Friday, January 16, 2009

Fashion Icons: Grace Margaret Morton

OK, I'm in raptures because the postman just delivered my copy of Grace Margaret Morton's The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance, a 1964 textbook from the head of the University of Nebraska's Textiles and Clothing Division.

It smells like an old textbook, sweet and musty, and it has only one color plate (of the Munsen Color Diagram), but my god what wisdom it holds--in parts bygone, in other parts absolutely right for right now. "Contemporary costume," she writes, "must be carefully assembled: the right hat with the right dress, harmonizing gloves and shoes, and some tellingly effective ornament not at once noticed, but when noticed, not easily forgotten." Chapter headings like "Self-Made Beauty," "The Art of Combining Colors"; a glossary (including a definition for skunk = A very durable, bulky, coarse, dark-brown peltry with two white stripes [!!] . . . For slim or average figures.)

Love this quote from the introduction: "When women have cultivated the inner graces and have made themselves outwardly as pleasing as possible, their minds are freed for more productive pursuits." Preach it, Margaret.

Here's a typical illustration. Of course the model's killer cheekbones help, but isn't the gently domed pillbox just perfect with the lines of the suit . . . 

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