For a good many years I’ve been fascinated with fashion. Not just fashion here and now, but in the past and in many places. I can tell you all about Queen Victoria’s wedding lace…and will if I’m not tackled and stopped. Court dress to peasant garb, Medieval to modern, I’ve got sources, opinions, and, well, basically I’m a textile junkie and I wouldn’t trade my addiction for anything.
One thing I dearly love is reading old texts about fashion and sewing. One can learn a lot about the times from reading these treatises. Every now and again, one runs across a paragraph or two that strikes home as indelible truth. And then one far more often runs across funny comments that remind us just how far we’ve come in learning how to see and appreciate our bodies.
Here’s the advice given to ‘stout ladies’ on how to dress themselves in a 1926 sewing manual I found online:
The woman who is stout should remember that solid colors always draw less attention to stoutness than checked, flowered and horizontally striped materials. She should wear over-blouses with her suit skirts instead of tucked-in waists, and they should be the same color as the suit itself. Her dresses should be made without waistlines, and the belts should always be narrow and tacked slightly lower than where the waist-line really should be.
Yep. Be shapeless. Be patternless. That was the advice across the board to all ‘stout’ women.
I think it’s a good idea to celebrate the fact that we’ve reached a point where we are now able to find fabulous, flattering, fitted clothes in our sizes. In fact, in honor of just how wrong that long-ago advice is, I intend to wear something form-fitting and fun today. Now were did I put that paisley wrap dress….