This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
THE love of beautiful adornment is innate in the human mind, and in reality has a great influence in elevating and refining the race. It is true that the mind maysome-times be too much given to personal decoration, but the instincts which cause us to clothe ourselves beautifully are all refining and elevating in character.
The desire to please and to be beautiful surrounds us on every hand with grace, elegance and refinement.
The person who cares nothing for personal appearance is a sloven. Were all to be thus, the human race would rapidly degenerate toward barbarism. The person who is careless of dress is likely to be equally regardless concerning purity of character.
The little girl that studies her features in the mirror, while she evinces possibly a disposition to be vain, nevertheless in this act shows herself to be possessed of those instincts of grace which, rightly directed, will beautify and embellish all her surroundings through life.
The boy that cares nothing for personal appearance, that does not appreciate beauty in others, is likely to develop into the man who will be slovenly in habits, whose home will quite probably be a hovel, and himself very likely a loafer or a tramp. But the boy - the rolicsome, frolicsome boy, ready to roll in the dirt, possibly - who, under all this, aspires to appear handsome, who desires a clean face, clean hands and a clean shirt, who admires a well-dressed head of hair and a good suit of clothes - that boy possesses the elements which in the man, in an elegant home, will surround him with the artistic and the charming.
The love of the beautiful ever leads to the higher, the grander and the better. Guided by its impulses, we pass out of the hut into the larger and better house; into the charming and elegantly-adorned mansion. Actuated by its influence, we convert the lumbering railway carriage into a palace-car, the swamp into a garden, and the desolate place into a park, in which we wander amid the trees, the streams of limpid water, and the fragrance of beautiful flowers.
This love of personal adornment being an inherent, desirable, refining element of character, it does not, therefore, become us to ignore or to suppress it On the contrary, it should be our duty to cultivate neatness of appearance and artistic arrangement in dress, the whole being accompanied by as much personal beauty as possible.
In the cultivation of beauty in dress, it will become necessary to discriminate between ornament as displayed by the savage, and the science of beauty as observed in a more highly civilized life. Ornament is one thing; beauty is quite another.
1. Curved Lines. 2. Symmetry. 3. Contrast. 4. Harmony of Color. 5. Harmony of Association.
A prominent feature of beauty everywhere is the curved line. The winding pathway, the graceful outline of tree, cloud and mountain in the distance, the arched rainbow, the well-trimmed shrub, the finely-featured animal, the rounded form of everything that is beautiful - all illustrate this principle. The delicately, finely rounded face, hands and general features, are essential to the highest forms of beauty in the person, and the same principles apply in the manufacture of dress. Every line and seam should run in curves.
As harmonious proportions always please the eye in every object, so we are pleased with the symmetry displayed in the human form and features. Thus symmetry will give a well-shaped head, a moderate length of neck, a clearly-defined nose, mouth not too large, shoulders of even height, and all parts of the body of proportionate length and size. The clothing should be made to set oft" the natural features of the body to the best advantage. Thus the coat should be so cut as to make the shoulders of the man look broad. The dress should be so fitted as to cause the shoulders of the woman to appear narrow and sloping.
Long garments will make the individual appear taller. Short garments will cause the person to seem shorter. Lines that run perpendicularly add to the apparent height; horizontal lines shorten it.
Another feature of beauty in personal appearance is contrast, or those qualities which give animated expression and vivacity of manner. Thus the sparkling eye, clear-cut features, a color of hair that contrasts with the skin; happy, lively expression of face; graceful, animated movement of body; interesting conversational powers - all these make the face attractive by variety and contrast.
The lady's dress is relieved by flounce, frill, and various other trimmings, with colors more or less pronounced, according to the complexion of the wearer. The gentleman's dress, as now worn, does not admit of so great variety.
The harmony of colors suitable for various complexions is quite fully detailed elsewhere. Harmony of association will include those principles that derive their beauty chiefly from their association with other objects. Thus the best height and form for man or woman will be the average form of men and women with whom they associate. Anything unusual will detract from this beauty.
Any article of jewelry or dress which may appear out of place for the occasion, or not appropriate with the other articles worn, is also included under this head.