There is a growing dissatisfaction with heavy, profusely trimmed skirts, and a resumption of hoops to support them, at least till the present stock of dresses shall be done with. The flouncing of skirts to the waist ought to be confined, as it used to be, to airy ball-dresses; a hundred yards of trimming can be put upon a tarlatan dress without oppressing the wearer, but when substantial winter materials are puffed and pleated the consequences are tragic. The same reasons that led to the adoption of hoops in the first place urge a return to to them now--the ease of walking unencumbered with clinging drapery, and the freedom to wear light and slightly trimmed skirts without being conspicuous.
Before the invention of hoops, flounced petticoats of hair-cloth were the latest idea, and they, too, are now resumed, to a limited extent, necessarily. They would be the very best kind of skirts if it were not for two objections, their cost and their weight. Light as the material is, when it comes to be puffed and flounced, it is too much. The lightest and most slightly made hoops are the most comfortable wear, except for evening dress, when the trained crinoline is indispensable.
Another nuisance likely to be done away with is the demi-train for the street. Short walking skirts are among the latest Parisian importations. We have looked at handsome dresses trailing in the mud of a January thaw, (Philadelphia mud is something remarkable,) dragging their slow length of uncleanness into the crowded street car, and wondered how often the wearer would be content to carrry home with her and into her house all that defilement. A few such experiments probably suffice. When dresses are made slightly trained for house or carriage wear, they are carefully taken up with loops and buttons so as to escape the ground, before walking out. For comfortable home wear the wrapper patterns which we illustrate, made up in becoming material, will be found a useful style.
With the mild days of March, considerations of spring suits are in order. The misses' polonaise with a cape, 2556, looks just the thing: and, for a little girl, the basque waist, 2552. The ladies' high-necked corset cover, 2568, looks as if it would also be a good pattern for a plain dress waist.
Black toilets are still very much worn. They look distinguished, and refined, and are almost invariably becoming. Dark blue cloth suits, water-proof or ladies' cloth, are also much worn, and have a tasteful look. Plaids, as a general thing, are handed over to children, and plain, one-colored stuffs preferred. Leather belts with filagree buckles are fashionable.
Evening dresses of gauzy material are adorned with long sprays of flowers, sometimes morning glory vines with blue and pink blossoms.
The hair is drawn up on top of the head, and a bow of ribbon placed there is a favorite arrangement. Those to whom it is becoming wear little curls about the forehead. Plaited hair for school girls continues the usual fashion, with the novelty of braiding half way down, tying with a gay ribbon, and leaving the ends to flow loose. The velvet bands about the head that were in favor long ago, are revived. The velvet is about an inch wide, and is tied behind, with long ends left hanging. The graceful scarf veil is the latest style. A long, straight piece of net is edged with Spanish lace; it covers the face plainly, and is tied behind.
The few flowers one sees upon this winter's bonnets are mostly roses, so beautifully imitated, one is tempted to draw closer to inhale their fragrance. Large flowers, such as the daphne, azalea, camellia and nenuphar, or water-lily, are also beautifully imitated from nature, and put on singly with a profusion of lovely foliage and very small buds.
They appear, however, rather upon headdresses this winter that upon hats for bonnets. For the latter, feathers are the more general style of trimming.
The great furore is for the long, natural, undyed ostrich feather, always the most expensive, because it must be of good quality and all in one piece, while the dyed plume can be made up of any odd bits. Natural--that means always undyed--wings and aigrettes from costly foreign birds are all the rage.
As to evening and ball coiffure, the very last style is the small cluster of flowers, or one single flower, if large, to wear with the much-raised edifice of fashionable hair-dressing; but all ladies have not yet relinquished the graceful curl and torsade plalying over neck and shoulder, and for those trailing sprays of foliage and blossoms are still prepared. A style mele', which is also much in favor, consists of one flower or cluster to wear on the upper part of the coiffure, with a long spray to mix in the curls at the back.
For daytime nothing can be better or neater than turned-up braid and tresses, but for ball coiffures there is a charm in light flowing locks; indeed, with a decolletee' dress, some portion of the hair should always be left to droop over the neck.
For evening dress, the most fashionable style is that of the trained tunic; for the ball dress proper, however, that which is meant to dance with, young ladies wear the flounced tulle or muslin skirt, of moderate length, with the Princess dress, looped up behind, and low bodies trimmed en draperie with folds of tulle and blond. A tunic of some light transparent fabric may be worn over a demi-trained skirt of taffetas or gros-grains.
*This was taken from Lady's Friend: Monthly Magazine of Literature And Fashion. Edited by Mrs. Henry Peterson. March 1873. Deacon and Peterson 319 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
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