Sunday, 18 October 2015

Evening Fashions

From the Illustrated London News, 16th October 1915.

The tendency to shortness that is so marked in walking dress is affecting many of the evening gowns as well.  An evening frock of a smart and fragile type, in my opinion, is not suitable for this truncation.  If we are sensible, we shall welcome and adopt the quite short skirts for during the active day, especially for walking or working out-of-doors, but we shall also retain a graceful length for evening wear.  This has always seemed to me the sensible idea: short skirts for use, long ones for grace.  Even male costume of State is felt to require length for dignity.  The long full robes of a Peer, of a Judge, an Arch-bishop, of "Mr. Speaker," and many other official masculine robes, show that high official dignity is avowedly aided by flowing and full-length garments.  Women, at all events once past the undeveloped girlish stage of build are surely garbed to the best advantage flowing trained gowns when the circumstances are suitable, as in the evenings for resting beside fires and with nice carpets to trail the robes upon.  However, it is my duty to record truly what is shown me at the best houses, and I have to report that an attempt is being made to introduce quite short evening dresses, both as more formal confections and as easy-fitting rest-gowns.

The more elegant models for evening wear, however, all but reach the ground, or even have a little train; sometimes it is a mere wisp of filmy material, but more often a graceful flowing into moderate fullness — perhaps not actually a train, but touching the ground.  An ugly idea that is being shown is to have quite a short front and sides, a sort of petticoat, and a trained back.  Drapings and fullness are far more elegant, and more consistent with the idea of the indoor gown; which is to be easy, restful, and not at all constricting to the movements of the wearer.  To describe the mode of making a really dainty indoor gown as now worn is impossible; for fragile materials, such as chiffon and ninon, are tastefully and indefinitely swathed and draped over a firmer foundation, not too elaborately, for simplicity is the idea of such restful frocks, but still with an artistic sense that sees the effect, and is not trammelled by set planning.  Velveteen, Roman satin, crepe-de-Chine, or cashmere, all make all make good foundation one-piece gowns, and on such a nicely but easily shaped under-dress any more fragile fabric, from real lace that one already possesses, down to tulle, can be swathed, or put in the form of a tunic, or a little zouave or coat, or of a fichu, or arranged as scarves.  In short the possibility of following one's fancy and utilising one’s possessions in the way of materials with no consideration but grace and artistic effect, is the chief charm of these useful and fashionable indoor or "rest" frocks..— FILOMENA

[No illustration, unfortunately, of the kind of drapery she is trying to describe.]

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