The Convenience of "Ready to Wear " Costumes -The Upkeep of the Wardrobe - Dyeing and
Cleaning - Renovations -The Repair of a Coat
Ready-made garments of all kinds, par-ticularly costumes, have now been improved both in cut and quality, and are sold at such reasonable prices that, if of "stock size," the matter of dressing is much simplified for the busy woman. Then there are the skirts and costumes that only require the back seam to be joined, a comparatively simple matter.
If, however, such "ready to wear" garments are not of correct size for the wearer and require much alteration, it is better to buy material and have it made up by a dressmaker.
One drawback to the ready-made suit is that it is usually made by the dozen, if not by the hundred, from one design, the only variation being in its colour; it is, however, often possible to add an individual note by the alteration of the neck and sleeve fitments, or, if originally plainly made, by the addition of some garniture.
Always remember that a well-made and well-cut coat or dress in a becoming colour, even if not in the latest fashion, looks infinitely superior to an attempt to follow the most recent innovation in a style which was really only designed for a woman who has carriages and motors at her disposal, and not for everyday wear in the streets.
Having secured the wardrobe, the next question to solve is that of keeping it in order, in good repair, and as up-to-date as possible consistent with economy.
Two of the principal means of renovation at a woman's command are dyeing and cleaning.
Chemical cleaning and dyeing have been brought to such perfection that advantage may well be taken of these processes. It is wise, however, to ascertain how the fabric is likely to stand the dyeing process, as some materials shrink badly, and others are rendered rotten, and therefore useless. All responsible firms who undertake dyeing are only too willing to give any advice they can as to the most suitable shade to select for the particular material, and information as to any risk of spoiling.
Tweeds, and other of the thicker woollen cloths, especially repay the cost of their cleaning, and, if sent to a reliable firm, will come back to their owner almost as good as new; and if of a good material, it is a real economy to send a coat or costume to be cleaned, as not only is it freshened and purified, but it should be properly pressed into shape before its return.
A wise precaution to take when sending articles to be cleaned or dyed is to remove all fastenings, such as hooks, buttons, or patent fasteners, as in the pressing they undergo such are almost invariably damaged, if not broken, and have to be replaced. Another point is that, even in cleaning, there is a certain amount of shrinkage, so it is better to unpick the bottom of skirts. They can then be re-hemmed, when clean, ready for wear.
But the chief difficulty of the busy woman, after all, is not the want of means at her disposal for the economical purchase and upkeep of her wardrobe, but the lack of time in which to avail herself of such means. For this reason, if for no other, her clothes should be of as good a quality as can be afforded, and in styles that will not be dated by changing fashions, in order to avoid their too constant replacement.
There are the numberless stitches to be made in keeping her garments in repair, the hems of skirts to be renovated, neckwear to be kept in order, a fastening to be readjusted. If she be fortunate, a home-keeping member of her family may come to her assistance, but if not, she should endeavour to discover a dressmaker or needlewoman who is not above undertaking such renovations. They are to be found, and some really understand how best to carry out what is required of them. It is better to pay a few shillings occasionally than to discard a garment and buy fresh.
If it can be afforded, the best plan is, of course, to send a coat to a working tailor, but if this is impossible, much can be done by the home worker, especially if she follows the Lessons in Tailoring given in Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.
The cuffs can be removed, their worn edges and those of the sleeves at the wrist turned in, and the cuff replaced. If the coat be double-breasted, and the original buttonholes are worn, wear it folded over the reverse way, and if new buttonholes are rather too formidable to undertake, fix on patent press-fasteners, sewing the buttons on the right side in the orthodox double row. When closed, only the wearer will know the secret of the fastening. The old buttonholes should be neatly sewn together. With a new facing to the collar, and, if liked, to the cuffs to correspond, last year's coat will do yeoman service. If braid is being worn, it may be utilised to hide stitchings that have worn shabby.
If the coat be fastened or trimmed with covered buttons, they must be replaced as they become worn at the edges, or others of bone or pearl substituted.