I found an old book a few years ago "THE CUTTER'S GUIDE" A MANUAL OF DRESSCUTTING AND LADIES' TAILORING, by M.E. Roberts, published in Sydney in 1928. At the back of the book, I found guidelines for form (what we now call style) and colour, and I'm sharing these with you over the next few weeks.
This guide was written specifically for women's styling. The language used is so different from our very direct way of speaking 90 years later, but the principles outlined are as sound now as they were then. Please enjoy reading them. :)
Image from lepetitechodelamode.com
8. Dress must be considered from three standpoints of its three main uses: to protect, to conceal, and to display.
9. The first consideration is to protect. The dress must protect from heat or cold. The garment worn should always be suitable to the weather - remember the weather, not the season. There may be cold days in the spring when a fresh, dainty spring dress is quite out of place, or warm days in early winter, when heavy tweeds and furs are equally unsuitable.
10. The second consideration is to conceal. We do not now hide our faces under a domino, and are not usually so sensitive as the elderly lady who would not go out without a mantle, protesting that she "could not go out in her figure." Yet dress is not only a covering for modesty's sake; it should be so arranged in all its lines and draperies as to conceal any defects and veil all weakness. The craftswoman depends more on the form than on the colour for this, though colour, too, does something in attracting attention from defects.
11. Thirdly, dress is to display - not only to reveal the beauty and symmetry of the figure, but to be an eloquent expositor of the inner self. For this side of the work colour as much as form is considered. With outward beauty of lines and good taste in selection of colour and material, is always associated a cultured mind. Sometimes it is the cultured mind of the dressmaker and not that of the wearer, but a women's garments are more likely to be an eloquent expositor of her inner self if she devotes more time to the personal study of the art of dressing.
I find reading these old guidelines absolutely fascinating -but even nowadays the rules of dressing are right style, right line, right fit and right colour, with garments that are for a variety of seasons (or transeasonal).
Next week this manual will look at the use of line and lines in design and their effects on the optical illusion of the garment. The same principles still apply.