Dress (On Proper Taste In). There are many people who do not know that in order to dress well, they must follow certain rules, and pay attention to certain laws, and that it is not a mere question of fancy. By dressing well, we do not mean dressing expensively, but dressing properly; for it is not more difficult to exercise taste in the wearing of low-priced clothing, than of high priced.
Most people know, that in looking at a rainbow, they see seven different colours, and for a long time it was thought that the number really was seven, but of late years it was found that there are not more than three. These three are called primitive or primary colours; the others are called secondary colours, because they are made up by a mixture or combination of the first three. This may be better explained by means of a diagram. Here the red, blue, and yellow, are the three primitives, and it will be seen that the others lie between them. For instance, the meeting and overlapping of the red and yellow, produces orange, passing from a deep tint on the red side, to a light-tint on the yellow side. In like manner, the overlapping of the yellow with the blue forms green, and the overlapping of the red with the blue, produces violet or purple. If the diagram were coloured, the effect would be more apparent, and it would be easy to see that two primary colours are required to make one secondary colour.
There is another fact also to be remarked; the space opposite to each primitive is filled by the secondary composed of the other two primitives, and these secondaries are called complementary colours. Green, therefore, is the complementary colour to red, purple to yellow, and orange to blue. This may be proved in another way : - Fix a red wafer in the centre of a white sheet of paper, look at it steadily for a time, then look at another sheet which has nothing on it, and there will appear to be a green wafer in the middle of it; and so with the other colours. This explains the reason why the putting together of red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple, in the decoration of rooms, or in dress, produces so pleasing and harmonious a contrast. It is true to nature, and that is the whole secret.
It would be possible by drawing other lines across the same diagram to represent all the varieties of tints, three of orange, three of green, etc, and in each case, the exact complement will always be found opposite the two sections of the primitive : the balance is always kept up. Out of all these, all sorts of hues may be produced, positive or neutral, arranged either in their order as they appear in the rainbow, deepening or softening one into the other, or forming strong contrasts. It is by the latter, that the most striking effects are produced.
In describing the colours, red is said to be the most positive of the primitives, yellow the lightest, and blue the coldest. The first two are always considered to be warm colours, orange is a warm secondary, green is medium, and violet the coldest. Artists speak of the warm colours us standing out, while the cool ones appear to go back. Green and red form a medium contrast; orange and blue the extremest; as in them the warmest and coldest colours are brought together. Black and white are not colours, the first is made by mixing the three primaries together; gray is produced by a mixture of white and black, and forms a colour which is very useful in softening the effects of violent contrasts.
With these facts before us, we shall now be able to comprehend better in what way to regulate the colours of dress ; and instead of following mere routine or mere whim, we shall perceive that a little study and attention, will keep us from those disfigurements too often seen in women's dress.
In the dress of English ladies, we find too frequently a variety of colours, without any pretensions to harmony of arrangement. Not only is the dress or bonnet selected without the slightest consideration, whether it is, or is not suitable to the complexion, but a variety of colours of the most dissonant and inharmonious kinds may frequently be seen in the habiliments of the same lady.
We continually see a light blue bonnet and flowers surrounding a sallow countenance, or a pink opposed to one of a glowing red ; a pale complexion associated with canary, or lemon-yellow, or one of delicate red and white, rendered almost colourless by the vicinity of deep red. Now, if the lady with the sallow complexion had worn a transparent white bonnet, or if the lady with the glowing complexion had lowered it by means of a bonnet of deeper red colour - if the pale lady had improved the cadaverous hue of her countenance, by surround-ing it with pale green, which, by contrast, would have suffused it with a delicate pink hue, or had the face