Long ago in another universe far removed from today, there were home economics departments, and home ec teachers in colleges, high schools, and junior high schools across American.
One of the many things they regularly taught their students was how to look good (i.e., pretty), in their home-made clothes whilst saving money.
They did it by teaching centuries old art principles of beauty:
- rhythm, and
And showing classes how to apply these principles to their wardrobe.
History professor Linda Przybyszewski has meticulously researched and footnoted her discoveries of some of these women in her book, The Lost Art of Dress ~ The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.
For me, it’s been revolutionary. A loud call to rethink what I’m making, and how and why I’m making it.
It started after I’d read blogger Lizzie Bramlett’s excellent review. Immediately I got the book from my library.
Ever since, I’ve thought more and more deeply about the essence of my wardrobe ~ my personal, visible reflection of who I am ~ and tried to stop dwelling on current fashion, or what I used to like or wear.
After all, this isn’t some far-removed universe I’m living in. It’s here & now.
So I’m trying to stop ignoring my curves, and instead learning how to deal with them. All while remaining true to my own style and set of current activities that are my life now.
It’s taken me two years to decide how to begin writing about this book, but there’s no way to describe how much the facts she presents have raised my awareness of a very surprising array of subjects.
Here’s another kind of curve ~
One of the things she suggests in the final chapter, “Epilogue:Legacies,” is a direct link between sewing and STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects.
And what does the world need desperately right now but more women in these fields.
Once I started realizing how my sewing was related to engineering, I’ve had to re-think a lotta things. And that’s taken time, and probably isn’t finished.
Want to join me in re-thinking?
Thanks to Dr. P’s meticulous footnotes, I’ve got a little list of online texts for you to choose from. They all have chapters on the 5 elements listed above.
Because they’re old they’re out of copyright (and available for free). But don’t confuse old for no longer true. The principles still apply, only the names of styles have changed.
And also remember that different countries have different copyright laws; please obey yours!
If you’d like to read or listen to more of what Dr. Przybyszewski has said about the subject, go to this page of her web site for book and radio links.
- Art In Every Day Life, Harriet Goldstein & Vetta Goldstein. The Macmillan Company. 1929 (The Kindle download has terrible mistakes everywhere which I assume is due to poor character recognition software (and possibly a poor original as well).
- Principles of clothing selection, Helen Goodrich Buttrick, New York: Macmillan, 1923
- Harmony In Dress, Mary Brooks Picken; Copyright, 1924, 1925, by International Education Publishing Company; Copyright in Great Britain
- Dress and Look Slender, by Jane Warren Wells (also listed under Mary Brooks Picken), 1924; Personal Arts Company.
- The Secrets of Distinctive Dress — Harmonious, Becoming, and Beautiful Dress — its value and how to achieve it; 1918; p. 159. On-line from Harvard University here.
Now here’s a less revolutionary curve, with hopes that you have a lovely weekend, full of wonderful partnering with things that make you smile!