3289. The importance of dress can scarcely be overrated, but by comparison. It is with the world the outward sign of both character and condition; and since it costs no more to dress well than ill, and is not very troublesome, every one should endeavor to do the best that his circumstances will allow.
3290. A clean, unrumpled shirt coarse or fine, cotton or linen as you can afford, is of the first importance. If the choice is between a fine shirt or a fine coat, have the shirt by all means. A well-bred man may be ever so reduced in his wardrobe - his clothes may be coarse and thread-bare, but he seldom wears a coarse. and never a dirty shirt.
3291. Boots are now men's common wear on all occasions, varying in elegance for different purposes. They should always be clean, and invariably well blackened and polished.
3292. Make a point of buying a good hat. One proper fur hat worth four or five dollars, when a year old, looks more respectable than a silk one bought yesterday.
3293. Be as particular as you like about the cut of your pantaloons Run into no extravagances of bell-bottoms, or puckered waists. Buy strong cloth, that will not be tearing at every turn; and if you consult economy and taste at the same time, let them be either black or very dark gray, when they will answer upon all occasions.
3294. The vest allows of some fancy but beware of being too fanciful. A black satin is proper for any person or any occasion. Nothing is more elegant than pure white. Some quiet colours may be worn for variety, but beware of everything staring or glaring, in materials or trimmings.
3295. If you have but one coat, it will be a black dress coat, as there are occasions where no other will answer. Frock coats are worn in the morning, riding, or walking, but never at evening visits, or at weddings, balls, parties, or the opera. Overcoats are worn for comfort; they need not be fine, -and should not be fanciful. Stocks are pretty much out of use. Most gentlemen wear a simple, plain black silk cravat, neatly tied in a bow-knot before. Balls and parties require white or light kid gloves. Black or very dark ones, of kid, silk or linen, are worn upon all other occasions, except in driving, when buff leather gloves are preferable.
3296. The best-dressed men wear the least jewelry. Of all things, avoid showy chains, large rings, and flashy gewgaw pins and brooches. All these things should be left to negroes, Indians, and South Sea Islanders.
3297. The most proper pocket-handkerchiefs are of white linen. If figured or bordered, it should be very delicately.
3298. Gloves are worn in the street, at church, and places of amusement. It is not enough to carry them - they are to be worn.
3299. Ladies are allowed to consult fancy, variety, and ornament, more than men, yet nearly the same rules apply. It is the mark of a lady to be always well shod. If your feet are small, don't spoil them by pinching - if large, squeezing them makes them worse. Be as moderate as you can about bustles. While it is the fashion you must wear them, but don't lay them on too thick. Above all, as you regard nealth, comfort, and beauty, do not lace too tightly. A waist too small for the natural proportion of the figure is the worst possible deformity, and produces many others. No woman who laces tight can have good shoulders, a straight spine, good lungs, sweet breath, or is fit to be a wife and mother.
3300. The most elegant dresses are black or white. Common modesty will prevent indecent exposure of the shoulders and bosom. A vulgar girl wears bright and glaring colours, fantastically made, a large flaring, red, yellow, or sky-blue hat, covered with a rainbow of ribbons, and all the rings and trinkets she can load upon her. Of course, a modest, well-bred young lady, chooses the reverse of all this. In any assemblage, the most plainly-dressed woman is sure to be the most ladylike and attractive. Neatness is better than richness, and plainness better than display. Single ladies dress less in fashionable society than married ones: and all more plainly and substantially for walking or travelling, than on other occasions.
3301. In our opinion, nothing beyond a simple natural flower ever adds to the beauty of a lady's head-dress.
3302. It is a general rule, applicable to both sexes, that persons are the best dressed when you cannot remember how they were dressed. Avoid everything out of the way, uncommon, or grotesque. (See 1822.)