To dress well requires good taste, good sense and refinement. A woman of good sense will neither make dress her first nor her last object in life. No sensible wife will betray that total indifference for her husband which is implied in the neglect of her appearance, and she will remember that to dress consistently and tastefully is one of the duties which she owes to society. Every lady, however insignificant her social position may appear to herself, must exercise a certain influence on the feelings and opinions of others. An attention to dress is useful as retaining, in the minds of sensible men, that pride in a wife’s appearance, which is so agreeable to her, as well as that due influence which cannot be obtained without it. But a love of dress has its perils for weak minds. Uncontrolled by good sense, and stimulated by personal vanity it becomes a temptation at first, and then a curse. When it is indulged in to the detriment of better employments, and beyond the compass of means, it cannot be too severely condemned. It then becomes criminal.
CONSISTENCY IN DRESS.
Consistency in regard to station and fortune is the first matter to be considered. A woman of good sense will not wish to expend in unnecessary extravagances money wrung from an anxious, laborious husband; or if her husband be a man of fortune, she will not, even then, encroach upon her allowance. In the early years of married life, when the income is moderate, it should be the pride of a woman to see how little she can spend upon her dress, and yet present that tasteful and creditable appearance which is desirable. Much depends upon management, and upon the care taken of garments. She should turn everything to account, and be careful of her clothing when wearing it.
EXTRAVAGANCE IN DRESS.
Dress, to be in perfect taste, need not be costly. It is unfortunate that in the United States, too much attention is paid to dress by those who have neither the excuse of ample means nor of social culture. The wife of a poorly paid clerk, or of a young man just starting in business, aims at dressing as stylishly as does the wealthiest among her acquaintances. The sewing girl, the shop girl, the chambermaid, and even the cook, must have their elegantly trimmed silk dresses and velvet cloaks for Sunday and holiday wear, and the injury done by this state of things to the morals and manners of the poorer classes is incalculable.
As fashions are constantly changing, those who do not adopt the extremes, as there are so many of the prevailing modes at present, can find something to suit every form and face.