Guidelines for Form, Style and Colour in 1928 (13)...

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, and it's rather lovely reading the way that colour, fabric and line was thought about in 1928. 

The subject this week is colour - specifically the prevailing ideas about colour and skin tone (or complexion as was the common term then for the facial skin).  I hope you enjoy it.

 Image sourced from

47.  Black whitens the skin, but is not suitable to a swarthy complexion.

48.  Brunettes should wear glossy black, and blondes dull black.

49. White is most becoming to a fresh skin and rosy face, but not to a pale complexion.

50.  Creamy white is more suitable to a complexion that is not fresh and rosy.

51.  Rose red cannot be put in contrast with the rosiest complexions without causing them to lose some of their freshness.  That and maroon and light crimson make the complexion look more or less green.

52.  Neutral greens are favourable to all fair complexions which are deficient in rose colour because they impart a red effect.

53.  Dark green is better for people with red faces.

54.  Yellow imparts a violet tinge to a fair skin.  Because the hair of a brunette neutralizes the yellow and so makes it impart white to the skin, it suits brunettes.

55.  Violet is the most difficult colour to wear, because it imparts greenish yellow, unless it is a very deep shade; the it whitens the skin.

56.  Blue is for fair complexions and all people with blue eyes; as it imparts orange it will not suit brunettes who already have too much orange.

57.  Orange makes fair complexions blue, whitens those with orange tint, and gives a green hue to those of a yellow tinge.

58.  Brown is most suitable to those who have a good complexion and auburn hair.

59.  Fawn it the most difficult colour to wear unless with a good deal of strongly contrasting colour.  if the skin is clear, with a tinge of rose, and the eyes brown, fawn is the most perfect colour.

60.  Grey is most becoming to those with grey eyes, and also those with grey hair.

61.  Types with brown or chestnut hair, hazel eyes, and pale skins, may wear cream, pale yellow, old gold, blue (both light and dark), olive green, purple, prune, pink.

62. Types with auburn or red hair, with blue eyes and rosy cheeks, may wear cream, white, black, pale amber, pale yellow, stone grey, dark green, pale green and brown.

63.  Types with very fair hair and bright colour may wear pale blue, white, black, brown, dark blue, pale grey.

64.  Very dark types with blue or black eyes and pale skin may wear yellow, pink, grey, black, blue (light or dark), red (light or dark), white.

Image sourced from

For those of you that have followed my posts on Colour for You will probably recognise some of the points above as being similar to some of the colours recommended under the seasonal approach.  And some ideas are vastly different.


  1. I love reading old books... You are right, they are saying some of the same things.. I thought it was funny that one wore dull black and the other shiny black..ha

    1. Yes, the black doesn't really make sense does it? I like old books as well.

  2. Hee hee. If the person was alive today to see what people where and the color combos, they would have a fit :)

    1. Wouldn't they just, although in this era there were also designers following other ideas that were around at the time - and they could be quite outrageous as well!

  3. Interesting :) I had my colours done in the 80's, it was a lot of fun and I do try to wear them when it is feasible too.

    1. Having your colours done is fun - the drapes sort of bring it alive so the client can see for themselves the difference. It's not always possible to find the right colours of course, so wearing them when available is a good idea.

  4. loving this old book & all the History lessons


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Just a Blog Post

SarahLizSewStyle Update

2018 Make a Garment A Month Guidelines