" Whose red and white Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on." been arrayed in a light blue, a light green, or in a ransparent white bonnet, with blue or pink flowers on the inside, how different and how much more agreeable would have been the impression on the spectator.
How frequently again do we see the dimensions of a tall and embonpoint figure, magnified to almost Brobdignagian proportions, by a white dress; or a small woman reduced to Lilliputian size by a black dress! Now, as the optical effect of white is to enlarge objects, and that of black to diminish them, if the large woman had been dressed in black, and the small woman in white, the apparent size of each would have approached the ordinary stature, and the former would not have appeared a giantess, or the latter a dwarf.
Next with regard to the bonnet - the colour of the lining and the trimming should be such as will best suit the complexion of the wearer. There are, it appears, two methods of setting off or heightening a complexion, first, by a decided contrast, such as a white drapery, or one of a colour exactly complementary to the complexion, but not of too bright a hue; such for example is a green drapery for a rosy complexion, or a blue drapery for a blonde. Secondly, by contrasting a fair complexion of an orange hue with a light green drapery, a rosy complexion with a light blue, or a canary yellow, or strawcolour, with certain complexions in climing to orange. In the Last case, the complementary violet neutralizes the yellow of the carnation, which it brightens.
Now, lot us suppose an opposite case, namely, that the complexion is too highly coloured, and the object of the painter, or dress-maker is to lower it. This may be effected either by means of a black drapery which lowers the complexion by contrast of hue, or by a drapery of the same colour as the complexion, but much brighter; for example, where the carnations are too rosy, the drapery may be red ; where they are too orange, an orange-coloured drapery may be adopted; where they incline too much to green, we may introduce a dark green drapery, a rosy complexion may be con. treated with dark blue, or one of a very pale orange, with a very dark yellow.
A good deal will be found to depend on the way in which the hair or cap is worn : because, if a broad patch of hair come be-tween the trimming and the face, the effect is varied ; but when the bonnet is worn far back from the face, then the effect depends on the shape of the bonnet, or on other contrasts. In general, it will be best to follow the same law as laid down for the other portions of the attire. For example, a fair face may have a black hat with a white or red feather. A white bonnet, when not transparent, is most becoming on a red or white complexion ; but if it be of gauze or a transparent substance, it will then appear to be gray ; the colour of the trimming should be white or pink, but the best effect seems to be produced by blue. A blue bonnet is the best colour for a fair woman, with white or orange trimming, always, avoiding red, or deeper shades of blue, which spoil the effect. Green also is suitable for a fair face, especially if the cheek show a tinge of pink, and the trimming should be white or pink ; but a pink bonnet should not be worn unless there be some white or green trimming between it and the face. A mixed wreath of white and green, such as a sprig of Jasmine, or a branch of May, has a very pleasing effect. If red be worn by those who have red faces, it should always be of a darker shade than the face, as the object is to relieve, not to deepen, the complexion; and it has been found by experience, that the reflection from a bonnet-lining is much less than is commonly supposed. Nearly the same may be said of black bonnets; their Contrast on a dark face is not always so good as on a light one. but a little contrivance will make that suitable which often appears unsuitable. The trimming should be white, red, pink, yellow, or orange. Next to black and white, and orange and blue, black and yeilow is considered the greatest contrast of Colours.
Brunettes and those with a tawny skin may wear white bonnets, but must avoid the blue trimmings; in their case, pink, or cherry-colour will be the most suitable, not forgetting that the hair should show between the bonnet and the face. A violet-coloured bonnet gives the skin a yellow appearance, and no woman likes to be thought yellow-complexioned. But whenever the appearance is not satisfactory, the effect should always be tried of placing something between the bonnet and the face; such as ribands, a wreath, lace or tulle, or the complementary colour, which should also be repeated on the outside of the bonnet. When we find negroes and the dark-skinned people of the East fond of glaring colours, it is only an effect of the laws above-mentioned ; in choosing these colours they only take what best becomes them; they have no alternative between these and a pure white
With respect to the hair: light hair is to be regarded as a "subdued orange," which is more or less yellow, red, or brown, according to the constitution of the individual. The yellowest is the flaxen or golden hair, which was once in such repute, that ladies who had dark hair took pains to bleach it and remove the colour. Where the red tinge prevails the hair is chesnut or auburn, and sometimes positively red. Black hair and eyebrows contrast well with a fair complexion, or harmonize with a dark one. Sky-blue is the most becoming wear for light and fair-haired persons, being, as it were, a complementary colour to their own hue. Orange, yellow, and red, assort well with dark hair, and in some instances violet or green with their complementaries may be worn. A fresh, rosy complexion should not be surrounded with pink or rose colour, as the effect will be to deaden it; but if a fulling of tulle be placed between it and the face, then the objection will disappear. As before observed, lace or similar materials appear gray, for the threads reflect the light, while* the spaces absorb it, and have a dark appearance ; and one being intermingled with the other, the result is gray. a neutralizing tint of great value. It should be borne in mind, that transparent white textures are always to be considered as gray. Light green suits the skin which has no red, and makes it look slightly ruddy by the contrast. On the contrary, dark green harmonizes best with brunettes and dark complexions which have a touch of orange in them. If the skin be yellow, then light yellow is to be avoided in the bonnet, as the effect it produces is that of a deadly white; violet gives such a skin a green hue, as also some shades of blue. A dead white, that is, one which is not transparent, suits a fresh colour, making it look more rosy, while the effect of black is to lower the tone of the colours associated with it, and make the skin appear fairer. The three primitive colours may be made to look more brilliant than they are by combining them with gray, and still more so by white ; but gray is perhaps to be preferred, as it " forms combinations with blue, violet, and dark colours, in general, which partake of the harmony of analogy, while, on the contrary, it forms with colours naturally bright, such as red, orange, yellow, and light-green, harmonies of contrast. If, for instance, gray be placed by the side of crimson, it will acquire by contrast somewhat of a green hue; by the side of the yellow it will appear purplish; if by the side of blue it will assume an orange hue; the value, then, of a neutral tint of this description when placed in contact with flesh, is very evident.
These observations comprise the chief points of the theory of dress ; after reading them, it is impossible not to see the necessity for some degree of attention to the laws of taste. Many people are ready to justify their neglect on the ground that it is a waste of time, or of morality, to be particular in such matters. But we take leave to say that such is not the case. "We are bound by social, as well as moral, laws, to wear decent clothing, and there is no impropriety whatsoever in making ourselves look as becoming as possible - always remembering to avoid pride and vanity.