IT seems as if there could be nothing new in fabrics, so great has been the variety before; but beautiful new goods, with soft twills, fine diagonal reps, rough surfaces, and wrought figures lie temptingly on every counter. Cashmere will not be quite so fashionable this season as it has been, notwithstanding its wonderful capacity for wear. A fresh material called camel?s hair cashmere takes its place for street suits. This resembles both its namesakes, having the hairiness of the one and the twill of the other, with a degree of thickness between the two.
Alpaca and mohair are more than ever in vogue, not only in black but in colors. Brilliantine, a fine alpaca, with the luster of silk, and three times its serviceableness, is widely employed for the odd black skirt that is part of every feminine ward-robe nowadays; and for full suits as well. Although it is apt to grow rumpled with constant wear, a hot iron easily remedies the difficulty, and from dust and all other soil it is more readily cleansed than any material in the market.
Most of the new goods have a rough face of some kind, which is certain to catch dust and mud, and be difficult of tidy keeping. They have an eminently business aspect, as though not intended for the quietness of domestic life. However, they are sufficiently attractive for street costumes, and being so totally different from the softness and silkiness of recent years, their novelty will, undoubtedly, make them popular. Woolen stuffs are woven wider than formerly; the majority of them being double fold. For most purposes this is a vast improvement, rendering it possible to cut a costume out of less material than before.
The Shah?s visit to the West has induced the dealers to christen their goods by all sorts of Eastern names; so that, until the goods are seen, they are rarely recognizable by their names. As they are seldom called the same at different stores, it is wiser to ask for the class of goods desired ears to ask for them by name. Silks have altered less than any other materials; the only change being in the finer, rep of the gros grains. Unpleasant experience has taught that the large cords of the old gros grains caused the other threads to crack and wear flat and shiny; therefore, the fine cords and smooth surfaced taffetas are likely to take their place. There come for redingotes, of which one at least is now necessary to every wardrobe, heavy, rough cloths, resembling gentlemen?s cloths; warm, soft and specially adapted to the severe style of the garment. They are seldom black, the favorite tints being the darkest of browns, blues, grays, steels and bronzes. Frequently they appear black until compared with it, when their richness and deepness of hue is perceptible. Of these heavy fabrics, the most useful and becoming is the deep purple-blue English waterproof. It is a yard and a half wide, and ranges, according to its quality, from $3 to $4 a yard. A redingote of this takes the place of the the ugly waterproof cloak, and forms likewise a becoming garment. All these heavy cloths should be thoroughly sponged before cutting, to prevent shrinking and cracking, of which faults most of them are guilty.
The improvement in colors, promised a month ago, has not yet been made visible. Perhaps the dealers are disappointed that their goods have not fulfilled the promises made for them; certainly the customers are. To unpracticed eyes the same pale, cold tints, characteristic of last year, are quite as much so of this year. A new shade or two in blue, or a trifling change in every tint bordering on black is all that attracts attention.
Instead of the bronzes, greens and browns, and red and purple plums of last winter, deep blues and grays are by caprice made the favorite colors.
Almost no plaids are used for ladies? dresses, though numerous stripes for polonaises are always to be had. Plain stuffs of darkest shades are always more lady-like and really elegant for the street, and this year fashion and good taste join hands.