London Fashions - The Indispensable Blouse - July 1903
by Mrs. Aria
Let me be practical and dilate for a while upon blouses, for they are the most indispensable of all our possessions. Their popularity waxes rather than wanes, and the secret lies in the fact that not only may they be adapted to all sorts and conditions of weather and material, but they may with care and skill be suited to all sorts of figures, and in this last statement, I believe I am combating the theory of the many.
But if the woman with what I will call an obtrusive figure will carefully make her blouse with a yoke so deeply pointed that its borderline cuts the bust in half, and the fullness falling immediately below the bust, she will find that she arrives at a becoming outline, giving herself a formlessness which is, after all, the very best the stout woman can hope to achieve in the way of figure.
I have seen successfully worn a blouse made in this fashion with a lace yoke outlined very low down with a piece of Oriental trimming, in truth, made from a pair of Chinese sleeves on white satin.
Below this trimming white crepe de Chine was sewed into flat box pleats and fell slightly pouched over the waist, which the new slays had becomingly placed very low down.
The bodice I have just described might be copied in any material, the embroidery to be chosen at discretion.
I can imagine it very successful in a dark blue foulard, the yoke being of ivory lace with a broad outlining piece of trimming made of blue embroidered in white; the latter should be brought into a point in the center of the front and be rather narrower over the shoulders.
A stout woman should always wear dark blue foulard in the Summer, or dark blue voile, dark blue serge or alpaca.
Youth in combination with slimness may, of course, take unto itself blouses of muslin. Nothing could be prettier than the new ones, showing inserted medallions of lace in a diamond shape with tucks to connect them.
The main idea of the Summer blouse is, however, to follow closely on the lines of lingerie, and the finest linen lawn with insertions of Valenciennes in various patterns is by far the most favored kind.
Coarse linen blouses with woven insertions of Irish lace or of the lace known as guipure d'art, hand embroidery being used between them, are amongst the extravagances; and very pretty these look either in white with insertions and embroidery in ecru, or in pale-blue linen with white embroidery.
More elaborate blouses are to be found made of embroidered net united with Cluny, torchon or Alençon lace, and with these, too, is to be found hand embroidered lawn, the sort which our great-grandmothers used to achieve with their own fair hand.
A most conspicuous note of fashion this season is the long shoulder seam. While the becomingness of this may be questioned, nevertheless it is the fashion, and the same may be said of the pelerine effect in our outdoor garments.
One of the most successful dresses made on these lines has the skirt of white cloth; the blouse of the deepest écru lace with the long shoulder seam, and over this a bon coat tight at the waist with long shoulder seams and angel sleeves in white cloth embroidered in white silk with pale blue, in what I have known as the Madeira work style.
Sometimes the long shoulder seam is not a seam at all, or, to be less paradoxical, there is no point on the shoulder, the deep yoke and the bodice, or coat, being cut in one piece and the sleeve being joined in pointed shape about three inches below the armhole line.
We must soon be considering with what we are to pack our boxes to enjoy our rural retreat. There are only a few more short weeks of our London season before it is a case of "over the hills and far away.
As a matter of fact, we enjoy as much country as we do London during the season now, for there is a regular weekend exodus, and the short skirt, the linen dress, and the flowered muslin offer us privileges of picturesque comfort when the tea-gown becomes the only wear in the evening.
However, I have not kept pace to explain all the pretty possibilities of frocks for the country. These must await my next letter, while I now draw attention to the news that plum color is a revival of preeminent importance, and it is one of which we shall hear more in the early Autumn when the plum colored doth will be chosen for many a costume.
Now there is foulard of this shade spotted with white, and the note appears in some of the patterns on the white grounded silks.
A particularly effective dress is of plum colored cloth with bodice and voluminous sleeves made of chiffon bearing an application of leaves formed of the cloth.
The combination of cloth and chiffon is incongruous, and yet by some cunning of the artist it appears effective and elegant, and a white cloth dress which bears an under bodice of chiffon and applications of the cloth is a conspicuous success, while a novelty which pervades costumes and gowns consists of multitudinous frills on sleeves.
Single frills or triple frills, lace frills or chiffon frills, are all to be seen inside coat sleeves and dress sleeves of every description, and without a doubt, they exercise a becoming influence on the hands.
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. LXII, No. 1, July 1903, Page 50.
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