Tales from the Morgue takes a break from its usual tales of murder and mayhem to offer something of a lighter nature. Not to worry, however, murder and mayhem will return.
Have you been betrayed by an article of clothing? Most women can probably say yes at one time or another. The Morgue Lady must say she has never felt betrayed by a scarf, however, but she does think they are inclined not to behave. Scarves have blown away in gusts of wind — not exactly a betrayal, but not a vote of confidence either — and they have managed to get caught in all manner of hooks, fasteners, doors and in the personal objects of others who have passed too closely. By their nature, flimsy or filmy scarves tend to float into trouble.
Back in 1922, it appears women were wise to pay attention to the way they wore their scarves lest they appear to be women of a different character than they really are.
From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, June 10, 1922:
Scarf Betrays Your Character - Watch Its Use
The Gossip That Lives in Your Closet Is An Underhanded Thing
By Marian Hale
Every neighborhood has its gossip and so has every wardrobe.
The local gossip, who acts as personal press agent and general purveyor for publicity for everyone on her block, often causes us annoyance, but at least we can find out what she is saying.
But the gossip that lives in our own wardrobes is more underhanded. It makes the most startling disclosures about us, and we never know it.
All of which leads up to my text today: Watch your scarf.
I know it is lovely and alluring and innocent looking, but be not misled. It isn't. Danger often lies in the handful of chiffon or the length of lace you add to your costume.
This season we are not only taking our scarfs straight, so to speak, but are taking them in modified form on practically everything we wear. They appear hanging from hats, disguised as panels and capes and even as a part of the gown itself.
• • •
The danger of the scarf lies in the fact that it has no character of its own. It is only a chameleon, taking on the qualities of the person wearing it.
On a coquette a scarf will flirt outrageously and unrestrainedly. Yet put the same article on a woman of stern moral fiber and it will immediately take on dignity and assume a virtue it has not.
The scarf is old, very old — as old as woman herself. It belongs to women with old souls and a knowledge of the arts of their sex. Though the flapper has adopted it as a part of her uniform she had made nothing of it.
To get an idea of its possibilities, study the Oriental or the Spanish woman.
The Oriental woman will wind a few yards of chiffon about her face in so subtle a manner that she is more alluringly veiled than the most ravishing beauty whose face is exposed.
The Spanish señorita can say with her scarf practically anything she may put into words and often much more. Her conversations with men are closely chaperoned in her girlhood days, and a third person must always be present.
The stern duenna may regulate her talk, but how can she regulate what the girl may say with her fringed scarf or her lace mantilla?
• • •
Oriental and Spanish women have often developed the language of their clothes far beyond that of their speech.
If you manage a scarf or shawl as well as they can, by all means adopt it at once. If not, study their ways and be wise.
It is interesting to notice that in countries where there is great conversational freedom between young men and women the language of clothes is neglected.
Higher education has not considered it. The serious young college sophomore, with her horn-rimmed spectacles and her armful of books, may converse with her college professor in several languages and have a fair working knowledge of Freud and Brill, then proclaim her ignorance of all the arts and artifices of her sex when she carelessly dons her scarf.
The scarf is the sort of thing that must be managed, or it will manage you. And at all times it will compete with you in conversation. It will tell pleasant little falsehoods for you, if you like, or the truth if you aren't careful.
Watch your scarf!
And we thought a scarf was just a convenient way to add a bit of color to an otherwise drab outfit.