This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
The fashion of the time must govern the evening dress for public occasions. Full dress must always be worn, but it is impossible to give any fixed rule regarding it, in view of the frequent changes in the demands of fashion. A competent dressmaker, or the fashion publications of the time, will give the necessary information. In Europe, the evening dress requires the exposure of the arms and neck; but in this country the more sensible plan of covering these parts of the body is widely the fashion, and should be observed except on very special occasions.
The dress for balls and soirees should be of the richest within the lady's means. Yet a certain degree of repression is important, if one would avoid seeming overdressed. White kid gloves and white satin or kid boots are most suitable to a ball dress. If the overdress is of black lace, black satin shoes are worn. Hints and directions, however, are of little need to ladies for occasions of this kind. Example and experience, either of themselves or their friends, will prevent them from going far wrong.
The richest full dress should be worn at the opera. The head should be bare, and dressed in the most becoming style. Jewelry may be worn, according to taste, as there is no place where it shows to better advantage. A light or brilliant colored opera cloak will add greatly to the lady's appearance and comfort. Gloves of white, or delicately tinted, kid only are to be worn. The ordinary walking-dress, however, is suitable for other places of amusement. A rich and elegant shawl may be worn, as it can be thrown off when uncomfortable. The sensible fashion is now making its way to remove the hat at theatres and lectures, out of due regard for those whose view of the stage may be obstructed. This being the case, there is no need to spoil the hair by wearing hat or bonnet on the way thither.
Plain and simple dress should be worn for church, with very little jewelry. The costume should be of quiet colors. It is a mark of bad taste for ladies to attend church elaborately or conspicuously dressed. It shows a disregard for the solemnity of the sanctuary, and is calculated to draw off the attentions of others from the duties of the place.