All Dressed Up: Our Illustrators Don't Go Back to the Fig Leaf, but Still They Cover the Clothing Question Quite Well. (the American Illustrators Hall of Fame)

By Stoddard, Maynard Good | The Saturday Evening Post, January-February 2003 | Go to article overview

All Dressed Up: Our Illustrators Don't Go Back to the Fig Leaf, but Still They Cover the Clothing Question Quite Well. (the American Illustrators Hall of Fame)


Stoddard, Maynard Good, The Saturday Evening Post


Call it finery, frippery, gaudery, flashery, bib and tucker, Sunday-go-to-meeting, glad rags, or what you will. We are going to put it all into the simple single word of "clothes."

And when one is so arrayed, we call it not only dressed up, but spruced up, dressed to the nines, dressed fit to kill, in fine feathers, and even (for men only) in tails.

"Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he's well dressed," according to Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. "There an't much credit in that."

An ancient saying of my youth went more like this: "All dressed up and no place to go." But it required Isaac Watts, in Against Pride in Clothes, to put the thought in memorable order:

"Let me be dressed fine as I will/Flies, worms, and flowers, exceed me still."

Then along came illustrators in days of yore who gave Post covers credibility not only as treasured keepsakes but memorable works of art as well. We have done our best to select samples to prove our point. And, we hope, to provide a laugh or two as a bonus.

The lady is shopping in terms of tropical breezes and suntan lotions. Her innocent model has a sweater in mind to cope with the upcoming winds of winter and a possible frostbite. The gleam in the salesman's eye represents a possible sale at both ends. Perhaps artist George Hughes should have draped those wallpaper-patterned shorts over a set of bony shanks and knobby knees.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For his painting of the poor guy pressed into duty as a dress model, illustrator Constantin Alajalov made preliminary sketches in a New York department store. Then he went home and began painting dress goods patterns. It seems the Russian-born artist, when new to this country, had developed a process for painting on cloth, shortly finding himself the surprised boss of 15 fellow artists.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This painting by Constantin Alajalov is of his sister all dressed up with no place to go. Unless it's to her bedroom for the rest of the day, with nothing but crackers and milk for dinner that night. (A commonplace punishment in days of yore, as these were also the days when wedding dresses were worn only once. Still, you never knew.)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Read all about it! Read all about it! A fat chance, when one's scrawny shoulders have been draped with a dress and the man who owns them has been warned to stand straight, shoulders back, while his buxom mate comes as close as she can to adjust for the difference in poundage.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Surprise, surprise! Or could it be shock? Whatever, illustrator Alajalov asked a world-famous hat designer to dream up a unique Easter bonnet "with all the frills upon it. …

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