I have no image and no link for this title: try googling it yourself and see how far you get! I checked this out on a whim from the library, and not fifty pages in I had made half-a-dozen notes (not IN the book — jeez, what kind of barbarian do you think I am?). It's a treasure.
Belle Armstrong Whitney is the triple-named, strong-willed author, and all I know about her is that she looks in her photographs as if she dearly wants to come take the camera away from the photographer and show him how to do things RIGHT. The book was published in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1916, and if that is not evocative of an overwhelming urgency to tell other folks how best their lives might be arranged to the satisfaction of all concerned (but primarily to the satisfaction of the advice-giver) I don't know what would be.
Belle (I will take the liberty of such familiarity, since I know that if I had been lucky enough to meet her we would have been fast friends immediately) says such things as this: "There is no reason why when we go shopping we should take what is set before us to take, providing the standard of what is set before is common, and our standard is higher."
She also quotes Redfern ("the head of that dressmaking house in Paris") as saying "Fashion without art is snobbism." Sing it, sister!
And how about: "We need not apologize for our love of dress if we love what is worthy of being loved." (I have a sneaking suspicion that there's some kind of logical fallacy there, but so be it.)
And: "One of the reasons for the kaleidoscopic changes in styles is because so many women wear the same thing at once that everybody becomes tired of it in a hurry. If women would choose their own style, instead of trying to wear what they–the wholly mythical they — are supposed to sanction, fashions would be much less unstable."
"Every woman who buys poor fabrics helps to discourage makers of fabrics from producing better ones. Every woman who buys ready-made clothes that are vulgar in design, helps to increase that type of designing. Every woman who buys ill-made garments, assists in adding to their number."
"The woman who knows what she wants is not common, and the woman who knows what she ought to have is positively rare."
"Women are not uniform in size, shape, complexion, and social requirements, and when they dress as if they were, the result is most unsatisfactory."
Of course, Belle is not without fault. There are many, many pictures of her in what can only be called "draperies", some with that touch of self-conscious exoticism that makes the modern reader wince. She also devotes three pages to instructions for making a maternity CORSET. (Don't worry, the steels of your regular corset "may be broken quickly when their covering is ripped off.") But all in all, her advice of ninety years ago is better than anything I read in this month's Vogue.