The woman or girl in business is always confronted with the problem of how to dress suitably, and at the same time to retain her feminine personality; also, the necessity for strict economy governs and limits her choice. The secret of good dressing at any time is that the dress should be appropriate to the occasion.
The girl who travels to her office every day is confronted with many vicissitudes of wind and weather, and she must content herself with severely practical clothing. Suitability must be the keynote of her scheme, and so attired she will never be out of place.
From the employer's point of view, the appearance of his office may be considerably lowered by the unsuitable attire of his women staff. Appropriate dressing, therefore, is appreciated, although no word may be passed on the subject.
An abundance of jewellery is out of place. Many rings, long chains, or clinking bangles are a distraction both to the wearer and her fellow-workers.
The chief items for everyday wear in the business woman's outfit are: Coat and skirt, blouses, shoes, gloves, hats, a showerproof or rubber coat, and a long, warm coat for cold weather. With these, she will find herself provided with the essentials.
This costume is the most useful, and it allows variety to be obtained by a change of blouse and neck fitments. It should be well cut and tailored. Decorations may consist either of stitchings or flat braids, since fancy trimmings hold the dust and need constant renewal.
Many tailors make a speciality of trimly-built costumes, made to measure, from two guineas; also, by watching the best shops excellent models may be secured, ready made, at quite reasonable prices. On no account should money be invested in a cheap material; it Is far better to obtain a good costume once in two years than a cheap one each season.
The skirt should clear the ground all round, and be finished with an efficient inside hem of material or lining. The addition of some kind of skirt protector to prevent the edge cutting through is also essential. This may consist of a " brush-edge," sold by the yard, in every shade, by all drapers, or crossway strips of velveteen; but whichever is used its value as a skirt protector depends on its being sewn securely to project slightly beyond the skirt. These points are worth attention, or constant renewal will be necessary.
For summer, light-weight all-wool tweeds, serges, or alpacas are suitable fabrics, and will be found more satisfactory than plain-faced cloths, which soil very readily, and often spot badly in the rain.
If the dress allowance permits, some linen or cotton frocks will be both cool and healthy in hot weather, but by most women the laundry bill also must be considered.
In economical dressing it is a distinct saving to have two costumes in wear at the same time. All garments wear better if given a " rest," and, with a little management, this can be arranged, even on a limited allowance.
Another practical style is the " Princess," with removable vest and under-sleeves. These, if made of all-over lace, net, or even silk, can easily be washed at home; and such a gown, worn with a coat to match, will prove a welcome change from the blouse and short skirt.
Here the personal taste of the wearer may be permitted to hold sway to some extent. Pretty delaines, cambrics, simply trimmed with embroidery, or the more severe "shirt," may be equally worn. Cheap lace trimmings, transparent low yokes and elbow sleeves are not in good taste for office wear.
Office work is detrimental to the sleeves of a blouse or dress. The paper cuff pinned on is not altogether satisfactory, as it is apt to cut the wrist. Half-sleeves of cambric, such as nurses wear, are eminently practical, and can be easily washed as required, or removable cuffs or half-sleeves made of all-over embroidered muslin, answer the purpose equally well, and are decidedly smarter. Cut quite plainly, a single button will secure it at the wrist, or the seam may be joined its entire length, to slip over the hand. A single pin will fasten the half-sleeve in position, or an elastic, a little smaller than the top of the sleeve, may be sewn in to just fit the arm closely.