THE selection of clothing suitable in amount and kind is one of the responsibilities still resting upon the head of the household. The principles to be followed in meeting this responsibility have, however, not as yet been formulated with any fullness. In fact, there is perhaps no other household duty which is performed under such confused and confusing conditions.

It should be noticed, for example, that clothing is demanded from considerations of beauty, of decency, of hygienic fitness, of evidence of pecuniary strength, as well as of warmth and comfort. No evidence need be adduced to prove that the draping of the human form may produce most charming effects of line and color. The requirements of modesty demand that, with exceptions in favor of the formal dinner or ball and the bathing beach, the person shall be covered. Comfort, too, and protection from cold, from contact with unpleasant objects, and from the approach of insects, ask that the form be covered.

The anthropologist points out that the clothes of today are related by inheritance to the primitive devices invented for purposes of sex attraction and decoration. The economist calls attention to the fact that in no way can the wealth of the family and the ability to spend without regard to return in utility be more easily demonstrated than by dressing "in the fashion." By wearing today costly garments which are evidently different from anything worn by anybody yesterday, it is made plain that one has bought since yesterday, and so can probably buy again before tomorrow. The fact of this spending capacity is made much clearer if the clothes are not only conspicuously new, but obviously of such a kind as to indicate the wearer's inability to perform any arduous and possibly wage-paid work. The high-heeled shoe, the tight corset, the trailing gown, the very close-cut skirt, possess these elements of attractiveness, and the changes in style, conforming to no other law than the requirements for change, are found to take place within limits set by the demand of obvious waste and uselessness. The rapid succession of styles, informing all the world when one's suit was made or one's dress was bought, is a constant pressure on the woman to keep up with the change, possibly that she may not be unlike her neighbor, possibly that all the world may know how well her husband is getting on, possibly that no one may suspect that he is really not getting ahead at all.

The confusion of these different ends results in strangely difficult tasks for the woman who wishes to use wisely and discreetly the resources intrusted to her for the satisfaction of her family's needs, since the manufacturer, the merchant, and the purveyor have not been slow to seize upon the opportunity to manipulate the situation to their own advantage.

Buying is stimulated by the advertisement showing the new fashions, by the department store display, by the fictitious interest in Easter, by the early spring trip South, by the late spring race, by the summer journey, until every possible temptation has been offered in this connection. Much is said about the overdressed department store girl or factory operative; but no outcry is raised against the "Easter Opening" in the great department store, which prostitutes to the uses of the dealer the natural craving to be fair and beautiful when nature redrapes herself in verdure and life springs again in bud and blossom after the long winter's drab.

There has been until very recently an almost complete absence of any effort to devise right styles of dress, taking the lines of the human figure as the basis for decision. As to the adjustment of weight, the evidences of durability, the signs of fraudulent practices, nothing has as yet been formulated. Only recently have investigations revealed the extent to which the purchaser of textiles is the victim of deceptive processes analogous to those practiced in connection with the food supply. And, as after years of effort "pure food laws" have been placed on the statute books of one state after another and of the federal government, "pure textile" laws will similarly have to be enacted by our legislatures. By these laws the manufacturers will be required to attach labels giving reliable information as to fabrics, in order that intelligent buying may be done.

We have as yet, therefore, no such standards for the adaptation of the clothing of the body in weight, in strain, etc., to the needs of the individual for covering and warmth, as we have in feeding standards based upon the individual's need for nutriment.

In such studies as Rowntree's "Poverty," Chapin's "Standards of Living," and Mrs. More's "Wage-Earners'

Budgets," no attempt is made to ask with what clothing should such a definite family be provided. It is asked, rather: What has been the average of the clothing they have had and what any one family possesses is judged by its relation to an average which it has helped to determine.

There are several other difficulties besides those connected with the honesty of the goods. One interesting question which arises in connection with clothing is that of durability. When the cloth was the product of domestic manufacture representing the labor of many hands for many days, it was important that it should wear a long time and that all possible use should be got out of the labor which went with it. Moreover, in earlier times, when there was less crowding, when sun and air had readier access to the houses, the problems of infection or of sanitary precautions were less urgent. Now, however, especially in cities, where the smoke constitutes a nuisance, where the houses are built close together and admit neither adequate light nor adequate air, where in the crowded car or on the street or in the school one comes into close contact with many whose standards of cleanliness are obviously low, and when the cloth, at least, is the result of mechanical processes, if the labor of making can be reduced by simplification of style, it may very well be that durability becomes less desirable than cleanliness assured by frequent change. The development of the dry cleansing business partly meets this demand; but that business has objectionable features associated with it, and it may be that with increased simplicity of style and the invention of fabrics which are so inexpensive as to justify very brief use, greatly improved conditions in hygiene may be secured.