Fashions for May
Spring Toilets are now occupying the attention of our leading modistes, and many new materials are on view in their show-rooms. Among these, Armure de Lyon, and a thick make of foulard, take first rank; and there is no doubt but that all over-dresses, such as Polonaises, redingotes, tabliers, and basque bodices, will be quadrille, as the French term it. In plain English, they will be checks or plaids, for squares have evidently taken the place of stripes. Sone few of the newest costumes are made entirely of the plaid material; but, for the most part, it is judiciously mixed with plain faille. The plaids are not regular, they do not look like even checks; on the contrary, they are broken and crossed with lines, more like the plaid patterns on tartan scarfs than plain checks. There is great variety in the designs, and, as a rule, the checks are somewhat large; they are either a very dark color with white, or else some shade of bege. A few contain three colors, such as brown and gray, with a prune stripe; pale-blue and navy-blue, with a still darker blue stripe; while others are navy-blue and white uneven plaid, with plain blue silk for sleeves and skirt. The quadrille silks begin with pin-head checks, and, to suit all tastes, they are manufactured in all sizes up to inch blocks. Some of the new plaid materials too closely resemble the patterns on Madras cotton handkerchiefs to be pretty, consequently, care should be takenin selecting. When plaid and plain silks are both used in the composition of a costume, the skirt is of the plain silk. The tunic, which is cut as a square tablier, is plaid, and the sleeves of the bodice are plaid.
But it is impossible to describe all the fascinating goods, and all the beautiful colors that make the shop windows so enticing. Common calicoes, chintzs, percales, lawns, organdies, debergs, camel's-hair, mohair, pongees, spun silks, grenadines, gauzes, silks of the most bewildering hues, distract one by turns. All tastes, and all purses must be suited. Plaids will be most popular. They are novel at least, but we would caution all but tall, slender persons against their use, except it be plaids of the very smallest dimensions; and only short or medium-sized persons should wear stripes.
Many late Paris dresses are made with but little or no trimming on the skirt; a deep basque or cuirass waist, much trimmed serving for the ornament. But the ruffled and plaited over-skirts have taken such hold of the fancy of many of our fashionables, that they will be retained, though in a somehwat modified form during the summer.
All the spring dresses, as we have said, show a tendency to less trimming, though the inevitable over-skirt is mostly worn in some shape, but very clinging to the figure. For the house, some dresses with long, narrow trains, have been made. The waist has wide revers, is rather short waisted, and, in fact, looks very much like fashions that were worn just after the French Revolution, and before the Empire style, with its mongrel classic fashion, was in vogue.
A quantity of silver and gilt ornament is to be worn. This looks well, if woven in rich materials; but when silver and gilt braids or beads are used very plentifully, they give a tawdery, theatrical appearance to the toilet.
Mantillas of various tasty shapes are being gradually revived, and many black ones are seen over colored dresses, a fashion which has been long extinct. The new casaques fit the figure closelt, and have a very long pointed basque in front, which basque also encases the hips where it is shorter. These csaques are made of the same material as the dress, and are trimmed with fancy braid and fringe. We have seen a very successful spring costume made in this style, as follows: The skirt was navy-blue faille, and trimmed at the back with flounces to the waist; the tunic was long and pointed in the centre, bordered with blue fringe, and with silver and blue plaited braid. The Sicilienne casaque was ornamented with a similar braid. The form of casaque that fits the hips very closely is extremely graceful. Another style of make that is most popular consists of a black faille dress with long train, the plait in the centre of the back being very wide and studded with black faille bows; the front is pale-gray matelasse, surrounded with a band of black marabout feathers, and fastened down in front. The bodice entirely of gray metelasse, with black sleeves.
Bonnets and Hats are of such varied shapes that it is quite impossible to describe them. Gilt and silver buckles, beads, and leaves, are seen on some of these, but want the freshness that the sweet spring flowers impart to the bonnets.
Lingerie - There is very little, if any, change in lingerie. Linen collars, with large points, are worn during the day, and plaitings of crepe lisse for evening. Lace neck-types arranged en cascade, white gauze neck-tyes, trimmed with Valenciennes lace, and foulard neck-tyes, likewise edged with lace all around, are all to be seen. Shina crepe fichus are extremely popular; and the newest patticoats for evening wear are overladen with trimmings - plaitings, embroidery, and lace. It is reported that Byron collars and cuffs will be worn; and that the fashion of wearing linen cuffs outside the sleeve is about to be revived. An effort will be made to bring in colored cambric collars and cuffs, such as blue, brown, and gray, with a flower embroidered at the corners. For the present, the forms that collars take are endless; they are made with small revers, with large revers, with ruches of nainsook or muslin inside; while the diversity in cravats is quite as bewildering. Handkerchiefs, with quaint, odd borders, are sought after for morning wear; but lace handkerchiefs are now almost one solid piece of lace, the cmabric centre being reduced to infinitismal proportions. Valenciennes lace is still the favorite, although Mechlin competes with it for popularity.
Jewelry - Fashion is very capricious at present in jewelry. Large lockets are no longer to be seen in full evening dress; diamond and pearl necklaces have taken their place, and above the necklet a ribbon, the color of the dress, is tied in front with a small bow. The favorite earrings are large single pearls. Many bracelets are worn at a time, and always two porte-bonheur ones in either plain gold, diamond, or turquoises. Lastly, a butterfly, or humming-bird, imitated in precious stones, is always worn on the bouquet that adorns one side or other of the bodice.