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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, November 09, 1919, Image 81

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French and American Designers Are at Odds
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
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
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
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
? * ? ?
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
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
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
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.

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