The hygienic aspect of the large and heavy hat is so obvious as not to require any detailed consideration, but the spotted veil has escaped censure in a somewhat remarkable way considering its dangers to the eyesight and the skin. Eye-strain is an unavoidable result of wearing a veil with large spots in the line of vision, and anyone whose eyesight is at all imperfect should avoid spotted veils. The mesh veil is less objectionable, but it also interferes with the sight, particularly if there is any tendency to astigmatism. The wearing of veils is unhygienic if we consider the fact that in cold weather the veil in front of the mouth and nose gets saturated with moisture. Cracked lips and other skin blemishes are the natural consequences. Then a heavy veil prevents fresh air reaching the skin, and the hygienic housewife knows that pure air is the best cosmetic in the world. The object of wearing veils is to improve the appearance of the complexion, but it is doubtful whether this idea is achieved in the long run.
The absurdity of high heels is too big a subject to consider here, but an article on the foot will deal with this question.
The garter is perhaps rarely worn nowadays. Its effect upon varicose veins and similar conditions should be noted. Any pressure upon the circulation, especially in later life, should be avoided, and the garter is an unnecessary and undesirable article of apparel.
A commoner mode of exerting pressure is provided by the tight neckband. When fashion decrees that this should be as high and as tight as possible, the hygienic ideal is far from being fulfilled. The tight neckband brings about ageing of the neck, discoloration of the skin, and early wrinkling. It predisposes to sore throats, because fashion demands that the neck is closely covered and wrapped in furs by day, whilst evening dress has to be donned by many during the coldest part of the twenty-four hours. The neck is a very ill-used part of the human body, and somebody should organise a crusade on its behalf to make the tight, high neckband unpopular, and supersede it by a flexible, transparent arrangement which will allow free movement and fresh air to penetrate to the part.
The hygienic ideal is that all clothing should be washable, as dirt and microbes accumulate and cling to garments which are never cleaned or washed. Therefore, the washable blouse is a hygienic garment, provided it answers other qualifications and is not of the transparent order when worn in winter. Even dark clothes should be regularly washed or cleaned, and this can be done perfectly well with care. Coats and skirts of black or Navy blue come back from the cleaner like new, and well repay, both from the hygienic and artistic standpoint, the cost of cleaning.
Hygiene is cleanliness, and cleanliness is essential for health. Those who have never studied bacteriology have no conception of the microbes and dirt our clothes collect in going about our daily work. This can be obviated to some extent by wearing skirts that clear the ground, and by well spending more in washing and cleaning bills.
Freedom of movement and lightness of weight should be aimed at. Even hats should be light, of moderate size, and better ventilated than they are at present. Anything that constricts the head or weighs on the scalp makes for loss of hair and baldness, but the hat should shade the eyes, especially in summer time. The eyes of children, even more than adults, require to be protected against the glare of light, and that is why a broad-brimmed hat is infinitely preferable to bonnets or caps.
The aim with hygienic dress must be to achieve a pleasing and hygienic combination. A woman can be well dressed whilst conforming to all the laws of hygiene. The clever woman is neither the frump nor conspicuously dressed. She steers the medium course and avoids what is absurd, and, therefore, undesirable. Health and hygiene are not entirely dependent upon clothes, but they are affected by what we wear and how we wear it. That is why personal hygiene and clothing should have the consideration of every housewife in the land.