I have heard many stories of the past, where people, left alone in places that they felt isolated, still dressed up and had regular meals and behaved like dignified human beings. I think this is so important on those "alone days." Clothing can do a lot to energize or stimulate happy thoughts.
Dressing up improves those quiet days when you don't think anyone notices you. One reason that dressing well for an ordinary day at home is so important, is that it improves the mood. Colors and styles and patterns definitely have an effect on us when we are wearing them. To experiment with this, try wearing the grungiest clothes you can find one day, and the best you can wear that are suitable for housework and homemaking, the next.Wearing something pretty definitely improves the mood. I love cotton fabric and have made one dress for each day, which I call my "line" of clothing. They aren't fancy, but they will do for every day, and if I have to go out, I won't be embarrassed or self-conscious about whether or not I've gained a little weight (jeans and tight clothes tend to show every unwanted pound), or that I am offending anyone by having clothing too revealing, too short or too tight. Also, children whose gaze only goes two feet high, always like to look a the prints and colors of my skirts. I was always charmed by the sight of my grandchildren hanging on to their mother's skirt. For that reason, she chooses interesting prints that they would like. There are lots of nursery prints at the fabric stores that would make lovely dresses for a young mother, which the children would also delight in looking at and laying their heads down on for a nap on their mother's laps.
In my town, there are religious women who wear only one style of dress, and I often wonder what they think when they see people dressed in practically nothing, to go to the grocery store. Partly out of respect for these ladies, and for my own dignity, I wear these casual dresses to the grocery store, the post office, the bank, and all the places where I do errands.
Everyone would agree that choosing a wedding dress is important. What if the bride to be, whilst looking for a gown, was told by a friend, that it doesn't matter what she wears to the wedding, as long as she gets married. The vows are the most important, they would say. Who cares what you wear? What if her friends were to intimidate her by saying that her desire to wear a dress to her wedding, instead of wearing shorts or pants, was "legalistic." It is understandable that she would want a special dress for that special day. If she showed up in something else, her mood would certainly be affected, and so for that matter, the moods of others.
Yes, weddings are special enough to warrant a special garment, but each day after that is special, for it is a gift from God. Having special clothing to wear to celebrate the ordinary day makes your outlook on life so much more optimistic and seems to enhance your appreciation for every little thing, from the sound of a warbling bird in the morning, to the view of the sunset in the evening.
I wonder sometimes if we rob our young women of the pleasure of wearing dresses daily in the home, because they are afraid of what others might think. Others may make them feel self-conscious and leave them with a feeling that they have to constantly explain why they are "all dressed up." Also, when they grow up in jeans and tee shirts and tennis shoes, they get so used to them, that they feel awkward in anything else. They do not develop a sense of style or a feeling of gracefulness when wearing a dress. We need to show our girls pretty fabrics in the fabric stores and let them appreciate them. Some girls I know have never been to a fabric store and have never worn a dress or a skirt. When they express a desire to do so, others cut them down and ridicule them. It is sad that our society has come so far backward, and I wonder what would have happened if people said the same things to our Victorian grandmothers.
As I have grown older, I've found that dresses are more comfortable if they are made right, and if they are 100% cotton, but they also improve my mood and effect the way I keep house. I have pictures of my great grandmothers in their typical Victorian clothing, and I notice in a lot of old books that I have collected, that women around the world wore similar clothing. I don't think at that time, during that era, they were dressing that way because they were "legalist." Linda Lichter did a good job of explaining the reason for their style of clothing, the reason they didn't bare so much skin in public, in her chapter about clothing, in "Simple Social Graces" (also under the title, "The Benevolence of Manners.") This historical account helped me to understand better the importance women placed on covering themselves and the courtesy they showed to others in that act.
This is a sample of some cotton dresses that I sew for daily wear. I call this "My line of clothing." I am not saying that these would suit everyone's coloring or figure type or that the styles are modest enough for every one, but I have found they are appropriate for me in my home, at my age.They aren't perfect, but they suit my every day life. I think most seamstresses tend to be extremely critical of their own work, but these dresses will do for the every day wear and tear of work at home, and they allow for "mood." When it is a bit overcast in the sky, I like to wear something blue or yellow, and there are some days that just seem like white and other days feel more like a celebration, so I may wear a brighter color. I don't know if other women are "mood dressers," but I certainly am. I like to choose clothing to contrast or to match the feeling of the day, whether it is cold or warm, sunny or dark.
Interesting quotes about clothing:
"Maria, these are your gowns....you can do whatever you want with them...Lady Catherine will never know." Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“The body is the shell of the soul, and dress the husk of that shell; but the husk often tells what the kernel is”
"Choose clothing that someone else would want to wear when you are finished with them."
To be a fashionable woman is to know yourself, know what you represent, and know what works for you. To be "in fashion" could be a disaster on 90 percent of women. You are not a page out of Vogue. ~Author Unknown
Judging from the ugly and repugnant things that are sometimes in vogue, it would seem as though fashion were desirous of exhibiting its power by getting us to adopt the most atrocious things for its sake alone. ~Georg Simmel
1Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety...
Adam Clarke (1762 - 1832)
That women adorn themselves - Και τας γυναικας ες καταστολῃ κοσμιῳ. The apostle seems to refer here to different parts of the Grecian and Roman dress. The στολη, stola, seems to have been originally very simple. It was a long piece of cloth, doubled in the middle, and sewed up on both sides, leaving room only for the arms; at the top, a piece was cut out, or a slit made, through which the head passed. It hung down to the feet, both before and behind, and was girded with the zona round the body, just under the breasts. It was sometimes made with, sometimes without, sleeves; and, that it might sit the better, it was gathered on each shoulder with a band or buckle. Some of the Greek women wore them open on each side, from the bottom up above the knee, so as to discover a part of the thigh. These were termed φαινομηριδες, showers (discoverers) of the thigh; but it was, in general, only young girls or immodest women who wore them thus.
The καταστολη seems to have been the same as the pallium or mantle, which, being made nearly in the form of the stola, hung down to the waist, both in back and front, was gathered on the shoulder with a band or buckle, had a hole or slit at top for the head to pass through, and hung loosely over the stola, without being confined by the zona or girdle. Representations of these dresses may be seen in Lens’ Costume des Peuples de l’Antiquité, fig. 11, 12, 13, and 16. A more modest and becoming dress than the Grecian was never invented; it was, in a great measure, revived in England about the year 1805, and in it,
simplicity, decency, and elegance were united; but it soon gave place to another mode, in which frippery and nonsense once more prevailed. It was too rational to last long; and too much like religious simplicity to be suffered in a land of shadows, and a world of painted outsides.
I have to add a few inches to the neckline all around the pattern, including the portion on the shoulder area by the neck. I do this by inserting a piece of paper underneath the pattern and drawing another neckline. I can show that in pictures sometime, on the blog I add sleeve variations from other patterns that I have, and also ties at the sides to tie in the back. This one has a sparkle trim on sleeves and hem.
From Burda Patterns, available on the web.
These could be adapted for modern wear.