C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


The dress does not make the monk.


Dress changes the manners.


A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn.


Dress is an index of your contents.


She bears a duke’s revenues on her back.


His dress was a volcano of silk with lava buttons.

Sydney Smith.

Ridiculous modes, invented by ignorance, and adopted by folly.


Dress does not give knowledge.


Out of clothes out of countenance, out of countenance out of wit.

Ben Jonson.

Oft in dreams invention we bestow to change a flounce or add a furbelow.


No man is esteemed for gay garments but by fools and women.

Sir Walter Raleigh.

Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.


Who seems most hideous when adorned the most.


The only medicine which does women more good than harm is dress.


It is not every man who can afford to wear a shabby coat.


In the matter of dress one should always keep below one’s ability.


In clothes clean and fresh there is a kind of youth with which age should surround itself.


  • No real happiness is found
  • In trailing purple o’er the ground.
  • Parnell.

    Gay mellow silks her mellow charms infold, and nought of Lyce but herself is old.


    My dear, your everlasting blue velvet quite tires me.


    The fashion wears out more apparel than the man.


    Next to dressing for a rout or ball, undressing is a woe.


    In cloths cheap handsomeness doth bear the bell.

    George Herbert.

    The wanton lawns, more soft and white than milk.

    Beaumont and Fletcher.

    Beauty, like truth, never is so glorious as when it goes plainest.


    There can be no kernel in this light nut; the soul of this man is in his clothes.


    There is not so variable a thing in nature as a lady’s head-dress.


    Dress is the great business of all women, and the fixed idea of some.

    Alphonse Karr.

    An ugly woman in a rich habit set out with jewels nothing can become.


    When a soldier is hit by a cannonball, rags are as becoming as purple.


    Here’s such a plague every morning, with buckling shoes, gartering, combing and powdering.


  • Be plain in dress, and sober in your diet;
  • In short, my deary, kiss me! and be quiet.
  • Lady M. W. Montagu.

    The plainer the dress, with greater luster does beauty appear.

    Lord Halifax.

    As soon as a woman begins to dress “loud,” her manners and conversation partake of the same element.


    There are female dandies as well as clothes-wearing men; and the former are as objectionable as the latter.


    There are some women who require much dressing, as some meats must be highly seasoned to make them palatable.


    Worldly wisdom dictates to her disciples the propriety of dressing somewhat beyond their means, but of living somewhat within them.


    If a woman were about to proceed to her execution, she would demand a little time to perfect her toilet.


    Too great carelessness, equally with excess in dress, multiplies the wrinkles of old age, and makes its decay still more conspicuous.

    La Bruyère.

    Let Harlequin be taken with a fit of the colic, and his trappings will have to serve that mood too.


    And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin.


    We sacrifice to dress till household joys and comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry, and keeps our larder lean.


    Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man.


    Oh, fair undress, best dress! It checks no vein, but every flowing limb pleasure drowns, and heightens ease with grace.


    Sturdy swains, in clean array, for rustic dance prepare, mixed with the buxom damsels hand in hand.

    John Phillips.

    A fine coat is but a livery when the person who wears it discovers no higher sense than that of a footman.


    As you treat your body, so your house, your domestics, your enemies, your friends. Dress is a table of your contents.


    The peacock in all his pride does not display half the colors that appear in the garments of a British lady when she is dressed.


    Nothing can embellish a beautiful face more than a narrow band that indicates a small wound drawn crosswise over the brow.


    In the indications of female poverty there can be no disguise. No woman dresses below herself from caprice.


    The vanity of loving fine clothes and new fashions, and valuing ourselves by them, is one of the most childish pieces of folly that can be.

    Sir Matthew Hale.

    A rich dress adds but little to the beauty of a person. It may possibly create a deference, but that is rather an enemy to love.


    I am convinced that if the virtuosi could once find out a world in the moon, with a passage to it, our women would wear nothing but what directly came from thence.


    A man’s appearance falls within the censure of every one that sees him; his parts and learning very few are judges of.


    We believe that the dress that shows taste and sentiment is elevating to the home, and is one of the most feminine means of beautifying the world.

    Miss Oakey.

    We may hold it slavish to dress according to the judgment of fools and the caprice of coxcombs; but are we not ourselves both when we are singular in our attire?


    Those who think that in order to dress well it is necessary to dress extravagantly or grandly make a great mistake. Nothing so well becomes true feminine beauty as simplicity.

    George D. Prentice.

    Those who are incapable of shining but by dress would do well to consider that the contrast between them and their clothes turns out much to their disadvantage.


    He that is proud of the rustling of his silks, like a madman, laughs at the rattling of his fetters; for, indeed, clothes ought to be our remembrancers of our lost innocency.

    Thomas Fuller.

    That the women of the Old Testament were dressed with oriental richness there is no doubt, nor are they censured for so arraying themselves.

    Charlotte M. Yonge.

    Women always show more taste in adorning others than themselves; and the reason is that their persons are like their hearts—they read another’s better than they can their own.


    A lady of genius will give a genteel air to her whole dress by a well-fancied suit of knots, as a judicious writer gives a spirit to a whole sentence by a single expression.


    Rich apparel has strange virtues; it makes him that hath it without means esteemed for an excellent wit; he that enjoys it with means puts the world in remembrance of his means.

    Ben Jonson.

  • What, is the jay more precious than the lark,
  • Because his feathers are more beautiful?
  • Or is the adder better than the eel,
  • Because his painted skin contents the eye?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor:
  • For ’tis the mind that makes the body rich;
  • And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,
  • So honor peereth in the meanest habit.
  • Shakespeare.

    Women overrate the influence of fine dress and the latest fashions upon gentlemen; and certain it is that the very expensiveness of such attire frightens the beholder from all ideas of matrimony.

    Abba Goold Woolson.

  • Her polish’d limbs,
  • Veil’d in a simple robe, their best attire,
  • Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness
  • Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
  • But is, when unadorn’d, adorn’d the most.
  • Thomson.

    It is well known that a loose and easy dress contributes much to give to both sexes those fine proportions of body that are observable in the Grecians statues, and which serve as models to our present artists.


    I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared that the sense of being well dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquillity which religion is powerless to bestow.


    Through tattered clothes small vices do appear; robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, and the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks; arm it in rags, a pygmy’s straw doth pierce it.


    Good dressing includes a suggestion of poetry. One nowhere more quickly detects sentiment than in dress. A well-dressed woman in a room should fill it with poetic sense, like the perfume of flowers.

    Miss Oakey.

    Let women paint their eyes with tints of chastity, insert into their ears the word of God, tie the yoke of Christ around their necks, and adorn their whole persons with the silk of sanctity and the damask of devotion.


    Be neither too early in the fashion, nor too long out of it, nor too precisely in it; what custom hath civilized is become decent, till then ridiculous; where the eye is the jury thy apparel is the evidence.


    To this end, nothing is to be more carefully consulted than plainness. In a lady’s attire this is the single excellence; for to be what some people call fine, is the same vice, in that case, as to be florid is in writing or speaking.


    Many shiver from want of defence against the cold; but there is vastly more suffering among the rich from absurd and criminal modes of dress, which fashion has sanctioned, than among the poor from deficiency of raiment.


    Love in modern times has been the tailors, best friend. Every suitor of the nineteenth century spends more than his spare cash on personal adornment. A faultless fit, a glistening hat, tight gloves, and tighter boots proclaim the imminent peril of his position.

    G. A. Sala.

    Next to clothes being fine, they should be well made, and worn easily; for a man is only the less genteel for a fine coat, if, in wearing it, he shows a regard for it, and is not as easy in it as if it was a plain one.


    Virgil has very finely touched the female passion for dress and shows, in the character of Camilla; who, though she seems to have shaken off all the other weaknesses of her sex, is still described as a woman in this particular.


    Beauty gains little, and homeliness and deformity lose much, by gaudy attire. Lysander knew this was in part true, and refused the rich garments that the tyrant Dionysius proffered to his daughters, saying “that they were fit only to make unhappy faces more remarkable.”


    Dress has a moral effect upon the conduct of mankind. Let any gentleman find himself with dirty boots, old surtout, soiled neckcloth and a general negligence of dress, and he will in all probability find a corresponding disposition by negligence of address.

    Sir Jonah Barrington.

    In Athens the ladies were not gaudily but simply arrayed, and we doubt whether any ladies ever excited more admiration. So also the noble old Roman matrons, whose superb forms were gazed on delightedly by men worthy of them, were always very plainly dressed.

    George D. Prentice.

    Men of quality never appear more amiable than when their dress is plain. Their birth, rank, title and its appendages are at best invidious; and as they do not need the assistance of dress, so by their disclaiming the advantage of it, they make their superiority sit more easy.


    Processions, cavalcades, and all that fund of gay frippery, furnished out by tailors, barbers, and tire-women, mechanically influence the mind into veneration; an emperor in his nightcap would not meet with half the respect of an emperor with a crown.


    I have always a sacred veneration for any one I observe to be a little out of repair in his person, as supposing him either a poet or a philosopher; because the richest minerals are ever found under the most ragged and withered surfaces of the earth.


    A simple garb is the proper costume of the vulgar; it is cut for them, and exactly suits their measure; but it is an ornament for those who have filled up their lives with great deeds. I liken them to beauty in dishabille, but more bewitching on that account.

    La Bruyère.

    The person whose clothes are extremely fine I am too apt to consider as not being possessed of any superiority of fortune, but resembling those Indians who are found to wear all the gold they have in the world in a bob at the nose.


    A majority of women seem to consider themselves sent into the world for the sole purpose of displaying dry goods, and it is only when acting the part of an animated milliner’s block that they feel they are performing their appropriate mission.

    Abba Goold Woolson.

    Beauty in dress, as in other things, is largely relative. To admit this is to admit that a dress which is beautiful upon one woman may be hideous worn by another. Each should understand her own style, accept it, and let the fashion of her dress be built upon it.

    Miss Oakey.

    Never teach false modesty. How exquisitely absurd to teach a girl that beauty is of no value, dress of no use! Beauty is of value; her whole prospects and happiness in life may often depend upon a new gown or a becoming bonnet; if she has five grains of common sense she will find this out. The great thing is to teach her their proper value.

    Sydney Smith.

    A French woman is a perfect architect in dress: she never, with Gothic ignorance, mixes the orders; she never tricks out a snobby Doric shape with Corinthian finery; or, to speak without metaphor, she conforms to general fashion only when it happens not to be repugnant to private beauty.


    The gracious and self-sacrificing and womanly women of our revolution wore dresses cut lower than those of their great-granddaughters, as any portrait gallery will show. The dress is indefensible, but let us not be too ready to condemn the wearer for worse sins than thoughtlessness and vanity.

    Mrs. L. G. Calhoun.

    A gentleman’s taste in dress is, upon principle, the avoidance of all things extravagant. It consists in the quiet simplicity of exquisite neatness; but, as the neatness must be a neatness in fashion, employ the best tailor; pay him ready money, and, on the whole, you will find him the cheapest.


    No man ever stood lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure there is greater anxiety to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience. I sometimes try my acquaintances by some such test as this—who could wear a patch, or two extra seams only, over the knee.


    As long as there are cold and nakedness in the land around you, so long can there be no question at all but that splendor of dress is a crime. In due time, when we have nothing better to set people to work at, it may be right to let them make lace and cut jewels; but as long as there are any who have no blankets for their beds, and no rags for their bodies, so long it is blanket-making and tailoring we must set people to work at, not lace.


    It is the saying of an old divine, “Two things in my apparel I will chiefly aim at—commodiousness and decency; more than these is not commendable, yet I hate an effeminate spruceness as much as a fantastic disorder. A neglected comeliness is the best ornament.” It is said of the celebrated Mr. Whitfield that he always was very clean and neat, and often said pleasantly “that a minister of the gospel ought to be without a spot.”


    As the index tells us the contents of stories and directs to the particular chapter, even so does the outward habit and superficial order of garments (in man or woman) give us a taste of the spirit, and demonstratively point (as it were a manual note from the margin) all the internal quality of the soul; and there cannot be a more evident, palpable, gross manifestation of poor, degenerate, dunghilly blood and breeding than a rude, unpolished, disordered, and slovenly outside.


    I would rather have a young fellow too much than too little dressed; the excess on that side will wear off, with a little age and reflection; but if he is negligent at twenty, he will be a sloven at forty, and stink at fifty years old. Dress yourself fine where others are fine, and plain where others are plain; but take care always that your clothes are well made and fit you, for otherwise they will give you a very awkward air.