HOW TO DRESS YOUR AGE

In France, where the most magnificent clothes are made, women seem to be ageless. The great couturiers think in terms of the mature woman-the matron rather than the adolescent girl. In 1951 clothes were of the character to enhance a woman’s figure-im­portant gowns, day ensembles created for the woman of mature years.

A study of history reveals that a woman does not always dress to suit her age. For instance when, during the early part of the nine­teenth century, the Empire style-white, short-waisted, low neck­line-was dominant, British women of slight as well as those of ample proportions wore this style. Again in the 1920’s die “flapper look,” a straight-line sheath originally for a slender young figure, was universally adopted. Accepted fashions do not always make women fashion appear attractive, yet the force of fashion is so powerful that most women conform to current style rather than cling to a silhouette perhaps attractive to them personally but obsolete. The few hardy individuals who in 1950 wear the street-length garb of pre-War I days are stared at with laughter in the streets. Only a woman as popular and beloved as Queen Mary of England can wear a dated hat or costume and not be considered ridiculous.

The mature woman requires material in texture, color, and hand suitable for her years and designs that conceal figure and posture faults. Fabrics too youthful in character have an unkind effect on the older woman. Organdy, dimity, brilliant plaids, exotic and vivid prints, bright colors, are best worn by the younger person. Silk and rayon crepes, solid-color woolens and worsteds, muted tweeds, velvet, brocades, chiffon, solid or self-patterned linen, are all suitable for the older person. The older person should try to achieve a beautiful or sophisticated rather than an ingénue appearance.

DRESSING AND PERSONALITY

a popular magazine story compares the faces and figures of men h their dogs. Some men have a bulldog look; others, the friendly aspect of a collie; another man may have the tense alert look of a terrier, while a small ultra fastidious man may give the appearance of a French poodle. Personalities of women likewise may be compared to flowers. Two women of the same size, build, age, and coloring may require entirely different clothing. One may be an extrovert and the other an introvert: one, outspoken, unafraid; the other, shy, timid, and retiring.   A slender girl with regular features and pleasing coloring may remind one of a rose; another girl with plain features may suggest a shasta daisy; a tall sophisticated woman may be compared to a tiger lily or an orchid.

One retail store, noted for outstanding success in the promotion and selling of misses’ and women’s ready-to-wear, always has suitable merchandise for five personality types: the pretty blonde, the fashion­able, the country resident, the average, and the college type.

The pretty blonde is the type having hair, eye, and complexion dis­tinguished by delicate, beautiful, or unusual coloring-the person who wants to look pretty regardless of current fashions.

The fashionable type is eager for new and striking merchandise. She is willing to change her coiffure to suit a new hat silhouette. She enjoys being among the first to wear a new fashion. Frequently this type of person is sophisticated and poised, regardless of age. Her features may be plain, but she gives the appearance of elegance and attractiveness.

The woman who lives in the country, no matter what her size, needs warm, comfortable, durable clothing, so tweeds, sweaters, casual jersey, wool, and cotton dresses are available for her. Slacks, even to size 42, are worn for country gardening and leisure wear. Shoes are sturdy and comfortable for walking through the fields and along country roads. Hats are soft. Seldom is black used for an entire outfit for country wear. Rather, browns, greens, taupe, beige, and reds are chosen.

The average woman likes merchandise neither too new nor too old. She rather prefers current successes. She follows the predictions of her favorite fashion magazine.

The college type, the woman who is youthful in age or spirit, enjoys blouses, sweaters and skirts, casual dresses, odd jackets, and softly tailored suits. College girls as well as high-school girls love fads-new ways of doing their hair or wearing their jewellery, belts, or bracelets. .College clothes are those requiring a minimum of up­keep-clothes that can be worn several times without pressing, blouses that are easily laundered, and so on.

A well-dressed person is poised and assured for she knows that the clothes she wears suit her size, coloring, and personality. An un­happy appearance results when women ignore their type. For instance, a person who weighs 240 pounds can hardly “get away” with being “cute” or “kittenish.” A woman of this size should not dress like a college girl. One who is angular in features and body should avoid repeating sharp angles in clothing. Sharp lines in the hat or coat lapel that repeat a sharp nose or chin line are not pleasing. In any large city it is apparent that many older women make themselves conspicuous by refusing to change the character of their clothing as their husbands’ financial and business status changes. Thus, while a man buys better clothing, more distinguished shirts, ties, hats, and topcoats, his wife clings to an out-of-date type of country apparel. Proper clothes can improve the appearance of any person, especially those advanced in years. The intelligent sales­person is an advisor and friend to her customers.

 

HARMONIOUS COLOUR COMBINATIONS IN MERCHANDISE

The discussion of the basic colour harmonies, monochromatic, com­plementary, double complementary, analogous and analogous com­plementary, split complementary, adjacent complementary, and triadic has been presented as a guide for the person who is learning the theory of colour. No strict adherence to these basic harmonies, however, is demanded in the selection of colour for the individual. The painter uses colour daringly and with good effect, sometimes defying even the elementary colour theories. In the field of mer­chandise, also, certain colours often seem to “go together” although such combinations are not always in accordance with the basic har­monies. Several factors influence the use of colours together in mer­chandise: full intensity spectrum colours are seldom used in cloth or leather, but are generally blended or mixed; fabrics such as leather and fur have depth, transparency, or sheerness that reflects the light differently than does a solid flat colour; stimulating combinations used by fashion creators are accepted because they are different or -looking; cosmetic manufacturers develop rouge, lipstick, and powder colours to offset unbecoming effects; and colours used close ether influence each other. Red looks less intensive when worn with green looks brighter with white than with beige or grey.

The customer wants merchandise to “go with” certain colours. That is, she desires a harmonious, acceptable, pleasing combination. Because different materials look different even when dyed the same colour, an exact match is not always satisfactory. A woman wants a blouse to wear with a grey suit. Perhaps she thinks first of a grey silk blouse. If she finds one in the exact colour of her suit she will probably not be pleased, for the grey blouse with the grey suit looks too sombre. Red, pink, coral, pale blue, jade green, or many other bright colours, or white, or black, would all be satis­factory. Likewise, the customer may think that she wants wine-red gloves to match a coat. Actually, gloves that give a contrast are more pleasing.

The dyeing of exact matching colours in leather, wool, silk, or rayon dress goods, felt, and leather is a difficult task. During the last few years this feat has been accomplished successfully by several quality manufacturers. The idea of having the coat, dress, shoes, hat, and gloves of exactly the same colour is basically sound. Various groups of colours are selected for this promotion twice each year.

Beige, as used in hosiery and gloves, harmonizes with all costume colours. Likewise, some shades of red, as in lipstick, can be worn by all complexion types. The natural red of the lips may be accentu­ated with a red in lipstick that changes slightly on each individual but still remains a red.

An awareness of colour combinations used by the best clothing designers will aid the interested person to obtain a wider knowledge of possible colour combinations. The fashion magazines publish splendid colour plates for this purpose. It is suggested that a careful study of the colours available in each department be made by the salesperson: as, coordinating glove and handbag colours, coat and dress colours for street, casual, and sportswear, and colours for evening wear.

As to colour, all merchandise may be grouped in one of six colour divisions: intense or spectrum colours, achromatic, tints, shades, clear or greyed intermediate colours, and mixed colours such as plaids, stripes, checks, prints, brocades, and embroidery effects. The full-intensity spectrum colours are seldom used in merchandise. Indeed, it is impossible to purchase the six primary and secondary colours in cloth. The reason for this is that the brilliant colours drain the colour from the face and so are unbecoming. The list of intense colours should include the brightest apparel available in merchandise, how­ever, as sweaters, scarfs, evening-wear fabrics, and bright-colour dress woollens. Achromatic colours may be found in furs, many tweeds, brown and tan leathers, hosiery, and merchandise in black and white.

The tints are the light expressions of a colour and are used for sweaters, summer spectator sports dresses, evening wear, intimate apparel, and lounging robes. The shades are found in street coats, shoes, millinery, woollen fabrics, and other materials for fall and winter wear. The intermediate colours, clear or subdued, are the most flattering colours for general wear. This range includes such colours as blue-greens, blue spruce, teal, medium blues, soft greens, subdued fuchsia, gold, and coral pink. This group is growing in importance, and many colours in it may be used together. Mixed colours include prints, woven effects in yarn dye, brocade, jacquards, and embroidered materials.

Intense or spectrum colours may be used together in small quantity. In a bathroom, bright green, rose, blue, and gold may be used for the bath towels harmoniously. Belts, shoes, bags, or hats may com­bine three or more intense colours effectively. Sportswear makes use of bright colours. A bright red jacket with a bright green skirt may accompany a yellow sweater. Such a combination is acceptable for out-of-door wear. The intermediate colours and some shades are the only group out of harmony with this range of intense colours. Rose does not look well with bright red. Teal is greyed in the presence of bright green or brilliant blue. Coral is at its worst with brilliant orange, and fuchsia looks dirty with intense violet or brilliant purple. Tints and achromatic colours, however, look well with intense colours. A pink collar may be worn on any bright-coloured dress. The neutral colours subdue the intense, brilliant ones. Shoes in grey, brown, black, tan, or white accompany a suit or dress of brilliant colour. The mixed colours combine with spectrum colours when one is repeated in the pattern. A bright green harmonizes with a bright plaid in yellow, red, purple, and green. Bright blue accessories may be worn with a dress combining black, red, blue, and purple.

Achromatic colours are too drab when used together without an­other colour.   Grey and black is a good colour; combination for a vivid blonde or red-haired person because the hair introduces a warm colour. A woman with a fair, clear complexion, grey hair, and blue eyes may wear grey and black because her eyes introduce another colour and her delicate colouring prevents the combination from being too sombre. Balenciaga, the Spanish couturier, introduced black with a warm brown in a dinner dress in a distinctive pattern; but the average customer does not like the drabness of the achromatic colour combination. Brown looks well with white, but a brown that has red predominating is more effective than a neutral brown. This family of achromatic colours looks well with spectrum colours, shades, tints, and mixed colours when the achromatic colour picks up an echo­ing colour in the pattern or if the pattern is sufficiently brilliant to require a neutral contrast. College sophomore girls who want to wear bright plaid skirts or sweaters when they are large for their age, slightly stocky, or actually fat, may use this solution of wearing a grey or neutral colour for either the jacket or skirt. This tech­nique subdues the effect so that the apparent size of the individual is not increased to any great extent. With achromatic colours, pastels look well if there is some harmony of texture. A mink fur coat looks well with any pastel evening dress because they are both luxuri­ous materials. A grey tweed jacket with a cotton percale would not have the same harmonious effect because of the lack of harmony in texture.

All of the tints are harmonious together. This harmony may be observed in printed fabrics, woven brocades, and yarn-dyed woollens. Any spectrum or intense colour harmonizes with any tint. Thus, an evening dress of pale blue, pink, green, lavender, or yellow may be worn with a jacket, slippers, and a bag of bright green, purple, red, yellow, blue, or orange. Most pastels are more flattering with the addition of a brighter or darker colour. Tints also go well with shades and the intermediate colours. A pastel scarf is harmonious with any of the dark coat colours. A pastel feather is effective end any of the shades used for hats. Because the intermediate colours are sub­dued, pastels are very effective with them. Tints used with mixed colour effects should echo a dominant colour in the pattern.

Shades are least pleasing with spectrum colours. Tints, achromatic colours, and intermediate colours are effective, but the spectrum colours are too vivid. A wine-red coat may be worn with any pastel dress, sweater, or suit, and with any of the intermediate colours, soft blue, dull green, coral, gold, fuchsia, or greyed yellow. Likewise, any of the achromatic colours are correct worn with a wine-red coat. With mixed colours, the shade used may repeat the dominant colour in the pattern or be a complement of a dominant colour. For instance, a plaid of red, purple, and blue may be combined with a dark green. A dark blue coat may accompany a print with gold, red, and purple predominating.

The intermediate colours are least pleasing with the spectrum colours.  Pastels, shades, achromatic colours, and mixed effects that repeat the right colour are all harmonious.

With multicolour fabric, several combinations are possible: a neutral or achromatic colour; the repetition of a dominant colour-spectrum, pastel, or shade-in the pattern; or the use of a comple­ment to the dominant colour.

Each season the various fabric colours should be studied with the thought of working out in the mind as many combinations as possi­ble. The customer is not always able to visualize two colours together unless she sees the various articles side by side. The sales­person, however, should develop the ability to visualize harmonious colours and textures. A study of the fashion magazines, of costumes from our best designers, and of merchandise, will be of help in developing such an ability.

ILLUSION IN FASHION DESIGN

Various arrangements of line, form, and color produce an effect other than the real. Reflection in a mirror or quiet pool of water is an illusion to the visual senses. A mirage in which an oasis and trees and the likeness of water appear is an optical illusion. In nature protective coloration of animals produces the effect of illusion. When man-made, this effect is called camouflage. The zebra has a strikingly colored body that in the brush or grass of his natural habitat gives the effect of the strong sunlight falling through the grass. Snakes have mottled colorings, and so their bodies appear to blend with the rocks and vegetation. Many animals have light-colored bellies which eliminate the shadow and thus fool their natural enemies. Fish become almost invisible under certain conditions in the water. In winter, certain birds and fur-bearing animals change color and thus are able to “melt” into the background.

The French phrase trompe-l’ oeil, or “fool the eye,” describes a device frequently employed by interior decorators. “Fooling the eye” may be effected in many ways, among them the placing of mirrors to reflect out-of –door scenes and to make a room appear larger; the use of a color on walls or ceiling to add apparent height or width to a room; the use of simulated doors or windows to balance a displeasing feature; and the use of properly selected and hung curtains to enhance the appearance of a room. The use of yellow, orange, or red creates the illusion of sunlight in a room having only north light. Paintings which have a double image are other examples of this same trick of prompe-l oeil.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York a small unusual room called the Gubbio room was installed. This paneled room had been constructed for an Italian gentleman to amuse his friends. In it, the art of illusion was employed with striking success. Delicately colored pieces of wood were inlaid to produce the effect of open cupboards with books, musical instruments, and even a bird cage, inside. The entire interior was covered with this deceptive inlay.

In apparel, this effect of illusion is demonstrated in many ways. Comfortable but must also enhance the appearance of the wearer, most well-designed clothing embodies some elements of illusion. By emphasizing the dominant lines in a costume in one direction or another, for example, the figure may be made to appear larger, taller, or smaller, as desired. Padded shoulders in dresses, suits, and coats, if combined with a fitted hipline and waist, make the hips appear narrower and the shoulders broader. High revers, lapels, or neckline ornaments add apparent height.

By association, various dominant lines suggest various effects. The weeping willow is a symbol of sorrow, and so a person with drooping lines around the mouth, disheveled hair, and stooped shoulders also gives this same sorrowful effect. “Thumbs up,” a slogan adopted to evidence courage during the war, suggests the effect of upswept lines. There is a spiritual quality in the upswept vertical line. It suggests growth, as all plants grow upward. Trees, church spires, and columns inspire a feeling of reverence. This vertical line in clothing is seen in hats with upstanding feathers which add apparent height; center front closures on dresses, suits, and coats with contrasting color buttons or fasteners; narrow lapels and ties; hats with pointed crowns; lengthwise-striped fabric; slash-pockets; and the vertical use of tucks, buttons, ruffles, bandings, or other details.

Horizontal lines add apparent width to a room or a person, for the eye tends to follow a dominant line. A straight, wide-brimmed hat, therefore, tends to make the wearer appear broader and shorter. Jackets of colors which contrast with trousers or skirts also have this effect. Yokes, pockets, contrasting color belts, embroidery and other decoration, or structural horizontal lines add apparent width to the figure. Jackets and coats, fingertip or shorter than the dress, make a tall person appear shorter.

Slanting and gracefully curved lines are most frequently employed in apparel. The slanting line is seen in the surplice neckline, the lapel and closure of a man’s suit, the silhouette of a circular skirt, and the bias cut of striped fabric for dresses and men’s ties. An evening dress made with a full skirt and a tight waist-and hipline makes the wearer appear taller than does a tight dress with a narrow skirt.