Vintage fashion advice
Tuesday, 03 September 2013

Fashion advice from the archive

Vintage tips from The Lady magazine

Written by Katy Pearson
“A WELL-DRESSED woman produces a pleasant effect according to the degree and perfection of her taste, but the over-dressed woman produces an effect as repugnant, if not obnoxious”

The Lady. Matron’s needs. 11th November 1909

"A HANDSOME coat is a good investment, especially if it lasts a second winter for smart wear."

The Lady. Dress and Fashion. 24th August, 1911

“BESIDES being becoming to the wearer, hats should be in harmony with the wearer’s personaility.”

The Lady. Individual Hats. 25th August, 1927

"The tall woman is not on the shelf. Through the power of fashion, she has learnt how to look short. Trailing skirts give height. The short skirt takes it away. It is far more a matter of art than Nature."

The Lady. Far and Near. 6th August, 1903

"DON'T expect your husband to like anything new that you buy. Most men dislike all women's buying on principle, and their wives' dress purchases are considered particulary foolish."

The Lady. Searching for the Perfect Interchangeables. 20th February, 1958

“Happily the modern woman knows that anything that interferes with her comfort and ease of movement will result in her lack of grace.”


The Lady magazine. Nature’s Sweet Restorer, 18th November 1920

“GIVEN a dainty jumper or blouse, the wearer can present herself at almost any table d’hote dinner and will not feel out of place”

The Lady. Holiday Kit. 12th July, 1928

“NO one nowadays makes the mistake of assuming that a summer wardrobe must consist entirely of flimsies”

The Lady. Plaids & Checks in Thin Wool. 14th June, 1934

"FEMININE clothes which spell comfort always seem to imply sloppiness and unbecomingness, if not downright untidiness."

The Lady magazine. Far and Near. 20th August, 1903

"A GOOD leather hand-bag is a valuable present, and there is an unwritten law that a black one is vulgar, and a tan or fawn shade of cowhide is the only colour permissible.’

The Lady magazine. Visiting Accessories. 25th May, 1899

"DEEPLY-ROOTED is the idea that men are indifferent to dress, while the ladies, God bless them, think of nothing else"’

The Lady, With Prejudice, 8th January, 1942

"SOMEWHERE I was reading that no self-respecting woman would allow buttons on her skirts; I remembered this while I looked at the finest work England could put in these exquisite garments, and smiled."

The Lady, Here and There, 16th July, 1896.

"WITH blouses, as with dresses, the secret of combining smarrtness with economy is not to have many at once. Plan them with great care, but good materials, and have them well made."

The Lady. A Blouse for your Suit. 18th July, 1940

"CLOTHES are a woman's form of art and should bring her joy. Even if she has only a limited amount of money to spend, that money should bring happiness into her life."


The Lady. Dressing to a Type. 27th April, 1959

"CLOTHES that have a good lengthy future are always those about which you are enthusiastic when you buy. The ones that you buy with caution and without enthusiasm are the ones that remain colourless however long you wear them"

The Lady. The Concertina Wardrobe. 20th February, 1958

“HOLIDAY clothes, in our opinion, should put comfort before everything else, and gaiety next.”

The Lady, Shopping for Sea and Country, 26th July 1934

“AN elegant woman knows herself through and through, even though quite an amount of that knowledge is disquieting. It is because she knows her proportions and sizes, her looks, advantages and disadvantages.”

The Lady. The Elegant Woman. 21st July, 1955.

“HAPPILY the modern woman knows that anything that interferes with her comfort and ease of movement will result in her lack of grace.”


Nature’s Sweet Restorer, 18th November 1920

“HIGH fashion and elegance are not necessarily related, for elegance is sobre rather than romantic. The majority must acquire elegance as they do any other virtue, by persistence. It demands an eye for a line. You can be elegant without being strictly in the fashion, can dress according to the most up-to-the-moment ideas and lack elegance.”

The Lady. The Elegant Woman, 21st July, 1955

"SMALL feet are a gift from the gods and they look charming, especially if the owner is a tall girl, but it is foolish to force a foot into a five-and-a-half when it needs a wide fitting 6 for comfort."


The Lady. For Happier Walking. 16th April, 1931

"GOOD clothes have personality, a strong personality of their own, which attracts you to them, and also a kinship with your own character. (And clothes that never suceed are those you buy because they resemble something seen on someone else whom you have admired.)"

The Lady. The Concertina Wardrobe. 20th February, 1958

"YOU need to have it clearly in mind whether you wish to follow fashion, to start a fashion in your neighbourhood, or just to wear what you know is becoming to your looks figure and personality."


The Lady. Your Clothes and Your Looks. 26th August, 1954

"OF sweaters you can hardly have enough, and let us hope you bought in good styles in the recent sales."

The Lady. The Seasoned Traveller. 14th January, 1960

“IT is wonderful what can be done with a new scarf, a pair of gloves, a bag, to make the whole ensemble look new.”

The Lady. Dressing Up. 18th January, 1934

"I SUPPOSE all men, even the most seemingly unobservant like to see their womanfolk look nice. I have noticed, however, that the average bachelor - if he thinks about the matter at all - is apt to consider that looking nice is synonymous with extravagance, while the dowdy girl is bound to be economical."

The Lady. 15th February, 1900

“THE afternoon-dress is now back in the shops, gentle in silhouette, easy to wear, made without exaggeration of line, a truly endearing kind of dress to wear.”


The Lady, Choosing an Afternoon-Dress. 20th November, 1952

“THE only thing on which most women are agreed is that men love a wisp of veiling, which they think to be mysterious.”

The Lady, On Buying a Hat. 29th June, 1950

"HOWEVER much a man may be a woman-hater, his eyes never fail to respond to a well-dressed woman. He may try to hide this effect, but he cannot escape it, for it attracts him with no less force than the magnet attracts steal."

The Lady. Matrons' Needs - What to Wear. 11th February, 1909

"HOODS, cowls, coifs: these are aids both in baffling the cold and charging women with mystery."

The Lady. Capuchons de Capes - Fichues. 10th January, 1957

“HARRIS tweed is the idea woollen for motoring and spectator sports overcoats; it is showerproof, very warm, and wears forever.”

The Lady. Dressing For Sports. 30th April, 1936.

"THE practical woman with also an eye to smartness is either crocheting her own hat (chenille) or knitting it."

The Lady. Fancies of Fashion. 28th December 1916

“IF your hands and feet are neatly covered, you need not trouble about your gown.”

The Lady. The Fashion of Dress. 17th January 1889

“THERE is great satisfaction to be had in properly ironed garments that look as if they have just come out of the shop window.”

The Lady. You Can’t Iron? 19th February, 1953

“It is, I am certain, never a saving to buy cheap gloves, unless you come across a ‘brand’ on which you can depend.”

The Lady. The Fashion Of Dress. 17th January, 1889

"EVEN in its simplest from the négligée is a highly attractive garment, but when the cleverest conceits of an artistic modiste are brought to bear upon it’s elaboration, it possesses a charm that few women can resist."

The Lady. Handsome Tea-Gowns At Harrods. 25th February, 1904

"IT is wonderful what can be done with a new scarf, a pair of gloves, a bag, to make the whole ensemble look new. Never take your accessories for granted."

The Lady. Formal frocks are trimmed with fur. 18th January, 1934

“A PRACTICAL woman when preparing for the sales will not only consider the needs of her wardrobe. She will also study the trend of the newest fashions. For the ideas they express are sure to remain in vogue for some time."

The Lady. Preparing for the sales. 22nd December, 1927

"WOMAN’S greatest and most valuable economy towards herself this winter will be to keep warm, because keeping warm usually means keeping well."

The Lady. A Shoppping Notebook. 17th December, 1932

"FASHIONS come and fashions go, but the blouse in its many manifestations retains its pride of place as an indispensable article of feminine attire."

The Lady. Fashions Illustrated. 24th February, 1910

"HAVE zest in buying, but avoid impulse-purchases. Work out your needs, and be quite sure of your likings in colour, fabric and line."


The Lady. Travelling Companions. 8th January, 1959

"EMPIRE toilettes are proverbially graceful, and suit the slight figure to perfection; but it is not a fashion for the woman with a full figure, and is generally ignored by those who possessa small waist and well-modelled hips, as the rounded curves are quite concealed by the straight lines of the Empire gown."

The Lady. An Empire Evening Gown. 22nd January, 1903

"ALL sizes of coats must be watched for generous turn-ups in the hems, for equally generous seam widths, for firm stitching and well-attached buttons, not sewn on that they pull a piece of fabric out when strained."


The Lady. It's Been Raining. 17th October, 1946

"SOME women are incapable of selecting becoming attire. Style and effect is obtained in several ways, but outline is really the chief factor in a successful toilette."

The Lady. Hints on dress. 28th January, 1904

"THE little frock still comes in very many guises but it simply MUST be slim about the hips"


The Lady. The "little" frock. 12th December, 1929

"A VARIETY of colours is truly a sin against good taste in the sartorial sphere of a well dressed woman."

The Lady. Society Solecisms. 3rd September, 1903

"BELTS steals the limelight because much widened shoulder-lines require a pinched-in waistline for good proportion."


The Lady. Fashion is back in shape. 28th May, 1959

"WHAT woman does not find that a well-cut black suit makes the best possible basis for a wardrobe?"
The Lady.

The Art of Good Shopping. 21st February 1946


“WITHOUT books, a room looks lifeless and uninteresting, but too many books left lying about here, there and everywhere quickly produce an effect of disorder and untidiness.”


The Lady. Books and Where to Keep Them. 14th November 1929

"BLOUSES are part of the seasonless wardrobe that most of us aim at. Although casually easy to wear, nobody could describe them as 'casuals' when so many have a definite elegance of their own, a feminine softness combined with extreme neatness."

The Lady. A Special Year for Blouses. 7th August, 1969

“TULLE is not a good traveller, so the wise woman abandons it for the moment. Lace on the other hand, can never be out of place. When cleverly arranged it is extremely chic.”

The Lady. Evening Dress for the Casino Abroad and Country house visits at Home. 2nd August 1928

“A NEW hat is the best of tonics and so good an eye-catcher that it draws attention from a tired looking-frock. The matter of buying one should not be neglected.”

The Lady. Heads Up. 11th July, 1946

"NOW there is absolutely no reason why any woman should cease, at any age, to dress well and look well. A little dash of fun, a good deal of unselfconscious, and the battle is won. (Fat, wrinkles, years, do not matter so very much, though, nof course it is better to be without them.)"

The Lady. Clever with clothes. 5th January, 1933

“IT is by no means necessary to have an extensive outfit for the ordinary seaside holiday, but each item should admit of variation and the different gowns and blouses should be wearable together.”

The Lady. Holiday fashions. 7th July 1904

"MANY women earn the reputation of being badly dressed because they wear frocks bought at the sales and then hoarded through a season for which they are unsuited."

The Lady. The Week’s Best Bargains: What will be cheap at the Sales. 26th June, 1930

"ONE of the virtues to look for in choosing a well-cut blouse is the fit at the waistline. Who, in figure-conscious days wants extra fabric round the hipline tucked under pants or skirt?"

The Lady. A Special Year for Blouses. 7th August, 1969.

"DO not buy a corset that squeezes you into shape, but one that moulds. No belt can get rid of the flesh that is there."

The Lady. The fashion is for fit. 12th November, 1953

“THE small woman has to avoid clothes which emphasise the horizontal lines and choose those which empasise the vertical ones. That is the whole secret of creating an optical illusion of height.”

The Lady. Clothes for the small woman. 23rd April, 1936

"HOLIDAY clothes, in our opinion, should put comfort before everything else, and gaiety next. Meanwhile it is important that holiday beauty preparations should have the freshness that seems suitable for the simple life and days in the open air."

The Lady. Shopping for sea and county. 26th July, 1934

"NOT everyone can escape to country or seaside in the summer-time, but no one with sense goes out dressed for a garden-party to spend a day in town."

The Lady. For Summer Days In Town. 26th July, 1934

"WE must continue to wear gay and frivolous hats; it is the simplest and least expensive way of keeping up our morale and giving to our towns and villages an air of elegance."

The Lady. Bows and Bonnets. 22nd August, 1940

“AS in everything, lingerie divides itself into two schools of thought, the tailored and elegant type for the girl of decisive mind, and the dreamy frou-frou type, frothing in lace.”

The Lady. New Thoughts on Lingerie. 14th June, 1945

“SOME women are born with an innate sense of elegance which is very enviable, but how few such mortals exist, even in Paris.”

The Lady. The Elegant Women. 21st July 1955

“THE feeling that one is daintily and suitably attired helps considerably in the enjoyment of a holiday. But there is such a thing as being too smart, and this is undesirable. Better err on the simple side but have everything well cut and nicely made.”

The Lady. Dress and Fashion. 18th July, 1912

"It’s no use thinking that fuss or trimmings will disguise a bad figure: they only accentuate it."

The Lady. Clothes To Build Confidence. 20th May, 1956

"DO your workaday clothes the honour of buying them specially for the purpose, and of keeping them carefully pressed and cleaned. Let there be something gay about them, which tickles your vanity and gets you out of that dressing-gown-and-curl-paper attitude, that feeling that it doesn't matter what you look like when there is no one special there to see."

The Lady. Suits for the house. 19th December, 1953

"NO clothes can look better than their fit, and a garment that is too long, or wide, or tight is useless to us."

The Lady. Shopping Truths for 1953. 8th January, 1953

“PAMPERING oddments may lead you into extravagance or may be the means of giving strong personality to your wardrobe.”

The Lady. Fashion for Young Timers. 22nd July 1954

“BE sure only to buy a coat with a generous armhole: only so you can be sure that it goes over suit as well as dress.”

The Lady. Fine Weathercoats. 1st January 1959

"THE scarf, indeed, is a trifle that must be as carefully considered for the day-time as for the evening."

The Lady. The fashion of dress, Sybil. C. Mitford. 20th November, 1924

"IT is more sensible to buy something that is a fraction too long than so short that it cannot be let down.”

The Lady. Clothes Which Strike a Happy Balance. 26th June 1958

“DO you know whether you have large or a small head? The whole balance of clothes depends on that piece of knowledge.”

The Lady. Fashion for Young Timers. 22nd July 1954

“IT is the easiest thing in the world to get tired of our clothes before they get tired of us, so to speak.”

The Lady. Keep Joy in Your Clothes. 18th January 1934

“IF we are downhearted we are not going to look so. Could anything be more confident and cheerful than a new wardrobe?”

The Lady. With Prejudice. 23rd February 1933

“THE little silk dress is the most useful garment you possess. It packs, it rolls, it does not crease, it looks pretty with or without a wool coat, and somehow it is right for almost every kind of occasion.”

The Lady. Printed Fabrics for Summer Frocks. 7th June 1934

“IN your wardrobe or cupboard keep the clothes you are currently wearing to the centre, those which are seldom worn to the sides, to avoid groping for what you need.”

The Lady. Clothes and the Cupboard. 6th July 1950 

“DO you admire model girls? Then learn their tricks. They own as few clothes at a time as possible: next to nothing in the wardrobe means that they can have much greater change when needed.”

The Lady. Fashion for Young Timers. 22nd July 1954

"NEW clothes are the most wonderful tonic in the world. The meekest of women going out for the first time in her new hat and suit will achieve a feeling of jauntiness which comes from her deep inner satisfaction."

The Lady. Keep Joy In Your Clothes. 18th January, 1934

"EVERY time a man laughs at his wife's clothes he injures the textile trade of his own country and kills export. For why should other countries buy fashions or fabrics that are despised in their country of origin?"

The Lady. Spring clothes coming from London designers. 21st January, 1954

"WHAT characterises the outfit that the suburban traveller requires, travelling by car or train? Nothing too formal or calculated will do; everything must serve a double purpose, able to change its looks with different shoes, hat, handbag, accessories generally."

The Lady. Clothes as travelling companions by Alison Settle. 31st January, 1957

"THE coat you buy must have both fashion value and thrift value."

The Lady. Guide to Coat Buying - Alison Settle. 7th October, 1948

“WHEN in doubt, wear a suit – that is always a safe piece of fashion advice. There are suits for every kind of function, from the point-to-point to the ambassadorial reception”

The Lady. Suits all through the day. 20th January, 1938

"HOODS, cowls, coifs: these aids in baffling the cold and charging women with mystery seemed to have vanished from well-bred wear in the last many years. Then Paris fashion-makers re-discovered how attractive the hooded head could be..."

The Lady. Capuchons de Capes – Fichues. 10th January, 1957

"THE woman who is habitually dowdy thinks she that she can make a big effort when she goes to a party, but she is wrong; she has lost the feeling of elegance, and some slovenly detail is bound to give her away."

The Lady. Suits for the house. 19th December, 1953

'HOW is it possible to look elegant and glamourous at the smaller office party without upstaging the chairman's wife, or if you are the chairman's wife, without intimidating everyone else? A really good blouse is always a valuable asset, but do try to avoid black and white – you might get taken for one of the waiters!'

The Lady. Quiet Impact: Fashion by Sonia Ley, 6th December 1988

"TOO many of us are never quite in fashion because we have too many clothes and so are nearly always wearing up something belonging to the day before yesterday. Voluntary rationing may prove to be a short cut to elegance."

The Lady. With Prejudice by Clio. 25th April, 1940

"NEVER, surely, has a neglige seemed so imperative as now. Everyone is so busy that an hour’s real repose at the end of a hard working day is as gladly welcomed as it is earned."

The Lady. Simple rest gowns, 24th December, 1914

"THE last week of the Sales are the time for shopping for accessories and odds and ends."

The Lady. Sale Time Notes. 18th January, 1934

“HANDBAGS get, perhaps harder wear than any other part of a woman’s wardrobe, except her shoes. That is why a handbag must always be made of the strongest and most lasting materials, and yet avoid being of a pattern which quickly dates.”

The Lady. In London Shops column, 27, November 1930

"FABRICS should be the best you can afford because they stand up to hard usage without crushing or creasing..."

The Lady. Travel Clothes by Alison Settle. 13th Fabruary, 1917 

"PLANNING is the secret in the government of wardrobes as of states."

The Lady. Planning an Outfit: Some Do's and Don'ts. 8th June, 1939

"IF the store buyers could more accurately gauge your tastes and reactions they would buy with more confidence. It is for that reason I urge all of you to make friends with one particular store, and to take in to them a copy of The Lady in which you find the dress you want, rather than trying to describe it."

The Lady. Alison Settle Has Been Looking At Clothes In Paris. 25th February, 1954.

“YOU spend more than half your time in workaday clothes, and if you let them be shabby and dull you will end by dulling your dress sense altogether.”

The Lady. Suits for the house. 19th December, 1953

"LET us buy for our own type and not take something because the shop assistant says that "Moddom looks all right in it."'

The Lady. Shopping Truths. 8th January, 1953 

“THERE is no royal road to economy, but a woman of position with small means will do well to have two or three good gowns and hats, rather than many inferior articles.”

The Lady. How To Live. 4th September, 1919

“IT is not pleasant to give the impression of being nothing, even if one is fifty-three years old. To be attractive, to be admiringly noticed, to be loved, even, is so vitally important to a woman that it is worth her while to take a little courage and a little trouble, and be clever with clothes.”

The Lady. Clever With Clothes. 5th January 1933

"THE long trailing skirts give height to the wearer and this effect is increased when the skirt is continued upwards without a belt, either empire, incroyable or corselet fashion."

The Lady. The Smart Evening Gown. 30th January 1908

"VISITORS from Central Europe say that the Parisienne dresses depressingly, using far too much, dull brown, grey and dark blue. That is perhaps because they do not appreciate the subtlety of the tiny touches of contrast: the beauty of that little white collar, minute turquoise bow, which the French woman can use so well."

The Lady, A Dress Chronicle From Paris. 10th March 1932

“THE effect of even the most glamorous outfit can be marred by an inappropriate choice of accessories: a pair of pretty party shoes and matching handbag will lift even the simplest dress out of the ordinary.”

“TO dress well is so often a matter of taste and discretion rather than means that none of us should think it necessary to dress badly because we have little to spend on our clothes.” The Lady. Every-day Economies. 2nd May 1912

The Lady. Quiet Impact Fashion by Sonia Ley. 6th December 1988

"COLOUR has always played an important part in the choosing of a bridal gown. White is associated with purity and thought by many to repel evil. Green is thought unlucky and implies low morals. In fact, any woman wearing a green wedding dress may be considered of easy virtue and therefore unlikely to make a good wife."

The Lady. Lore of the Wedding Gown. 16th March 1893

“If you haven’t an efficient clothes brush at the office you ought to have. You also should have a little shoe-cleaning equipment.”

The Lady. Party After Work. 3rd April, 1941.

"The smart woman always prefers to have just one good outfit which she constantly wears, one in which the coat can be deliberately lined, coloured to the dress she wears below."

The Lady. Secret of Smartness. 31st August 1950

"THE smart, light wrap is a necessity for the summer holiday, and the velvets and silks of the London Season are of little use in the country or by the sea."

The Lady. Home Dress-making. 23rd July 1896

"REMEMBER that the milliner’s skill cannot do everything. She may provide the perfect hat, but unless the wearer can carry it with spirit and elegance the result may be an apologetic failure.”

The Lady. Heads Up. 11th July 1946

“The difference good underwear makes! Games are keener, work is easier, life is better for the ease and assurance of fine texture, perfect fitting, healthy underwear.”

The Lady. Beauty and Fashion. 4th September, 1919.

“Do not squeeze the 52 bones of your baby’s feet into ordinary and foolish shoes, that, as time goes on will produce corns and bunions, flat foot, and a host of other foot trouble.”

The Lady, Health. 4th September, 1919


"The little girl who has learned how best to space the dots she embroiders on her doll’s frock would be less likely to choose ugly or foolish clothes and furniture later on."

The Lady. With Prejudice. 25th June, 1936.

"ASSURANCE! That is what everybody wants, not just women who buy clothes. If we could all have assurance, how much simpler most things in life would be."

The Lady. Spring Clothes coming from London Designers. 21st January, 1954

"THOUGH we may admire spindle-legged tables, we - and especially our men-folk - hanker after comfort and convenience: two points which are often overlooked."

The Lady. Home Decoration. 22nd Januray, 1903

"THE seasoned traveller looks for the self-same virtues in her clothes: stamina, suppleness and comfort."

The Lady. The Seasoned Traveller. 14th January, 1960

"An elegant woman knows herself through and through, even though quite an amount of that knowledge is disquieting. It is because she knows her proportions and sizes, her looks, advantages and disadvantages."

The Lady. The Elegant Woman, 21st July, 1955




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