If your constitution is strong and your mind is brave, you may look through the latest high fashion shows to see if some of the creations meet with your favor. Perhaps the designer picking at the glorious treasure chest of past fashions has chanced upon a becoming style, a sweet way of arranging folds, a nice detail for a collar, a fetching combination of fabric and trim. It is possible to find some pleasant idea which you can execute yourself to the benefit of your toilette. But make sure to only look at the highest fashion circles, where the artistic impulse of the designer is carried out without a thought for the cost. In other strata of clothing, all the aesthetic choices are subservient to the rapidity of manufacturing, the cheapness of material, even the ease of folding the clothes for transport or arranging them on display at the shop – shockingly, all manner of considerations which have nothing to do with the becomingness of the item in question to the wearer. She, who to her detriment buys these clothes and wears them, does not benefit the tiniest bit from these motivations which invariably ruin the fit and style of her apparel. She is but a receptacle, a waste-basket where these unworthy rags are finally disposed to (and for being the garbage collector she ought to be paid, instead of giving her money away!).
These poor “clothes” are only fitting to be used as cleaning rags, and the short detour to a woman’s wardrobe is an entirely unnecessary step on the way from factory to trash heap. The aim was never to make a well-fitting, pretty, practical garment, to beautify and suitably clothe a lady, but to make something as fast, as cheaply and in as large a quantity as possible to fill the shelves of shops – in short, not to make clothes at all. Not real clothes anyway, truly meant to clothe, but some sham articles of fabric hastily assembled, that bear the faintest resemblance to clothes. You’ll as soon be well dressed in those, as in paper doll clothes or sheets of newspaper. It were better to the whole world if the wasteful and ridiculous clownery of manufacturing trash heap filler by the ton was stopped, but at least you can opt out of it.
Instances are as disagreeable to mention as they are to see. You may have wondered at the profusion of thin jersey in today’s “fashion” shops. This fabric, which by its very nature is suited to simple sports underwear and toddler’s play clothes, is used in place of gingham, challis, silk gauze, linen-lawn, seersucker. The multitude of light- and medium-weight fabrics, suited for many different occasions and each creating their unique effect, have been superseded by this rather boring and unglamorous fabric, merely because the apparatus which makes it is very fast and thus cheap to operate. Also because it can stretch, so all fitting, and thus some trouble in pattern-drawing and sewing, has been declared unnecessary by unscrupulous merchants.
So many wrong and absurd ideas are put forward by those pretending authority in style that it is no wonder that young and foolish girls, anxious to please yet ignorant of how they should do so, are misled. Their spirit is right. They feel it is their duty to be well dressed, but with them “fashionably” passes for “well”. To be well dressed one must always be appropriately dressed, and beautifully dressed. If a fashion aids one in either, then that fashion should be followed, but it should not if it does not.
We who live in this mad age must do without the guidance of real, living Fashion, and instead rely on our own judgement and sense of beauty. Perhaps at some point in future the natural course of Fashion will be resumed and new wonders of beauty will be again imagined, but until then one is wise to test every proposal of fashion against the example of bygone periods.