The high art or aesthetic-made dresses have the necks cut out in a half high shape, the space being filled in by an under-bodice The patriotic movement in favour of wearing English materials has been met at Bradford with a determination to supply suitable and stylish woollen goods of soft texture for the winter’s wear. We have seen several patterns of very pretty diagonals, serge’s, tweeds, and other warm materials made in England, and we were not a little glad to welcome our old friend “French merino,” though, for the sake of the present feeling of nationality, the word “French “is dropped, and the merino owns itself to be what it really is an English-made article. Of the excellent wearing qualities of it we need not speak, as they are so well known.
It is a great pleasure to believe that the fashion for wearing short dresses, morning, noon, and night, will not alter, and long trains show no signs of coming in again, and are not worn except on very special occasions, by elderly matrons, who prefer not to cut up a very handsome dress. Short skirts are wider, and though equally tight in the front, the advent of the tournure has made the sides and hack much wider and more graceful for slight figures, because not so tight and clinging.
Certainly, the present fashions for skirts are very pretty, and we are not obliged to adopt any extreme puffiness because others do so. In the shape of bodices there is really nothing new. Coat bodices, jackets, round and pointed bodices, and also polonaises are all worn, so we need not fear our old dresses will be outré, or remarkable. The pointed bodices, arched on the hips, are very becoming, and we quite return to a style of Queen Elizabeth when we add to them a kilting, or a series of tabs over a kilting, which come from under the edge of the bodice. Tunics of all kinds are shorter, and the back drapery of over-skirts is also much shorter, so that more of the underskirt is seen. The tablier, with plain skirt, is often made of embossed velvet. Gauging is still used, but not so much as it was; the gatherings are much wider apart, and are arranged in groups, with little bouilZondes standing up between them. The gauging on bodices takes the form of waistcoats, or plastrons, and straight breteller put on on both sides of the front with a few gatherings at intervals. The fashion is not likely to go out; however, as nothing is so becoming to young and unformed figures of gathered material, with a frill of the same round the neck; in the evening this is replaced by a chemisette of white muslin or lace drawn up to the throat by a thread. This bodice is drawn down in box-pleats to the waist, where it is finished by a wide sash folded round, or else there is a plain belt and hanging bag at one side, and through the straps which hold the bag the tunic is drawn so as to show the underskirt. With pointed bodies a large sash-bag is worn at the back, on the top of the overskirt.
The seams on the shoulders are not quite as short as they were, and three seams in the back appear to be the correct number. All kinds of sleeves are worn—gathered, puffed, plain, and cat shaped—and they are usually rather short at the wrist, the long gloves filling up the space.
And now for a word about materials, for the benefit of those who have dresses and bonnets to re-make, and, perhaps, jackets to alter. Flush has appeared in so many different forms, and now that it is no longer an expensive material it can be used for our ordinary bonnets and hats, and some of the striped plushes can be obtained as low as 2s. 6d. a yard, and they are very pretty for the crowns of hats and the bows of bonnets. Then there is a useful short pile velvet that will not crush, and bears gathering and pleating.
Satins of every kind are as much in vogue as ever, and their price leaves nothing to be desired, whether for dresses or for trimmings. The same may he said as regards the trimming part of the mold or watered silks they are very effective decorations for dresses. Two materials are still the rule in making all dresses, except where tweed and serge are employed.
The openwork embroidered cashmeres are the new trimming for cashmere, and even for velvet and silks. The patterns on them are like round wheels, and they remind one of the Strasbourg embroidery which was produced in mull muslin and in lawn some years ago.
They are sold by the yard, and in purchasing them for making flounces and other trimmings the purchaser must work a buttonhole edge and cut the flounces out for herself.
The old plain silks, grosgrain, and even glaces are reappearing, and many people will think this very good news, as there never was certainly a more delightful best dress than a good black silk in anyone’s wardrobe.
Black mantles are the rule for the winter, one hardly ever sees a coloured one; the materials are cloth, cashmere, plush, velvet, and broche satin, the trimmings are fur and feather borders, the latter consisting of marabout, ostrich, and cocks’ feathers. Plush also is largely used for borderings, and so is moiré, the latter, however, only on satin and cashmere. Large bows of moiré ribbon appear on the back of every mantle, and some of my readers will, no doubt, be glad to give an air of fashion to an old mantle by an addition of the sort. Indeed, everything lends itself this winter to alterations of the sort. The lighter-coloured furs seem to have slipped out of fashion this winter, and the taste leans to dark browns and black. The principal furs are stone marten, seal, musquash, skunk, coney, opossum, black fox, and what is called Russian cat. These are all comparatively moderate in price, and our illustration, “On the Ice,” will show how they are worn. The first figure wears a brown poke bonnet, a mantle of plush, trimmed with black fox, brown cashmere dress, brown velvet and fur muff, and a bunch of yellow crocuses. The central figure wears a skating costume of plum-coloured cloth, with a fur or feather border. A wide lining of velvet on the tunic, which is caught up on one side. Velvet muff, beaver hat of the same colour. The two skating figures wear, respectively, grey box-cloth, trimmed with grey fur, and a Hogarth hat of grey beaver; and a dark terra-cotta cloth dress, and a skin cape, muff, and hat. Bag and trimmings of seal. brown ribbed plush.
The four figures in our illustration of at home dresses are a fair exemplification of the styles of the hour. The first dress is of brown cashmere, the bodice buttoning behind, the skirt trimmed with embroidered cashmere flounces, and edged with marabout feather trimmings round the skirt. The seated figure wears a house dress of cashmere and velvet. The third figure wears a plain merino costume, trimmed with embossed velvet and satin, the front turned back with a deep revers of the embossed velvet. The fourth figure wears one of the newest styles of dress fur a young girl— a dress of soft merino, made short, with puffed sleeves, long gloves, belt and sash. This recalls the dress of our grandmothers in a great measure.