There is in this present day an improvement in the covering worn upon the head. Hats and bonnets are more tasteful and pretty than those formerly worn. For children the Normandy cap is comfortable and child-like, as also are the round straw hats worn in summer. The shady hats used by young ladies and the stylish shapes of their dress hats, are also very picturesque and becoming. Even the bonnets of elderly ladies, when not overladen with trimming, are more tasteful than the poke bonnets formerly worn. [my dictionary illustrates a poke bonnet] When children were out at play in the summer they wore gingham sun-bonnets; as these were made over stiff pasteboard, they were heavy and very uncomfortable. A child has been many a time punished for throwing off these scoops in its out-door games, when the fault really lay with the parent who required the child to wear such an uncomfortable covering upon the head. The elaborate bonnets worn some 30 years ago consisted of a front piece, a crown, and a cape at the back of the neck; they were varied in their general outline every season-- the front flared more or less, the crown was at a greater or less angle of inclination, the cape was very full and deep, or it was scant; it was plain or it had frill trimming. the face trimming in these fanciful results of the milliner's art was an elaborate, semicircle of lace, ribbons and flowers. There were generally tabs of lace against the cheeks, and flowers above the forehead; or there were lace and flowers intermingled at the sides, and bows of pink, blue or yellow ribbon above, alike the keystone uniting the arch. These bonnets met under the chin, and were tied there with broad ribbon, but, in some of the senseless changes of fashion, were worn so far back upon the head that the strings were useless; the bonnet almost rested upon the back of the neck, and if it was not apt to drop off, it had at least that appearance. There is a picture of Queen Victoria in one of these large bonnets, of the style when they were drawn forward over the face. On or about 1835 a covering for the head, known as a caleche [a variation of calash, a bonnet resembling the folding top of a two-wheeled carriage], was much worn while walking or driving. These were somewhat in shape of a gig-top. They were made of reeds covered with silk; black was the color for elderly ladies, green for young ladies; they were lined with white. When laid aside, they were perfectly flat; when worn, they were drawn forward over the face with a ribbon fastened on both sides about three inches from the top, which was held in the hand. A writer in "Scribner's Magazine" for August 1879, on New York fashions in 1814-1830, says: "Chip and Leghorn bonnets were the favorites for summer wear. Twenty dollars, or even more, were paid for an untrimmed Leghorn bonnet. But then we expected a nice thing, once bought, would last a long time; our bonnets were done over and retrimmed, and came out again as good as new next season -- or, if we were of a frugal mind, for several seasons. "...Merino or raw-silk underwear, or anything resembling it, hadnot yet been heard of. "...Merino long shawls, with a broad border at the ends, and a narrow one along the length, came up during the war, and were considered a part of a nice toilet. At first they were white, but black and scarlet soon appeared. "Tortoise-shell combs and thread-lace were among the desirable possessions of ordinarily well-dressed people; of jewels we heard but little. A person had a set of pearls, perhaps, or sometimes you saw a ruby or a diamond finger-ring, but precious stones of a high rank were very infrequent." Water-proof cloaks, whether of the rubber silk or the water-proof cloth, were unknown until within the last 20 years. They are now almost a necessary part of a lady's outfit, and we hope there may be some significance in the fact that these modern inventions of women's wear are in the direction of the comfortable and the useful. The long trains and tieback style of overskirt which are at present worn may soon be followed by some other absurdity; but it is, at least, a cause for congratulation that that which is fantastic and arbitrary does not retain its hold as long as that which is natural and graceful. Now that intercourse between this country and Paris is so easy and frequent, the fashions of France are adopted almost as quickly here as they obtain favor abroad. In the beginning of this century, instead of the fashion-plates, with their full directions as to the changes in costume, a doll was dressed in Paris in the height of the prevailing mode, and sent by the "regular fast-sailing packet" to the mantua-makers in New York as a model to be copied. As early as 1712, these dolls, dressed in the fashion of the period, were sent from Paris to London; it was by this means that the changes of fashion were introduced before steam opened up the facilities for constant intercourse. We have a vivid remembrance of the old age of one of these fashionable mantua-makers in New York. When the dress had changed as to style, the dressmaker sold the doll to one of her customers, and "Miss Nancy DAWSON" passed into the obscurity of humbler dollies who had never been sent as ministers plenipotentiary from the court of fashion. Let us hope that in time women will not be subservient to the dictates of French modistes, but will select for themselves that which is healthful, becoming, tasteful, and simple.
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