‘It could have been made for you,’ said the saleswoman when the bank clerk put the coat on and looked at herself in the mirror. ‘It fits perfectly on the shoulders and at the waist, and the length is just right,’ she said, ‘and it really suits your skin tone. Not that I’m trying to pressure you into buying it,’ she added hurriedly, ‘obviously you’re free to choose anything you like, but if you don’t mind my saying so, the coat really does look as if it had been made for you. Just for you,’ she said again, with the hint of a smile.
Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster’s daughter. Then there was well-bred economy, which in those days made show in dress the first item to be deducted from, when any margin was required for expenses more distinctive of rank. Such reasons would have been enough to account for plain dress, quite apart from religious feeling; but in Miss Brooke’s case, religion alone would have determined it; and Celia mildly acquiesced in all her sister’s sentiments, only infusing them with that common-sense which is able to accept momentous doctrines without any eccentric agitation. Dorothea knew many passages of Pascal’s Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart; and to her the destinies of mankind, seen by the light of Christianity, made the solicitudes of feminine fashion appear an occupation for Bedlam.
I really must try to make him change the way he dresses, she told herself. His suits are just too ridiculous for words. There had been a time when she thought they were wonderful, those Edwardian jackets with high lapels and six buttons down the front, but now they merely seemed absurd. So did the narrow stovepipe trousers. You had to have a special sort of face to wear things like that and Cyril just didn’t have it. His was a long bony countenance with a narrow nose and a slightly prognathous jaw, and when you saw it coming up out of the top of one of those tightly fitting old fashioned suits it looked like a caricature of Sam Weller. He probably thought it looked like Beau Brummel.
Who can imagine a 1980s shoe that was absolutely white, without any logo, with no swoosh, not a single slogan? Sunday evenings, before the school week, I crouched down on the pink bathroom tiles and painted my shoes into the absolute of whiteness; like the Alice in Wonderland gardeners repainting roses. This task was performed with a toothbrush and with special paste that annihilated so many design features. Purity was attained by the application of a whitener that stank of scientific poly-syllables.
For underpants I’ll pick white cotton,
the briefs of my childhood,
for it was my mother’s dictum
that nice girls wore only white cotton.
Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!
Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives!
It is not linen you’re wearing out,
But human creatures’ lives!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.
Once I was a great beauty and attended all sorts of cocktail-drinking, prize-giving-and-taking, artistic demonstrations and other casually hazardous gatherings organised for the purpose of people wasting other people’s time. I was always in demand and my beautiful face would hang suspended over fashionable garments, smiling continually. An ardent heart, however, beat under the fashionable costumes, and this very ardent heart was like an open tap pouring quantities of hot water over anybody who asked. This wasteful process soon took its toll on my beautiful smiling face. My teeth fell out.
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals.
Varenka quickly got dressed, grabbed her new hat and once again began trying it on.
‘Absolutely stunning! Especially like this, from the side…’
Oh! What a woman can get away with when she’s wearing a hat like this! Things that a woman wearing any old hat wouldn’t even dare to dream of.
I’m going to tell a secret: my dress is lovely and I don’t want to die. On Friday the dress will be at my house, and on Saturday I’ll wear it. No death, just blue sea. Are there yellow clouds? There are golden ones. I don’t have a story. Does the dead man? He does: he went to swim in the sea at Urca, the fool, and died, who gave the order?
There were twelve mannequins at Jeanne Veron’s: six of them were lunching, the others still paraded, goddess-like, till their turn came for rest and refreshment. Each of the twelve was a distinct and separate type: each of the twelve knew her type and kept to it, practising rigidly in clothing, manner, voice and conversation.