Guidelines for Style, Form and Colour in 1928. (3)...

For those of you new to this blog:

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. :)

1928 Style

Image from

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).

1928 style
Image from

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.

Sarah Liz


  1. Hello Sarah, thanks for stopping-by my blog, am loving the jacket thus far, am just waiting for the right button for the jacket, I looked around over the weekend but couldn't find the right one.Hopefully I finish on time and move up to other things.

  2. Hi Animat- thanks for saying hi - As far as buttons are concerned, if you can't find nice buttons, look for a harmonising fabric and do some self cover ones.

  3. Many of the same sentiments of today, but phrased oh so differently. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Hi Carolyn, yes, the language is so different from that of today - I was so lucky to find the book in an old shop, all tatty and falling to pieces, so it had to be rescued. Although the sentiments are the same, increasingly few people seem to know about them or follow them, except we sewers of course! I hope you don't think that is nasty.


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