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.
Nature has her peculiar shades and contrasts, with which she embellishes all her works.
Over the retreating dark gray cloud in the east does the rainbow show itself, strong by contrast, and beautiful in the harmony of its surroundings. Surpassingly lovely are the brilliant rays of the golden sunset, as they lie reflected upon the fleecy clouds at eventide, their charm coming from their surroundings of the gray and azure blue. Dazzlingly bright are the twinkling stars as they smile upon us in their bed of celestial blue; and very beautiful is the rose, as it perfumes the air and charms the eye amid its accompaniments of green.
In the higher civilization men have donned the conventional suit of black and have abandoned the domain of color to woman, who, with her keenly aesthetic nature can never be induced to forego the pleasure that comes from brilliant and harmonious hues. Alive as woman is, therefore, to the principles that make beauty, it becomes us to investigate the subject of personal appearance as affected by color.
Two distinct types of complexion exist among the white race, namely, the light-haired, fair and ruddy complexions, termed Blondes; and the dark-haired and dark-skinned, called Brunettes.
Between these are several intermediate tints and shades, all requiring much close observation to fully discriminate as to the colors most suitable to be worn to harmonize with the different shades of complexion.
Investigation has proven that the light-haired and rosy-cheeked, with red or golden hair and ruddy complexion, require certain colors in headdress and drapery to harmonize; and the same is true of the dark complexion, with dark hair and eyebrows.
Dark violet, intermixed with lilac and blue, give additional charms to the fair-haired, ruddy blonde. Green, also, with lighter or darker tints, is favorable. With the very ruddy, the blue and green should be darker rather than lighter. An intermixture of white may likewise go with these colors.
The neutral colors are also suitable to the ruddy blondes. Of these are the russet, slate, maroon, and all the hues of brown. Light neutral tints are also pleasing, such as gray, drab, fawn and stone colors.
Transparent and delicate complexions, with light, chestnut or brown hair, should have the same set off by contrast. Thus blue, pale yellow, azure, lilac and black, trimmed with rose or pink, are suitable, as are also the various shades of gray.
Glossy black becomes the brunette; so do white, scarlet, orange and yellow. The scarlet blossom in the hair, gold-colored ribbon and poppy colors, deftly but not too conspicuously woven about the neck and breast, will display the face to fine advantage. Green also befits the dark complexion.
The sallow complexion is improved by the different shades of dark-green and red. A yellow complexion is made handsomer by the reflection of yellow about it; especially if relieved by poppy colors or black.
The red and yellow face is benefited by coming in contact with blue or orange. The red face is improved by red around it, red and blue tints being developed thereby. Red and blue are relieved by purple, and the blue and yellow by green. White and black become the pale face, but red and blue become it better. Light colors harmonize with and befit the pale skin, while the dark skin is improved by the darker tints.
Black Bonnets, with white, pink or red flowers and white feather, become the fair complexion. They also become the black-haired type when trimmed with white, red, orange or yellow.
White Bonnets, made of lace, muslin or crape, suit all complexions, though not so becoming to the rosy complexion as other colors. A white bonnet may be trimmed with white or pink, but with the blonde is handsomest when trimmed with blue flowers. For the brunette, preference should be given to trimmings of red, pink, orange and yellow - never blue.
Blue Bonnets are suitable only for fair or light, rosy complexions. They should never be worn by the brunette.
Yellow and Orange Bonnets suit the brunette, their appropriate trimming being poppy colors, scarlet, white and black, black and scarlet, black, scarlet and yellow.
Light Blue Bonnets are very suitable for those having light hair. They may be trimmed with white flowers, and in many cases with orange and yellow.
Green Bonnets best become the fair and rosy complexion. White flowers will harmonize in the trimming, but pink is preferable.
Bed, in its various tints, being a warm color, when worn in dress, has a pleasing effect in winter.
Purple is appropriate in winter, spring and autumn.
Green is becoming in late summer and in autumn, by contrast with the general somber appearance of dead foliage at that season of the year.
White and light tints in clothing give an appearance of coolness and comfort in summer.
Black and dark colors are appropriate at all seasons.
Of a variety or color to be seen, the white or light-colored will usually attract attention first and farthest, from the fact that, most objects being of dark shades of color, it is strongest by contrast. Next to white comes the scarlet red, which, close by, is one of the most brilliant and attractive colors. Yellow is one of the most noticeable, succeeded by the orange, crimson, blue and purple.
A dress of a color that may be beautiful during the day may be lacking in beauty at night, owing to the effect of gaslight; and another, most charming in the evening, may possess little beauty in the daytime. Thus, crimson, which is handsome in the evening, loses its effect upon the complexion in the daytime. So white and yellow, that add beauty at night, are unbecoming by day.
The scarlet, orange and the light brown are also most charming at night.
Pale yellow, which is handsome by day, is muddy in appearance by gaslight. So purple and orange, that harmonize and are beautiful by daylight, lose their charm at night.
The beauty of rose-color disappears under the gaslight; and all the shades of purple and lilac, the dark-blues and green, lose their brilliancy in artificial light. Ordinarily, the complexion will bear the strongest color at night.
The apparent size is affected by colors. As white upon the building will make it appear larger, so a light-colored dress will have the same effect upon the person. Thus the large figure will appear best in close-fitting black, and next best in the sober hues. The smaller figure will show to advantage in the light colors. Black, however, for a person of any size, is the most suitable color for nearly all occasions; and, handsomely made, well-fitted, artistically trimmed, and suitably relieved at throat and bodice with ribbons, lace and flowers corresponding with the complexion, makes always a most beautiful costume.
Persons whose resources are limited and who cannot afford a varied wardrobe should by this fact be guided to a constant preference for black.