Planning a basic wardrobe - part two

The first rule is to accept what you are.  If you are medium height - five feet three or so - with small bones, the heavy masculine fabrics and bulkiness of line are never for you, no matter how much they are in style at the moment.  You should dress to the lines of your body.  If the line from the hip to your knee is relatively short, even if you have moderately long legs and average waist, you will look overdressed in heavy tweeds, loosely cut clothes, large inverted or box pleats.  Any next-to-the-body wools should be very light weight.  Dress coats should be fitted and sport coats only moderately loose, or you will seem lost in bolts of material.

Most ready made clothes are designed for the model figure - the long-legged, long-thigh-boned, and the long-waisted type who can drape herself in a portiere and look chic.  The little woman, or even the medium-height one should choose clothes which have been scaled to her proportions, or she should have her clothes carefully altered to suit her figure, first avoiding too heavy fabrics and too dramatic lines.

Underwear should be simple, washable, and of excellent quality, devoid of imitation lace, sleazy ribbons, and machine embroidery. Hand-made real silk or fine nylon underwear is lovely, but machine-made underwear of good quality can do nicely, too, in a well-conceived wardrobe.

The most comfortable girdle is the two-way stretch, which allows free body movement and which is made at least partly of lastex. Its loose weave permits evaporation of perspiration. If you are conscious of your girdle, it's the wrong one for you. The most you should ask of a girdle is that it hold in your stomach somewhat, give a smooth line to your hips, and support your stockings.

From Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette 1954

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