Mrs. Exeter’s Color Schemes


Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1958

Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1958

Did Mrs. Exeter, Vogue’s role model for the older woman, give her readers concrete advice on what colors to wear?  In this area, she was limited by her role as a saleswoman for the latest fashions—she advocated the colors that were currently in style. In 1950, she discovered brighter shades:  “The new season’s fashions, many of them based on color, tempted her to experiment—and she does believe in staying current.  Her discovery: strong color (especially, definitely patterned color) is an ally, not an enemy.”   In 1951, she opined that even older women could wear beige.  In 1952, she donned browns and grays.  Looking through the descriptions of her wardrobe, there is almost no color that she did not wear, from icy pastels to dark colors with almost everything in between. She did not even shy away from the rare orange accent piece.

And what was Mrs. Exeter’s view on black?  Had she turned her back on this staple for older women, as some of her contemporaries had?  The simple answer is no.  Mrs. Exeter was a fan of the simple black dress, suit, and coat.  However, she never wore black without a colored accent, “a scarlet hat or green polka dotted scarf.”  And she tried to get women to more away from black as an easy fallback.  “While I’m not given to doing the Mexican hat dance, my definition of an evening dress is not black Mother Hubbard with my pearls.”

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