Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Secrets of Dressing for $1 a Day

"...We are far more homogenous in our distinctively-printed designer knockoffs than we would be in simpler basics."

That's from a very nice piece by Sadie Stein on the true cost of the spangled crap we occasionally indulge in at stores like the one a friend of mine, in an attempt to preserve dignity, renamed Forever 35.
Regular readers know that I am working on replacing my habit of impulse buying with building a wardrobe of classics and basics. The current method has worked out better for my friend Molly than it has for me. She's about my size but differently shaped so she gets all my mistakes.
We all want flattering, well-made clothes that pay for themselves in number of wearings and reflect our unique style. How to accomplish this economically and artfully while maintaining a sense of social responsibility? Let's turn to Bea Danville, author of 1956's Dress Well on $1 a Day:

"If you are on the plump side, you will be amazed to find what a Scheherezade world is opened to you when you lose weight."

How rude, Bea! We're not talking about the Don't-Kid-Yourself Diet today, though we often do. Enough out of you. What we need are solid tips on how to stretch our wardrobe further. The 1935 tome How to Attain and Retain Beauty suggests easy ways to make one good dress do for multiple occasions:

"Deatchable sleeves are a good ruse for converting an afternoon frock into a dinner dress. The sleeves, which are kept in place by elastic run through the and slipped over the shoulder, are puled off as easily as a glove.
Another good dress transformation is a garden party frock that is also an evening gown... The over-dress is of net chiffon or organdie, and when this is removed a perfectly cut slip of heavy silk faille is revealed."

Very practical. Perhaps the best advice comes from Eve Nelson who wrote Take it From Eve in 1968.

"To me a good way to shop is to ask yourself two questions:
Do I really need it?
Do I really love it?
If you can answer 'Yes' to both, go to it, baby!"