Guidelines for Form, Style and Colour in 1928 (7)...

Hello everyone,

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 ninety years later, but the principles outlined  are as sound now as they were then (with the exception of some, which just amuse us now.  So, whatever you think of the ideas,  please enjoy them :)

This is this week's excerpt - its also the last part of the style guide in this book.  Next week I will share the ideas about colour - some of which still apply, and some we would laugh out loud at now.

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21.  When choosing materials it is necessary to first consider on what occasion the garment is to be worn: for business, morning dress at home, reception, or evening.

22.  However beautiful a garment may be in itself, it becomes absurd when worn at the wrong time.  There are few things in worse tast than a woman at her morning duties dressed in a shabby velvet gown, or a girl going to business in a lace dress with light-coloured silk foundations.

23. For business a garment should be comfortable, durable, perfectly fitting, retiring. There are exceptions of course, such as in the case of girls whose special business necessitates the showing off of special garments.

24.  For morning wear it should be simple, neat, fresh, and always radiantly clean. The woman who has home duties to perform will find that this means that her dress should be washable.

25. For shopping or street wear, plain, dignified, grand and of the best material the purse will permit, but never gorgeous or frivolous.

26.  For reception, the occasion demands a gown as fine and beautiful as possible - even, on occasion, gorgeous.

27.  For evening as dainty, soft and delicate for girls, and as magnificent for matrons, as the station in life permits.  Never choose ornamental dress for working hours, or common apparel of bright, delicate or spendid materials.

28 For all occasions dress must be worn with order and dignity - carefully kept and carefully put on.

29.  Treat your clothes with respect if you would have them look respectable.

30.  Good clothes, like good manners, are never out of place.

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That then was the rule of dress in 1928.  I have to admit I fail miserably on many of these points (especially the home duties one - whatever I have to hand is good enough for that, the older the better if I am cleaning!)  One set of clothes all day that can do multiple functions is more my style.  What about you?

Sarah Liz :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Number 21 is a great way to start a project. Does number 22-28 really state that some items are possibly being "Worn at the wrong time?" Uh, this is good! Now it's Home Economics vs what's trending.

  3. Yes Dorothy, but I think even now some things are worn at the wrong time in our casual anything goes world, although now we don't raise an eyebrow because we are much more accustomed to self expression via dress - and you are spot on about trending.

  4. What an awesome find!! I love old books like these and the glimpse of the past that they provide. It shows how much society has changed, doesn't it?

    1. Yes, it's always great when you find such gems. It has patterns in it too, so I might draft one of those one day, just for fun - could always become a nightie. You're right, society has changed a lot, especially the last 20-30 years.


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