L.M. Montgomery always loved clothes. She loved the colors and textures of the fabrics, and she relished the designs. The early scrapbooks have many fashion pictures from magazines. In her fiction, many heroines talk about the importance of clothes and what they say about the person who wears them. Note how Valancy Stirling, the twenty-nine-year-old rebel spinster in The Blue Castle, uses a new dress to declare her freedom from her family. Autobiographical Emily Byrd Starr knows how to dress for effect.
In her journal
in July 1905, Montgomery talked about looking back at the dresses
of 1895 in her scrapbook: "An old-time fashion plate with big sleeves!
The big puffed sleeves are in again now. When I put on a new dress
the other day with big sleeves it gave me the oddest sense of being
a Dalhousie girl again--for that was the year they came to their
fullest balloon-like inflation, stiffened out with 'fibre-chamois'
etc. 'Stuff me in' was an inelegant phrase constantly heard when
one girl wanted another to poke the huge sleeves of her dress into
the sleeves of her coat" (SJ,I,309). Perhaps Montgomery was
writing about Anne Shirley's longing for puffed sleeves when she
looked over the fashion plates on her own scrapbook pages.
years later, in 1926, Montgomery talked even more nostalgically
about those early fashion plates in her scrapbook, comparing the
young women of the 1890's with the current flappers: "Many obsolete
fashions are very laughable and ugly but this did not strike me
as being so. Indeed, compared to the fashions of today it seemed
to me dignified, beautiful and becoming. . . . No, I do not think
the girls of '93 needed the rather scornful pity that is sometimes
meted out to them by the scantily-garbed damsels of today. We were
just as pretty, just as graceful, just as well-pleased with ourselves"
On 6 August 1927,
a year after writing so approvingly about fashion in her past, Montgomery
went to a garden party at Government House in Toronto to meet the
Prince of Wales and British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Mrs.
Baldwin. She made a special trip to Toronto to buy a new hat to
go with her "cocoa-colored lace and georgette" (SJ,III,351).
Though she may have lamented the changes in fashion, she was certainly
not going to wear anything but the latest style herself! Note the
floppy hat, string of beads, low-slung waist, and draped hemline.