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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Mary Ellen Picken’s Wise Advise, Proper Dress & Nostalgia for Sewers

Working through the household ‘stuff’ and boxes of memories as we prepare to move and DOWNSIZE is quite a job – but also quite a nostalgic Blessing.   It’s so obvious that the simple things were ‘ENOUGH’ for my hubby and I as we grew up back in the 50’s and 60’s.  Cub Scout Pack meetings were a highlight and covered in the daily town newspaper for him!  Those clippings then made it into his scrapbook.  Paper bag pig puppets, popsicle crafts, Mom making matching aprons for herself and me to wear when we baked cookies…all this is a far cry from the ‘entertaining’ lives today’s parents seem to feel obligated to provide for their children.  I digress…….

Anyway, my email brought New Year’s greetings from a gal in the industry I so admire:  Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction.  In response, after finding out my supplier didn’t handle this book, I just hopped over to Amazon and ordered her book for my own enjoyment this new year:  Vintage Notions.  I can’t wait to dig into it – as Amy mentions that it contains alot of wisdom from Mary Brooks Picken.

Books for those who LOVE Clothing & History

Books for those who LOVE Clothing & History

If you don’t know of Mary Brooks Picken, you will learn all about her in another book full of nostalgia that I SEW ENJOYED in 2015:  The Lost Art of Dress  – The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski.  By the way, the author is slated to speak at the 2016 American Sewing Guild Conference in Indianapolis  July 7-11, 2016.  I can’t wait – as I so admire this author and what she’s pulled together in this ‘Dress Doctors’ book!  Here’s a quote/taste from page 78…..

“Young egos need restraining not encouragement.  A fourteen-year-old does not have much time to think about herself when she is busy thinking about how she is treating others.  The home economists’ list of fourteen social habits started with courtesy and honesty, went through sympathy and consideration before ending with the Golden Rule.  Along the way it asked girls to be ‘sensible in choice of dress, companions, and forms of recreation.”  Mary Brooks Picken said that good taste in dress and good manners were equally important ‘to a child’s future success and happiness’.  She explained, ‘Both should be acquired gradually so that they may become natural and permanent.’

Dress, the Dress Doctors said, is one of our social duties for two reasons.  First, because the world has to look at us whether it wants to or not.  Second, because the world has work to do, and an inappropriately dressed individual can be distracting.  These two reasons explain why ‘making the most of your looks is not vanity.’  The effort ‘indicates proper self-regard and consideration of others’.  If a young woman follows the Five Art Principles, she will not be a public eyesore.  If she learns how to ‘Dress for the Occasion’, she will not distract from the task at hand’.”

She goes on to explain that even Cinderella’s fairy godmother thoughtfully put her back into her drab work wear after the ball so she’d be ready for work in the morning!

Hmmm, I wonder what Mary Brooks Picken’s opinion would be of our pastors with hanging out  un-pressed shirt-tails, and ‘jeggings’ leaving nothing to the imagination…..

I digress, again – and realize I sound QUITE  ‘old-fashioned’, but so be it!

COMMENTS are appreciated!


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