A cloak-room for the ladies must be provided, and one or two maids to receive shawls or cloaks, which they will place so that they may be easy of access, and to render any assistance in the way of arranging hair or dress, repairing a torn dress, or any office of that kind. In this room there should be several looking-glasses, with a supply of hair-pins, needles and thread, pins, and similar trifles.
Fashion is so capricious and so imperative in the matter of dress, that it is difficult to give advice or instruction of permanent value-upon this subject. Still there are laws by which even fashion is regulated and controlled. There are certain principles in dress, approved by good taste and common sense, which can not be outraged with impunity.
A lady, in dressing for a ball or party, has first to consider the delicate question of age; and next, that of her position, whether married or single.
As every thing about a ball-room should be light, gay, and the reverse of depressing, it is permitted to elderly ladies, who do not dance, to assume a lighter and more effective style of dress than would be proper at the dinner-table, concert, or opera.
The toilette of the married and unmarried lady, however youthful the former, should be distinctly marked. Silk dresses are, as a rule, objectionable for those who dance; but the married lady may appear in a moire of a light tint, or even in a white silk,, if properly trimmed with tulle and flowers.
Young unmarried ladies should wear dresses of light materials-the lighter the better. Tarlatane, gauze, tulle, areophane, net, the finest muslin, lace, and all similar fabrics, are available. There is no restriction as to colors, except that they should be chosen with reference to the wearer. Thus, a blonde appears to must advantage in delicate hues, such as light-blue and pink, mauve, white, and so forth; arsenic-green should be avoided, as injurious to health. The brunette should, on the contrary, select rich and brilliant colors.
Flowers are the proper ornaments for the head and dress.
Jewelry should be sparingly used; a single bracelet is quite sufficient for those who dance.
Ladies in deep mourning should not dance, even if they permit themselves to attend a ball or party. Should they do so, black and scarlet or violet is the proper wear. Where the mourning is sufficiently slight for dancing to be seemly, white, with mauve, violet, or black trimmings, flounces, etc., is proper.
White gloves are suitable; in mourning they may be sewn with black. They should be faultless as to fit, and never be removed from the hands. It is well for those who dance to be provided with a second pair to replace the others when soiled, or in case they should split, or the buttons should come off-accidents small in themselves, but sources of great discomfort.
All the accessories of the toilette-gloves, shoes, flowers, fans, and the sortie du bal, or, as it is commonly called, opera cloak-should be fresh and perfectly unsoiled. Inattention in this matter spoils the effect of the most impressive toilette.
Beadle's dime ball-room companion and guide to dancing, 1868
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