilled hands under conditions suitable to our American way of life. It is one of the more than 1 billion fashion units produced annually in this country."

Just something to think about. Hope you enjoyed this little jaunt down fashion history lane.

What's your favorite timeless fashion advice/mantra?


Angeline said…
Love this! Some things never change :)
crimson&clover said…
love it! What a wonderful book!

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