Friday, September 11, 2009

We sacrifice to dress, till household joys
And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry,
And keeps our larder lean. Puts out our fires,
And introduces hunger, frost and woe,
Where peace and hospitality might reign.

1. God is a Lover of Dress.—We cannot but feel that God is a lover of dress. He has put on robes of beauty and glory upon all his works. Every flower is dressed in richness; every field blushes beneath a mantle of beauty; every star is veiled in brightness; every bird is clothed in the habiliments of the most exquisite taste. The cattle upon the thousand hills are dressed by the hand divine. Who, studying God in his works, can doubt, that he will smile upon the evidence of correct taste manifested by his children in clothing the forms he has made them?

2. Love of Dress.—To love dress is not to be a slave of fashion; to love dress only is the test of such homage. To transact the business of charity in a silken dress, and to go in a carriage to the work, injures neither the work nor the worker. The slave of fashion is one who assumes the livery of a princess, and then omits the errand of the good human soul; dresses in elegance, and goes upon no good errand, and thinks and does nothing of value to mankind.

3. Beauty in Dress.—Beauty in dress is a good thing, rail at it who may. But it is a lower beauty, for which a higher beauty should not be sacrificed. They love dresses too much who give it their first thought, their best time, or all their money; who for it neglect the culture of their mind or heart, or the claims of others on their service; who care more for their dress than their disposition; who are troubled more by an unfashionable bonnet than a neglected duty.

4. Simplicity of Dress.—Female lovliness never appears to so good advantage as when set off by simplicity of dress. No artist ever decks his angels with towering feathers and gaudy jewelry; and our dear human angels—if they would make good their title to that name—should carefully avoid ornaments, which properly belong to Indian squaws and African princesses. These tinselries may serve to give effect on the stage, or upon the ball room floor, but in daily life there is no substitute for the charm of simplicity. A vulgar taste is not to be disguised by gold or diamonds. The absence of a true taste and refinement of delicacy cannot be compensated for by the possession of the most princely fortune. Mind measures gold, but gold cannot measure mind. Through dress the mind may be read, as through the delicate tissue the lettered page. A modest woman will dress modestly; a really refined and intelligent woman will bear the marks of careful selection and faultless taste.

5. People of Sense.—A coat that has the mark of use upon it, is a recommendation to the people of sense, and a hat with too much nap, and too high lustre, a derogatory circumstance. The best coats in our streets are worn on the backs of penniless fops, broken down merchants, clerks with pitiful salaries, and men that do not pay up. The heaviest gold chains dangle from the fobs of gamblers and gentlemen of very limited means; costly ornaments on ladies, indicate to the eyes that are well opened, the fact of a silly lover or husband cramped for funds.

6. Plain and Neat.—When a pretty woman goes by in plain and neat apparel, it is the presumption that she has fair expectations, and a husband that can show a balance in his favor. For women are like books,—too much gilding makes men suspicious, that the binding is the most important part. The body is the shell of the soul, and the dress is the husk of the body; but the husk generally tells what the kernel is. As a fashionably dressed young lady passed some gentlemen, one of them raised his hat, whereupon another, struck by the fine appearance of the lady, made some inquiries concerning her, and was answered thus: "She makes a pretty ornament in her father's house, but otherwise is of no use."

7. The Richest Dress.—The richest dress is always worn on the soul. The adornments that will not perish, and that all men most admire, shine from the heart through this life. God has made it our highest, holiest duty, to dress the souls he has given us. It is wicked to waste it in frivolity. It is a beautiful, undying, precious thing. If every young woman would think of her soul when she looks in the glass, would hear the cry of her naked mind when she dallies away her precious hours at her toilet, would listen to the sad moaning of her hollow heart, as it wails through her idle, useless life, something would be done for the elevation of womanhood.

8. Dressing Up.—Compare a well-dressed body with a well-dressed mind. Compare a taste for dress with a taste for knowledge, culture, virtue, and piety. Dress up an ignorant young woman in the "height of fashion"; put on plumes and flowers, diamonds and gewgaws; paint her face, girt up her waist, and I ask you, if this side of a painted and feathered savage you can find anything more unpleasant to behold. And yet such young women we meet by the hundred every day on the street and in all our public places. It is awful to think of.

9. Dress Affects our Manners.—A man who is badly dressed, feels chilly, sweaty, and prickly. He stammers, and does not always tell the truth. He means to, perhaps, but he can't. He is half distracted about his pantaloons, which are much to short, and are constantly hitching up; or his frayed jacket and crumpled linen harrow his soul, and quite unman him. He treads on the train of a lady's dress, and says, "Thank you", sits down on his hat, and wishes the "desert were his dwelling place."