The Mismatch Fad: 1912

mismatch fad

The Newest Crazy Change-Side Fad

Mismated Stockings, Slippers, Gloves and Earrings, the “Odd Eye” and “Triangular Smile” Now Make Fashionable Women Look Like Masterpieces by “Futurists.”

In the extraordinary new and fashionable attempt of women to look as though a strong gale had given them a hopeless list to starboard the only one-sided opportunity that seems to have been overlooked is a lateral curvature of the spine.

To be truly fashionable and up to the minute, a woman must contrive to appear about as symmetrical as a grapevine. One-sided costumes began it—gowns sweeping the floor on one side and revealing the ankle on the other, trimmed on one side, plain on the other; coats with a sou-west-by-west effect. But, bless us! That was only the first primmer class effort of the fair ones to get out of plumb.

Now she has to shift her centre of gravity clear down to her bones. That her legs and arms are reasonably well mated is little short of a disaster. If nature provided her with eyes that match, something must be done about it. A nose that is in the middle of the face won’t do at all, and a mouth that reposes directly beneath it is of no sort of use except for alimentary purposes.

Actually, this boxing the compass with sartorial and anatomical details has become so popular in fashionable circles that it is a wonder that any fair member of the smart set promenading Fifth Avenue, New York, with multitudes of imitators overflowing into the Gay White Way, can look Nature in the face.

She could hardly do it anyway, with her vision distorted by that “odd eye” enlarged out of all proportion to its mate by the artful use of belladonna, and her head drawn over to the “O.P. side,” as they say on the stage, by the weight of a coiffure operating like a shifted cargo of pig iron aboard an Erie Canal barge. Besides, Nature certainly would resent that brand-new “triangular smile” which women who are in mode now sit up nights to cultivate.

If the late Aubrey Beardsley should come to life and take luncheon at any of the New York’s “smart” hotels it would be impossible for him to resist the temptation to immortalize the New York woman of fashion of this day, date, and minute somewhat as is attempted on this page—the lopsided lady with a vengeance!

The whole business started with the opening of the last silly season. Last summer at Newport there were some of the oddest effects produced by the strange fad. For instance, one morning, when the Casino lawns were crowded with tennis enthusiasts from all parts of the country, Miss Eleanor Sears came in with Harold Vanderbilt. There was nothing unusual in this, of course, but everyone who saw her gave a gasp and said:

“What is the matter with Eleo’s feet?” There was nothing the matter with the feet, but there was something strange about her slippers. On her left foot Miss Sears was wearing a bright red slipper and on her right foot she was wearing a black one.

“Everybody is doing it now,” said Miss Sears when Cynthia Roche Burden asked her why she had made such a mistake, and Miss Sears was right. Everybody did seem to be getting one-sided in one way or another. The next day Mrs. Alexander Bache Pratt, one of the prettiest and one of the wealthiest brides of a year ago, appeared wearing a red silk stocking on her left foot ad a black silk stocking on her right foot. But Mrs. Pratt went even further, and on the red foot she wore a black slipper, and on the black foot she wore a red slipper!

It was young Mrs. Sidney Colford—formerly Clare Knight, of Philadelphia—who was the first matron to wear the one-sided gown. One day Mrs. Colford appeared at Bailey’s Beach wearing a marvelous creation of black and white. The left side of her costume was of oyster white satin made absolutely plain from shoulder to hem. The other side was of black satin draped in a most graceful manner at the side. The contrast between the plainness of the one side and the pannier of the other was most marked.

A similar surprise was sprung upon Newport several years ago, when Mrs. Reggie Vanderbilt’s mother, Mrs. Belle Neilson, wore one very large pearl earring and one very large turquoise earring. At that time all the Newport women thought that Mrs. Neilson had made a mistake, but she very soon told them that it was the very latest Paris fad, and the next day all her friends were wearing mismated jewels.

Last Summer Mrs. Craig Biddle revived this fad and wore one  beautiful black pearl earring and one very large emerald earring.

At the recent Horse Show the new Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt wore a curious necklace; one side was of pearls and the other of rubies.

The wonderful diamond garter—or what Mr. John R. Townsend called a “leg bracelet,” worn by a very prominent matron, was the sensation of the hour at the Horse Show. It was a broad band of diamonds clasped on the left leg just below the knee. From it hung a two-inch fringe of smaller diamonds. The matron’s skirt was slit up on the side so as to show the garter.

And then there is Mrs. Dick Stevens, the wife of the Mr. Richard Stevens who owns the “Castle” over on the Hoboken side of the Hudson. Mrs. Stevens is one of the most spectacular members of the Newport colony. She has her ball gowns slit ‘way up one side and where the slit ends she wears a bouquet of flowers. And so this peculiar fad is affecting practically everything that a woman wears and it is difficult to know where it will stop.

So the dear creatures are cultivating lopsided features to correspond with the lopsidedness of their wearing apparel. The eye on the more ornamental side of the costume is thus treated with belladonna, to enlarge and make it more brilliant, while the other eye is encouraged to look as insignificant as possible.

Even a nose can be manipulated in a way to turn it several points to the sta’board or the la’board of the course which the lady-brig has marked on her chart. This adds considerably to the irresistible piquancy of the “triangular smile,” which, in the mean-time, she has so painfully acquired and which is so subtly babyish in its effect of trustful innocence.

3 cornered smile

The “triangular smile,” when once acquired is really an economy. It is accomplished by sharply elevating the centre of the upper lip, thereby revealing only two upper incisors instead of a full set of teeth, upper and lower.

Considerable time and not a little inconvenience is the cost of acquiring this three-cornered expression of approval. You have to sleep in a sort of bridle with a vertical front strap firmly clamped to the tip of the upper lip, which, it draws upward toward your nose all through your sleeping hours—if, indeed, you are able to sleep that way.

Examination into the whole matter in a scientific spirit, however, suggests a more serious reason for the existence of the triangular lady with her pronounced list to sta’board. There is, in fact, no denying that she approaches more nearly than anything else human to the ideas of the masters of the “Futurist” school of art—as is plainly indicated by the two examples reproduced on this page. You will observe that the distinguished painters of these two portraits of women saw nothing about their subjects which did not suggest vague cubes, triangles, rhomboids and other familiar geometrical figures, some regular in form, but most of them decidedly irregular. Furthermore these ladies immortalized by “Futurist” masters have that same characteristic list to sta’board that is so pronounced in the case of victims of the fashionable, new lop-sided fad.

Perhaps the “Futurists” are right. Perhaps that is how our sisters and sweethearts really look, anyway, and that someday we’ll be educated up to seeing ’em that way even when their clothes are on straight.

mother and child lewis

“Mother and Child” Wyndham Lewis

head of a woman picasso

“Head of a Woman” Pablo Picasso

The Salt Lake [UT] Tribune 15 December 1912

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has previously reported on the eccentricities of “Polaire,” the self-styled “ugliest actress in the world,” who was trying to introduce the fad of nose-rings in 1913. Polaire at least had the merit of being an actress for whom news-worthy eccentricity was a positive virtue. One fears that Miss Eleanor Sears and Mrs. Belle Neilson really did make a pair of bloomers with their footwear and jewellery, which they hastily covered with the fig-leaf of an entirely imaginary Parisian novelty. Mrs Daffodil dislikes, but does not blame, the Futurists for the mismatching fad.  Such things come and go in the world of fashion. One anticipates that by the time the Great War broke out, young ladies had better things to think about than belladonna in the eyes and “nose bridles.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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