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McCall's Magazine

May 1908


"Paris Letter"

Author: Mme. De Montiagu


Latest Parisian model, showing a Princess gown in overskirt effect.

All costumes shown at the model-makers accentuate the eel-like outline of the figure. In order to achieve the long, unbroken line of the skirt, the waist in most cases has a suggestion of Empire, although in many instances the front defines the waist, while the fullness, massed always at the back, is raised an inch or two above the proper waistline, giving the upward tilt so becoming to the average figure, and also giving a semblance of slenderness to the wearer. Only the long skirt is proper for this style of cut, for a short one would appear very awkward. While the Empire idea is paramount, there is a vast difference between the loose fit of the Empire proper and the adapted one in vogue at present. The latter admits of scarcely a suspicion of amplitude, and is adjusted to the figure so cleverly that there is no fullness about the hips and front; in fact, it is so tight that it needs long practice to be able to walk in such a costume. However, the very close skirt is not intended for the promenade; it shows to best advantage in a standing posture, and the woman with an eye to grace sits side-wise on her chair in order to prevent it drawing up.

The sheath skirt may be adapted to almost any coat or waist, the all-in-one idea being admirably expressed in this style. The loose-fitting bodice and the close skirt look well, while the coats of infinite variety change the aspect of the costume. Extremely long and tight-fitting redingotes, Directoire models, and jaunty little coatees with position tails all are proper.

The tailors have devised little that is a novel this season, like those for men, must be more or less conventional.

While pleated skirts have lost none of their prestige, there are a number of skirts cut in fourreau style and shaped closely to the figure, fluting out below the hips and without the exaggerated amplitude noticeable last season. Striped and checked materials are generally cut on the bias, and are expressed in the two-seam skirt. Other walking skirts repeat the tunic shape, which is simulated by trimming rather than by overdress, which in wool goods would be too clumsy. Occasionally pleated panels are set into a plain shaped skirt and outlined by groups of buttons or passementerie cabochons. The tablier skirt is also liked.

Plain linen coat (No. 1928) trimmed with cretonne, worn with a striped linen skirt (No. 1556).

French model gown, showing the new high girdle. Waist No. 2102. Skirt No. 1988.

The lightest and thinnest are employed for the close-fitting costumes. Cloth as lustrous and clinging as satin, cashmere (which is quite the rage just now), wool nun's cloth, the soft-finished voiles in invisible stripes and plaids, wool and silk mousseline, etc. In silk goods, the pliable satins, taffetas, eoliennes, meteor silk, etc., are used.

Costumes are usually entirely guiltless of ornamentation, the skirt clinging about the feet rather than flaring out. For dressier occasions they are elaborated with rows of black velvet ribbon, fancy bandings or are soutached in a vermicelli or geometric or floral design. The self-toned costume has become rather monotonous, and there is a reaction in favor of contrasting colors in skirt and jacket, such costumes being on exhibition at the Paris model houses. A white pleated serge skirt is often provided with several coats of different colors, and this style will be in much favor for seaside costumes. A dusky red, a navy and a myrtle-green coat over a white shirt affords variety for the woman of limited means. The long coat of covert coating always looks well. It is simple of cut, and either single-breasted or closed, or slightly shaped to the figure by a couple of darts, or loose-fitting back and front. A new coat is made with turn-back revers, rather narrow, which reach to the bottom. Above the waist is a low-cut vest with a high collar of velvet.

Many of the jackets are not more than nine inches long in the skirt. Waistcoats of bright-tinted cloth are striped with inch-wide silk braid, lengthwise.

For afternoon gowns, a novel idea is voile trimmed with tussah silk of the same color. Light-weight wools, in unobtrusive checks, show smart little coatees of plain cloth, thrown back and revealing a lingerie blouse much befrilled.

The tunic is increasing in popularity, this style making up well in the filmy, clinging materials suitable for spring and summer wear. There are endless, variations of the tunic, but almost all are long and straight, although now and then there is an attempt at unobtrusive drapery. A well-known Parisian house is exploiting the Russian blouse suit- a full blouse, to which straight lengths are attached and which fall over the skirt to the knee, producing the effect of an overdress.

Corsages and sleeves are little changed, although perhaps the former are not quite as loose and careless of fit as in the days of the kimono craze. While the shoulder seam is still low, the sleeve is set in so that it looks trim, outlining the figure becomingly. The sleeves on many of the models are long and molded to the arm, while others reach below the elbow and are rather full and finished with a military cuff.

Foulard costumes will be much used, mostly with dark grounds and big coin spots. Many show ornate borders in Persian tintings. A spotted foulard, finished at the foot with a deep band of tussah, is effective. The waist assumed the shape of a loose pointed bolero, weighted with olives of blue and silver, opening over a pointed guimpe of the finest tucked batiste, with long sleeves of the same. A rouleau of emerald velvet outlined the top of the waist and collar, and a bell sleeve of foulard fell to the elbow.

Colors are seen in many various shadings. Emerald holds its own, and the drake's-neck blues and green are good. A silvery water green is seen in vaporous materials. Petunia and wild violet, wisteria and deep mauve are among the purples. A bright purplish pink, with the more delicate laurel blossom and lobster pink, are much worn.

Linen dresses of white and all colors are shown, white and natural flax gray being most prominent. Heavy rather than open embroidery work is seen in the advance models. Patterns are in bold flowers, straggling vines and detached blossoms. Embroidery is often combined with lace--Cluny or Ireland, with the substantial Russian laces. Heavy sheeting linen, fine handkerchief linen, with filmy batiste and linen, all are employed, with however, a preference for the heavy fabrics. Ducks and pique are elaborately wrought in needlework and allover braiding. Motifs of lace come ready for inserting, and are convenient for the woman who is handy with her needle.

The illustrations for this article were made from designs sent to us direct from Paris. One picture shows a very smart suit of linen, a plain coat and striped skirt trimmed with small patterned cretonne. The coat can be made from pattern No. 1928 (Ladies' Pony Jacket). This is cut in six sizes, from thirty-two to forty-two inches bust measure, and cost 15 cents. The skirt can be made from pattern No. 1556 (Ladies Seven-Gored Skirt). This is cut in six sizes, from twenty-two to thirty-two inches waist measure, and costs 15 cents.

The last model shown is a costume worn with the new draped girdle. A pattern of this girdle will appear in the June number of this magazine. The waist can be made from pattern No. 2102, which is again illustrated on page 683. The skirt is the new Paquin model (No. 1988). This is cut in five sizes, from twenty-two to thirty inches waist measure, 15 cents.

Bibliographical Information:

Montiagu, Mme. De. "Paris Letter", McCall's Magazine, Vol. XXXV, No. 9, May 1908, pp. 670, 716-717.




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