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YOUNG WOMAN'S JOURNAL
Organ of the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Associations.
The Style is the Woman
By Agnes Bostonne
"All we like sheep have gone astray" is as true of feminine dress and feminine ideals as it is of the moral world. We are all cast in the same mould. Our skirts all stop at our knees whether we are long-limbed like Diana or built like an apple dumpling. Our faces are as thick with powder as those of the former dwellers in Regent Street, now forever vanished from Salt Lake. Our ears are the most modest portion of our bodies. They are always sacredly concealed by immoderately ratted, bobbed, or "lightened" hair. Call it what you please; it is the finest receptacle for dust and germs that fashion has ever devised. On the other hand, the blouses daily become more transparent, the sleeves shorter, until the feminine superstructure is nothing but a pneumonia trap. Ear rings, strapped toes, high heels, and barbaric chains complete the senseless though often pleasing picture. And this is as true of Grouse Creek and Grantsville as it is of Sevier and Salt Lake. You find these characterless wax figures on our school campuses just as much as you do on East Temple Street. Even Agricultural College maids, whom you would suppese to be the most sensible of all, have their high heels and silk stockings even if they cannot afford gloves or galoshes. College girls, married women, high school flappers, stenographers, and laundry girls all have
forgotten that there are such things as individuality and suitability in dress.
This is as true of New York as it is of Utah, and as usual it is the male efficiency experts who are the first to notice it. A great mercantile house, known round the globe, has ordered its saleswomen to net their bobbed hair and let it grow. A whole chorus of insurance companies, financial houses, and accounting establishments finds time to object to short skirts, silk stockings, and invisible blouses. All agree that business women should dress as simply and inconspicuously as possible. All of which causes a writer in "THE NEW REPUBLIC" to demand rather pertinently whether efficiency always dwells in blue serge. She doesn't think it does. She wants the working girl to wear as pretty, silly, senseless clothes as the girl who stays at home to help mother. She thinks that if the gay clothes are too distracting for the young men in the office the young men should be "let out," not the girls. She would like to give sales girls coats "as gay as dahlias and hats like flamingoes" to wear to work. She reasons that the girl working for fifteen dollars a week can afford but one costume, that youth will be served, and that this costume should be the "liveliest she can achieve" in order that she may enjoy her youth the more and
that the gray canyons of New York City may be the more picturesque: a very "New Republic" point of view.
The writer, however, makes no mention of individuality the most precious possession, the chief business asset, of the human being. Can not a business young woman achieve a sober outfit for business as well as glad rags for dances and the home circle? Why must she always be dressed like everyone else? Why can she not use her character, her taste, her intelligence in dressing herself like the Mary Jones or the Sybil Hopkins that she is and not like the hundred other girls who work in the same store or office, or even that live on the same street she does? A simple dark-colored street dress with no ornament but a chain or a flower, a style of hair dressing that suits the shape of the head rather than the prevailing mode will do more towards securing a position for a girl with a man she would care to work for than any amount of gewgaws and georgette. By their dress ye shall know them. The style is the woman. And the employer immediately argues that a girl who dresses simply and becomingly rises by that very fact above the crowd and shows herself superior to her competitors. Intelligence in that respect, he argues, will make for intelligence in the business world.
Of course individuality in dress is only one side of a valuable personality. The herding instinct is strong in all women. Why, one wonders, do so many girls teach when some of them would make far better nurses, hotel managers, housekeepers, milliners, cafeteria directors, or any other type of business woman? One of the leading women of Utah recently made the following comment on the engagement of a college-trained nurse as a public health expert: "There are so few college-trained women
who go into nursing that they are snapped up immediately for the best positions. They are so infinitely superior to the herd variety. But there are not enough of them to go around. The trained nurse with a college background is as rare as a girl who shows her ears."
Even in church bazaars the feminine tendency to follow the beaten track is unescapable. The last bazaar held by the stake young women's mutuals, two weeks before Christmas, had its walls covered with every kind of bedquilt, wrapper, and child's bloomers. And that was all the bazaar offered except one pitiful table of candy, cake, and preserves which was sold out in an hour. Why was there no booth of potted plants or bulbs or even cut flowers? Why was there no table of handpainted, unusual Christmas cards and calendars, the kind that show individuality and that you can't buy in Salt Lake? Why was there no table of odd, eccentric, pretty pitchers and cups and saucers? Why with Christmas only two weeks ahead was there no table to solve the eternal problem of what to give father, fiance, or elder brother at Christmas? Do the mutual feelings of the young women extend only to feminine fripperies and food? Why don't they take orders to make pongee silk shirts for father and the boys or neckties with as much style as Paris hats? Then again, why did they not have a table for second-hand books or sell new books for Christmas? And all this two weeks before Christmas when you can sell anything! The whole bazaar was as pathetic a give-away of woman's lack of individuality as is bobbed hair on a cabbage-shaped head. Feminine lack of individuality? No, feminine inertia. Feminine failure to use the brains and talents God has given her, for her talents and brains are fully as abundant as
those on the other side of the house.
Here are some stories of girls with brains and talents who used them in an unusual and profitable way. First, the Wellesley girl. She decided when being graduated from college that she wouldn't go back home and teach in the high school. She could write. She would go to New York. So she found a place in a New York bookstore where she could work mornings and have the afternoons free for her own writing. For years she sold nothing, because she made it a rule that she would sell no potboilers. She would write them, of course, for the experience, but her work should appear only in the best magazines. And one day she convinced the editor of the "Pictorial Review" that an article of hers was worth $350 and he gave her a check for it. She had married the right man before that and he told her when she came home with the check that she was a good business woman. She was. And she was also a woman with unusual power and patience to live her life as she felt God had marked it out for her.
Another girl during her senior year in college decided to be a business woman. She saw the really masculine salaries that were being paid to her friends who were doing advertising work, or designing, or buying for big business houses. She had no talent except a love for books. So she found a position with a publishing house, and she is now in charge of the school book section and the personal friend of every teacher in that part of the country, and her salary is larger than that of any teacher she helps with her experienced advice.
A third young woman was left a widow soon after her marriage. She was well educated, had a sense of publicity, and knew silk. That is, all her life she had lived with rich people of refinement who wore silk.
She knew its value as wearing apparel. She knew when, where, and how silk should be worn. And instead of merely becoming one of a drove of stenographers, her little silk talent, as she modestly puts it, now wins her a salary in five figures as publicity manager with one of the largest silk firms in New York City. Her talent was not extraordinary. Merely growing up with silk people. And yet she knew enough to put her one talent to extraordinary use.
Best of all these unusual young women is the girl who is using every one of her faculties. She was a specialist in maternity cases, but after a severe operation had to take up some other form of nursing. So she devoted herself to nervous cases and sanitarium work. Most of the cases were women of wealth, good breeding, and education. Either through bad health or lack of ambition they had lost their interest in life. And women without either religion, philosophy, or a love of work are pitiful objects. The nurse's duty was to give them an interest in life. To do that she needed every bit of education that she had ever received. She read French with some; sang songs while others played her accompaniments; discussed Shaw and Wells with one woman; taught typewriting to another-an excellent solace for nervous cases; in short, she found a point of sympathetic, intelligent contact interest in life, a new point of view, with each woman by giving her a new
a new ambition. And she never could have done it if she had not had a fine education herself and a desire to use it to help others. This winter she is spending in Bermuda with a patient to whom she is teaching swimming and typewriting among other things. She has all her expenses paid and one hundred dollars a month. It