At a recent conversazione of the London Literary and Artistic Society, Mr. Sellon read a paper upon this subject. Having expressed his belief that mere considerations of health would never dethrone fashion, the lecturer said he should endeavor to show on art principles how those who were open to conviction could have all the variety Fashion promised, together with far greater elegance than that goddess could bestow, while health received the fullest attention. Two excellent societies, worthy of encouragement up to a certain point, had been showing us the folly and wickedness of fashionable dress--dress which deformed the body, crippled the feet, confined the waist, exposed the chest, loaded the limbs, and even enslaved the understanding. But these societies had been more successful in pulling down than in building up, and blinded with excess of zeal were hurrying us onward to a goal which might or might not be the acme of sanitative dress, but was certainly the zero of artistic excellence. The cause of this was not far to seek. We were inventing a new science, that of dress, and were without rules to guide us. So long as ladies had to choose between Paris fashions and those of Piccadilly Hall, they would, he felt sure, choose the former.

Let it be shown that the substitute was both sanitary and beautiful, capable of an infinite variety in color and in form--in colors and forms which never violated art principle, and in which the wearer, and not some Paris liner, could exercise her taste, and the day would have been gained. This was the task he had set himself to formulate, and so doing he should divide his subject in two--Color and Form.

In color it was desirable to distinguish carefully between the meaning of shade, tint, and hue. It was amazing that a cultured nation like the English should be so generally ignorant of the laws of color harmony. We were nicely critical of music, yet in color were constantly committing the gravest solecisms. He did not think there were seventeen interiors in London that the educated eye could wander over without pain. Yet what knowledge was so useful? We were not competent to buy a picture, choose a dress, or furnish a house without a knowledge of color harmony, to say nothing of the facility such knowledge gave in all kinds of painting on porcelain, art needlework, and a hundred occupations.

An important consideration in choosing colors for dress was the effect they would have in juxtaposition. Primary colors should be worn in dark shades; dark red and dark yellow, or as it was commonly called, olive green, went well together; but a dress of full red or yellow would be painful to behold. The rule for full primaries was, employ them sparingly, and contrast them only with black or gray. He might notice in passing that when people dressed in gray or black the entire dress was usually of the one color unrelieved. Yet here they had a background that would lend beauty to any color placed upon it.

Another safe rule was never to place together colors differing widely in hue. The eye experienced a difficulty in accommodating itself to sudden changes, and a species of color discord was the consequence. But if the colors, even though primaries, were of some very dark or very light shade, they become harmonious. All very dark shades of color went well with black and with each other, and all very light shades went well with white and each other.

A much-vexed question with ladies was, "What will suit my complexion?" The generally received opinion was that the complexion was pink, either light or dark, and colors were chosen accordingly, working dire confusion. But no one living ever had a pink complexion unless a painted one. The dolls in the Lowther Arcade were pink, and their pink dresses were in harmony. No natural complexion whatever was improved by pink; but gray would go with any. The tendency of gray was to give prominence to the dominant hue in the complexion. When an artist wished to produce flesh color he mixed white, light red, yellow ocher, and terra vert. The skin of a fair person was a gray light red, tinged with green; the color that would brighten and intensify it most was a gray light sea green, tinged with pink--in other words, its complementary. A color always subtracted any similar color that might exist in combination near it. Thus red beside orange altered it to yellow; blue beside pink altered it to cerise. Hence, if a person was so unfortunate as to have a muddy complexion, the worst color they could wear would be their own complexion's complementary--the best would be mud color, for it would clear their complexion.

Passing on to the consideration of form in costume, the lecturer urged that the proper function of dress was to drape the human figure without disguising or burlesquing it. An illustration of Miss Mary Anderson, attired in a Greek dress as Parthenia, was exhibited, and the lecturer observed that while the dress once worn by Greek women was unequaled for elegance, Greek women were not in the habit of tying their skirts in knots round the knees, and the nervous pose of the toes suggested a more habitual acquaintance with shoes and stockings.

An enlargement from a drawing by Walter Crane was shown as illustrating the principles of artistic and natural costume--costume which permitted the waist to be the normal size, and allowed the drapery to fall in natural folds--costume which knew nothing of pleats and flounces, stays and "improvers"--costume which was very symbolization and embodiment of womanly grace and modesty.

A life-sized enlargement of a fashion plate from Myra's Journal, dated June 1, 1882, was next shown. The circumference of the waist was but 12¾ in., involving an utter exclusion of the liver from that part of the organization, and the attitude was worthy of a costume which was the ne plus ultra of formal ugliness.

Having shown another and equally unbecoming costume, selected from a recent issue by an Oxford Street firm, the lecturer asked, Why did women think small waists beautiful? Was it because big-waisted women were so frequently fat and forty, old and ugly? A young girl had no waist, and did not need stays. As the figure matured the hips developed, and it was this development which formed the waist. The slightest artificial compression of the waist destroyed the line of beauty. Therefore, the grown woman should never wear stays, and, since they tended to weaken the muscles of the back, the aged and weak should not adopt them. A waist really too large was less ungraceful than a waist too small. Dress was designed partly for warmth and partly for adornment. As the uses were distinct, the garments should be so. A close-fitting inner garment should supply all requisite warmth, and the outer dress should be as thin as possible, that it might drape itself into natural folds. Velvet, from its texture, was ill adapted for this. When worn, it should be in close fitting garments, and in dark colors only.

It was most effective when black.

Turning for a few moments, in conclusion, to men's attire, the lecturer suggested that the ill-success of dress reformers hitherto had been the too-radical changes they sought to introduce. We could be artistic without being archaic. Most men were satisfied without clothes fairly in fashion, a tolerable fit, and any unobtrusive color their tailor pleased. He would suggest that any reformation should begin with color.