Guidelines for Style, Form and Colour in 1928. (6)...

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 ninety years later, but the principles outlined  are as sound now as they were then.   Please enjoy them :)

Image sourced from

18.  Though dressmaking has beauty for its main object, that can never be the only consideration when deciding the form of a garment.  Convention as well as art must be considered.  That is to say, a dress must be suitable to the occasion on which it is to be worn.  One necessity is to have suitable materials.  It is futile to try and produce results utterly inconsistent with the nature of the material.

19.  If the aim is to produce a garment rich and gorgeous in its effect, it is futile to try and get it by decking a a cheap material with much coloured trimming and cheap lace.  These things are certainly "effective," but they stand for vulgarity and snobbishness, and do not deceive the most simple-minded into imagining they are rich and gorgeous.

20. If the richer materials are not within reach it is quite possible to make a dainty and beautiful garden-party or ball dress from very modest materials, and even make it beautiful enough for a princess in its simplicity; but the material must be consistent with the effect desired.

Image sourced from

Next week this guide will look at what materials are suitable for business, home or evening wear.  Once again, what was true in 1928 is just as true in 2013. 

I hope you are enjoying this book excerpt.

Sarah Liz.


  1. I love old dressmaking books. 19 made me laugh especially the bit about "vulgarity and snobbishness".

  2. Hi Camelia, yes, I love these old books too - almost as good as the old housekeeping books. Some of the principles though are quite sound and timeless.


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