This section is from the book "Clothing And Health. An Elementary Textbook Of Home Making", by Helen Kinne. Also available from Amazon: Clothing And Health.
Clothes help to keep us well. Let us study about the wise selection and use of them.
Buying shoes. When Barbara Oakes goes to buy a pair of shoes what do you suppose she thinks about besides the fact that they are pretty and that she likes or dislikes them? She remembers that they should fit her feet. She thinks about these things:
1. They should suit her purpose, be adapted to her use.
2. They should fit the instep and heel snugly.
3. They should be straight on the inside line.
4. The heel should be broad enough to balance the body well.
5. The soles should be strong enough to walk, and thick enough so dampness cannot strike through,
6. There should be plenty of room for the toes to move. (See Fig. 129).
7. They should be long and wide enough for comfort. Tight shoes are a strain on the body.
Many girls have "fallen arch." This affects the whole nervous system and makes them ill. Many are suffering and do not know the cause. Barbara Oakes was ill for a long time before her mother or the doctor knew why. It is not necessary to wear an arch supporter or an orthopedic shoe, if one has normal feet; and one can have normal feet if the above things are remembered. Some girls choose foolish footwear, and later have much discomfort and are unable to walk.
Very great care must be taken to keep the feet dry. It is cheaper to buy a pair of rubbers than to pay a doctor; and rubbers save shoes and keep the wet from rotting the thread of the shoes. Many women forget that it is dangerous for a woman to get her feet wet.
Selecting clothing that is healthful. Stockings should be chosen in relation to climate. It is unwise to wear thin, transparent stockings on a cold day. If possible have two weights and select according to weather.
Corsets are important. They may seriously affect health if not worn correctly. They should fit snugly over the hips but allow freedom at the waist line. For young girls corset waists are very satisfactory. Great care should be taken, however, when the first corset is selected. Jane Smith says her mother tried several for her before getting exactly the right one. The corset should leave no marks on the body. The danger is that, unless well fitted, a corset interferes with circulation. Lacing causes all kinds of troubles. It deforms the body and makes it hour glass in shape, instead of free and beautiful like Miss James' picture of the Venus de Milo (Fig. 130). When tight bands or corsets interfere with circulation, the blood supply for the brain and the other organs is shut off, and consequently these organs are not nourished. Most girls wish to preserve the graceful waist line with which nature has endowed them. Do you? Fat easily accumulates around the waist, but plenty of exercise, gardening, sweeping, walking, climbing, will prevent this. Buy a corset which supports your organs, one which does not press downwards ; and arrange the garters so that they will not be too tight and interfere with the circulation.
Underwear affects health. Do you remember that we discovered the reason why one should be particular about the kind of underwear worn? We learned that ill health and fatigue are often caused by weight of clothing or by tight clothing causing lack of circulation or by clothing which prevents the skin from being ventilated. Textile materials and temperature of the body are closely related. We should learn to know which materials to select. Each person feels the need differently. Old people and little babies feel the heat or cold more than other people. Grandmother Stark usually feels cold and wears a shawl about her shoulders. Underwear must be chosen in relation to climatic conditions and also for conditions under which one wears them, for indoor or outdoor work. Each must study her health, the climate, her age, and occupation, and plan accordingly for the best kind.
Fig. 130. - Notice the beautiful lines on the figure of Venus de Milo.
Underwear should be chosen which can be easily cleansed, also that which will permit plenty of air next to the skin. These properties of materials, as we call them, must be studied.
The body, as we know, loses heat and water every day. Some materials conduct heat more rapidly than others; and some absorb and retain, while others eliminate, moisture more readily. Absorption and elimination differ with different fabrics. Linen is quicker than other fabrics to eliminate moisture. Wool on a dry body of a person who does not exercise freely feels warm and continues so as long as the skin does not give off more moisture than the wool can take up. If the body continues then to give off moisture, the heat of the body cannot escape and one does not feel comfortable. If a current of air or a draught occurs, the heat will be conducted quickly and the bodily temperature reduced too quickly. So underwear must not only prevent too great loss of heat by conduction, but must be so constructed as to conserve heat when it is needed.
Heat is eliminated when materials conduct it. Porosity of materials prevents too great elimination. The air in the meshes or pores prevents this, as a still layer of air does not conduct heat readily. A loosely woven or knitted shawl is warmer under certain conditions than one which is firmer. Two lightweight garments are better than one heavy one because of the air space between.
Wool is warm, but irritating to many people. It is not as cleanly as some fabrics, for it absorbs the body excretions and is not easily laundered. As it shrinks with use, it has fewer air spaces between the meshes. Any loosely woven or knitted underwear with air spaces is more hygienic than the closely woven.
Cotton garments are often woven loosely and so treated in manufacture that they absorb easily. Silk is very pleasing but costly. Silk and wool combined are also excellent, but expensive. The great argument for wool or for wool and cotton is that evaporation is slow unless moisture and draught are present, and so the bodily temperature is not apt to be reduced so unduly as through cotton or linen; in other words, one is not so apt to take cold.
Union suits form an even layer over the whole body and are considered more hygienic than the double layer of vest and drawers at the abdomen.
1. What underwear do you think is the best kind for you to wear considering your age, work, climate, health ?
2. Write a composition of two hundred words about the best kind of corsets to wear, and why.
3. What important things will you consider the next time you buy a pair of shoes ?
I. Begin to keep your clothing budget. Ask mother to permit you to plan it. Do not stop at the end of the year; keep on for at least four years.
II. In what ways are you definitely planning each day to keep well? How do clothes help?
III. What facts learned at school can you give mother about wool, which will help in buying your new winter coat.
IV. Plan a school exhibit of all the work done during the year. Your teacher will make suggestions about the refreshments and invitations as well as plans for mounting the work.