Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guidelines for Form, Style and Colour in 1928 (11)...

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've been  sharing these with you over the 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 :)

(image sourced from ).

Last week's excerpt was about the prevailing ideas about the symbolic properties of colour.  This week will be the section on the combinations of different colours in garments.

34.  In studying things sartorial good taste will always suggest new blends and harmonies and new possibilities of expression, if the student will only train her mind to grasp what her eye is sure to present to her.

35.  One thing to be remembered is that light colours are not put on the outside of darker ones.  That is to say, a dark navy serge must not be trimmed with pale blue bands, because dark navy is for convenience and durableness,  and the freshness and coolness of the pale colour should be under the protection of the more durable.  Therefore a pale blue front under a dark coat is permissible, because the dark and durable protects (or seems to protect) the lighter.  Hence any dark gown may be relieved by a lighter or more delicate colour underneath - that is, for vests or yokes that look like an under bodice showing through the open front or for linings, but never for outside trimmings.  All ornaments on the outside of a garment must be of the same shade or darker.

36.  When blending different shades of the same colour, care must be taken  that they are not of the same tone.  Colours may have the same name but very different tones.

37.  Pale blue may mean "sky" or "turquoise".  Different shades of sky blue may be arranged together with good effect, and numerous shades of turquoise will tone with each other, but turquoise has too much yellow in it to tone with sky blue.

38.  May other colours have tones that cannot be blended, such as :-
  • Rose and salmon pink
  • Heliotrope with pink tinge like petunia, and that with blue like wisteria
  • Red in brick shades and wine shades.
39.  For contrasting colours :-
  •  Brown may have pale blue, pink, or yellow
  • Dark blue - blue, green, white, pale blue, gold.
  • Fawn- white or any shade of brown, or  black
  • Grey - pale shades of any colour, black
  • Pale green - black, dark green, white, brown
  • Red - black or white
  • Yellow- white, brown, or small quantity of violet.
  • Violet - white, yellow. 
40.  All pale shades contrast well with dark shades of green and brown, and all light shades of fawn and grey, but not all blend with dark blue.

41.  Red may only have black or white for its contrast, but paler and darker shades of the same colour blend.

42.  Fawn and grey are seldom used to trim other colours, although almost any light shade may, in small quantities, be used with fawn.

(image sourced from )

Now we all know how to colour block 1928's style!  It's interesting to see how ideas of the use of colours in garments has changed over time.

Next week's excerpt will look at the ideas about colour use in garments along with fabric type and texture.

Sarah Liz :)


  1. Love your book. What a great find..Thank you for sharing.

  2. I love it when you share from this book,so much History on style & color

  3. I like the book too. I always love how languages change through time. Just what will our future generations think of the "gangsta" talk that many people do.

    1. I agree, language is changing - and like other things that are changing, I suspect not always for the better - but time will tell.