pervaded with tiny dots... these preliminaries alone took me several hours...
...My chief claim to wisdom is this : that I have begun to realize that here is a science the intricacies of which few men suspect exist. Men think of women as puttering and fussing over their clothes, no doubt inventing them, out of hand, but of all this magic lore, the intelligent digestion of which only professional dressmakers are capable, is a world beyond man’s ken.
But they are not merely playing a superior name [corrected to “game” in 1916] of dolls, these women, I am sure of that now.
...Is there no primer for men who would acquire the rudiments of this great science?
But I could, at least, intelligently admire the fashion writer’s diction and rhetoric. Fashion literature has developed, even in my time of observation, to almost the poing of being an art by itself. I culled many quaint and picturesque phrases, some so fascinatingly alluring as almost to make one’s mouth water for a sight of the creation. “Pervaded with tiny dots” charmed me. “A pink violet shade shot with gray” was visualistic. But here is my gem : “tuck shirrings in the sleeves accentuate the drop-shoulder appearance and the voluminous puffs sag modishly over two-seam linings having simulated cuffs of lace.”
drawing by Marie Feiling (another drawing, same publication (September 1904) : link);
find little more about Feiling, but a Gladys Marie Feiling of San Francisco, was a UC graduate in Philosophy, 1926 (link) — daughter?
Appeared (re-titled “Women’s Fashions,” and with correction noted above) in the later (not 1902) edition of Burgess’s The Romance of the Commonplace (1916) : 299-305 (301)
NYPL copy/scan (via hathitrust) : link
Plays on (and performs) gender stereotypes, but is witty, and quite absorbed by the language of fashion writing —
...I have dipped into fashion literature and come out quite frozen with terror... [but] I could by no power of common sense identify, in the pictures, the particular gown I had just read described. I had to go by the number of the costume, and then with one finger on the words, and one on the fashion plate, make out, part by part, each item of the garment. Finally, for permanent edification, I wrote across the figure the scientific names of each part, as “waved insertion” and “inverted box plait” and so on, having considerable trouble in deciding just where the “postillion” was. These preliminaries alone took me several hours.
Gelett Burgess (1866-1951), artist, sometime instructor of topographical drawing, nonsense poet, creator of The Goops, &c., &c.
wikipedia : link
29 September 2023