“Be plain in dress, and sober in your diet;
In short, my deary, kiss me! and be quiet.”
—Lady W. Montague
The world has its full share of silly women—more’s the pity—but there is not one who can hold a candle to the girl who trots about in the cold, bleak days of winter clad in summery undergarments fit only for the warm atmosphere of a baker’s oven in August. So long as these exhibitions of utter absurdity continue we cannot consistently harp upon woman’s recently acquired good sense in dress.
It seems more and more the fad for girls to boast that they have never worn a vulgar outfit of flannel undergarments, but it is quite observable that these same girls are the very ones who are eternally grunting and groaning and coughing and fussing. And how can they help it?
You can’t have good health if you keep yourself in a semi-refrigerated state. A sleeveless vest of silk is not sufficient to keep one’s body warm, even though the prettiest bodice in Christendom and the swellest of “coaties” cover it.
Skirts of white muslin, with pretty frills and lacey trimmings that fall in soft folds and ruffles around one’s feet, are mighty dainty things for the summer girl—but is there a colder sound than that of a starched white petticoat in the dead of winter? Bur-r-rr! it gives one the cold chills to even think of it!
Who has not beheld the stunningly gowned girl stalking majestically around the shopping district in a little tailor-made jacket topped off with a fur collarette? She tells herself that she is perfectly warm and comfortable, but you and I know better, my dear, for we have seen her unhappy efforts to crawl up into this same collarette, and we have beheld her shivering misery as a good stiff gust of January wind sends her flying around a corner.
I am a firm believer in the tailor-made gown, and I am of the opinion that style often counts more than real beauty with women of stately carriage and pretty figure. But nevertheless, I believe first in keeping warm and in protecting one’s health. The girl in the smart little jacket could well afford to wear a winter coat over it on the coldest days, and even then she would not swelter from the heat. Really, it is torture for a woman of common sense to go along the shopping district and see her poor, miserable sisters who let comfort fly to the four winds of heaven while they revel madly in appearances.
It’s all very well, my girls, to look your best. But don’t make sacrifices that will injure your health. I’d rather see a woman in a last winter’s coat with the seams shiny than look upon a foolish but radiant creature in a bit of a cape that would keep her about as warm as would two good-sized cobwebs stitched together. The first woman would have the advantage of displaying evidence of real brains on the inside of her head. And beauty without brains isn’t real beauty at all, but a sad, shop-worn, tear-wringing imitation.
It is my opinion that in choosing underclothing for cold weather finely-woven cotton is the best of all. Silk is not durable, and wool, even of the finest quality, will often prove irritating. Besides, so many of us spend most of our time in steam-heated homes or offices that woolen garments keep one too warm. The cotton union suit makes a very desirable undergarment. This should be high-necked, long-sleeved, and made to come well down over the ankles. For the girl whose particular worry is a nose of flaming red, let me say that in fleece-lined stockings, calfskin boots and warm overshoes lies her only hope of a less flamboyant nasal appendage.
There is no need of fourteen petticoats, notwithstanding the fact that really nice old ladies insist upon wearing that number. One skirt of silk or moreen, together with a tiny short one of white muslin and a pair of sensible, warm, woolen equestrian tights will make one more comfortable and will allay that immense swelling about the hips which much be-petticoated old ladies have.
The tights, however, should be worn only when one is out of doors. During really cold weather no woman with sense enough to fill a one-grain quinine capsule will venture out of the house without thus properly clothing her lower limbs. Let femininity come to the understanding that in proper dressing and rational eating she will find the first and best materials for building her house of beauty.
It’s all very well to wear pretty, fluffy, lace-trimmed undergarments, but if you think that a wan, white, pinched little face pays you for such extravagances in silliness, then you are a ninny. Wear the fluffy things if you will, but put on the warm ones, too. In making a choice between the raiments of a ballet dancer and those of a lady in the Arctic, I’d point the finger of approval toward the latter—at least at those times when the thermometer is lounging around the zero point.