Updated: Jan 26
“Remember this: it is always better to be underdressed than to be overdressed.” That’s what Lillian Eichler wrote in her 1921 Etiquette Book, and there’s actually a similar quote attributed to Coco Chanel which goes “It is always better to be slightly underdressed.” But this actually really struck me as odd, because today I feel like the opposite advice is usually given! For example, by Fashion Designer Christian Siriano or for things like job interviews. However I think it more so kind of indicates the direction fashion was heading in by 1921 — that such strict dress etiquette and formality was still in place but just starting to break down in favor of more casual dress in the future.
Also, throughout the dress section of this book, the author writes about how people should not be so quick to adopt the latest trend. She wrote, quote “The woman who is ruled by fashion may not consider herself a well-dressed woman.” Instead, she advised not to dress like a fashion-plate, but to have “keen regard” for fine materials and excellent workmanship. Also not to abandon your clothes just because they aren’t the newest fashion, especially if you still look good in them! An entire century later, honestly this advice still really holds up. In the face of fast fashion, there is a huge movement towards sustainability and investing in well-made pieces that will last instead of following fleeting trends.
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