THE LADY'S DRESSING ROOM
THE dressing-room of every well-bred woman should
be both elegant and comfortable in proportion to her fortune and
position; it may be simply comfortable if its owner cannot make it
luxurious, but must be provided with everything necessary for a
The great ladies of the
eighteenth century, whose ablutions were some what restricted,
employed Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, and others, to paint their
dressing-rooms, wherein they received their friends while they were
themselves being painted, powdered, and patched. In time present day
no one would dream of exposing delicate fresco wall-paintings or
beautiful ceilings to the hot vapour and damp which are necessitated
by an abundant use of hot and cold water.
Some dressing-rooms have their walls entirely
covered with tiles - blue, pink, or pale green. This tiling has the
merit of being bright and clean, but the effect is a little cold to
both sight and touch. Hangings are generally preferred; they should be
in neutral tints or very undecided tones, so as not to clash with the
colours of the dresses. Very often light or bright-coloured silks are
covered over with tulle or muslin, so as to attenuate their vividness
and at the same time preserve their texture from the effect of vapour.
Sometimes the walls are hung with large-patterned
cretonnes or coloured linens; but cotton or linen stuffs are always a
little hard, and any very conspicuous pattern on the walls is apt to
detract from the effect of the toilette, which should be the one thing
to attract the eye when its wearer is in the room. Personally, I
prefer a dressing-room to be hung with sky-blue or crocus-lilac under point
d'esprit tulle. These hangings, which will form an admirable
background to dresses of no matter what colour, should be ornamented
with insertions of lace.
The floor should be covered with a pearl- grey
carpet with a design of either roses or lilac. From the centre of the
ceiling should hang a small lustre to hold candles; and care should be
taken to place wide bobèches on these candles, so as to
prevent any danger of the wax falling on the dresses.
One or two large windows should light this
dressing-room. The ground-glass panes should have pretty designs on
them; and double curtains, of silk and tulle, the latter edged with
lace, should drape them voluminously.
There must be two tables,
opposite to each other, of different dimensions, but the same shape.
The larger table is meant for minor ablutions, and on it should be
placed a jug and basin, which should be chosen with taste and care.
The table is draped to match the walls; above it should run a shelf,
on which are placed the bottles for toilet waters and vinegars,
dentifrices and perfumes, the toilet bottle and glass, etc. At either
side of the basin should be placed the brush and soap trays, the
The other table, which is smaller, bears the
mirror, which should be framed in a ruche of satin and lace;
the table itself is draped like its companion. As this table is meant
for the operation of hair-dressing, everything necessary to that
important art must be found upon it. The various boxes for pins
and hair-pins; a large casket, in which are placed the brushes and
combs, whose elegance should be on a par with that of the rest of the
room ; the bottles of perfume and of scented oil or pomades the powder
boxes; the manicure case, etc., should all have their places on this
table, at either side of which should be fixed a couple of tall
The fireplace should, occupy the centre of the wall
opposite the windows; a Dresden clock or a pretty bust in terra-cotta,
with some vases of fresh flowers, is all that need be placed upon it.
At one side of the fireplace should be placed a chaise-longue in
blue or mauve damask, the pattern on it being in white; and here and
there about the room a few arm-chairs and smaller ones of gilt cane
will be found convenient.
At either side of the dressing-table there should
be a wardrobe. One of these should have three mirrors in its doors,
for the ordinary wardrobe with a single panel of glass has been
banished from all artistic bed-rooms and dressing-rooms. The side
doors open at opposite angles, and thus form a triple-sided,
full-length mirror, in which one can judge of the effect of both dress
and coiffure from all points of view. The second wardrobe,
which should be lacquered like its companion, has no mirror, its doors
being painted with garlands of flowers. In it are placed the reserve
stock of bran, starch, soaps, powder, creams, etc. etc.
No slop-buckets or water-cans should be seen, nor
should any dresses or other paraphernalia be visible; everything of
that kind should be hidden from sight in special closets or cupboards
near at hand. If the dressing. room does not adjoin the bath-room, the
tub, of which we shall speak farther on, should be brought each day
into the dressing-room for the daily sponge bath, which replaces the
larger bath one may have to go and take elsewhere, or which may be
forbidden on account of health.
A More Simple Dressing-Room.
A dressing-room, however, may be much more simple
than this. All excess of luxury may be suppressed without preventing a
woman of taste from making the little sanctuary of her charms both
elegant and tasteful.
A pretty wall-paper should be chosen, and the floor
covered with an oil-cloth. Drape the deal tables with wide flounces of
cretonne edged with frills of the same material; cover the tables with
linen toilet- cloths edged with deep thread lace, and on them place
the washing utensils in bright coloured ware. If the tables are small,
have shelves made-which you can cover in the same style as the tables
- to accommodate the bottles and boxes, which should be chosen with
care, to make up for their moderate price. If your mirror is somewhat
ordinary, you can dissimulate its frame under a pleated frill, which
you can fasten on with small tacks. You can ornament your wardrobe
yourself, painting and varnishing it to match the room, and to please
your own individual fancy. The slop-buckets and the water-cans should
be hidden under the flounces of the tables.
If it is necessary to keep your dresses, your
band-boxes, your boots and shoes, etc., in your dressing-room, you
should have some shelves placed across the end of the room at a
sufficient height to allow you to hang your dresses from hooks. On
these shelves you can put your boxes, parcels, etc.; the whole being
hidden by curtains to match the draperies of the tables. These
curtains should not be placed against the wall, as they would then
reveal the outlines of all the things they are meant to hide. They
should be hung from the ceiling, and enclose the shelves as in an
alcove; behind them also may be placed the bath-tub, which is not
usually exposed to view. The great matter in a dressing-room is to
have one large enough to be comfortable.
compiled by Lee