A Ladies Book of Etiquette – Published in 1860

You know I love to read and share how through history women were expected to act, dress and “behave.” I found this recently and thought it was a good insight into history. The year it was published was 1860.

Here is the entire title:
THE LADIES’ BOOK OF ETIQUETTE,
AND MANUAL OF POLITENESS.
A COMPLETE HAND BOOK FOR THE USE OF THE LADY IN POLITE SOCIETY.

BY
FLORENCE HARTLEY
Published in 1860

This excerpt is about proper dress:

“A lady is never so well dressed as when you cannot remember what she wears.”

No truer remark than the above was ever made. Such an effect can only be produced where every part of the dress harmonizes entirely with the other parts, where each color or shade suits the wearer’s style completely, and where there is perfect neatness in each detail.

One glaring color, or conspicuous article, would entirely mar the beauty of such a dress. It is, unfortunately, too much the custom in America to wear any article, or shape in make, that is fashionable, without any regard to the style of the person purchasing goods. If it is the fashion it must be worn, though it may greatly exaggerate a slight personal defect, or conceal or mar what would otherwise be a beauty.

It requires the exercise of some judgment to decide how far an individual may follow the dictates of fashion, in order to avoid the appearance of eccentricity, and yet wear what is peculiarly becoming to her own face or figure.

Another fault of our fair countrywomen is their extravagance in dress. No better advice can be given to a young person than to dress always according to her circumstances. She will be more respected with a simple wardrobe, if it is known either that she is dependent upon her own exertions for support, or is saving a husband or father from unnecessary outlay, than if she wore the most costly fabrics, and by so doing incurred debt or burdened her relatives with heavy, unwarrantable expense.

If neatness, consistency, and good taste, preside over the wardrobe of a lady, expensive fabrics will not be needed; for with the simplest materials, harmony of color, accurate fitting to the figure, and perfect neatness, she will always appear well dressed.

**Note from Sharon: Sounds like a lot to remember doesn’t it?**

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