The Forceful, Energetic Woman

by Erin on November 24, 2005

from Color and Line in Dress,by Laurene Hempstead, 1939.

The young woman who belongs to the more vigorous type should wear costumes that express her own forceful personality. A basic rule of costume design is that colors should never be more forceful than the physical personality of the wearer. This permits the woman of forceful, energetic character to wear definite, decided colors that are denied many women. Weak, pale colors may make her own coloring appear coarse, while forceful colors further vitalize her appearance. Distinctive and characterful, even bold, color contrasts are frequently advisable.
The quick, active, energetic movements of the forceful woman are at variance with costumes designed with many soft floating ends, fluttering details that appear untidy and bedraggled on the woman of quick, brisk movements. They give her an appearance of being agitated, of poor poise. Simple tailored lines shoudl characterize her costume, with details manipulated so that the entire costume moves with the wearer rather than fluttering out away from the figure. Freedom of movement, so essential to the grace of the woman of brisk, energetic action, should always be permitted by the costume.
Round lines, giving softer, more feminine contours, are hardly consistent with the personality of the woman of strength and vigor. Short, broken lines, destroying the harmony of her vigorous, clear-cut outlines, should never be recommended for the active, aggressive type of woman. Straight, unbroken lines, both in perpendicular and diagonal arrangement are usually becoming to the vigorous personality, emphasizing dignity and poise.
The person of vigorous, aggressive character may sometimes wish to appear more daintily feminine than her natural personality. She may, if she so wishes, wear costumes with softer details, slightly more feminine in aspect than her own personality. She shoudl not, however, make the mistake of wearing extremely dainty garments, which, by their contrast with her more vigorous personality, will give her a suggestion of masculinity.
The severely tailored costume should not have masculine details or accessories, but rather those with a youthful, boyish note. Only the young, fresh-looking woman can afford to strive for a masculine effect, either boyish or mannish. Usually the severely tailored costume is most pleasing when relieved by simple accessories that show feminine thought and imagination.
Designs of striking character, those employing definite, clear-cut outlines, decided contrasts in vivid colors, can be worn by the woman of forceful personality. Opaque materials that assume simple, clear-cut lines or sturdy fabrics that have a strong vigorous character readily lend themselves to costumes that enhance the personality of the vigorous, active woman.

I eviscerated the "fashion advice" section of the U. of Chicago library. I found it hilarious that none of the books available there were published after about 1940, which is when I guess was the last time that there was any pressure at all on U of C undergrads to look fashionable. Or perhaps about the time they discontinued their Home Economics degree (remind me to talk about that degree sometime, which was, in effect, a degree in management, intended for women who expected to run a household staff of at least five and often many more, spread across several locations). Anyway. I have a whole lot of books with advice of this sort, so look forward to more in the near-ish future. I do have them until at least January, unless they are recalled.

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