The Fashions of London – February 1904
By Mrs. Aria
The arrival of the crocus and a desire for a new frock are simultaneous in London town. There is a suggestion of Spring about the crocus not entirely justified by the atmosphere, yet we like to flatter ourselves that in the very near future we shall be able to cast aside the fur garment we selected with such infinite care and enthusiasm some three months back and devoted ourselves to the less cumbersome attractiveness of the cloth costume and the boa.
Not that cloth costumes promise to be especially convenient since the authorities insist upon gathering them in full folds around the waist and making the bodices to match them no less full, overhanging a deep belt and displaying some fanciful vest of embroidered lace, lisse, linen or velvet.
Embroidery is the keynote of our extravagance, and no material seems destined to escape its influence, the most luxurious having had their velvet frocks embroidered in silken traceries and fur motifs.
Those who could not afford the velvet gown have heartily embraced the opportunities offered by the new velveteen. The new mousseline velvet is a vast improvement upon its stiff predecessor, whose virtue, or rather failing, was that it stood alone.
The soft qualities of the newest velvet are superior to those of velveteen, but then, it is infinitely dearer. During the cold days of our Autumn and Winter seasons there is no fabric so absolutely useful, so generally adaptable, so altogether praiseworthy as velveteen, and yet it is allowed to languish in comparative obscurity.
I would guarantee a really good appearance on every occasion with three velveteen frocks: one for evening to be of light grey with chiffon adornments and silver shoulder straps; another to be of chestnut brown with a full round skirt and bloused bodice over a lace shirt, and the third, a tea gown, to be of Venetian blue with net and lace sleeves and front.
These, together with a short cloth coat and skirt and a three-quarter coat either fur lined or made of Greenland seal with black fox collar and cuffs, assisted, of course, by innumerable toques and half a dozen white silk blouses, might reasonably be expected to complete an economical and attractive wardrobe.
A trimming of silver is the most enticing novelty, and this in combination with taffetas silk dresses and multitudinous frillings of taffetas garlands and taffetas festoons is eminently picturesque and becoming.
Silver trimmings may also be used with special success on cream lace dresses. The silver should, however, be set very closely, so that the lace foundation is scarcely visible.
Another very effective alliance is silver with sapphire blue chiffon. A beautiful dress of this description recently seen had the silver spangles set in panels down the full skirt, the bodice showing its décolletage edged with this, held at one side with a bunch of bright scarlet flowers. The result was daring and delightful.
There are in the market some very pretty silver ribbons made of a sort of trellis that lend themselves particularly well to the office of holding a festoon drapery on the skirt, while they vie in popularity with a black glace bow as an adornment for the fashionable coiffure.
Ermine has become wonderfully popular as a fur, and an ideal evening cloak for a young girl is made of white cloth, with deep pointed pelerine held by rosettes and ends of white satin ribbons.
Another pretty evening coat in white, which bears a lining of squirrel, has around the neck and reaching to the hem on each side, a huge ruching of white satin ribbon, no other decoration being seen on the coat save the bell-like sleeves, which are again liberally ruched, while the hem bears a flounce of the cloth with a waved insertion of white satin.
Waved insertions are difficult matters but are required of Fashion. One may find them in silver on some of the taffetas dresses, also in black velvet on cloth skirts.
Talking of sleeves reminds me that we had scarcely any time last Summer to enjoy the fashion of wide sleeves to cloth coats, bearing beneath them full frills of lawn and lace.
These will, however, become extremely popular in the early Spring, and they undoubtedly make for grace and impart a measure of smartness to the simplest of cloth dresses, always supposing them to be accompanied by some white, soft front or underbodice that corresponds with their dainty detail.
The lawn sleeve frill absorbs a vast amount of material and looks its best when hand embroidered on the hem; however, the more economical may make it of muslin with insertions of fine Valenciennes lace and an edge to match.
The imitation round-holed Valenciennes is eminently satisfactory, as it so closely simulates the real article.
Take any black cloth dress, with a short sac coat and a rather full skirt reaching to the ground, decorate the turned back revers to the coat with heavy silken tassels, which should again appear on the turned back cuffs of the sleeves—these to bear the long frills and be worn with a white bodice—and you will have a charming costume which will take the place of the fur wrap.
You should, of course, supply yourself with a fur boa of some kind, and I should recommend as being inexpensive one of caracul with a chenille border. This should be accompanied by a muff to match, while the toque completing the effect should be of velvet of any bright color; I confess to a predilection in favor of scarlet for this.
Aria, Eliza Davis (Mrs. Aria), "The Fashions of London" in The Delineator: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Fashion, Paris-London-New York-Toronto: The Butterick Publishing Co. Ltd., Vol. LXIII, No. 2, February 1904, p. 186.
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