The Dress Doctors

Source: Alvimann,
Have you ever heard of a group of ladies known as "The Dress Doctors?" Until I read an interview with Linda Przybszewski, author of the book The Lost Art of Dress, I'd never heard of this group of women before.

The Dress Doctors was a group of influential women in the early 20th century who spread the gospel of "what to wear, and how to wear it" with elegance, grace, style and dignity. They wrote books and booklets and taught generations of women how to dress for every occasion.

The Dress Doctors emphasized cut and quality of garments over fads and fashion, dressing for one's figure and station in life, and how to add overall elegance to outfits.

My kind of gals!

The Dress Doctors were very leery of fads, instead emphasizing timeless simplicity. Theirs was not a gospel of consumerism, but rather making intelligent choices when shopping for clothing. As I was reading more about them online, they made me think of my mother and grandmother, my mom's mother, who lived with us while I was growing up. My mom sewed as a hobby and created beautiful garments. I shared her closet with her until I was in second grade or so, when my older sister moved out and I could share the upstairs closet with my other sister. The closets in that house were tiny, but somehow we managed to share a closet. Why? Because my mom had only about six dresses in the closet, maybe 10, and they were all beautiful. Timeless, well cut, classic dresses. She had some for special occasions and church and some for every day wear, but like most women of her generation, she shopping along trends, not fads, and so dresses she had purchased in the 1960s could easily be worn during the 1970s, too.

Compare that to today. Most of us having closets bulging with clothes, yet we often find ourselves saying, "I have nothing to wear!" The issue isn't that we have nothing to wear - it's that we really don't know how to shop well anymore. We've forgotten much of what The Dress Doctors taught. For instance, they taught women and girls to look for clothing that brought attention to the face. This brings the eye up, to your face, and so having tons of fancy shoes doesn't matter as much anymore (unless you love shoes, which is another matter entirely).  Skyscaper heels, pointy-toed shoes that make your bunions hurt, these are all out. Classic, simple and elegance equals COMFORT in the eyes of the Dress Doctors - but not frumpy!

In the 1960s, the youth culture pushed aside the Dress Doctors and their dictates of fashion, which were seen as old-fashioned, and now today of course, we live in an anything-goes society. I wish we had Dress Doctors again today. We have fashion stylists like Stacy London, Clinton Kelly and Tim Gunn, but girls today aren't learning about how to shop, other than to shop until they drop. Don't think I'm picking on anyone, either; I never learned these lessons myself. By the time I reached an age to buy my own clothes, my mom was gone, so only the lessons I absorbed very early in life seem to have stuck with me. Thank God one of those lessons is modesty and femininity!

I wonder what would happen if we had "Dress Doctors" today?

I've got Dr. P's book on my wish list and hope to read it soon. In the meantime, this article on the Wall Street Journal website gives you more insight into the concepts of the Dress Doctors.