“Dress yourself beautifully – not finely, unless on occasion; but then very finely and beautifully, too. Also, you are to dress as many other people as you can; and to teach them how to dress, if they don’t know; and consider every ill-dressed woman or child whom you see anywhere, as a personal disagree; and to get at them, somehow, until everybody is as beautifully dressed as birds.”
Why must I lavish time and care on my appearance, you may ask, while laboriously arranging your hair and pinning on your collar in the morning, when the other girl can roll without pause from her bed to the street, hair unbrushed and clad in the same formless knit-cotton garments which she wears each hour of the day? To this we can only answer: because it is your duty, and your privilege. We humans are much like flowers: material comforts are the soil and water, which are necessary for existence. These we have in our age at least enough, in many cases in abundance. But beauty, loveliness, elegance is the light, which makes us grow into what we can and should be. In the dim and gloomy environment of our age, almost without the light of Beauty, human mind grows twisted and unhealthy – much like a plant grown under shade grows feeble and weak, never able to produce the flower which should be it’s glory. When you clothe yourself properly and beautifully, you allow the light of beauty to shine upon yourself, and upon those whom you meet. You will become at once the beautiful flower nourished by material comforts and light, but also the light itself. Do not neglect this chance to benefit the world as well as yourself. The woman who pretends to be indifferent to her toilette is wanting in good sense as well as her higher calling as a servant of beauty.
The highest office of the body is the expression of spiritual life. Your body is the altar and shrine where beautiful materials, flowers and jewel are placed in praise of Life and the governing forces of the Universe. Your appearance is no trivial matter. It affects the minds and hearts of others around you. It affects your own mind and heart. And lastly, it affects the balance of Universal forces. Sloppy, dirty and ugly clothes are a blasphemy, disgracing the altar of your person. It causes destructive imbalance, whose effects can be detected everywhere.
Consider yourself a missionary of Beauty in your appearance and do your best to lead others to the same path. Even the most faltering steps on the path of Beauty should be encouraged. A single word of praise may assist in a veritable flower of beauty to blossom, whereas a condescending glance can freeze the bud and destroy any chance of it ever flowering. (I trust none of the readers are so devoid of good manners and good heart as to actually verbalize any uncharitable thoughts regarding anyone’s appearance, no matter how justified). Keep in mind that everyone you meet is trying to balance the overpowering messages of ugliness in our environment with their innate desire for beauty. Always behave in such a way which holds the most potential for beauty to conquer ugliness and keep your attention focused on the beauty which exists, instead of wallowing in the opposite. To possess qualities worth imitating or to make herself imitable in a high degree is the duty of a woman of taste.