That’s just one tip from the new book The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski. Each day I read another chapter of the book, I was enthralled. It was better than a visit to the FIT Museum in NYC, even better than the couple hours each month I gorge on Vogue. It is a history of fashion from the lips of a remarkable group of women who advised other women in the early to mid-20th century on how to dress.
A few juicy tips
- All good dress design moves the eye upward on a garment so that it can come to rest on the face.
- It is just as stupid to dress your body in ugly clothes as it is to fill your mind with cheap and ugly literature.
- Ask yourself always, Am I harmoniously put together, am I appropriately clad for the deed at hand, and am I free of nonessentials? If you can truthfully answer yes, you are a well-dressed woman.
This is not a step-by-step style guide. You won’t learn how to dress from this book but you’ll maybe pause the next time you are standing in your closet or at Boston Store trying to decide on an outfit. And you’ll remember some nugget of wisdom.
In 1913 when the Secretary of Agriculture sent a survey to farmwomen, he was surprised at some of the results. Of course they wanted to know about how to deal with the ins and outs of rural life. But, according to author Linda Przybyszewski, “more than that, they hungered for beauty in dress.”
Birth of the Dress Doctors
And the Dress Doctors were born. They came from MIT, the University of Kansas, the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, fashion design schools and their own sewing nooks to advise women across the country. They were scientists, professors, home economists and homemakers with enormous expertise in dressing and they provide advice on how to dress all ages of men and women in the most cost-effective and stylish ways. And according Przybyszewski, sewing rooms became the largest WPA projects outside of construction work.
To write her book, Przybyszewski, who is a University of Notre Dame history professor and lifetime dress maker, read more than 700 books and magazines from the early to mid-20th century on dress and sewing. Her bibliography alone is a treasure trove of future books I want to read.
But I wanted even more so I wrote to the author to request additional information. She graciously responded and hooked me up to some new wonderful resources.