Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Anti-Fashion Movement

I found this editorial article interesting with regard to fashion, the fashion world and how changes were affecting the industry. The article comes from Arthur's Illustrated Home Magazine ©1874

EDITOR HOME MAGAZINE: The New York Times has given to tho world a perverted and fallacious report of tho doings of an anti-fashion convention recently held in Vineland, New Jersey. It is true there were certain persons who, having made dress reform a hobby, naturally felt themselves entitled to take a prominent part in the proceedings; and to those who were prejudiced, or who desired to ridicule rather than to think, these perhaps furnished an opportunity for sneers and fault-finding. Cut by far the larger portion of those taking part in the proceedings of the convention were earnest, intelligent men and woman, including tho very best citizens of Vineland (than whom no town has better), and who gave to it a character for sobriety and moderation far beyond that which its most ardent friends had dared in advance to hope for it, knowing as they did the discordant nnd almost unmanageable elements which were sure to compose it.
This convention has, I believe, a significance which time alone will reveal. Its platform—a broad and a sensible Otic—is the embodiment of tho spirit which is manifested among sensible people everywhere, and is even expressed in the columns of our fashion magazines. It protests against unhealthful moods of dress, and against following the extremes of a fickle and unreasoning fashion; against meretricious ornament—not against appropriate ornament in dress by any means. It suggests that the dress of both men and women should be made healthful, comfortable and appropriate to its especial use,
while it recommends perfect individual freedom in the matter of dress, and guarantees to all tho countenance of those who composed the convention in exercising this individual freedom.
I consider this a step in tho right direction, in these times of panic and enforced retrenchment. There Ib not a fashion magazine in the land which should not cooperate heartily with this attempted reform, and do all it can to so modify the fashions that they shall prove acceptable to those who have pledged themselves to a better mode of dress.
Dcmorett'g Magazine, which has always done worthy battle against the street-sweeping abominations called trains/cannot but enter heart and hand into this movement. We find in the February number an excellent article touching on somo of the very points'which have to bo considered in making a revolt against fashion, from which we make an extract:
"The reactionary current which has set in against the waste, extravagance and unhealthful methods employed in tho dress of women, under the name of fashion, will probably have the effect of assisting to call the attention of intelligent women to the facts in the case, and show them what is their own duty in tho matter. To exchange one absurdity for another, or attempt to establish a uniform style of dress, is useless and impracticable. Tastes differ, moans differ, education and habits of thought differ, and all find their expression in dress. It is true, however, that tho majority have no absolute knowledge, and therefore no fixed ideas upon the subject of dress, any more than upon other questions which belong to social science and ethics, and they accept tho assertions of others, therefore, as authority—they will do this in any case, and unless, therefore, dress critics can erect themselves into a recognized standard of dress authority, their action can amount to nothing so far as the majority of women are concerned.
"Our would-be dress educators, as a general rule, lamentably fail to recognize this cardinal principle, that now methods, new principles, new motives of action, must be, in themselves, their own excasc for being at all. That is to say, their claim to equality, or superiority, must bo so obvious as to be easily recognized."
To my mind tho namo of tho convention was a misnomer, both in its intent and in its actuality. It should have been called an "Anti-foolish-absurd-extravagantunhcalthful-immoral-fashion Convention." But such a namo would hardly have been convenient to announce upon tho hand-bills and in tho reports. As long as women wear clothes, they will of necessity follow fashions of somo sort, because every woman has not the time to study out the matter of dress in all its minutiao for herself. She will from sheer necessity borrow her patterns of a neighbor, if she does not go to a fashion book for them; so it will be a fashion after all. What wo as American women should do is to shake off the thrall of the foreign fashion inventors, and daro to make the fashions for ourselves; or, what is equivalent to it, follow the lead of those who have time, conscience and common sense to expend upon the devising of appropriate and attractive modes of dress. Then we should assume sufficient individual freedom to allow us to accept or reject a fashion according as it does or does not suit us, and have courage to retain a fashion when it seems to exactly meet a want £. B. D.
Vineland, N. J.

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