Relation of clothes to the body, pp. 122 ff.
RELATION OF CLOTHES TO THE BODY RELATION OF CLOTHES- TO THE BODY LOTHING should serve to protect the body from cold and heat and criticism, to enhance the value of the wearer's personality in connec- tion with his work and life, and to please- or at least not to offend the eyes of sweet- minded honest beholders. Therefore the laws of ethics and the laws of aesthetics meet and have common cause in questions of dress. That which is real- ly practical, comfortable, beautiful, can- not be immoral. That which is not prac- tical, comfortable, beautiful, falls short, somehow, of the fulfillment of the moral law, even though the wearer, be not alto- gether to blame. Clothing that does not sufficiently protect the body from heat or cold or other in- clemencies is unhealthy and for that reason immoral. To wear it is physical anarchy. Clothing which hinders us in the accom- plishment of our work-hiigh heels for the shop girl, lace frills on the sleeves of the stenographer-a gown of woolen goods or silk on the cook or houseworker is at once immoral and unlovely, because it is unsuit- able and denotes a mind and heart in re- bellion against the task. In like manner the most luxurious garments of fashionable women are immoral oftentimes just because they declare values not actually present in the personality. Our clothing should never be allowed to hinder the expansion of our spirits in the life and opportunity that is theirs. Clothing which offends the -eye of the honest and sweet-minded beholder-the hat too large, or too rakish, the skirt too tight, the stocking or the lingerie too transparent, the silk too cheap or worse still-soiled-- these things, seen daily on our streets, cheapen life by sickening the senses. The aim of the girls who wear such things is more obvious in its pathos than the hats- the desire to attract attention: the ideal is more transparently seen than the young, unprotected shoulders and ankles through their mockery of covering-it is to copy the rich at all costs-the rich "who are al- ways right!" Here is the terrible tragedy of the weak, the ignorant, the woman baffled and thwarted in her normal craving for love and beauty, driven to this abnormal imitation of the foibles of the rich. Clothes should be appropriate to the lives T22 we live-to the work we do. Our clothes should belong to us. We should be able to move freely and comfortably and grace- fully in them, to do our work well in them, without hindrance or annoyance, to enjoy recreations in themn--in those we have chosen for that purpose only-and at all times, to be ourselves, at our best in them. In our present period of development women's clothing does not express the per- sonality of the individual woman, despite all that the modistes say to the contrary. Women are still a prey to absurdities in fashion largely because their lives are lived in obedience to conventions and dress has been a conventional matter, to a large ex- tent, since the beginning of time. But when women have freedom, in child- hood and youth to seek out an individual work and develop themselves for it-when they no longer feel justified in making un- limited demands on the purse of husband or father just because he, in his pride, so strictly limits their activties-then this ab- normal passion for dress will 'be done away, and it will be the desire of each woman to be comfortable and beautiful in her clothes and to choose those that are approprite to her life and interests. Give a woman her own life, her own work, her own interests, her own burdens and responsibilities and she will gradually find her own proper clothing, to go with them-that which is es- sentially suitable. It is not merely sentimentality and tender associations that lend beauty to the blue gingham of the trained nurse, that render most bewitching of all head dresses for a pretty girl, her spotless cap, or that make her ample immaculate apron attractive. Nor is it the costliness of them. It is the wholesome appropriateness of them-their suitability to the uses for which they were made-their essential simplicity and sincer- ity. Only a very pretty woman very well dressed can go into a hospital ward and court comparisons with the average nurse. And many a man, seeing that blue gingham in its austerity and its comfort flitting about the ward has wondered why his wife at home does not "tog herself out" in the same way to do her housework. To shelter our bhodies and to express our personalities, to make bright the lives of those who must look upon us-to sweeten and -cleanse their ideals of womankind-for these ends, let us make clothes. MARGUERITE WILKINSON.
Based on the date of publication, this material is presumed to be in the public domain.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright