This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Family Doctor" book
We should adapt the amount and quality of our clothing to the weather. Not by the almanac, however, as the seasons do not follow it exactly. Chinese people, it is said, having cool nights and very hot noons, begin the day with several light garments on. As the hours of morning bring warmth, off goes one thing after another, till by noonday they have only one or two covers left. With the cooling of the afternoon they again begin to put them on; and so, hour by hour, they get back to the morning's raiment. This is reasonable enough. Many persons among us make the mistake of wearing too little clothing (as well as keeping their houses too cool) in the changeable and uncertain weather of spring and autumn; and a large number of " colds " are caught in that way.
Of the materials in use for clothing, the warmest (besides furs) is wool. An open, porous fabric, containing air, conducts heat more slowly than a smooth, dense one; because air itself is a slow heat-conductor. So a tight-fitting kid glove scarcely keeps the hand warm, while a loose mitten is very comfortable in cold weather.
Silk is a slow conductor also, and it is warm for garments in proportion to its thickness. It conducts electricity very slowly, which makes it particularly suitable for undergarments with those who are liable to pains and aches on damp days, or when the wind is " easterly."
Next to wool and silk comes cotton (muslin); and the coolest of all are linen garments. These are most fit for midsummer wear, when our American climate is, by fits and starts at least, tropical. Every one should be prepared, however, at all seasons with extras to put on in case of change of weather from warm to cool.
In our variable climate, delicate persons, especially those liable to rheumatism or neuralgia, generally find advantage in wearing either light flannel or silk next to the body even through the summer, with a heavier kind, of course, for winter.
In the distribution of clothing over the body, the main part to keep warm is the chest. As it contains the heart and lungs, all the blood in the body passes through it constantly, and conveys its temperature everywhere. Moreover, chilling the heart or lungs endangers injury to those central organs themselves.
Next, the abdomen must be sufficiently protected. Great organs, the stomach, bowels, liver, spleen, kidneys, etc,, are contained in it, and are all (most of all the bowels) liable to attacks of disorder from cold. Sudden changes of temperature often bring on diarrhœa; sometimes, choleramorbus or dysentery.
Then, the extremities. Of these, the feet must be best cared for. They are farthest from the heart, and nearest to the ground. Hence, at the same general temperature, they suffer most from cold. Children, in mild climates, may grow up accustomed to running about barefoot, if they have freedom and space to acquire active habits.
At bedtime all the clothes should be changed, the day clothes being hung up to be dried and ventilated. The night clothes should be made of cotton, which is not irritating to the skin as woolen is. Sufficient warmth will be given by the bedclothes, which should consist in part of blankets or feathers, and should be light and warm. A woollen night-dress, besides being irritating, promotes too much perspiration, and makes the body hot; but for young children, old people, rheumatic subjects, or in very cold climates, a woolen night-dress is necessary.