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[-184-] THE HAND.
IT is supposed that one must have descended from a stock
that has enjoyed five centuries of leisure to possess a perfectly elegant and
aristocratic hand. I know not [-185-] whether the
recipe is infallible; it is
certainly not within the reach of all. We may, however, console ourselves. It is
something to have a white and delicate hand, to begin with, even if it be not
perfectly modelled; and this is quite possible even if we work, occupy ourselves
with our households, and even do gardening: on condition, let it be understood,
that we take some pains and trouble.
Do not fear, therefore, to put your hands to whatever is wanted, and to use, for your own service or that of others, the hands God has given you. You will be shown here how to keep them soft and delicate, in spite of any work you may be obliged to do.
The great ladies of other days set so much store on the beauty of their hands that one of them, the Countess de Soissons, would never close them, for fear of hardening the joints. What a martyrdom! How should we like to be condemned never to use our ten fingers?
[-186-] It was for the same reason that pages - and, later, lacqueys - were charged with carrying the prayer-books and other small objects which were found too heavy for the lily-white little hands of fine ladies.
In the eighteenth century the noble ladies made their servants open all the doors for them, for fear of widening their hands by turning the handles and pushing back the bolts.
The Marquise de Crégny was spoken of as a woman of astonishing resolution, "because," they said, "if she had not a lacquey near, she opened the doors for herself, without fear of blistering her hands!"
Little hands are more valiant nowadays. There are some that do not shrink from manipulating potter's earth with them; and we congratulate those women of society who have a horror of the idleness in which their ancestors delighted.
If the hand is disfigured by warts or moles, these ugly growths must be destroyed [-187-] in the same way that I have pointed out in the section on The Face.
Care of the Hands.
Gloves should be worn while housekeeping or gardening: old
gloves that have got loose from wear. They protect the hands from the effects of
the air, as well as keep them clean, which obviates too frequent washing. Too
much washing has its drawbacks.
But there are certain employments which forbid the use of gloves, and in this case the hands must be washed when necessary. No doubt; but then those corrosive soaps which deteriorate the skin need not be used. Savon de Marseille, white and pure, and slightly scented, is the only soap to be recommended. At the same time dilute a little oatmeal or bran in tepid water for washing your hands. If they are very much stained, use a little borax or ammonia.
The roughest hands may be made soft [-188-]and smooth by a few minutes' care every night before going to bed. Five, or at the most ten, minutes will be long enough to efface the signs that even hard work may have left on our hands. A small, but very inexpensive, arsenal is necessary: namely, a nail-brush, a pumice-stone, a box of powdered borax, a bottle of ammonia, a pot containing fine white sand, and a lemon.
If you find that a kind of hard skin is forming on the inside of the hand, rub the place thus thickening as long and patiently as may be necessary with pumice-stone. This is important for preserving the softness of the hand and the delicacy of touch.
Stains can be removed either with the sand, borax, or ammonia, according to the nature of them.
All the lines on the palm of the hand which may have become filled with black and greasy substances, from contact with brushes and dusters, etc., must be perfectly cleaned. Have I said that to begin with [-189-] the hands must be well washed? I shall point out further on how the nails should be cared for.
When the hands are absolutely clean, rub them with dry oatmeal, and wear gloves during the night.
If glycerine has no bad effects on the skin, it is preferable to oatmeal, and should be used pure. The following mixture will make glycerine suit everybody:- The yolk of an egg, l½ drachms of glycerine, and l¾ drachms of borax, well mixed. Anoint your hands with this (which makes a kind of pomade), and always cover them with gloves.
The oatmeal may suffice, and is more economical. White of egg in which alum has been dissolved is also recommended: three quarters of a grain to one white of egg.
If the hands are in a very rough and bad state, it would be well to use cold cream at the beginning of the daily treatment we have advised. After using it [-190-] for a month, the hands will be in a good enough state to allow of the use of dry oatmeal only.
Hands that are not constantly employed in household work can be kept white by simply washing them night and morning in a clear bouillie of oatmeal.
A mixture of glycerine and lemon-juice in equal parts is also much thought of for preventing redness of the hands.
Here is a recipe for almond paste Take 1½ ounces of bitter almonds, and throw them into boiling water to divest them of their skins. Then dry them. Pound them in a mortar, or bruise them under a heavy bottle. Pound separately 1 ounce of iris root (if you have not an irritable skin) and 1 ounce of starch. Mix these with the pounded almonds; add 4 yolks of eggs, and mix them well in with the rest. Wet this paste with half a pint of spirits of wine and twenty drops of otto of roses. Heat this over a very gentle fire, [-191-] stirring it continually with a spoon. This preparation should be kept in pots in a dry place. It becomes a powder, with winch the hands are to he rubbed morning and evening.
This paste may also be made with flour of bitter almonds 8 ounces, oil of sweet almonds 1 pint, honey 16 ounces, and 6 yolks of eggs. The honey must first be melted separately~ and then mixed with the almond-flour and eggs; the oil is put in last, and all again well mixed together.
Cleansing of the Hands during the Day.
Never have soiled hands, but wash them without soap whenever it is possible.
Lemon-juice will serve well for removing some stains. And if you wet a little
salt with lemon-juice, there is no stain that this simple mixture will not
A piece of fresh orange- or lemon-peel, if you have it at the moment, will take off tar well by rubbing with the outside of the [-192-] peel. The hands should be wiped at once to dry them.
Ripe tomatoes or strawberries, a sorrel-leaf, or a little milk, are all nearly as good as lemon-juice for removing ink-stains from the hands.
If you should happen to peel potatoes, your hands should be very dry for this work, and you must not wash them immediately after it. By taking this slight precaution, the hands will not be stained by the juice of the tuber.
After peeling fruit and certain vegetables a little lemon-juice will restore the hands to a proper state; they should first be made wet with water.
After any very rough work which demands vigorous washing, instead of using a solution of potash (above all, in winter), be sure to use petroleum jelly (real vaseline). This substance causes stains of all kinds to vanish. Rub the hands with a little of the jelly: it penetrates into the pores of the skin, [-193-] and incorporates itself with greasy substances of any kind. Then wash the hands with soap and hot water; this will make them very soft, as well as very clean.
In this manner even hands "sanctified by work" may still preserve an agreeable appearance, which, I assure you, is not a thing to be despised, especially when it is an advantage so easy to obtain.
Damp hands are unsuitable for certain kinds of work, and are, besides,
repulsive to touch. We must therefore be careful not to rouse a feeling of
repulsion against ourselves.
To give this kind of. hand the requisite dryness, the inside should be rubbed, several times a day, with a cloth dipped in the following preparation:-
Eau de Cologne 14 parts.
Tincture of Belladonna ... 3 parts
If the hands are inclined to perspire too much when you are exposed to great heat, [-194-] which happens in crowded receptions, plunge them into water in which a little powdered alum has been dissolved before putting on your gloves to go out into society.
People are often distressed at the end of the summer by the brown tint their
hands have kept from the too fervent kisses of the sun. Drawn on by the
ever-increasing taste for outdoor pleasures, many young girls, and young women
too, have given themselves up to croquet or lawn-tennis, to sailing and rowing
in boats, with such ardour that they have forgotten to guard their little hands
from the caresses of the great planet. This does not much matter in the country
or at the sea-side. Brown bands, a little hardened inside, are almost suitable
to the kind of life which demands the serge tailor-made dress and small hat or
cap. But how tanned and neglected they look surrounded by silk and lace! It is [-195-]
then that regrets begin to be felt for not having worn large easy gloves
while giving oneself up to the various sports.
We rush to remedies, but time will be the best of all for this. However, if you cannot resign yourself to wait, use lemon- juice and glycerine mixed, or a paste made of maize-flower and glycerine. A young lady-farmer of my acquaintance never uses anything but sour buttermilk. The acidity of this removes the stains and sun-burn of all kinds, and the oil contained in it is singularly good and softening to the skin. Nothing is so good as this buttermilk, especially if the hands are washed in it before going to bed, and gloves then worn during the night. Some persons only wash their hands in warm water to keep them clean during the day, and at night wet them with glycerine and rose-water, and sleep in gloves.
All the remedies that have been given for sun-burn of the face and freckles (see pp. 80 and 83) are equally applicable to the hands.
[-196-] Fat Hands.
If your hands are rather fat, do not wear tight sleeves. The pressure and discomfort to the arm will only make the hand swell. A tight cuff is as unsuitable to a large hand as a low heel is to a large foot. If your fingers are square or wide at the ends, you may narrow them a little by pinching and squeezing the tips. Needless to say, you will not obtain the taper fingers you desire all at once, but in time you will become aware of a notable and pleasant change.
Chapped hands are a slight but very uncomfortable little evil which happens
in winter to children-and to grown-up people, too, if they do not take much care
And yet it is very easy to avoid this suffering, which is due to the cracking of the skin. To do so, we have only to be very [-197-] careful to dry the hands perfectly after washing them, and never to expose them while damp either to the cold or to the heat of the fire.
Women who look after the plants in their rooms, who comb their hair, or devote themselves to little employments of this kind, or to their households, wash their hands frequently; and as their time is precious to them, they do everything quickly and in a hurry. I advise them, with reference to the subject under consideration, to sacrifice a few moments in drying their hands thoroughly; they will more than save those moments in the long run, for the stiffness and pain caused by cracks will at last make all movements of their hands slow and awkward. When the hands have been dried with all possible care, they may be rubbed before the fire till they are quite soft and flexible.
Children should be made to take the trouble to dry their hands properly, as has [-198-] been advised. It is pitiable to see the little red chapped paws of most girls and boys. The poor things suffer horribly from the cold and from artificial heat; while if their hands were properly taken care of, they would not feel the changes of temperature at all to the same extent.
The habit of rubbing the hands with dry oatmeal before going to bed preserves them from any disastrous effects of heat and cold to which they may be exposed. Cold water should not be used for washing the hands; it makes them more liable to chap; neither is very hot water good for them. People with very thin skins should be extremely careful to dry their hands well after washing them. They should also cover them with a little cold cream or vaseline, and wipe them again after applying it.
If these counsels have been set at naught, or not attended to in the manner which, I can assure you, they deserve, the mischief being done, here is the treatment you must [-199-] submit to in order to cure it. Take some vaseline or lard, sweet oil or tallow, and anoint your hands well after washing them in warm water. Whichever of these substances you choose, use it abundantly. Rub your hands well, twisting them about, rubbing between the fingers in and out for a good while, until they have become quite soft, and do not feel sore if you knock them against anything hard. Then divest them of the grease you have rubbed on them, and wash them with good soap and in warm water, with a few drops of ammonia in it. It is necessary to change the water several times. After this, rub your hands with the following mixture :-Glycerine, soft water, and eau de Cologne, in equal parts. When this operation is over, the hands will be very soft, and not the least greasy or sticky, as might be supposed.
I have seen hands that looked exactly as if they had been boiled, their owner having been obliged to do laundry work for several [-200-] days continuously. She suffered much, the stretched and corroded skin of her hands being very painful; by using the foregoing prescription her hands became smooth and white again.
An English physician recommends the following for preserving delicate hands from chapping:-
Boric acid ... 30 grains.
Glycerine ... 2½ drachms.
The yolk of one egg well beaten.
Spread this on the hands, several times a day, before they are chapped. If
you have the slightest scratch, do not use this remedy.
Here are some more ointments and liniments for these unpleasant cracks. They can be used for any part of the body where this cracking of the skin shows itself.
(1) Bees' wax ... 3 parts.
Olive oil ... 4 parts
Cut the wax into little pieces, put them into the oil, and melt them in an
enamelled [-201-] saucepan over a very slow fire. Anoint the chapped parts every night with
this mixture. If it is the hands that are affected, wear gloves; if it is any
other part of the body, cover it with a towel.
(2) Butter of cacao... 4 scruples.
Sweet-almond oil.... 4 scruples
Oxide of zinc ... 2 drachms.
Borate of soda ... 1½ grains.
Essence of bergamot ... 8 drops.
(This liniment is very good for the lips too.)
(3) Take a handful of very pure linseed- meal and a teaspoonful of oil of
bitter almonds; mix these two ingredients well together, then add warm water
enough to make a light bouillie of them. Plunge your hands into this
liquid, and rub them in it for about a quarter of an hour, then rinse them in
Bitter-almond oil is prepared by mixing half a drachm of essence of bitter almonds with one pint of olive oil.
By using these simple remedies you will [-202-]cure the evil you would not take the trouble to prevent. The last recipe may be used not only for chapped hands, but for getting rid of chilblains that are not broken; this is another of the ills of winter of which we are now going to speak.
Chilblains are even more to be dreaded than a chapped skin.
A weak constitution or bad food predispose one to this affection. People subject to it should walk a great deal, exercise their hands, rub with alcoholic preparations the parts where the chilblains are not broken, and keep their hands and feet very warm.
It might be thought that the hands ought to have no more need of covering than the face. Nevertheless, when it is very cold everyone feels the necessity of sheltering them from the biting frost and wind. People with a slow circulation should wear [-203-] gloves the moment the temperature begins to fall.
Yet it is often in mild and damp winters that certain constitutions suffer most from chilblains. There are many remedies for this unbearable, though not dangerous, infliction, which spoils the prettiest hand in the world:-
(1) Crush lily bulbs, and put them into a vessel containing walnut oil. Apply this under fine cloths to the parts affected. (This is an excellent recipe.)
(2) Brittany honey will heal open chilblains. Put it on the sore places, and cover them up with fine white linen.
(3) Wrap the hands up in poultices during the night, and in the morning rub them With tincture of ben zoin 2 ounces, honey 1 ounce, and water 7 ounces, well mixed.
(4) Wash ulcerated chilblains with tincture of myrrh very much diluted with tepid water.
[-204-] (5) Anoint broken chilblains with pommade a la Sultane (see p. 138), and cover with a fine white cloth.
It is difficult to cure chilblains during the winter if they have once broken; it is well, therefore, to avoid coming to this pass by using the following remedies, which are all suitable for unbroken chilblains:-
(1) Steep the affected parts several times in a little spirits of salt weakened by a great deal of water.
(2) One doctor recommends a solution of permanganate of potash for destroying chilblains.
(3) Another prescribes this treatment: -Before getting into bed, put your Lands into mustard and water, then apply a liniment composed of camphor and oil of turpentine.
(4) Constipation should be avoided, and all the functions of the body should be kept in good order. Women who are predisposed to chilblains should avoid wearing very tight sleeves, which impede the circulation, make [-205-] the hands cold, and in consequence bring on the slight but disagreeable disorder of which we are speaking. Chilblains may be prevented from making their appearance if the hands are rubbed with a slice of lemon after every washing. (This is good for preventing chapped hands also.)
(5) Infuse thirty long cayenne peppers in twice their weight of rectified spirits. Keep the infusion in a warm place for a week; you will thus obtain a strong tincture. Then dissolve gum-arabic in water till it is the thickness of syrup; you must have the same quantity of this as of the tincture. Stir the two preparations well together, until the mixture becomes cloudy and opaque. Having procured some leaves of tissue-paper, cover the surface of one with the mixture, and let it dry; then apply a second layer over the first. If the surface is brilliant after the second drying, the two layers will suffice; if not, add another layer. The paper thus prepared is intended (when slightly [-206-] damped on the shiny side) to cover up the red, swollen, and burning fingers.
(6) Wash the hands in mustard and water. Dissolve Dijon mustard or any other kind in warm water.
(7) One-half part of sulphuric acid, two of glycerine, three of water. (Have this prepared by a chemist. The bottle must be labelled poison.) Wash the parts attacked with this water.
(8) One ounce of salts of ammonia, one ounce and a half of glycerine, eight ounces of rose-water; shake well till the substances are dissolved and mixed. Use as a wash.
(9) Wash your hands two or three times a week in salt and water.
(10) Cut two turnips in slices, and pass them through a strainer with three large spoonfuls of very pure axunge. Apply this at night, and cover with a white cloth.
(11) Infuse a handful of tan in tepid water, and dip your hands into it for some instants.
[-207-] (12) Make a decoction of a pinch of laurel-leaves in a quart of water. Wash the hands every morning with this a little warmed.
(13) At the first sign of redness or irritation, wash with this mixture :-Five parts of essence of rosemary and one part spirits of wine.
(14) Wash with spirits of wine at 90º, in which crystallised phenic (carbolic) acid has been dissolved, in the proportion of 1 part to 9 parts of spirit. Use a stopper of linen. It should be applied as a compress, and kept on all night.
Vinegar with a fourth part of camphorated spirits added to it will prevent chilblains from appearing.
All that we have said on the subject about chilblains applies equally to the hands and feet.
The Care of the Nails.
Beautiful nails are looked upon as a precious gift. They should have a white
[-208-] crescent at the roof, and they should be as rosy as the dawn. Pretty nails
have been compared to the onyx by poets - and, indeed, in Greek, onyx means
nail. Here is the legend which, according to mythology, gave its name to this
particular kind of agate:- One day Cupid, finding Venus asleep, cut her nails with the iron of one of
his arrows, and flew away; the parings fell on the sand of the shore, and as
nothing belonging to a celestial body can perish, the Fates collected them
carefully, and changed them into this quasi-precious stone which is called onyx.
The women who have recourse to manicures will tell you that the ugliest nails can be improved by taking the trouble to push the hard skin that grows at the base: an operation which should never be done except after soaping the hands in warm water, and by means of an ivory or bone implement. The edges of the nail should also be filed in a gentle curve, following the outline of [-209-] the finger-end. The surface of the nail, too, should be polished.
One hour in. the week given up to the care of the nails would suffice to keep them in good order, if they are brushed and cleaned conscientiously every day. They should never, for instance, be cleaned with a sharp-pointed instrument, like a pin; it hardens the nail, and only renders it more liable to retain the dirt that collects under it. Nothing is better than a lemon for cleaning the nails ; stick the ends of the fingers down into it, and turn them in it again and again. Lemon also prevents the skin from growing up over the nails. It is very good for "upstarts," or the little loose jags of skin which only form at the base of badly-kept nails.
The use of cold cream or vaseline at night is very good for the nails; it softens them, and therefore keeps them from breaking and from looking dull.
I have been given a recipe which is said [-210-] to be very efficacious in hardening the nails. (Hardness is one of the conditions of a nail's beauty.) You melt over a very slow fire 5 drachms of walnut oil, 2½ scruples of white wax, 5 scruples of colophony, and 1 scruple of alum. This ointment, which should be well beaten over the fire, is used at night.
A few implements are necessary for taking care of the nails: an ordinary nail- brush, a smaller one for getting in under the nails, a file, a polisher, and curved scissors-a special pair for each hand, as it is not possible to cut the nails of the right hand with scissors meant to cut those of the left.
The hand should feel comfortable An the glove, so as not to appear shortened
or stuffed into it. The fingers of the glove ought to be as long as the fingers
of the hand.
Gloves too tight do not wear well, which is an economical consideration; and [-211-] true elegance and intelligent coquetterie should always be blended with good sense.
Kid gloves wear better and longer if you know how to put them on for the first time. "It is quite a science," says a charming woman of my acquaintance. Your hands should be perfectly clean, dry, and fresh. Never put on gloves when your hands are damp or too warm. I have already pointed out a remedy for moist hands. (See p. 193.)
In putting on a pair of new gloves, the four fingers should be first inserted in the glove, leaving the thumb out, and the body of the glove should be turned back over the hand. When the fingers are quite in by means of the gentle movements of the other hand, introduce the thumb with the greatest care, leaning your elbow on your knee for support. Then turn back the glove on the wrist, and button the second button first, going on thus to the top. When this is done, come back to the first button, and you [-212-] will find that it will button easily, without cracking the kid: which so often happens if one begins with the first button- Besides, it prevents the button-hole from widening: an important matter if you wish the glove to look well to the last.
Never pull off your gloves from the ends of the fingers, but from the wrist. They will then be turned inside out, which is very good for allowing any moisture they may have absorbed from the hand to evaporate. When they are dry they can be put back into their place, as says the old song of St. Eloi. If you do not take the precaution of airing gloves in this way, they will shrink, and be difficult to put on again. The kid will split with the slightest strain, and the gloves be of no use.
Gloves should not be rolled up inside each other. They should be stretched out their full length in a box or perfumed sachet. The light gloves should lie between two pieces of white flannel, to preserve them [-213-] from contact with the dark ones, so that the dye of the latter may not come off on them.
Black kid gloves can be renovated by mixing a few drops of good black ink in a teaspoonful of olive-oil. Apply it with a feather, and dry them in the sun. Light gloves can be cleaned with flour if they are only slightly soiled. If they are much soiled, use benzine, even with suede gloves.
When you buy gloves, examine the seams well. If the thread shows white places when stretched, do not buy the gloves; the kid will easily tear; they will wear badly and never look well.
Silk and woollen gloves are much warmer than kid. In very cold weather fur or woollen gloves should be worn over suedes.
The feminine arm should be round and white. Those who have thin arms can soon
increase their size by energetic friction.
[-214-] A hairy arm should be treated in the same manner as a lip with down on it. A red arm must be rubbed with almond-paste and honey.
Although I do not much like cosmetics, there is one I may mention for the neck and arms when wearing a low dress. You should get it made up by a chemist; it is very harmless, and free from danger:- Glycerine, rose-water, and oxide of zinc. This preparation has the advantage of not coming off on the black coats of your partners.
Conditions of Beauty.
WHEN a foot is well made, the boots and shoes wear well, and the walk is
generally harmonious and graceful.
But the most charming foot may be disfigured by a boot that is too short or too [-215-] narrow. And an ugly foot will become still worse if the owner tries to diminish its proportions by compressing them.
We must keep the foot Nature has bestowed upon us; we shall only subject ourselves to useless tortures by trying to wear boots and shoes that were not made for it, and, far from remedying its defects, we shall only add others that it has not got.
The foot in ancient sculpture is perfectly beautiful, because it had never been subject to constraint in the sandal or slipper without heels. In our era it is only in the East, especially in Japan, that the human foot can be seen in all its beauty and grace. In the Empire of the Rising Sun the extremities have never known any bonds. The covering of the feet was there made for the comfort of the foot, and followed its outlines exactly. But now the European costume is being adopted in the country of the Mikado, and we are about to impose upon [-216-]them our abominable modern boots and shoes, which deform the feet, because they are not suited either to the structure of the feet or to the- movements they make in walking.
The very pointed boots and shoes have given birth to a great deal of suffering, and to many infirmities which have spoiled the foot and the walk.
Here are some counsels of healthy coquetry; but will they be listened to?
You must not try to make your foot smaller; you will only thicken it. Besides, a very small foot is not well made. The foot should be in just and harmonious proportion to the body. A rather long foot is the most elegant, as it appears narrow. It is absurd to compress a wide foot; you only make it more ugly, subject it to excruciating pain, and lose the ease and grace of your walk.
It is said that English and German women have such large feet because they [-217-] drink a great deal of beer. The Americans, who have also adopted that drink, are beginning to lose the beauty of their feet. In wine countries-France, Spain, Italy, etc.-where the women are indeed very temperate, their feet are very delicate and refined.
How to choose Boots and Shoes.
If the foot is narrow and a little too long, the boot or shoe should be short
in the toe, and laced or buttoned down the front. An ornament on the top . of
the shoe diminishes the length of the foot in appearance.
A short fat foot demands a long boot, buttoned or laced at the side.
A very flat foot requires rather high heels. If, on the contrary, your foot has that high arched instep which is seen in greatest perfection among the Arabs, and is considered a mark of blue blood by the Spaniards, it is not necessary to exaggerate [-218-] the curve by high heels, which shortens disadvantageously the foot that has no need of shortening, and throws it out of its necessary equilibrium.
The Molière shoe, which makes the ankle appear thick, and cuts in two the arch of which we have just been speaking, should be abandoned in the name of aestheticism. The low-cut shoe is, on the contrary, very graceful and becoming.
The Wellington boot is altogether unacceptable. The brodequin and kid boot should reach higher than the ankle. No other boot is fit for winter wear, as the ankles must be protected from the cold. A black boot is the only really pretty one; but if made of stuff, it will add to the size of the foot much more than in leather or kid.
A white shoe should only be worn on a faultless foot. And, indeed, it is best to wear shoes a shade darker than the dress. A white shoe enlargens and widens the foot.
[-219-] An open shoe may be worn in various colours which are forbidden in a boot. All the same, it is well to choose a colour that matches the dress, but is a little darker. Black shoes and black stockings diminish both the length and breadth of the foot.
Women with thick ankles should wear stockings with embroidery high up on the sides in the length, not across the width: it will make the ankles appear smaller. When strong boots are worn with a light and elegant toilette, it is a sign of the very worst taste. If you cannot have nice boots and shoes, you should wear quiet and simple dresses.
Trying on Boots and Shoes.
I advise all those to whom it is possible to have their boots and shoes made
for them. But if you do buy them ready-made, try them on in the evening. The
feet are then spread out to their full size, and are at their highest degree of
sensitiveness. The [-220-] activity and exercise they have bad during the day will have given them their
fullest dimensions. The muscles will be tender from use, and the flow of blood
in the arteries will be increased. The weight of the body affects the
circulation in the feet to such a degree that people who are obliged to stand
for a long time find that their feet enlarge very much. It is to the weight of
the body when standing for a length of time that varicose veins are due, and
people whose fibres are easily relaxed are specially subject to them. In good
health the feet recover their normal size when one has been in bed for a few
minutes, because they have then no longer to bear the weight of the body.
Try on your boots and shoes in the evening, there fore, when your feet are tired, and with comparatively thick stockings on. You will then find that you have plenty of room in your boots when your feet are fresh and you have put on very fine stockings.
[-221-] Never take long walks with quite new boots on. Wear them in the house first for a few days, and then when you go out for a short time.
If you take these precautions, you will procure as much comfort for your feet in new boots as in old ones; and boots, shoes, and slippers will all wear much longer.
A well-cut pair of shoes may be known by the following sign :-When the shoes are placed beside each other, they should only touch each other at the toes and heels. The soles should follow the line of the foot, so that it can rest its whole width on it comfortably.
How to take care of the Feet.
The feet should be washed every day, and by rubbing with pumice-stone, all
thickening of the skin on the heel, sole, and toes should be made to disappear.
I have said the feet should be washed every day: this must not be taken to mean
[-222-] The daily repetition of a foot-bath does not suit everybody. A foot-bath in which you keep your feet for ten or fifteen minutes is frequently injurious; above all, if it is taken very hot, or even warm. It has the bad effect of making the feet too tender, besides having a deplorable effect on the brain and sight if you are weak or delicate.
After washing your feet, and while they are still wet, rub the sole with dry salt, and then wipe them vigorously. This will strengthen them, and preserve them from the cold.
Warm your feet by walking. Foot- warmers of all kinds are bad both for beauty and health. They make you likely to have varicose veins in the legs. When you travel in very cold weather, wear over your shoes long stockings in the train or carriage, to prevent chilblains on your feet. Snow-boots are even better, but they are more difficult to carry about when you take them off on leaving the carriage. Light sabots are [-223-] indispensable in the country for going into the garden in damp weather. Goloshes and india-rubbers are equally good for keeping the feet dry. All these-socks, snow-boots, sabots, etc.-must, of course, be taken off the moment you go into the house.
A bath of lime-tree flowers is very soothing to tired feet.
If the feet are tired from long standing, a bath of salt and water is excellent for them. Put a handful of common salt in four quarts of water, as hot as can be borne without pain. Place your feet into this, and with your hand splash the water over your legs up to the knees. As soon as the water cools, rub hard with a rough towel. (This treatment, applied morning and evening, will cure neuralgia in the feet.)
It is also advisable, when the feet are swollen from a long walk or much standing, to bathe them in water in which charcoal has been boiled. The water should be strained through a cloth before putting the [-224-] feet into it. Swelling and fatigue will both disappear rapidly. Alcoholic friction is also very good.
If the feet perspire, here is a good way of getting rid of this inconvenience:- Wash with boric acid in the water, and then powder the feet with dust of lycopodium. You may also try the following:- Salicylic acid three parts, talc seven, starch nine. These three substances should be well pounded and mixed, and the feet should be well powdered with the mixture. In some cases it will suffice to sprinkle the inside sole of the shoe with boric acid. In all cases I advise medical consultation before using any remedy. I believe my recipes to be inoffensive, but I know that it is sometimes dangerous to stop this perspiration. One thing may be done without fear of any kind - namely, to change the shoes and stockings two or three times a day.
[-225-] In-growing Nails.
This is a very painful infirmity. If the nails of the great
toes - and, indeed,
all the nails - are cut quite square and not almond shape, you will not have to
undergo suffering of this kind. However, once the evil is there, the question is
how to cure it. Make a soft paste of mutton suet, Marseilles soap, and powdered
white sugar, in equal parts. Apply this till the flesh recedes from the nail.
Or wet the whole foot, and after drying it well, apply a solution of gutta-percha and chloroform on the part affected. This operation should be repeated several times on the first day-say, about four times. The following day the number of applications may be diminished.
Here is the formula for the solution:-
Chloroform ... 80 parts
Gutta-percha ... 10 parts
[-226-] Another remedy is as follows :-Loosen the flesh round the nail, and cut the latter; paint the suffering part with a small paintbrush dipped in perchloride of iron. The flesh is thus made hard and less sensitive. This is an infallible remedy.
What an infliction! Happily, they are not without a remedy, whatever the
cause by which they are produced.
A shoe that is too wide is almost as destructive as one that is too narrow. If the foot is not properly supported by the shoe, it rubs continually against the leather in moving, and this friction predisposes to corns, almost as certainly as compression of the foot.
If a corn has only recently grown, you can get rid of it by rubbing it with pumice-stone.
At first, while the corn is still somewhat tender, it can be got the better of by [-227-] applying wool dipped in castor-oil or leaves of red geranium steeped in oil.
A poultice of the crumb of bread which has been steeped in vinegar for thirty minutes will cure a new corn in one night.
Good results are also to be obtained by dissolving a false pearl in vinegar; the creamy substance thus obtained is applied to the corn (pace Cleopatra!). A soft rag should be steeped in the cream, and carefully wrapped round the corn for the night.
Orpine, a patent remedy, is applied on hard corns, which it softens, and thus facilitates their extraction. A raw onion bruised has the same virtue, as well as ivy-leaves steeped in vinegar. The leaf further serves to protect the surface of the corn. A little plaster-of-Paris damped (in paste) will answer the same purpose; so will a little circle (pierced in the centre) of agaric or touchwood (from the oak or touchwood-tree) put over the corn, which will thus be kept from the pressure of the shoe. But here [-228-] are more scientific prescriptions for ointments which will destroy hard corns. They are more or less like each other, but the slight variations among them may just make them suitable for divers kinds of corns:-
Salicylic acid ... 1 drachm.
Atronine ... 1½ grains
Flexible collodion ... 1 ounce
Salicylic acid ... 5 drachms
Extract of cannabis indica ... ½ drachm
Collodion ... 4 ounces
(3) Salicylic acid ·.. ... 15 grains.
Extract of cannabis indica ... 8 grains
Alcohol at 90º ... ... 15 minims.
Ether at 62º - ... ... 40 minims
Elastic collodion ... ... 80 minims
(Prescription of P. Vigier.)
Whichever of these three prescriptions you choose, mix the divers
ingredients, and keep them in a well-corked bottle. The remedy should be applied
by means of a camel's-hair brush dipped in the mixture, and should be passed
over the corn at least [-229-] twice. The applications should be made daily during not less than a
fortnight. At the end of this time (during which you will be reduced to washing
your feet with a damp sponge, which must not touch even the toes on which the
corns are) the little tumours will be easily removed with your fingers after
keeping the foot in warm water for an hour.
Bunions, which particularly affect the big and little toes, and sometimes the instep (in which case high heels should be at once renounced), can be cured in several ways:-
(1) If it is inflamed, cover it with a poultice and wear easy
slippers. Then anoint the suffering part with an ointment composed of 7 parts of
iodine mixed with 30 of lard.
(2) Cover the bunion with a piece of oiled silk over a layer of axunge.
(3) Take a piece of wash-leather, and make a hole in it large enough for the [-230-] bunion, put it on the bad place, and cover it with oiled silk. Over this silk rub the bunion twice a day with the ointment of iodine and axunge.
(4) A piece of diachylon plaster has a very good effect. You can also cut the corn and cauterise it with sulphate of copper, which is sold in sticks, like nitrate of silver.
Cramp in the Foot.
The cramp is a most disagreeable infirmity.
If the toes are not perfectly free in the boot or shoe, the constraint gives rise to the most horrible cramp.
The cramp which so many people are subject to at night is prevented by raising the pillow. You place under the feet at the head end of the bed a block about the thickness of two bricks. Relief is immediate, certain, and lasting.
It is said - and I know it by painful [-231-] experience - that prescriptions of which arsenic forms even the smallest part cause terrible cramp in the calf of the leg.
Some useful Precautions.
When you come in with your leather boots wet, take them off at once, and have
them filled with very dry hay. This absorbs the damp rapidly, stretches and
fills out the boots, and so prevents them from stiffening and losing their
shape. Above all, avoid putting them near the fire. The next day the hay is
taken out, and may he dried for another occasion or thrown away. By stuffing the
boots with paper you will obtain exactly the same result.
Paraffin softens boots that have stiffened from a wetting, and restores all their suppleness. Strong shooting-boots can be softened by exposure to broom-smoke, and by rubbing with olive-oil and lard. They will thus be much more comfortable, last twice [-232-] as long, and will protect the feet better from the cold and damp.
If you want to make the soles of your boots more durable and impervious to water, warm them slightly, cover them with a coat of varnish, and dry it. Warm them again, varnish, and dry; repeat a third time under the same conditions.
A mixture of cream and ink is excellent for keeping kid boots in good order.
A harness varnish may also be used for the same purpose. Take a very little on the end of a rag, and rub the boot well all over. Polish it with a bit of cloth. In countries where oranges are cheap, they are used for blacking the boots. The orange is cut in two, the juicy side rubbed on a black saucepan, and then on the boot. It is then brushed with a soft brush, and a brilliant polish obtained.
To prevent boots from creaking or cracking, the soles should be well saturated with linseed, oil. Place the boots on a dish [-233-] full of oil; the sole will absorb the oil, which will also make it impervious to snow or water.
How to put on Laced or Buttoned Boots.
The feet of stockings should be longer than the feet they cover. They should
be well pulled out at the toe, so that the heel can get into its place properly.
(They will wear all the better for this precaution.) The bit that is beyond the
toes in length should be turned back on them, to stretch the stocking, and all
will arrange itself admirably as soon as you walk a little. (When evening comes,
the foot of the stocking is no more too long.)
Very few persons know how to lace their boots and shoes; at least, they do not lace them the right way. Generally, people pull the lace as hard as they can, without noticing that they are making their foot very uncomfortable. You should place your [-234-] heel well down in the shoe, then move your toes about in a satisfactory manner. After these preliminaries, put your heel on a chair opposite to the one you are sitting on, and then lace your boot. On the instep, lace the boot as tightly as possible, but tighten it gently and by degrees, so as to keep the foot well in the boot, in which your toes are quite at their ease. At the ankle, lace your boot so as to give every possible ease and comfort to that part of the foot.
Proceed in the same way with buttoned boots; do not button the two buttons near the toes first. Button from the instep up to the ankle, to begin with, and before buttoning up the ankle itself, come back and do the first two buttons; then finish by imprisoning, but as loosely as is possible, the lower part of the leg, the over- compression of which is so very bad for the health.
A TRUE woman, who always has the instinct of elegance and of allowable
coquetry, will not be content with having fresh and dainty only her outside
that can be seen, such as dresses, bonnets, mantles, etc. - but her
underclothes - those that cannot be seen - will be just as correct, in quite as good
condition, and even more scrupulously neat.
I have been told that when bustles were the fashion some great ladies procured for themselves this abnormal development, so hated by artists, by means of worn-out old muffs, old aprons rolled up into bundles, and by all sorts of similar and strange devices.
On the other hand, little sempstresses economised in their outer garments in order to afford themselves crinoline hustles, which [-236-] they cast off the moment they were soiled or out of shape.
Dressmakers declare that wornen in society are not ashamed to send them for patterns bodices the linings of which are horribly soiled and greasy, and which show that they have never undergone the little repairs always necessary after some little usage.
I have seen satin petticoats frayed and ragged, and others encrusted with mud, appear under superb gowns when these were held up. This is indeed ignoble.
Undergarments may be simple, but they should be as irreproachable as, or more so than, the dress, which even one spot disgraces. They should be as gracefully cut as possible; and if they can be cut out of very good material, so much the better. But rather than have only a scanty or insufficient stock, it is better to have less expensive material and the necessary quantity.
Happily, the taste for underclothing [-237-] made of coloured surah silk or cambric has lost ground for some time back. Many women of refined tastes, indeed, never gave up white linen or cambric, or even simple calico, which can be so easily washed, whether the washing is done at home or given out, and which comes back sweet and fresh, to be put away in the wardrobes.
Chemises made of printed cambric, or pink, blue, and mauve surah, have, to my thinking, this drawback-they cannot be thoroughly washed. Moreover, they are in somewhat doubtful taste.
A virtuous woman has a repugnance to excessive luxury in her underclothing. She does not like too much lace or embroidery or ribbons and bows. She has them trimmed, of course, but with a certain sobriety which speaks in her favour; she likes them to be elegant, assuredly, so far as she can afford it, but she denies herself the abuse of and over-richness of trimming.
She prefers comparatively simple under-[-238-]linen, which there is no fear of washing, and which can be changed daily. What can be more refreshing than to put on fresh linen?
Coloured stockings begin to be less worn in summer, and only with shoes. With boots, we are coming back to white thread or cotton stockings-a habit much appreciated by women of refined habits, and who understand true elegance.
The Corset and its Detractors.
The corset has a great number of detractors in the male sex.
Some say it deforms a woman's figure; others that it destroys her health.
"Look at the statues of antiquity," they cry, - those masterpieces which represent the human body in its true beauty, as it came from the hands of Nature. Have the Venuses a narrow waist like the modern woman? No, no; that divine form has not been spoiled by any hindrance or [-239-] constraint ; it is freely developed and expanded; the goddess can bear children, and transmits her perfect health to her sons.
Charles X., who remembered the long wasp-like bodice of Marie Antoinette, was a fierce enemy to the corset.
A learned man of my acquaintance declares that the corset has so flattened our sides - which, according to proper osteology, ought to be curved - that the feminine skeleton is so much altered that in ages to come it will considerably puzzle those who excavate our tombs.
Tronchin, a Genoese physician, attributed the greater number of women s diseases of his day to the corset; and to diminish the evil he made people adopt the Watteau pleat, under which the horrible instrument of torture invented by stupid coquetry can be loosened.
How many husbands still hold up to their wives the example of Madame Tallien, [-240-] who all her life disdained to confine her pretty figure in a prison of whalebones and satin, and who was considered, in spite of - or, rather, because of - this, the most attractive woman of her time
The Good Points of the Corset.
Detractors of the corset are quite right to blame the fools that do indeed
deform their bodies and destroy their health to diminish their waists by an
inch: an infinitesimal advantage, especially if we consider the price paid for
it - compression of the vital organs, inconvenience in breathing, congestion of
the face, restriction of the hips. (There are women who go so far as thus to
imperil their powers of maternity.)
But, on the other hand, if the corset is only looked upon by woman as a support to her frail figure, it becomes useful. She will then have known how to give suppleness and elasticity enough to assure comfort as well as to allow of perfect liberty; that is [-241-] to say, perfect grace and movement. The figure will undulate and balance itself like a sapling bending to the wind, and will no longer afflict us by recalling a knight in steel armour.
The corset is absolutely necessary for a very stout woman. It controls the exuberance of her bodice, and it is impossible for a fat woman to have any pretence to being well-dressed without it. She will not appear dressed at all, and, what is worse, she will have a débraillée air.
The corset supports the petticoats, which would otherwise lay too heavily on the waist; and a very thin or even slight woman will have no style without its help. There will be something disjointed in her whole look, in the slightest of her movements.
The corset has yet one more good side. It serves as a support to the bust, the fibres of which would become distended; and it would soon fall too low if this kind of [-242-] restraint did not keep it in its proper place, and by doing so enable it to preserve that form which "served as a model for the altar chalice."
How the Corset should be made.
The corset should only have bones in the back and front, unless the person it
is for has lost her proper proportions, for in that case the sides must be
supported as well.
Coutil is, in my opinion, too stiff a material of which to make a corset; satin, even cotton satin, is preferable, since we do not want armour; the most suitable material is chamois leather. I am still speaking of women who are not too stout.
We shall come to this point of perfection, no doubt. There are already corsets of net for the summer, and corsets which can be enlarged as you like, and which follow the movements of breathing, thanks to the elastic sides with which they are provided; [-243-] they are meant for weak and delicate women.
Short corsets are better than long ones, from every point of view, both for the sake of grace and comfort. If they are too high under the arms, they will make the shoulders appear too high, which is to be avoided. If they go down too low, they will elongate the body too much, the legs will appear shortened, and thus that happy harmony of proportion which constitutes true beauty will be destroyed. A corset which is short on the hips leaves perfect lissomeness of movement. Do not be indifferent to the dimensions of the corset. The shorter the corset is, too, the slighter the figure will be. Long stiff corsets make a post of the body, the same size at one end as at the other.
Do not let yourself be dominated by the fashion when it imposes those long sheath bodies which make you look like an automaton. Resist with all your might the dressmaker who wishes to force you into one.
[-244-] If you have allowed yourself to be encased in the hard cuirass, unlace two holes at the top and two at the bottom, and lace the middle so as not to squeeze you in the least. Thanks to this artifice, you will regain, even in this hideous corset, grace and ease enough to enable you to wait patiently the altering of this important part of dress.
The corset must always be absolutely clean. A soiled corset is strong evidence of carelessness and lamentable want of neatness in the wearer. The corset should be p-reserved by a little petticoat body with short sleeves (a cache-corset), which can be sent to the wash the moment it begins to look soiled.
A white corset is the nicest of all, no matter what the material is made of. I do not much like blue, pink, or mauve corsets; they soil as quickly as the white, and are in less good taste. The grey or putty-coloured corsets always look soiled or dirty-white from the first.
[-245-] The black corset, it cannot be denied, is economical. It has the advantage of not getting soiled, for it is easy to keep the white lining clean till the corset is quite worn-out. A black corset in good condition is certainly better than a white one that is soiled and worn.
The moment you perceive that a little child's legs are inclined to be
crooked, take care not to allow him to walk. Leave him to himself on the carpet,
where he can roll about as he likes, and the little legs will soon get straight
To avoid varicose veins, men should fasten the ends of their drawers so as not to make a ligature round their legs, and women should take care not to garter too tightly. They will, of course, not wear their garters below the knee-of which I shall speak presently.
Exercise develops the legs and enlarges [-246-] the calf. If you are not afraid of the ankle looking too clumsy, you will wear a high gaiter when going out walking.
Garters should be a very carefully chosen part of dress. They may be simple;
they must be irreproachable. I mean that they should always be clean and fresh,
never ragged or shabby. I do not approve of garters all lace and ribbon, very
smart or flowery. In America the garters do not match; a pair is composed of one
yellow and the other black, or one yellow and the other blue, etc. One of the
two is always yellow. It is said that this brings good luck. I do not ·know
whether the yellow should be worn on the right leg or on the left. This
dissimilarity is very ugly, and it is necessary to have a~ great deal of faith
in the talismanic virtue of this yellow garter to commit knowingly this fault of
There is an advantage, from the point of view of economy, as well as from that of refinement, in not buying cheap and common garters, which will not last, and will hold up the stockings very badly.
How to Fasten Stockings.
Everyone cannot bear a garter as tight as it should be. Their legs swell
under pressure, and varicose veins form. In this case the stockings should be
fastened to the stays by ribbons (suspenders). But accidents might happen ; for
if the ribbon, which must be well stretched to hold up the stocking, were to
break, down comes the stocking over the heel! What a catastrophe! My advice is
to wear at the same time a garter not at all tight, but sufficiently so to hold
up the stocking, in case of accidents, until the damage can be repaired.
To wear the garter below the knee is against all rules of taste. The shape of the calf is compromised thereby, and deprived of [-248-] the natural grace of its outline, which is thus voluntarily spoilt.
But, after all, it would be difficult to find any but an old peasant-woman who would wear her garter below the knee, and she only because the shortness of her stocking will not allow of anything else.
All women who wear long stockings have for some time been in the habit of gartering them above the knee; and it is only in out-of-the-way country parts that to do this, cords, tapes, and bits of string are sometimes used. The most humble servant- maid who is a little civilised buys elastic garters with buckles. Before ten years are over, the abusers of the garter of whom we have been speaking will, let us hope, have disappeared.
If the chemise, the drawers, the little under-petticoat, and the slip-bodice could all be made to match, it would be in charm-[-249-]ingly good taste. They should in that case all be of fine nainsouk or fine cambric, with embroideries or valenciennes. The prettiest chemise is cut out either round or heart- shape. A ribbon run in tightens it a little round the shoulders. It is also buttoned on the shoulder. The neck and shoulders are edged with valenciennes or a light embroidery. The chemise must neither be too wide nor too long. It should not fill up needlessly either the stays or the drawers.
The Night Chemise.
Neither the flannel nor the linen which has been worn by day should be kept
on at night. It is cleaner and more healthy to change.
The night chemise should reach down to. the feet, and should have long sleeves. It is trimmed with frills, embroideries, or lace, and is finished off with a large collar, falling to the shoulders in pleats. Ribbons are sometimes put in at the collar and [-250-] cuffs. It is, of coarse, made of washing material.
After taking off your nightdress you must, unless you change it every day, have it aired as long as the bed - i.e., for several hours. After this put it into a bag and hang it up.
Dressing in the Morning.
I have already said that it is best to wash the face overnight, and
not to expose the skin to the air after it has been wet. In the morning the face
should be wiped with a fine towel, and an entire bath taken, followed by
friction; or, if it is impossible to do this every day, all indispensable
ablutions must be performed, every care must be taken for necessary cleanliness,
without shrinking either from the trouble this entails, for which one is so well
rewarded, nor from the loss of time, for these are moments well employed in the
cause of health.
[-251-] The hair is then combed and arranged tidily, but usually dressed later. All depends, however, on the kind of life that is led. Those who go out early in the morning must have their hair dressed and be armed cap à pied in good time. Those who busy themselves in their households must repair the disorder caused to their attire by the work they have been doing when this work is done. They must get rid of the dust that may have settled on face, neck, and hair.
Those who work in their households, as well as those who only superintend them, should, on first getting up, dress themselves, with perfect neatness and care, as nicely as possible. It is as well to change the undergarments - stockings, petticoats, etc.- as well as the dress, when getting ready for the afternoon, whether to remain at home or to go out.
[-252-] Undressing for the Night.
Many people prefer taking their bath at night; in any case, both night and morning the body demands ablutions to refresh and clean it. Under the heading "The Complexion" will be found the necessary directions for washing the face, which should be done at night. The hair should be well combed out, to free it from the dust of the day. For its arrangement at night, necessary hints will be found in the section on "The Hair." Men also should brush their hair; and if they will take my advice, they will wear no nightcap till they are at least sixty. A bandanna, or the head-gear of the Roi d' Yvetot, always gives them a slightly ridiculous aspect.
The Clothes we Take Off.
Never put up directly, neither in drawers nor in cupboards, any of the
clothes you take off. Open them out, or hang them up in an airy place for at
least an hour. Then, [-253-] after having brushed and folded them, put them by.
The clothes which cannot be washed should be occasionally hung out in the air for a day, and turned inside out. You may accuse me here of going into too great detail; but I can assure you that clothes which have been worn a long time, if care has not been taken to air them enough, or clothes that are shut up immediately after being taken off, contract an unpleasant savour.
It is most necessary to take precautions against such very disagreeable odours, so antagonistic to all refinement.
Saturating yourself with scent does not suffice to disguise them; you offend people with a delicate sense of smell, and you are immediately labelled.
Air as well as water, the heat of the fire as well as that of the sun, have disinfecting and purifying qualities which we ought to know how to use.
[nb. grey numbers in brackets indicate page number, (ie. where new page begins), ed.]