On Balance

Many a sermon has been preached by style authorities against excessive decoration and too luxurious attire in the past 1000 years. While the principle of not over-adorning oneself and certainly not at the expense of others’ happiness stands, the excess has swung to the other extreme and in these days there is a need to preach against too severe simplicity and wearing too humble clothes. While a dress trimmed with costly lace and sparkling diamonds is out of place when conducting business on a regular morning, it is equally or more wrong to dress in a pleated tweed skirt and clumsy cardigan for cocktails. The first one, although unsuitable and erroneous, at least is worn out of desire for Beauty, while the second one is worn either of laziness, or contempt, or false modesty. There is no proper reason not to respect celebrations with suitably fancy and pretty dress, and moreover, every day should be a celebration of Life. Each cup of morning coffee poured with loving hands is a libation on the shrine of Life and Beauty, and from that moment on, the whole day is filled with rituals solemnizating some aspect of daily and seasonal Life and their Beauty. Your everyday wear is ritual raiment, and you should choose it with care and wear with respect, never pull on whatever happens to be found at the clothes-hamper without a single thought for the occasion or the picture you present.

As for the ubiquitous stretch undershirts and formless pseudo-sports apparel, or any other abomination of costume which is taken as granted on the city street, at home and even at parties, not even inmates at infirmary should be forced to wear such appalling rags. Why do people inflict such repugnant things on themselves may be one of the keys which unlock the mystery of the modern human’s diseased psyche, but perhaps it is better to leave that door closed. Even the ascetics and self-flagellationists of Middle Ages never wore such charmless costumes, but on the other hand it can’t be about spiritual self-negating, since the prime feature is alleged to be “comfort”.

spring-lace

Beauty and Propriety are inseparable. If you stop paying attention to one, you will also lose the other. Together they kindle and keep alive the light which makes humans grow and blossom. Put on your neat dress, straighten your stocking seams, arrange your hair becomingly and pin on a pretty lace collar, and you too are radiating the light of Beauty. It is not vanity, but your most important obligation. Those who condemn the ephemeral arts for being ephemeral are missing the point. They are, if practiced in a pure manner and not for external profit, beneficial and virtuous. The very frivolity often condemned in dress has a good effect upon the majority of women. Have you thought of the moral influence exerted collectively by very many well dressed women? From such an atmosphere of fitness there must come a sense of duty to each one to do her best, which the French call noblesse oblige.

If your stocking seams keep getting crooked or your collar askew, do not despair. Also the writer of these little sermons is a long way from reaching perfection, but each step taken towards the light is in the right direction. Therefore one may be permitted to advocate the cultivation of ideals tending towards fine living in its truest sense without being subjected to severe censure because of failure to practise all that one preaches. We know that only through aspiration for, and striving after what is better than our present best is advancement in any direction possible.

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