As I was searching for the appropriate attire for a ballroom dress for men and women, I came across this gem and thought I'd share it with you.
ON DRESS AND ORNAMENTS.
A man is judged of by his appearance, and seldom I incorrectly. A neat exterior, equally free from extravagance and poverty, always proclaims a rightminded and sensible man: To dress appropriately, and with good taste, is to respect yourself and others.
A black coat and trowsers are indispensable for a visit of ceremony, an entertainment, an evening party, or a ball. The white or black vest is equally proper in any of these cases. Very ceremonious visits require a dress shoe and a white vest. The hand should always be gloved on such occasions. Always wear kids in dancing. A gentleman, when in dress and out of his business, should also walk out gloved.
One hand may be uncovered; the one you will extend if you meet an acquaintance.
If it be not well-bred for a gentleman out of business hours to appear in the street or at church without gloves, it is still less so for a lady.
Rings and heavy gold chains are not in good taste. Some young persons, of both sexes, have a strong desire to sport gold and jewels; but let them remember that such is the taste of gamblers and courtesans, and they may realize how really vulgar is too much jewelry.
To a woman, the toilet is indeed a study, to which she should devote a proper portion of her time; and, sure of being well-skilled in the art, she is impatient of the observations of the critic. All do not, however, escape the charge of vulgarity. We sometimes see dresses in which the ill-assorted or showy colors spoil the effect of the richest material. The various articles of dress must be well-chosen, so as to produce an agreeable Imrrnony. Kever put on a dark-colored bonnet with a light, spring costume. Avoid uniting colors Which will suggest an epigram—such as a straw-colored dress, with a green bonnet. [Of the last-named style of head-gear you must especially beware, unless you have an extremely fair complexion; otherwise your malicious rivals will assert that your face resembles a citron, surrounded by its foliage.] The arrangements of the hair is an important affair. Bands are becoming to faces of a Grecian cast— while ringlets better suit those lively and expressive heads which resemble the beautiful Ninon. But, whatever be your style of countenance, avoid a cumbrous edifice of lace mixed with hair, and let your flowers be few and choice. A spray or two of heath, the delicate blossoms of the jessamine, violets—orange blossoms, a white rose—these simple ornaments are most suitable to a young girl, and even of these she should not be too prodigal, for beauty unadorned is adorned the most.
In a married woman, a richer style of ornament is admissible. Feathers in her bonnet, a necklace, a camellia or jewels in her hair are allowable in the wife, but for a young girl, a style of modest simplicity is far more impressive and becoming. We shall state what is known to be a fact, when we say ladies who attract most observation, are those dressed with the most studied simplicity, while those with most ornament are treated with less deference, and excite less compliment.
An important maxim to be observed is, that the most elegant dress loses its merit, if it is not worn with grace. Young girls often have an air of constraint, and their dress seems to partake of their want of ease. The celebrated Sappho is said to have attended to the arrangement even of the folds of her mantle. She is indeed fortunate, who can give an easy flexibility to her figure, and graceful movements to her head: she will always appear graceful and well-dressed.
There are women whose dress is extravagant—folly of this kind should be avoided: a simple .style of dress is ever proof of modesty, and one never loses by appearing to be modest.
For many valuable recipes for the toilet, and hints and suggestions in reference to the complexion, the hair, the teeth, etc., see "beadle's Dime Recuse Book."
Source: Beadle's Dime Book Of Practical Etiquette for Ladies & Gentlemen ©1859