The Project Gutenberg eBook of Appropriate Clothes for the High School Girl

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Appropriate Clothes for the High School Girl

Author: Virginia M. Alexander

Release date: August 8, 2011 [eBook #37007]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Roger Frank and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)


College Bulletin
















Some one asked recently, “Why all this agitation on the subject of high school girls’ dress?” Interest in this subject has certainly increased during the last several years and the high school girl herself is directly responsible for this interest.

It has been said that no great evil exists but contains the seeds of its own cure.

The costumes worn to school by the high school girls of our country have been gradually going from bad to worse with the years. Mothers and teachers have striven to do what they could to correct matters but not until the girls themselves realized that this great weakness existed, and they resolved to seek a cure, were real results noticeable.

The representative high school girls of our country are making a stand for good taste and democracy in the clothes they wear to school.

This little bulletin is published with the hope that its suggestions may be of value to those students who truly desire to raise the standards of dress among the girls of their school.




F. M. Bralley, President of the College.

Virginia M. Alexander, Director, Department of Fine and Applied Art.

Lena Bumpas, Supervisor, Teacher-Training Vocational Home Economics.

Margaret Gleason, Director, Department of Household Arts.

Mamie W. Walker, Assistant Professor, Department of English.


Requests for Extension Service should be addressed to

Lillian Humphries,

Secretary, Department of Extension,

College of Industrial Arts,

Denton, Texas.



Issued monthly by the College of Industrial Arts, Denton, Texas.

Entered December 17, 1917, Denton, Texas, as second-class matter, under Act of Congress, August 24, 1912.



Many a girl feels, when she first enters high school, that she is a child no longer. She has suddenly become a woman, and she must demonstrate this fact to the world immediately by her clothes.

Gingham dresses, middies, and low-heel shoes are scorned as belonging to the days that are gone. Hair once lovely for its natural beauty and simplicity takes on fearful and wonderful lines. French heels only are to be considered and a georgette blouse with elaborate camisole or a silk dress is an absolute necessity. With these acquisitions our young lady is ready for her new undertaking.

Could she possibly make a greater mistake? The school room is not a style show, nor a social function, but it is a busy workshop where material is to be assembled from which to build a life.

In a truly good high school, of all places, a student must do or die, and there is no time here to be wasted on thoughts of frills and furbelows. School room walls and blackboards do not make consistent backgrounds for party clothes.

In the past the high school girl who was considered well-dressed by her associates was the one who was elaborately dressed. Now, since the girls of our country are interested in all the big world issues of the day and have taken efficiency as their watchword the girl who is a leader is the girl who can do, not the girl who can dress.

One of the surest tests of good judgment and refinement in a girl is her selection of clothes.

The overdressed girl does not belong to the wealthiest and most cultured families as a rule. She is often striving to attain a social goal not yet realized and the school room and the street offer her only opportunities to show her fine feathers.



Suggestions for the School Dress

If a girl should not wear fanciful clothes to school just what, then, should she wear? In a general way I will answer that question.

A high school girl should wear dresses made of good, substantial material, appropriate for its wearing quality and interesting for its color and texture.

These dresses should be made on lines becoming to the individual girl who is to wear the dress, and at the same time designed so that they will stand the wear and tear to which they will be subjected.

Dangling tassels, sashes, and fluffy ruffles divert the attention of both the wearer and the observer and by their very inappropriateness make the owner conspicuous. Above all, the school dress, which is a work dress, should allow the wearer free use of her limbs and muscles and should promote her general good health.

A school girl in a dress built on the lines of a Peter Thompson or Hofflin suit with proper accessories in the way of shoes, stockings, and coiffure has much more style than her little sister in georgette or velvet. This type of suit is becoming to almost any girl as the collar, tie, and belt may be varied to suit each individual, and the design has become almost as staple as flour and sugar in the pantry. As a result, these dresses, made of good material, may be worn for several years without going out of style.

Ready-made suits of this type are quite expensive but patterns are easily secured and any one who sews may make a successful garment if a little care is exercised.

Gingham, linen, and percale dresses built on simple lines so that they may be laundered without becoming stretched and misshapen, are always satisfactory and pleasing.

In cold weather serge and tricatine make splendid but expensive substitutes for the washable materials.




The Dress with a Washable Underblouse

The linen or serge jumper dress, made with a washable underblouse, is a most satisfactory garment for the school dress. It is not only utilitarian but it is also comfortable and attractive on account of its many possible variations. It is becoming to almost all types of girls from the very young girl, often found in the first year of high school, to the dignified senior.

The dress proper, built on simple lines, will stand hard wear and the fact that the underblouse may be laundered or changed will give freshness and variety to the costume.

The very young girl who has not learned to care successfully for her wristbands will find this feature most valuable. In warm climates or overheated school rooms the light weight of the underblouse will prove very comfortable.

This dress made of wool may be worn quite late in the spring and a silk blouse will be most useful for the winter months. Made of gingham or linen the dress will be a valuable asset in the summer wardrobe, particularly in the South.

Georgette crêpe is not an appropriate material for this undergarment or for any other school garment. Its perishable nature and its transparency make it prohibited for the school room. A very transparent outer garment demands a most carefully selected under garment and more often than not this care is not wisely exercised by the wearer.

A white shirt waist and dark skirt is a very utilitarian combination, but from an art standpoint it is not considered good design. For a costume to possess art quality it must have unity; the wearer and her clothes should create an impression of “oneness.”

The sudden change at the waist line from a light waist to a dark skirt cuts the figure into two parts, destroying this much-desired quality of unity.




The Proper Use of Line About the Face

The truly well-dressed girl and the one who displays good judgment is not the girl who slavishly adopts the new styles and fads of the day regardless of whether they are becoming to her individually or not. This applies also to the way she dresses her hair.

There is no part of a toilet that influences the effect of the whole more than the hair. The most becoming gown fails in its function if the hair is tousled or dressed unbecomingly. Many girls fail to realize how they may overcome some of Nature’s faults and shortcomings and how they may counteract the effect of bad features and proportions by the correct use of line when dressing the hair.

If “ear muffs” become stylish, the little round-faced girl who knows nothing of art or design as related to herself must bulge her hair over her ears whether it makes a full moon of her face or not. Girls should dress in style but styles should be modified to suit each individual.

The hair is a frame for the face. The delicate blonde and the strenuous athletic brunette may no more wear the same coiffure than they may safely wear the same colors. A miniature and an oil painting would certainly not be framed alike.

The slender girl with a narrow face and thin neck should be most careful with the use of line around her face. Hair combed in on the cheeks and high and back from the forehead will make more evident her slenderness. A hard neck line or chains and ties repeating the point of her chin will make it appear more angular. Soft flowing lines in the hair, worn low on the forehead and back from the cheeks, should be adopted.

The round-faced girl should conscientiously avoid coiffures which broaden the proportions of her face, also neck lines and beads that repeat the curve of her chin.

Lines of Hair and Neck
Increase Point of Face

Flowing Lines for
Narrow Face

Face Made Broader
by Hair and Neck Line

Successful Coiffure
for Broad Face



Suggestions for the Stout Figure

A girl may not only improve the appearance of her face and head by the proper use of line but she may do wonders with her figure, as well, if she knows how to properly design her dresses. A dress wonderfully becoming to a slender sylphlike girl may become a tragedy on her plump classmate. Every girl should understand her physical make-up as thoroughly as she does her disposition, with its strong points and its weaknesses. She should know the kind of line she may wear successfully in her dresses, and the colors that are most becoming to her and the types of materials most suitable for her.

The stout girl should carefully avoid a design in a dress that is too cut-up or complicated. Tunics, unless long and scant, are unfortunate usually and the interest created by trimming about the waist line or elaborate belts should never be indulged in by the stout girl.

Length-producing lines should always be planned and light or colored collars should always be designed so that interest will not be created out towards the sides of the figure, creating width, but down the center front instead.

Contrasting shoes and stockings not only cut from the height of the figure but help to accent the feet and ankles of the wearer. The girl who wears white shoes with her dark dress states, by so doing, that she considers her feet well worth public consideration.

Contrasting materials for sleeves or elaborate cuffs or pockets will add width to any figure.

The designs in the accompanying illustration are most suitable for the older school girl when made up of wool or linen materials.

I may safely recommend this type of line in design for the girl of superfluous weight. 11




Plaids and Figured Materials

Our stores in the early spring and summer show such fascinating plaid and figured materials that I feel their use should be considered. Almost everyone has fallen a victim to a wonderfully colored plaid on display, to discover later that buying a plaid is a much simpler matter than making it into a dress. Plaids are fatal for stout people. Area is the impression always created by them and unless the pattern is very small and the colors very soft and indefinite, they should be reserved for the use of children and young girls. There is no colored costume that will make a woman more conspicuous than one made of a large black-and-white plaid material.

In selecting a pattern for a girl’s plaid dress care should be used to secure one with as few seams as possible. Every seam is a danger zone. Only persons with great poise and power of concentration, if they notice their surroundings at all, will be able to remain unaffected by a conspicuous seam when the plaids “don’t hit.” Some plaids are designed so that it is very difficult to match the pattern in the seams of the skirt or a stretched selvedge will add to the difficulty. A gored skirt pattern making bias seams necessary should never be used for plaid material. Arm holes and shoulder seams should be carefully planned. A kimona sleeve simplifies the arm-hole problem but will not prove so satisfactory in a wash dress. Plain material, either white or colored, makes a happy combination with plaids or figured material.

The accompanying designs are particularly becoming to slender girls. The wide soft belts and collars and the contrasting materials in the sleeves will seemingly add weight to slender young figures. In planning tucks and band trimming for a skirt the result will be much more pleasing if variety is used in the width of the bands and the spaces between the bands.




Appropriate Clothes for the Street

If the school room is not an appropriate place for elaborate or fanciful clothes, surely the street is less so. The truly refined woman will never wear those things on the street that will make her conspicuous. Here all classes of people meet and mingle, supposedly on business bent, and the girl who appears in this public place in party clothes shows either very poor judgment or that she is striving to attract public attention in the cheapest possible way.

The most stylish girls seen in the city streets are those gowned in simple well-made dresses or tailored suits. Hats, gloves, and shoes should be as carefully considered as the dress itself and all should harmonize.

A simple dark silk dress is almost an essential for street wear in spring and summer, to replace the heavier suit or serge dress. Taffeta is an excellent material for this dress and makes a much cooler and more youthful dress than satin. A taffeta dress needs little trimming, if cut on interesting lines. Buttons, tucks, and plaited frills of the same material may be used most effectively. Little bits of hand embroidery or attractive light collar and cuff sets add much charm to this type of dress. Bright colors should not appear upon the street. A “loud” color attracts attention as successfully as a loud noise. Any dark neutral color becoming to the wearer is well for the street dress. Wool mixtures and tweeds are particularly good for suits built on box or belted lines. Sport clothes will give the young girl a wonderful opportunity for the use of brilliant color. Dresses worn at home and for afternoon and evening functions permit the use of delicate colors, more elaborate trimming, and more perishable materials.

Remember that a hat should serve a double function. It should act as a covering for the head, and its lines and color should enhance the attractiveness of the wearer.




The Graduation Dress

One of the most important events in the life of every girl is her graduation, and we shall here consider the dress worn by her when she has fulfilled all the requirements and that long-anticipated day arrives. This occasion is not one for splendor and show, and the cue for the girl graduate is modesty and simplicity. She is not supposed to be a radiant queen bedecked for a festive occasion, but a charming young girl equipped and ready to begin life as a young woman.

The simple and beautiful graduation dress of the past has assumed more elaborate proportions during recent years until it has reached the point where the students themselves realize that a halt must be called. Georgettes, chiffons, and expensive nets have supplanted cotton weaves and elaborate creations of lace and satin are not infrequent. The cost of the dress itself is increased by such expensive accessories as long white kid gloves, expensive slippers and stockings.

What is the girl whose parents possess only moderate means to do under these conditions? Perhaps she is graduating with honors. Is she to be embarrassed by having to play a Cinderella rôle by the side of her gorgeously attired classmates or shall she strain the family bank account and spend money for this ornate apparel that should be spent for the education or maintenance of other members of her family?

Surely this is a time when the American girl may show her real spirit of democracy. Instead of selecting a handsome dress, which she often excuses by saying she wishes to use it afterwards for an evening dress, she will choose a really more charming one made of less expensive material, which will give her an opportunity to show her originality, and make her personal charms more appreciated.


Patterns for these dresses may be secured at the College of Industrial Arts.


In many high schools the unfairness of an expensive graduation dress has been so much appreciated by the students that a price limit has been set for the graduation outfit, and the girl who violates this understanding is considered a real offender. The girls who have initiated this have been, in many cases, those girls who could best afford the expensive garments and by such acts they have demonstrated that they are to make the splendid American women of the future, who will lead in those movements that bring about the greatest good to the greatest number.

I feel that organdy leads all other materials as desirable for the graduation dress. It is a trifle more expensive than some other possible materials but its sheerness and crispness give character to the dress, making little trimming necessary. A dress of this material may be worn for quite a while, as a little pressing always revives its freshness. There are some qualities of flaxon that rival organdy as a desirable material, and a dress of this may be laundered with perfect safety.

If lace is used on the graduation dress, do not sacrifice quality for quantity. A small amount of good lace skillfully used will make a much handsomer garment than one festooned with rows of a cheap quality. A self-trimmed organdy dress is very distinctive. Dainty little frills and pin tucks may be used in many interesting ways, and they may be planned so as to be becoming to almost any figure.

Daintiness should be the characteristic quality of the graduation dress. It is always disappointing to see elaborate jewelry worn with these charming frocks. In many cases the most valued possessions of the family have been collected for the occasion and this borrowed finery always makes a discordant note in the harmony of the young wearer’s costume. Under no consideration substitute imitation jewelry for the genuine article.


Patterns for these dresses may be secured at the College of Industrial Arts.



How to Secure Patterns of These Dresses

The College of Industrial Arts, in its efforts to be of service to the girls and women of Texas, has made it possible for those desiring patterns of the graduation dresses illustrated in this bulletin to secure them through the Department of Extension of the College.

The original designs of these dresses were made by highly trained artists at the College, whom we feel appreciate the particular needs of Texas girls and women. The patterns were cut from these original designs by the Vogue Pattern Company of New York, and are sold at thirty cents each, their exact cost to the College. An illustration, material requirement, and approximate cost are given with each pattern, and they are cut in sizes 14, 16, and 18. When ordering patterns state the number of the pattern and the size desired.

The quaint little design B 820 will appeal to the young girl who likes a touch of originality in her clothes. The becoming fichu and full skirt of this design seem to belong to the Colonial days with powdered hair and patches. This design, created of organdy, should cost from $5.00 to $8.00 according to the material selected. No. B 822 will prove more expensive on account of the lace trimming, the approximate cost being from $9.00 to $12.00. If interesting materials are chosen, this loose peplum and snug ribbon girdle will make quite a distinctive costume, becoming to stout figures.

The long-waisted design B 824 is decidedly original and its dainty frills and ribbons appeal to young girls. A dress may be made by this pattern of good materials for $8.00.

Design B 826 shows a clever interpretation of the narrow skirt so popular today. The tiny tucks and frills make a dainty and inexpensive trimming, and the costume should cost from $4.00 to $6.00.

No. B 828 demonstrates that vertical ruffles may be used successfully. This dress is beautiful when sheer material is used and the ruffles are picoted and plaited. It should cost about $6.00.

The slender girl who is not too thin through the bust is charming in design B 833. The organdy sash and flounced peplum are designed particularly for her. From $6.00 to $8.00 should buy the material for this dress.


Patterns for these dresses may be secured at the College of Industrial Arts.



Lingerie for the Graduation Dress

The garment worn directly under the graduation dress has much to do with the effect of the dress itself. This garment should not be picked up at random but the fullness of its skirt and the design around the neck should be planned to suit the particular dress pattern selected.

Underwear is to the dress what the foundation is to a house, and it should be built just as skillfully. It is impossible to secure a dainty graceful effect in a dress when it is worn with a clumsy petticoat. Styles change in underwear just as they do in dresses and the silhouette of the outer garment must decide what the lines of the under one shall be. For the present styles soft yielding materials are absolutely necessary for underwear and few flounces should be used about the bottom of the skirt if the clinging effect around the ankles and knees is desired in the dress.

Elaborate lace trimmings are neither in good taste nor stylish, and handwork constitutes the decoration on many of the most attractive of these garments. Colored lingerie and bright-colored ribbons should be worn only when the dress is not transparent. Bright pink and blue ribbons in a camisole or chemise will always look a bit garish when viewed through a thin blouse.

Color has a magnetic attraction for the eye and wherever placed immediately attracts attention to that spot. I am sure refined girls do not wish to invite public interest in their lingerie through the use of bright colors in their ribbons. The most delicate tints are permissible, but should be used only in small quantities. White only should be used with the graduation dress.

Since several petticoats are apt to prove clumsy, great care must be exerted in selecting the material for this undergarment, to avoid too much transparency when worn under the very sheer organdy dress. 23




Corsets and Posture

The envelope chemise and knickerbockers are very comfortable undergarments and are quite popular with most young girls of today. They may be made most attractive when soft dainty materials are used and the needlework is carefully executed. These garments should be kept quite simple. If lace is used it should be in limited quantities and of a kind that may be laundered often. Little bits of dainty feather stitching and hand embroidery will add individual charm to these undergarments.

Style depends not only upon the proper selection of clothes but very largely upon the way these clothes are put on and worn. Many girls wearing beautiful clothes are decidedly “not stylish.” Their clothes look as though they had fallen upon their owners. This is caused by the fact that the wearer does not carry herself well, or has not good poise. Nothing is so vitally necessary for good health and good looks as good posture. The slouchy, humped-over girl is unattractive enough when young, but when she develops into a misshapen woman with superfluous flesh about the abdomen and shoulders the most skillful artist will be unable to disguise her deformities. The girl with the débutante slouch or the one who “sits in her corsets” is rarely graceful. The uncorseted figure is the popular one today but if corsets must be worn they should be most carefully selected. Fortunately the long, unyielding coats of mail of several years ago are now rarely seen on girls, and soft, flexible girdles leaving the figure with its natural lines and grace, have appeared as substitutes. A well-shapen brassiere is often necessary with these low-busted girdles.

A stylish girl has good poise. This means that she stands well, walks well, carries her head high, her shoulders back, and looks the world in the face. The clothes worn by this girl will take the correct swing. 25






All organizations and publications keenly interested in the welfare of young women are making a strenuous effort to produce better American feet, and this is to be done directly through the shoes worn by our girls. The Y. W. C. A. during the war discovered that lack of endurance among girls could be traced back directly to misshapen feet, flattened arches, weak backs and abdominal muscles. In almost every case these had been caused by wearing high-heel shoes.

The human body is built and strung so that a person may walk and stand with natural grace and ease. When the equilibrium of this delicate mechanism is disturbed by inserting a spindle heel directly under that point responsible for most of the human weight, it is not surprising that physical ails result that must be carried through life.

A French or spindle heel is absolutely inconsistent for any occasion when walking or standing is to be done and is certainly not artistic when worn with a tailored dress or suit. Vanity, gratified by a foot that seemingly is a bit smaller, should not compensate for the loss of good health, good sense, natural grace and efficiency. An elaborate evening dress may call for a higher heel than the one worn on the street, but it will not excuse the wabbly spindle heels sold girls by many ruthless concerns.