This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
Morning dress should be faultless in its way. For young ladies, whether married or single, there is no prettier summer morning wear than white or very light dresses of washing materials. Yet those must be always fresh and clean, and the collars and cuffs irreproachable. For morning wear simplicity in attire is imperative. Silk should not be worn. Cotton and woolen are the proper materials.
The walking-dress should be quiet. A rich or showy dress in the street is apt to attract more attention than is desirable or always agreeable. For the carriage, however, a lady may dress as elegantly as she wishes.
Elderly ladies should dress as richly as their means permit. A thin old lady may wear delicate colors, while one of stout person or florid complexion will look best in black or dark grey. But for young and old alike the complexion and figure have much to do with determining the suitable colors. Rich colors harmonize well with brunette complexions, but for blondes and those of delicate tints of face the desirable colors to be worn are those of more delicate hue.
At dinner parties, unless they be small and familiar in kind, only the fullest dress is appropriate. But at unceremonious dinners demi-toilette can be worn, and high dresses if the material be sufficiently rich. Real flowers may be worn at dinner parties, but it is better to wear artificial ones at balls, since the heat and dancing are apt to cause real flowers to droop and shed their petals.
Gloves, shoes, and boots must always be faultless. Gloves cannot be too light for the carriage, or too dark for the streets. A woman with ill-fitting gloves lacks one of the essentials of suitable dress. It may be remarked, by the way, that perfumes should be used only in the evening, and with the strictest moderation, and that perfumes to be tolerable must be of the most delicate kind.
There has never been a more telling and sensible criticism than that made by Dr. Johnson on a lady's dress. " I am sure she was well dressed," he said, "for I cannot remember what she had on."