HIGHLIGHTS OF AUTUMN FASHIONS (Oct, 1930)
HIGHLIGHTS OF AUTUMN FASHIONS
Let’s go adventuring and choose new clothes for fall
by BETTY THORN LEY
“LONGER? Of course they’re not wearing their skirts any longer. I Didn’t you notice my cousin Eleanor? She spends a lot of L time and money on her clothes—and her skirts weren’t longer,” says Mrs. Brown, laying down the law to Mrs. Jones. Neither lady had asked whether Cousin Eleanor was wearing her new clothes or economizing on a motor trip by using up her old wardrobe. Mrs. Jones, being suggestible, is given her first wrong steer.
“They say that big hats are in again,” says Mrs. Smith, dropping in for a chat next day. “I’m going to get the biggest I can find and astonish the neighbors.” Here again, nobody seems to think it necessary to trace the rumor to its source, or to ascertain just what is meant by the vague word “big.” And Mrs. Jones gets her second shove away from chic.
The day after that she sees a dress in a near-by city shop that strikes her fancy. It happens to be a large-patterned print, held over from summer stock—but this she doesn’t know. She gets it at a price far above its worth to her as a winter investment—and she’s wrong for the third time.
And that’s just about the way a whole lot of women used to buy clothes. They’d ring up a friend, accept the say-so of a clerk in a store, select from magazine illustrations certain models that might be all right for a woman with lots of changes but not for them. They’d buy scrappily a dress or a coat or a hat at a time, swayed by the moment’s temptation of price, color or line. And then they’d wonder why they weren’t as well dressed as friends who, though on the same approximate budget, were more careful buyers.
But not any longer! Women have learned their lesson. The first thing they want to know nowadays is exactly what styles, lines and details are correct for the season at hand. So before we go any farther we’ll outline the principles that ought to guide every member of the feminine purchasing public when thinking about this year’s autumn and winter clothes. After that, we’ll take a representative woman and see her through from hat to shoes. All right? Let’s go!
TO BEGIN with—the natural waistline is an established fact. No more moving belts up and down to suit our various stages of acceptance of the new mode. But we’ll be glad to know that this return of the normal figure doesn’t mean the overfitted “princesse” silhouette so impossible to most of us. That was tried out tentatively and is now dead. Dresses have a certain becoming ease about the waist, a bloused back, a little bolero effect, something that gives kindly concealment in spots where the last ten years of nonconfinement has made us none too anxious to show our lines. But it must be understood that modern bodices are not baggy, as they were in the era of the chemise dress. If we have an old frock to be redated by letting down its hem and belting it at the waist, it will also need something taken off the underarm seams.
IN THE matter of skirt lengths the market is still dropping.
A safe rule is that everything will be about two inches longer than it was last fall, when length first arrived. Dresses to wear on the street are about fourteen inches from the ground, as against the fifteen or even sixteen that most of us considered long a year ago. The softer, more decorative type of thing in which we’ll entertain or go visiting in the afternoon drops one or two inches below this first level. People who live an elaborate sort of existence have late afternoon dresses that reach the ankle bone or even the instep. Evening dresses may be anything from this length to those that touch the ground. All of these hemlines, except an occasional one in the evening, are straight around without trailing ends.
Many authorities tell us that the floorward movement hasn’t reached its bottom even yet. Whether we believe these forecasts or not, the only wise course for any woman on an inelastic budget is to buy or make everything with plenty of material turned up. Stitched or bound edges that can’t be let down may be ultra-smart for those who can afford to give their half-worn clothes to the heathen, but they aren’t designed for practical people in this time of the mode’s uncertainty. Play safe and you’ll be happy.
Coats are slightly shaped, slightly flared from the waist and not tight to the figure either above or below.
Materials are undoubtedly becoming more formal. Tweed and all the other rough-surfaced woolens that queened it over Paris in the breezy period out of which we’re just passing have been relegated to their natural place in the scheme of things. They’re fine for sports occasions, for rainy or snowy days, for driving in open cars and sloshing around wet streets. But, unless our clothes allowance is sufficiently large to permit us to get a suit or a coat of this type and confine it to such uses, we’ll be wiser to let these extremely informal woolens alone.
ANY fabric that cuts a compromise between the hail-fellow well-met tweed and the stand-offish broadcloth or velvet will be a good choice for a coat that must make many appearances and look well each time. Any fabric that is fine, supple and silky without too much shine will be a sensible material for a woolen dress, and this includes not only the more expensive novelties but the better types of jersey. Silk crepes are with us, as they always are; but plain colors will be much better than prints unless we choose a small, rather set jacquard design—and if we don’t live near a big metropolitan center these smart woven patterns may be hard to find The general color line is drawn in favor of the woman with a limited clothes budget, since black is still the best foundation stone and contrasts are encouraged. Nobody should plan an all-black costume unless she’s in mourning. Black and white combinations head the list, followed by black with pale pink, pale blue or even pale green accents. After black and its teammates come the browns, some very smart shades being almost as dark as black, though the more popular tones will contain a lot of red. The third block of fall colors includes green, red, and blue, all of them inclined to be deep, although lacquer and ruby red are sometimes to be met, used for dresses when coats are dark.
Now, having established the general outlines of the mode, let’s go shopping. The first thing to get is a coat.
Unless we definitely don’t like black, this will be the coat color to choose. As you remember, we must look for slightly fitted lines, either belted or unbelted. There will likely be fur collars on most of the coats shown us, and there are many fur cuffs, some of them cut with an upward point at the sides.
As to the type of this fur, the mode lays down no definite rules. Flat furs are still good, but fluffy furs are coming back. Matching furs are smart, but so are those that contrast. Our black coat, then, may be collared in black galyak, black Persian lamb, black caracul, even black seal, which is slated for a revival. Or, if we like a softer effect to frame our faces, we might have contrasting lynx, wolf or fox. But we mustn’t forget that such contrasts tie us down in our choice of dress colors, for we can’t spread over more than two sections of the rainbow if we’re to remain smart.
In the same way, a self-colored lining is best. A contrasting plain color that links up with a single dress will swear at the rest of the sisterhood. Giddy print linings, still shown to us in many of the cheaper lines, are never found in the better coats.
IN CASE we make our own clothes, we can I go in for a bit of economy by making a fur-less coat model—hard to find ready-made in the shops—and buying for it either a little scarf of flat fur or of wool or silk crepe.
Having selected our coat, we’ll go adventuring to gather dresses to wear under it. Some of these are one-piece, of woolen materials so fine and light that we can’t tell them from silk crepe ten feet away. Others are of the silk crepe itself, either in its usual lightweight versions or in the heavier, more expensive marocain. As we said before, such dresses must have natural waistlines and skirts certainly no shorter than fourteen inches from the ground, even for informal wear. They’ll be cut a bit loosely above the waist, don’t forget; and they’re much better when provided with belts. The leg-o’-mutton sleeve will be seen on some of the smartest—a note of the moment also to be found in some of the season’s most advanced coats.
But whether our sleeves are plain or fancy our necklines are likely to have a lingerie touch—linen or pique on wool; silk crepe, mousseline or organdie on silk. The same intricate cutting and seaming, the same imagination that goes into the modern dress to give it individuality and charm, have been carried into these modern collars. They’re so important they may make or break the whole effect. In fact sometimes it isn’t a bad idea to economize on the dress, choosing good material and simple lines as far as possible and lifting our purchase out of the commonplace by buying or making a really lovely collar.
AS FOR the color of such dresses, they may be black, rust, green, ruby or lacquer red, or one of the lighter blues if we’ve chosen a black coat. Any of these colors, except black, might also blend with a brown coat if carefully chosen for shade.
Some of us, after getting this foundation coat and its two or three dresses, will still want a suit. The type we buy will depend on what we do most. A tweed for the girl who walks a lot or goes in for sports. A suit of some fine, soft woolen material, like the new supple broadcloth, for the woman who attends many church and club meetings. Suit coats, this year, are best and most practical in seven-eighths length, usually fur-trimmed.
Blouses generally contrast, the peplum and the long tunic versions both being newer than our summer favorite, the tuck-in. Neither of these, however, in the least resembles the old straight overblouse, for they both are belted as well as cut to give a feeling of the waistline. The peplum ones have a little shaped yoke-piece or a simulated replica that may lie flat or flare to hip-length. The tunics reach about to the knee, cut circular or made with gores and godets.
Even if a suit isn’t included in her original wardrobe a clever shopper may be able to pick up a piece of material similar to that used in her topcoat, make a skirt out of it, add a blouse or two and have the effect of a suit at little extra expense.
Much has been said about hats of late, big hats having staged a come-back this summer, to be packed side by side in a week-end trunk with the smallest and tightest of berets. This winter will undoubtedly see a great many different types worn—but the wisest course is not to go to extremes. Most of us look our best in hats of medium size—a small-brimmed model or a turban, softly draped. The color, if we’re at all economically minded, must match our coat rather than any one of our dresses. But whatever hats we choose we must be sure to adjust them so they show our hair not only at the sides but in front. No more pulling a brim down over the eyes. The chic Parisienne carries this up-and-backward movement to conclusions that most of us couldn’t get away with. If she parts her hair in the middle, she frequently wears her millinery so far back that she shows an inch of her parting!
And now for a telegraphic report on daytime accessories. Shoes are still smartest when simple in line. The opera pump is the all-round best bet, with a heavier Oxford or one-strap for walking. More black shoes will be worn than of recent years, and we’ll choose them unless we have a brown coat or suit. Stockings are still beige and, as always in the fall, a little darker than the summer versions. The most practical everyday bag is the medium-sized leather envelope and it should match the coat and hat.
An interesting situation has developed in gloves—no less than the dethronement of the beige suede that has ruled the mode for so long. Colors have changed; beige isn’t used unless it happens to fit in with the scheme. Leathers have changed; glace kid is coming back to upset the reign of the more perishable material. This year authorities expect to see about forty per cent white gloves, thirty per cent black, twenty per cent brown and the remaining ten per cent divided between the old beige and the new greens, reds, and so on. Practical people like ourselves will no doubt get black glace gloves for everyday wear, with white glacfe for best, if we’ve chosen a black coat. With a brown coat our utility gloves may be brown suede, with beige suede for formal occasions—unless white accents in our costume suggest white gloves. In case kid of any kind seems too expensive for everyday use, cotton suede of good quality may be substituted, but never silk.
THE evening scene in the metropolitan world promises to be brilliant beyond any we’ve had since the war. White is still holding the spotlight, with black very important, dark browns, greens and blues coming up in the sophisticated world and the usual sweet-pea bouquet of pastels sponsored by the younger set. Materials present a wide choice—crepe romaine, satin, taffeta, tulle, lace, chiffon, velvet, silk crepe and metal cloth.
All of the skirts are at least ankle-length and many of them are very full. In contrast to these one sees a number of long, slinky dresses, the hems being almost as wide as in the bouffant versions, but, as their fullness is controlled to wrist-length, there is a much slighter spread at the bottom. Peplum frills also come in for their share of attention.
Evening wraps are still divided between the long and the short. Black with white dresses, white with black, ruby red with black, white or pink—all make smart combinations. Velvet is the usual material.
Evening shoes are supposed to match the dress, but many clever shoppers will still buy slippers in small-patterned multicolored brocade to go with several frocks, tying them into their color scheme by matching them as closely as they can to their evening bags.