Waugh on Party Dresses

The Daily Telegraph has run an article by its Fashion Features Director containing advice on the choice of the appropriate party dress for various occasions during the upcoming holiday season. One bit of guidance offered is that by Evelyn Waugh:

‘Her clothes were incomparable,’ writes Evelyn Waugh in the novel Vile Bodies, ‘with just the suggestion of the haphazard which raised them high above the mere chic of the mannequin.’ Bring on the haphazard, I say. Perfect is no fun.

This is a description in Vile Bodies (London, 1930, pp. 122-24) of the dress code of Imogen Quest, invented by Adam Fenwick-Symes for his “Mr. Chatterbox” column in the Daily Excess. Her standards of dress and behavior become so popular that she is in great demand at social events and comes to the attention of Lord Monomark, his editor, who asks Adam to arrange a meeting. It was on that day, Waugh writes tersely, “that the Quests sailed for Jamaica.”

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