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French and American Designers Are at Odds
BY A?!?B KITTENHOUSG. THIS battle of skirts promises to bo as long drawn out its the battle of nations. It is a curious war. No one seems to know who are the aggres sors and who the defenders. One has no doubt that France Is the apostle ot the short skirt and America the apos tle of the long one. but there is wur within war, faction against faction in each country, argument for and against in both language!. Columns of space are filled with rea sons for adopting the long skirt and Ignoring the short one, and other col umns are Oiled with answers to these arguments. It Is a battle that seems to mightily interest the world. It has ceased to be a topic for the commerrlalists alone. The citisens have joined In. * * * * The topic of the skirt Is not confined to women. Men talk about it, too. Tliey discuss it with heat and argument, with cylniclsm and personality. It started as a minor affair; It has grown to be a big fight Tho only thing one notices about a new gown Is the length of the skirt, and those who feel that all that Paris does is right sneer at the ankle length skirt, while those who insist that America is independent in her fashions say violent things of Uie skirt thai shows the leg to the knee. ? t There are extremists on both sides. There aro women who go to extremes in developing each fashion. No one seems to realize that there may be a decent and agreeable compromise in a skirt that strikes somewhere between the knee and the instep. The violent ones who argue the question talk of only these two lengths. One goes to a play and sees costly and alluring frocks that sweep the feet, and comes home saying that long skirts are the fashion for the evening. Then one goes to order a gown from a well known dressmaker and Is told that the skirt must be between eight and ten Inches from the floor. Which is right? Is there any stand ard? Or, as the Irishman said when he saw two men trying to kill each other in a saloon, "Is this a private fight, or is it free to all?" Kven with Thanksgiving coming up over the horixon, there is no decision as to the proper length of a skirt for the street or for the evening.. The strongest current is toward the short skirt for the street After that it is every woman's race. She may follow her whim. She may call any type of skirt she wears in fashion. It will be. If she wishes to wear trousers, she has the best names in Franco behind the fashion. If Bhe wishes to wear a skirt that reaches to the curve of the leg, she has all the apparel people behind her. If she wants to wear a draped skirt that sweeps the toes and carries a train at the back for two yards, she has some of the biggest names in Amer ica back of her. In the evening she may look like a dancer of Delhi or a daguerrotype of the civil war. She may bo oriental or Victorian. If she still has sufficient desire to struggle over the subject of her bodice and sleeves after she finishes with the skirt, she is a woman of en ergy. Most women succumb after the skirt is decided upon and finished. They wave their liandB in the air wildly and cry that any kind of upper drapery may be used. They have ceased to think. Their brains have stopped functioning on the subject of style. 1 'ossibly this condition of uncertainty, or rather of personal inclination, will suit the majority of women. Thero are still some who cry out blindly to be "in the fashion." That is the only Phrase they know how to use when they shop. The last thing they see is considered by them the new thing, and therefore, the desirable thing.. * * * ? It is these women who are non plussed, They *are exhausted over try ing to copy each skirt put out by a fashionable house or worn by a well dressed woman. No such Indecision attends the choos ing of a one-pieco frock or suit The long American skirt has vanished for the majority. The French still consider this one of the leading triumphs of their career.. They have Insisted that if they hold on to the short skirt long enough America wUl adopt it America has. Of course, she does not adopt It In French brevity. The American woman still refuses to show her knee caps in public. She permits her street skirt to bo cut nine Inches from the sole of the foot, but she will not adopt the flfteen inch skirt that the French sponsor as their maximum length. America may be tired of her long skirt for the street, or she may have been persuaded by France that It was an ugly fashion. There are those who insist that our returning soldiers havo had more to do with our fashtons than the layman admits. I could say, with entire assuranco, that the American Army, singly and in mass, never hesi tated in making the choice, while in France, between the long American skirt and the short French one. They brought their ideas home with them and they have probably enforced them After Many Months They Fail to Agree on the Length of the Fashionable Skirt?But American Skirts for the Street Grow Shorter?The Evening Train Again Appears and Sleeves Vanish. to the waistline and allowed to swing In its own free way. The stage is making much of these detached trains. One brilliant costume worn by a tall woman in a drawing room sceno lias a scarf a yard wide, of wonderfully colored chiffon edged with metallic lace, deliberately used as geous Chines? brocade done in brilliant colors and silver threads. As a reversal of this fashion, there are brilliantly embroidered gowns which have Bnake-like trains of plain mate rial. There is ono sumptuous gown of the season, which, while It may not be copied in detail by the woman of average income, still suggests ideas to the clever. It is of geranium pink chiffon velvet embroidered in circles of silver, with tiny fringe falling from each circle, also from the hem of the skirt, which curves up In front. The back of the bodice is of plain velvet ending In a long train. It Is not lined, but Is of the material, doubled. Tho strange difference between a tea gown and a formal evening gown la lu the absence of a sleeve. Women who are making over clothes are busy rip ping voluminous capeB of tulle and chif fon from their evening gowns. They realiie that the fashion of the hour, seemingly accepted by all classes, Is an absenco of arm covering. The medieval gown of last winter, to a sufficient extent to change our loading and much-vaunted fashion. Whatever the reason for the change in street skirts, the result is obviously good. Tile American woman wears gaiters as constantly as does a British man. She prefers them to high shoes. She wears them in all colors. She puts them on over high-heeled patent leather pumps, scarcely disguising the cut steel buckles beneath, and she puts them on over flat-heeled brown Oxford ties.. It is her peculiar fashion?one which is associated with tho American through out civilisation. Sho is the only woman who, as a race. Is rarely without her gaiters in winter. If she Insists upon wearing them again, there are two things she must do?shorten her skirt and have her gaiters fitted to her legs. She is doing both this winter.. ? ? * ? So much for the street. The accepted silhouette is slim at the shoulders, wide at the hips, slim at the hem, with a short skirt and small sleeves. The choice between a coat suit and a one-piece frock with a top coat must be made by each Individual. There is no balance of opinion for or against either choice. A woman must be guided by her necessity, her income and her environment. . When one goes to choose an evening gown one runs full tilt against a battle between the short and the long skirt. The dressmakers say that women should be governed in their decision by dano ing. This is a safe guide. On the other hand, the revival of trains 1s surely not a fashion that has taken dancing into consldf -atlon. The women of the hour wear trains. Some aro cut in with the skirt and fall in long Victorian folds on the floor, and others are like a scarf. Some of them have a perilous resemblance to the patched up costumes of young children trying to look like crfewn-ups, tor the ghkh1v satin house: gown with coat of georgette: in the same shade. it is trim med with monkey fur. the long train is weighted with monkey fringe. a train. It Is weighted and spreads itself out like a comet as the wearer walks. It does not touch the frock after it leaves the Bhoulders. It has the silhouette of the medieval court train that was carried by pages. When the wearer tires of it, she drops it from one shoulder, throws it over a sofa, and disposes herself against it as a back ground. Many of the new trains ore heavily weighted at the end. Callot advanced this idea in one of her best wedding gowns. The weights keep the material In a straight line from the shoulders, and no matter how the wearer twists and turns, the trains do not follow her movements. It has a ceremonial air, this train, and is especially fitted for matronly figures. It is not the fashion for a young girl; In fact, few of the young women adopt it. They insist upon the slightly full skirt that hangs limply against the figure and is short enough to permit a generous exposure of legs covered with silver stockings, ending In aluminum slippers. * ? * * Other trains, which are nothing but wisps of material, without dignity or ceremonial air, are attached to these frocks at the waist. They are made of lace as often as a heavier fabric. The lace may be of metallic threads or in a sumptuous medieval design which shows gorgeous thread work; or, again, the train may bo of brocado lined with metallic cloth. By the way, the lining of all these trains is important. They are bo de tached from the skirt that it would not be possible to use them unllncd, and the dressmakers take this opportunity of putting in a gorgeous color scheme or using a bit of rare cloth of gold or ?liver, and even Immense embroidery designs in Chinese or Persian work. A black evening gown that has no color whatever about It will have a wisp of a train attached to the watatline, ?winging away Into" aa It goes, and showing a lining of gor TEA GOWN OP BLFR VEIiVET WITH ODD CHISESE JACKET OJP GOLD CI-OTH WOVEN IN TINY SQUARES. THE EDGES ARE PIPED WITH BLI71B. * with Its floating shoulder draperies that cover the arm, is denuded qf these draperies and left stark and plain. There is no tulle at the edges of the material. There is 110 attempt to soften the line of velvet or satin against the flesh. There are no sleeves. Th6 bodice is a bit of brilliancy, but It owes its beauty to workmanship and to its direct contact with the skin. The woman who wears wings of tulle that extend over the arms and drop down the back of the frock, is putting herself into last year's picture. If she has such a gown, she should strip it of anything that covers her neck and arms. Even the most conservative women have been persuaded to adopt the sleeveless gown. ? * ? ? The tea gown, on the contrary, per mits Itself to have all the drapery that the average woman desires. It is in this one point of difference that the two costumes disagree. A woman who appears with her amis and back cov ered with swirls of lacc and tulle may say to her family and friends that she is not wearing her best evening gown. It looks as Uiough the distended bal loon skirt will fall by the wayside. It Is still lingering in the shop windows and on the stage, and It ha* all the French opinion behind it, but it Is not worn In the drawltyr foqip ojr% fit a dance, except by a few youthful Ipes who realise that it la different and pto turesque, l'erhaps we have seen too much of It in the last two years in public halls where professionals dance. Perhaps women have found It Inoovenlent to manage In a crowded floor apace or at a dinner table. Whatever the ressos. * might be said to bo in solitary con finement, even though it occasionally appears. It may work its way Into a leading fashion, as the short skirt for the street has done, although America decried It. Today, however, at the hour when we must choose new evening gowns, til* best choice remains with the long, slim frock which may or mar not bo pulled out on the hips. One (nay even be entirely medieval and still in the fashion. If one likes In tensive orientalism, there are the loooe. trousered skirts that are also In ytbo limelight The waistline has not materialised. It was threatened along with the cir cular hip line. Tet, while we know the defined waistline has been put into the fashions by great masters, we see that the majority of women go along with a straight waistline and a bodice that shows no curve whatever. l'erhaps there are not to be as maay changes this season as one thought. This, however, does not mean that women are not buying new cloth as, for there is little contradiction of the l? sistent statement that all dressmakers, good, bad and Indifferent, aro so over crowded that thoy often have to refuse orders for clothea Brown for the Bride. Brides are curious creatures. What one does they all want to do. If Pa tricia wore a veil of mellow old lac? Alicia wants one too, though white tulle would look much better against Alicia's olive skin; if the season starts off with rainbow weddings, then every wedding you go to is a rainbow af fair. It is rare, indeed, that you And any real desire to do things different ly. When it comes to her wedding day the young girl wants to be conven tional to the extreme and so doea her mother. And so there is a great same ness to the accounts of the smart wedlngs and the would-be smart weddings that you glance through in the daily papers. This autumn all the brides are wear ing brown for their traveling toga. There seems to be hardly a single ex ception. ltecali the accounts of re cent weddings thnt you have read? "leaf brown silk." "seal brown peach bloom," "tobacco brown duvetyn"? so It goes. Most of these brown brides have realised that brown Is best when It ia used in symphony?that It. it is bet ter to wear a frown bat with the brown suit or costume than a hat of contrasting color. With the navy blue suit the hat could be as briltiaat aa you chose. But most effective is the brown get up when the hat Is 61 the same color. If- possiW# ?I tfel1 ?me shade, as U* costume.