Concerning Negligees: 1900

1902 negligee

1902 negligee

Concerning Negligees

Philosophers say that when a man is intoxicated his real nature may easily be discovered. Carlyle, in his great and thoughtful work on clothes, did not give the lounging garb of woman the serious consideration it deserves. He wandered off into the realms of the abstruse and came to no such conclusions as these:

  1. Whoever would know a woman thoroughly must have a chance to know her in a wrapper.
  2. The colors that she chooses, the style that she affects, and, above all, the way that she wears it, will be such commentaries on her taste and character as are nowhere else visible.
  3. A flannetl lounging gown made like a friar's robe negligee

In the street every woman is perforce garbed much like every other woman. The tailors, the ready made departments of the shops, and the inherent feminine distaste for appearing different from other women, arrange that. even if one has wild yearnings after primrose or crimson, and aspires to originality of cut, one has to be very wealthy to gratify this taste in public. The ready made departments do not cater to would-be esthetes, and the tailors permit no rebellion against their dictates.

But the negligee, the little home made affair, the two days’ work of the seamstress or of the clever needlewoman herself! That is another matter. In fashioning that there is no hard and fast law of cut or color to follow. Though drab be the prescribed street colors, one may riot in red indoors. Every woman may be herself—and that is why the negligee is to woman the same involuntary confession that inebriety is sometimes to man.

There are women, of course, to whom negligee is unknown, and while they may be wise so far as their failure to provide possibly damaging biographical notes of themselves is concerned, they are the most short sighted of mortals so far as comfort, economy, and health go.

lounging in half undress negligee

The lounging gown is of course a comfort. That needs no elucidation. Its economy is equally plain. To lounge in tailor made attire is distinctly extravagant. To lounge in half undress is a short sighted, cold inviting policy, profitable to no one but the doctor.

The woman who provides herself with enough comfortable lounging gowns is a wise one. The one who has a warm flannel wrapper in which to infold herself when she comes in tired and in need of a few minutes’ sleep; who has a soft silk affair in which to lean back luxuriously in a steamer chair in her own room while she reads or has a late breakfast; who has short bed jackets to cover her shoulders when she indulges in a sybaritic breakfast in bed, or even spends a day there; who has warm, soft slippers by her bed to slip her bare feet into the instant she arises: who has pretty little matinées in which to make a comfortable, ungirt, and yet respectable appearance at the family luncheon table in an emergency–this woman is wise in her day and generation She is pleasing not only to her household, but she is a pleasure to herself as well; for the woman who does not take a youthful delight in such possessions is no true woman. The little luxuries of life do as much to keep the spirits of women fresh and young as anything except love and religion, and she is fortunate who realizes this in time.

The materials of which these gowns and sacks are made are inexpensive, especially in the spring and summer. The eider down and cashmere lined silk of winter may be dear enough to bar their use, but in the spring, when Japanese silks, lawns, and dimities may be had at prices ranging from twelve cents a yard up, there is no reason why any woman of moderate means should fail to have plenty of negligees.

For the summer bath robe–that shapeless, comfortable garment which no wardrobe should be without—there is no better material than terry. Originally and strictly, terry was a silk or woolen fabric with loops uncut. Probably most of the terry seen in bath robes has had little acquaintance with the silkworm or the sheep. But however cottony the cheap varieties are, they are admirably adapted to the summer bath robe. It comes in all colors and combination of colors. There are delicious yellows, pale blues, tender pinks, stripes as admirably blended as the rainbow’s, to say nothing of pure white. All of these wash well, as every one knows who has seen the borders of Turkish bath towels come clear and unclouded from many scaldings. The goods cost from thirty cents a yard up, according to width and quality. Six yards of the wide variety or eight of the narrower will make a bath robe.

In gowns that are less openly utilitarian, the Japanese ideal still prevails. You may spend fifty dollars on a kimono of peach bloom silk crape, with silver traceries upon it; or you may expend seventy five cents upon a blue and white cotton crape a size or so too large for you—or for any normal woman—and therefore reduced in price. Half an hour given to turning up the hem and shortening the loose sleeves will make it wearable.

Between these two extremes, the kimono may be had in every conceivable fabric, no matter how far removed from the Japanese. There are figured lawns and organdies made up in the loose, flowing style. There are white mull kimonos and blue gingham kimonos. There are figured kimonos trimmed with bands of plain goods, and, conversely, there are plain kimonos adorned with figured edges.

Next in popularity to this style, which has a certain quaint prettiness and a great deal of comfort to recommend it, comes the “student’s gown ” style. No mortar board young woman upon a college campus would admit the resemblance between her dignified academic robe and this negligee, but nevertheless there is one.

student's gown wrapper negligee

The student’s gown wrapper is as guileless of fit as the kimono, except at the neck. It is gathered around the neck and half way down the shoulder seams in the back and front, and falls in straight

It has sleeves put into an armhole of more conventional size than the kimono’s, and the sleeves themselves are considerably more modest in their dimensions.

The bath robe crosses in front and is tied in place by a cord around the waist. The kimono also laps one side of the front over the other and holds itself together, if its wearer is orthodox, by a broad sash, and by a brooch or button if she is not. The student’s gown wrapper fastens down the front with a succession of ribbon bows.

All of these, however, are for the inmost privacy of one’s room. One of the ways, it may be mentioned, by which a negligee reveals its wearer’s character is the time and place where it is worn. The woman who is not able to resist its allurements when she emerges into the public part of her house, or who receives in it, has written herself down as unmistakably as the woman who comes into a hotel dining room wearing the garment known as a tea gown.

This tea gown has, however, its place in the well-regulated wardrobe. It is not a garb, as the initiated have sometimes supposed, for receiving guests at teas or for wearing on one’s day at home, but it is a cross between the bedroom gown and the regular skirt and bodice in which one fronts the world. If one is very tired, one’s family will forgive a tea gown if it is pretty and the dinner is strictly a family affair—at the dinner table. One‘s intimate friends, calling at an unexpected hour, may be received in it in one’s own rooms. It is the half way gown.

It must fit more closely than the less formal negligees, but it is still easier to wear than a skirt and waist because it has no bands, and as a usual thing it makes no attempt to fit tightly at the waist. The back may be plain or full. The front is almost always full. There is generally a loose girdle fastening the front down.

A particularly pretty gown of this sort was made of striped Japanese silk, in pale lavender and green. There was a pointed yoke of coarse white lace laid over lavender silk in both back and front. In the back a triple Watteau pleat started from the point of the yoke. The sides of the gown fitted smoothly to the figure, and the front was gathered fully into the yoke. A girdle of lavender velvet, starting under the Watteau pleat in the back, crossed the sides and front, and fastened on the left side with a large upright how. The yoke, the belt, and the bow gave almost the effect of a waist, without any of its discomforts.

Simpler and even more effective in this regard was a gown of old rose China silk. In this the fullness in the back began at a high, Empire waist line, while the sides were fitted and the front fell loose from the neck. An Eton jacket of cream lace covered the back down to the fullness and came far enough across the front to give the effect of a folded vest to the drapery there. A girdle of cream lace, crossed in two bands, confined the fullness at the waist.

The lace Eton jacket, either sleeveless or sleeved, is admirably adapted to transforming a loose silk wrapper into a garment of some dignity and formality.

A white lawn wrapper with insertions of black lace in the front and across the deep flounce which finished the gown was rendered extremely chic by a sleeveless bolero of black lace, while a bolero made of alternate stripes of white lace insertion and blue ribbon gave a touch of formality to an otherwise extremely simple blue lawn robe.

a tea gown and dimity matinee negligee

The matinée is the tea gown cut off a little below the waist line. It fits about the shoulders; it has a close back or a Watteau back; it has a jabot of lace, or a hand of insertion, or a bunch of ribbons down the front. Sometimes it is an abbreviated kimono, though this is really more of a combing jacket than a breakfast sack.

A really charming matinée was made of “ all over ” white embroidery. It had a fitted hack and a full front, fastening on the left side. There were short under arm seams, so that the front had the bolero effect. These were edged with a double frill of white footing. The neck was cut off sharp in front

And edged with footing, while in the back a graduated Elizabethan collar rose. This was of doubled material, wired, so that the proper flare was obtained, while the wire was removable, so that there was no trouble with proper laundering.

Some exquisitely pretty morning sacks are made very simply of lawn or organdy. They have groups of fine tucks down the half fitting back, while the front is tucked ear the top instead of being gathered. The neck is slightly sloped in front, and a double ruffle of the lawn, edged with narrow Valenciennes, outlines the neck and the front.

Very plain jackets of white lawn are made to seem elaborate by fastenings of ribbon bows and by fichus of net draped  around the neck.

In the realm of bedroom shoes there are all sorts of fascinations. There are cool sandals of woven straw, lacing in true Greek style between the ties and strapping around the ankle. These, except for the faddists who believe in bare feet, are only to make the morning journey to the bathroom.

green tuft turkish mules 18th c

hot pink mulesembroidered pink mules

There are heelless slippers, and slippers which are half heels. There are shoes that come well over the instep, and shoes that barely cover the toes. There are Turkish slippers barbarically embroidered and felt slippers Puritanically plain.

If a woman is extremely fastidious and has plenty of money or of time, she may have her bedroom shoes to match her bedroom gowns. Plenty of time is said advisedly, for it is as possible for the possessor of this valuable commodity to make her own slippers of quilted silk or satin or terry as it was for her to crochet the pink and blue slippers of a decade ago. The soles, either with or without heels, may be bought, and for the rest, time, patience, and a good pattern are all that are necessary.

fur slippersermine slippers

In winter the best shoes are those which are lined and bordered with fur, and which come up well over the instep.

In summer, smooth silk, quilted or plain is better, and lower vamps are of course in order. Indeed, for summer nothing prettier can be imagined than the shoe which consists only of a heel and sole with a small upper in front only, into which the toes may be thrust rather for the purpose of keeping the shoe on than for protecting the feet. These may be bought in leather of every color and in several colors of silk; or they may be made to order to match any silk negligee.

The fur border which is such an attractive part of the winter bedroom shoe loses its charm in the spring, when the severe finish of a heavy silk cord, or the frivolous one of a pleated satin ribbon, becomes more seasonable.

The Puritan, Vol. 8 1900: pp. 363-368

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil really has nothing to add to this exhaustive excursus except to applaud the notion that the negligee reveals the character and to shudder at the depravity of the “woman who comes into a hotel dining room wearing the garment known as a tea gown,” that garment noted for its acquaintance with the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue…


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.


A Skirt for Nothing: 1903

pink satin post2


They entered the street car, en route to the matinee, with a swish of silk petticoats and happy in the possession of the latest creations in French millinery and this season’s models in feather muffs and boas.

“What do you think of my skirt?” asked one of them, glancing down at an affair in fancy novelty silk of the latest cut which she wore.

“A dream,” replied her companion, “I have been admiring it all along. You are certainly growing extravagant, dear.”
A look of satisfaction spread over the other woman’s countenance. She lowered her voice impressively, but not enough to prevent the other passengers in that end of the car from hearing. “It didn’t cost me a cent,” she said.

“A present! You lucky mortal. I wish I had a half a dozen sisters, cousins and aunts to give me lovely things once in a while!”

“Not a present, either. Just the luckiest chance in the world,” replied the owner of the skirt with increasing satisfaction in her voice. “You see, I went out Monday to buy a skirt. I wanted something rather smart for an afternoon, something like this, in fact; but I had been so liberal with my other clothes that I really didn’t see how I could afford one. I spent the entire morning trying to pick up a bargain, and finally I went to Jones & Smith’s. I have an account there, you know. Well, I couldn’t find a thing I would look at for less than twice what I was able to give, and as it was 1 o’clock and I was cross and worried and worn out, I decided to go into their lunch room and treat myself to something dainty and refreshing, just to cheer me up.

“Well, my dear, it was too fortunate. It had looked like rain that morning, and I had put on that old green skirt—you remember, part of the suit I had made to order last autumn.

“Well, as luck would have it, it was a new waitress who took my order. She was awkward and nervous, and as she was placing my tea on the table she stumbled and spilled the whole thing, cup and all, right into my lap.

“I didn’t even wait to eat lunch. I went right down to the office and complained. The men were extremely polite when they found out I had an account there. Besides they could see that the skirt was of expensive material, and somehow—I’m sure I didn’t say so—but somehow they seemed to be under the impression that it had been made last spring. Anyhow I told them that I considered it good for another season’s wear—which was true, if only I hadn’t been seen in it a whole season already—and that it belonged to a suit which had cost me $90, and that I thought they should at least make it good to me with another skirt. And it ended in my going back and getting this dream of a skirt for nothing. What do you think of that for luck?”

“But,” protested the other woman whose face had grown grave as she listened, “Didn’t the poor girl have to stand the cost of that skirt?”

“Oh—hm—well, now, I never thought of that. Perhaps she did have to pay something; but of course they would never have charged her with the whole price of that skirt. And, then, it was entirely her own awkwardness.”

“Of course, if she spoiled your skirt—“    her friend began, thoughtfully.

“Oh, my dear, that was the best part of it,” exclaimed the piece of selfishness incarnate, with a jubilant laugh. “The other skirt wasn’t spoiled at all. You see, it was only tea. And after it was sponged off and pressed one could never tell the difference.”

Great Falls [MT] Tribune 6 December 1903: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  “Selfishness incarnate” rather unstates it…. The “poor girl” probably lost her job. She was awkward and nervous because she–the sole support of her invalid mother, drunkard father, and five brothers and sisters–had landed a job after many months of searching and was anxious to make a success of it. One can be sure that the store docked her pay for the full amount of that “dream” of a skirt, just as one can be sure that, feeling that nothing mattered any more, the former waitress either went on the bottle or on the streets. Fashionable clothes have been the ruination of many a good girl….


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.

The Cry of the Banshee: 1887

the tempest rodin banshee

The Cry of the Banshee

There is now living in Bristol a Mrs. Linahan, an old Irish woman, who has not seen her own country for forty years. She is old, poor, bed ridden and suffering, but patient and cheerful beyond belief. Her strongest feeling is love for Ireland ,and she likes talking to me because I am Irish. Many a time, sitting in her little, close room, above the noisy street, she has told me about banshees and phookas and fairies, especially the first. She declares solemnly she once heard the cry, or caoin of a banshee.

“It was when I was a little young child,” she told me, “And knew nothing at all of banshees or of death. One day mother sent me to see after my grandmother, the length of three miles from our house. All  the road was deep in snow, and I went my lone – and didn’t know the grandmother was dead, and my aunt gone to the village for help. So I got to the house, and I see her lying so still and quiet I thought she was sleepin’. When I called her and she wouldn’t stir or speak, I thought I’d put snow on her face to wake her. I just stepped outside to get a handful, and came in, leaving the door open, and then I heard a far away cry, so faint and yet so fearsome that I shook like a leaf in the wind. It got nearer and nearer, and then I heard a sound like clapping or wringing of hands, as they do in keening at a funeral. Twice it came and then I slid down to the ground and crept under the bed where my grandmother lay, and there I heard it for the third time crying, “Ochone, Ochone,” at the very door. Then it suddenly stopped; I couldn’t tell where it went, and I dared not lift up my head till the woman came in the house. One of them took me up and said: “It was the banshee the child heard, for the woman that lies there was one of the real old Irish families – she was an O’Grady and that was the raison of it.’” English Magazine

Aberdeen [SD] Daily News 18 May 1887: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Clapping and keening were a feature of Irish funerals; professional keeners called bean chaointe would cry of the merits of the deceased and the broken hearts of those left behind.

The “raison of it” was that banshees were said to be attached only to the oldest, noblest Irish families, usually meaning those prefaced by “O'” or “Mac.”

In some cases, families have been apprised of an approaching death by some strange spectre, either male or female, a remarkable instance of which occurs in the MS. memoirs of Lady Fanshaw, and is to this effect: “Her husband, Sir Richard, and she, chanced, during their abode in Ireland, to visit a friend, who resided in his ancient baronial castle surrounded with a moat. At midnight she was awakened by a ghastly and supernatural scream, and, looking out of bed, beheld by the moonlight a female face and part of the form hovering at the window. The face was that of a young and rather handsome woman, but pale; and the hair, which was reddish, was loose and dishevelled. This apparition continued to exhibit itself for some time, and then vanished with two shrieks, similar to that which had at first excited Lady Fanshaw’s attention. In the morning, with infinite terror, she communicated to her host what had happened, and found him prepared not only to credit, but to account for, what had happened.

“A near relation of mine,” said he, “expired last night in the castle. Before such an event happens in this family and castle, the female spectre whom you have seen is always visible. She is believed to be the spirit of a woman of inferior rank, whom one of my ancestors degraded himself by marrying, and whom afterwards, to expiate the dishonour done his family, he caused to be drowned in the castle moat.”

This, of course, was no other than the Banshee, which in times past has been the source of so much terror in Ireland.

However, sometimes  embarrassing errors occurred.

Amongst the innumerable stories told of its appearance may be mentioned one related by Mrs. Lefanu, the niece of Sheridan, in the memoirs of her grandmother, Mrs. Frances Sheridan. From this account we gather that Miss Elizabeth Sheridan was a firm believer in the Banshee, and firmly maintained that the one attached to the Sheridan family was distinctly heard lamenting beneath the windows of the family residence before the news arrived from France of Mrs. Frances Sheridan’s death at Blois. She adds that a niece of Miss Sheridan’s made her very angry by observing that as Mrs. Frances Sheridan was by birth a Chamberlaine, a family of English extraction, she had no right to the guardianship of an Irish fairy, and that therefore the Banshee must have made a mistake.

Strange Pages from Family Papers, T.F. Thistelton-Dyer, 1895

Mrs Daffodil and that person over at Haunted Ohio are both fascinated by tales of banshees. It is always useful to know one’s death omens. For other stories of banshees, both knocking and shrieking, please see A Banshee in IndianaThe Banshee of the O’Dowds, The Banshee Sang of Death, and A Banshee at Sea 

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.


A Violet Luncheon: 1891


The Latest Fashionable Fad for Giving Floral Dinners

A Pretty Whim That is Proving Popular

Some Suggestions that will Doubtless Be of Use to Entertainers.

New York, Jan. 8. The holidays are well past and all the busy social world has turned its attention to dinners and luncheons, to balls and to germans. As surely as each season succeeds the last, as surely as society exists, so surely will each winter bring its own fashions and its own ways of doing the things which have been and which will be so so long as youth exists and the gay world goes on.

This season’s special fad is the giving of floral dinners and luncheons; not that there is anything either new or fresh in the use of flowers or in the giving of dinners, but in the exclusive use of one flower. Not long ago the correct luncheon was designated by one particular color which was seen in cloth, in flowers, in china, and even in the ices, but that is past and gone. To-day we hear not of yellow luncheons and of pink dinners, but of rose dinners and violet luncheons. Truth is that fashion must have change and often it happens that that change is not for the better, but in this instance the crown must be given to the later fancy, for none can deny that a rose dinner has more of poetry and more of beauty than one of pink can ever attain. So it is that to new ’91 must be given a high place in honor of the good taste and good judgment he has shown.

The floral dinner, or luncheon, as the case may be, is a notably good thing for many reasons—it allows of an exquisite decoration, and it prevents that most ruinous mixture of tints, which is all too often seen.

The requirements for a violet luncheon are not many, nor need they be costly, but they must be dainty and elegant and thoroughly harmonious. The cloth should be of fine, perfectly laundered linen damask, the china creamy white with decoration in gold, and all the color should be concentrate din the centre cloth and in the lovely blossoms themselves.

violet runner for luncheon

A Violet Luncheon table runner

The centre cloth should be oblong, of length and width sufficient to cover well the centre of the table. Its material should be fine Japanese linen lined with violet silk and its decoration violets worked in silks of Asiatic dye. The cloth should have on all four sides a hem-stitched hem and the flowers should be scattered over the centre. They will be not only handsomest, but most durable, if embroidered, but as the work is tedious, some busy women may prefer a quicker method. To them be it said that if each flower be painted flat in wash dye paint and then outlined with embroidery silk, the effect will be good, and, where time is an item, the method is desirable. The design shows a section of the cloth.

The light for the violet table should be that of candles, and the candles should be set in beds of violets. To accomplish this last result some little knowledge is required, but no skill beyond a dainty woman’s reach. A circular shallow pasteboard box should be provided for each cover; in the centre of this should be made fast a candle socket. The entire box should then be filled with freshest violets, with the candle rising form their midst. The shades should be in butterfly form, as the illustration shows.

violet luncheon butterfly shade

A Violet Luncheon butterfly light shade

The making and setting of the candle shades can be accomplished with but a small amount of work if care be exercised to use just the right materials. To support the butterfly a bit of white wire must be secured to the bottom of the box and must be cut a little shorter than the candle. The shade itself must be cut from drawing paper, then painted and lastly lined with mica or isinglass. When the butterfly is complete it must be attached to the wire by which means it will be kept fast, yet allowed to sway a little. The lining of mica removes all anxiety on the score of fire, as it is absolutely non-combustible. The effect of the candles set in beds of flowers and shaded with butterflies is more beautiful than it is easy to realise without seeing them. The lovely modest flower which everyone loves makes the most beautiful candlestick possible, and the butterfly shades are so delicate and so perfectly in harmony as to make it difficult to imagine any others in their place.

violet luncheon menu

A Violet Luncheon menu card

The final bit of decoration is the menu card, which is indeed a rarely lovely one. It is made from celluloid, and has a strip cut in it through which a bunch of violets is passed. On the strip is painted in gold lettering some apt quotations, and below is written or printed the menu. The completed card is a bit of real beauty, besides giving to each lady a bunch of the favored flower and a graceful memento of the occasion. The illustration shows the arrangement of the flowers.

There remains, now that the cloth, the china, the lights and the cards have been considered, only the edible portion of the feast upon which to expend a share of time and thought. It would be worse than poor taste to make suggestion to the lavish Southerner or Missourian as to the viands meant to grace her table. The hospitality and the perfection of cookery for which these ladies are renowned would make such suggestions intrusive, but even to the wise a word may be whispered, and so a few hints are ventured.

For bonbons, let candied violets be served and let them stand in dainty dishes at intervals over the table, that guests may help themselves at will. Let the menu be not too long and let the dishes be delicate as well as toothsome. Let the viands be such as are fit to approach the lovely violets, and let each course in its turn be as perfect in its way as the flowers are in theirs. In other words, avoid hearty roasts and elaborate dishes, for if the luncheon of to-day has one great fault, it is its too close resemblance to a dinner. If the fashion of the day were to be attacked at all, it would be on the score of the hearty luncheons, and if a word of advice dare be offered it would take the form of advocating simple viands and luncheons, which shall at least approach to being what their name implies. G.L. B.

St Louis [MO] Republic 11 January 1891: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It seems as though the Violet Luncheon hostess would spend so much of her time painting or embroidering cloths, cutting butterfly shades, and lettering menu cards that she would have no time to even consider the refreshments, merely snatching whatever came to hand from the pantry shelves.

To be perfectly frank, Mrs Daffodil considers the advice to avoid lavish dishes for luncheon superfluous. In her experience, luncheons for ladies rarely err on the side of abundance: a scrap of lettuce, some artistically arranged cottage-cheese, and a cup of lemon squash masquerading as an adequate repast.  Invariably, after thanking their hostess for a charming entertainment, and having emptied all the dainty dishes of bonbons in desperation, those in attendance would make a rush for the local pub where they might restore their fainting tissues with a “plow-man’s lunch.”  This, no doubt, saves expense for the hostess, but engenders resentment in her friends, and, if bridge is to follow, creates conflict and irritability where harmony ought to prevail.  One cannot expect players to be able to concentrate on their bidding on only a few candied violets.


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.

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.

The Easy-Going Mother: 1892



1914 Doucet robe mother with child and puppet

The Easy-Going Mother.

Is the easy-going the ideal mother? After a prolonged study of those who err in other ways, and unconsciously, often with the purest motives, work great harm in the baby lives entrusted to their care, one is almost ready to believe that the ability to “let alone” is the most valuable trait in a mother. Yet on looking closely into her ways, and noting the results of her course, that belief is sadly shaken. Let us observe her a little.

The home of the easy-going is overrun by babies, that being the easiest way to get along. Now nothing is sweeter than a wholesome baby, but who—beside its mother —wants it always in the foreground, its dressing the most important event of the family life, the details of its breakfast occupying the whole household, and its nap throwing a spell of enforced silence on every one within the walls?

Out of the cradle the children become even more pervasive; nothing is forbidden them, and no care is taken to teach them the difference between use and abuse. In consequence, there is not a clean or whole book on the premises, not a chair that is firm, not a table unmutilated. Boys ride the spring furniture and harness the chairs, if they do not hack and destroy to the top of their bent. Girls bang the piano, “take tea” in the parlor, scatter cake and doll rags at will.

They think they have a good time; so does their mother, who consoles herself for present discomfort and the alienation of her friends by the belief that they will outgrow all this lawlessness. “Boys will be boys,” is one of the first articles in her creed. It is as if a gardener should let the weeds grow up among the flowers, in the belief that they can be more easily disposed of when of full size and well rooted, forgetting that the strong growing weeds will, long before that time, have crushed the life out of the flowers, and that even—by great labor—they are pulled up and eradicated then, they will leave a scarred and seamed surface.

Think of the martyrdom of a guest in the home of the easy-going! Not only are the children always under foot, all the chairs sticky, and bread and butter on the sofa, but the small tyrants themselves, with their noise and unrestrained wildness, insist on seeing her, probably soil her gown with greasy fingers, handle her parasol and fan, run off with her umbrella, and often go so far as to demand any little thing in her possession that pleases their fancy.

And how is the untrained child in other people’s houses? Is he not the terror of the hostess, who dreads his encroachments, his violence among the pretty things which her own children have been taught to respect! Is not such a child the true “enfant terrible” for which America is famous?

The effect upon the children themselves is greatest. Left to their own devices, with their wills untrained, the seeds of carelessness and selfishness rapidly grow into weeds which may take a lifetime to root out. A sad wrong is done to children who are defrauded of the necessary discipline, who are not taught to respect the rights of others, and to restrain their own lawlessness. Because of this neglect they are dreaded and feared by everyone who knows them, when with a little control they might have been a credit to parents, a joy to friends, and a welcome guest everywhere.

The daughters of such a household come to womanhood with no habits of neatness or order, and no thoughtful care for others. The case of a son is even worse. A boy with that masterful and all-grasping nature, which, duly controlled is an element of success in his future conflict with the world, needs always careful drilling in respect for the rights of others, including animals. He needs training in personal daintiness, in civility, in gentleness of manner. He is born a little savage with great possibilities; he must be led into the path of a noble manhood: Led, not driven, nor “nagged,” still less allowed to reach maturity with all his barbarisms upon him.

Self-training is a thing rarely attempted by a grown man, accustomed to indulge rather than to fight his inclinations. The world will rudely teach him external decency, a show of regard for the claims of others, and certain appearances indispensable to the respect of his neighbors, but in his own home, in the bosom of his family, he will to the day of his death display the selfishness, the carelessness of the feelings or the wishes of others, the habits of disorder so firmly built into his character in his unfortunate boyhood.

The easy-going mother is frequently the product of a too severe training, in which petty tyranny of some sort destroyed any pleasure in life. “If I ever have a home,” the daughter of such a household is apt to think, when smarting under some of its harsh rules and restrictions, “if I ever have a home, there shall be peace and comfort in it.” And so feeling she naturally falls into the opposite error. In trying honestly and sincerely to do her duty, to secure her household liberty, which is the breath of life, she failed to draw the line at license, and license is as bad in its tendencies as the evil she wished to avoid.

Olive Thorne Miller.

Boston [MA] Herald 31 July 1892: p. 28

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is, of course, Mothering Sunday–an excellent day on which to publicly praise good Mamas and privately blame the bad. Even in 1892 there was debate about the ideal “good mother.”

To-day’s mothers seem torn between the “helicopter” and the “free-range”  models of raising children. Mrs Daffodil can see advantages to both: Learning to pilot a helicopter is excellent for eye-hand co-ordination and free-range is useful for the eggs. It is not necessarily an “either-or” situation.

Mrs Daffodil has always been punctilious about not taking positions in households where there is an “easy-going” mother. Such persons always think that their children are “expressive,” or “high-spirited,” when they are merely destructive. Mrs Daffodil is accustomed to being obeyed and when she has very occasionally had to correct visiting children by gently asking them to, say, refrain from setting Basil, the scullery cat on fire with their firecrackers, she has always been appalled at the insolence with which she is met. Fortunately she had time before their next visit to train Basil to “fetch” burning squibs and return them to their owner. Judging by the calls to the kitchen for aloe, he performed splendidly.

Mrs Daffodil wishes all fond Mamas the very happiest of days! But she will not allow their children to torment Basil or jump on the furniture at the Hall.


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.

The Ghost of Princess Borghese: 1840

Gwendoline Talbot Princess Borghese by Giovanni Piancastelli

Lady Gwendoline Talbot, Princess Borghese, Giovanni Piancastelli


Leaves Its Coffin and Gives a Valuable Ring to a Poor Woman.

The approaching marriage of Don Marco Borghese with Mll. Ysabel Porges [Isabel Fanny Louise Porges], says the London Daily Chronicle, has revived interest in the famous Borghese ghost story. The lady who succeeded to the honors of the beautiful but notorious Pauline Bonaparte [married to Camillo Borghese] was Lady Gwendoline Talbot, daughter of the earl of Shrewsbury. She was a very lovely woman and adored in Rome on account of her charity. She died a victim to duty during the cholera visitation of 1840, when she devoted herself in the most heroic manner to nursing the very poorest. Her funeral was made the occasion of an extraordinary demonstration, the students of the university insisting upon dragging the hearse to Santa Maria Maggiore, where the body was buried in the gorgeous family chapel built by Paul V. The Prince [Marcantonio] Borghese had himself placed a sapphire ring of great value upon his wife’s finger on her wedding day and insisted that it should be buried with her, and himself watched the soldering of the leaden coffin.

A few days after the funeral a poor woman was arrested, charged with the theft of a sapphire ring, which had evidently belonged to the Princess Borghese, since it bore on the reverse her name and the date of her marriage, 1835. The woman asserted that while she was praying in the Borghese chapel the saintly princess had appeared to her and had given her the ring.

On recognizing the ring Prince Borghese ordered the coffin to be opened in his own presence and in that of several other well-known persons who had watched its sealing up. None of the seals were broken, but the hand was slightly moved, and the ring was gone. Much struck by this strange coincidence, the prince withdrew the charge and educated the children of the accused, one of whom is still living and is well known in the Italian literary world.

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 14 April 1901: p. 20

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Princess Borghese was born Lady Gwendoline Talbot, daughter of the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury. She married Don Marcantonio, Prince Borghese in 1835, and died in 1840, aged 22 or 23 of scarlet fever contracted just after the family returned to Rome from a family visit to England and France. Shortly after that, her three sons died of the measles.

The Princess was called “la Madre dei Poveri” by the Romans. Her reputation and saintly nature made such a story all too plausible. Mrs Daffodil wonders about sleight-of-hand by the solderers, or a paste ring substituted for the real one. But perhaps it is easier to simply believe that the generous Princess arose from the grave for one last act of charity.


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.

Aviation Costume: 1909-1916



buttonless costume for lady aviators 1909


Entirely innocent of buttons, the aeroplane gown has arrived. The one shown in the accompanying photograph is the creation of a famous designer. It opens in the back, on the left side, and fastens closely with hooks. There is not a button in it. The “trousers” are of sufficient length to reach the ankles, and are caught up below the knee and held there by rubber bands. The width of the pantaloons is 56 inches.

The Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 5 December 1909: p. 51


Of Course Every Woman Who Wears One Need Not Fly, but Some of Them Actually Will Pilot Machines.

All of Them Are Amusing and Delightful, and After All the Main Thing This Season Is to Be in the Picture.

Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd

Sports clothes again! One simply cannot escape their lure, and there’s no denying that they are the most important fashion items on this summer’s horizon. One can get along with very few dressy frocks, but one must have smart sports clothes if one has the faintest ambition to be fashionably attired.

Some of the clothes are actually for sportswear, too. American girls and women do not go in for athletic sports as they did a few years ago. It is not obligatory, as it was then. A woman may now admit without a blush of shame that she does not play golf or tennis, even that she does not ride or swim, though she will miss many a good time and a considerable degree of popularity if she does not do these things; but the one thing she cannot afford to abjure is the wearing of sports clothes.

Fortunately for the unstrenuous, sports clothes this summer are quite as decorative as they are utilitarian– far more decorative in most instances–and one may wear them for mere loafing without feeling incongruously clad; but for the women who actually go in for sports there are plenty of things practical as well as good looking.

The aviation costume is the latest sports clothes fad, just as aviation is the latest of sports. Even yet there is no general feminine need of such an addition to the wardrobe, but some women do manage flying machines and more fly in the capacity of passengers, and the designers have supplied clothes for these pioneers.

sporting costume leather

Amusing and delightful costumes they are, too, usually of soft leather or oilskin with a loose belted and pocketed coat, breeches cut like rather full riding breeches and tucking under snugly fitted puttees, and a hood or helmet which closes under the chin and has a short cape attached to the neckband and meant to be worn either under the coat or outside of it.

Some of these costumes have in addition a short skirt of the leather to be donned when one is not in the machine, but, as a rule, the sportswoman scorns this amendment. Purple, dark green and brown are the three colors most often used in the leather for suit and hood, and the puttees and boots may be either black or brown. One good looking Trench costume was all in smoke gray, suit, hood, puttees and boots; the breeches of cloth, the coat and hood of leather.

Apropos of coat, breeches and skirt costumes, these are used for many sports purpose nowadays and are shown in tweeds, frieze, khaki, linen and many other materials suitable for rough sportswear. Where once it was the very exceptional thing for a woman to take to breeches or bloomers for any purpose, the practice is now very common indeed, in camp, for fishing, shooting, mountain climbing and even for long “hikes” outside of mountain country. There are those who object to the innovation, but the woman who has once known the comfort and joy of such dress on her outings in rough country will find it hard to reconcile herself to petticoats again for sportswear.

The coats of these suits are usually on the Norfolk or shooting coat order, severely tailored, and the skirts are plain, modestly wide, quite short, unlined, usually opening up the front. The absolutely practical nature of the costume is its apology and its justification and any sacrifice of these characteristics detracts from the success and modishness of the outfit, though many women make such mistakes.

Divided skirt costumes of the same general character as the breeches costumes just described are also shown by the makers and sellers of sports  clothes and are liked by those women for whom the breeches costumes are too radical. They are comfortable for almost any kind of sportswear, though not so comfortable as the breeches suits, and the latter, with the additional spurt as a concession to the conventionalities in places where those conventionalities exist, are increasingly popular.

The Sun [New York NY] 9 July 1916: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: March 5-11 is Women of Aviation Worldwide Week and 8 March is International Women’s Day.  It seems a good day to remember Miss Harriet Quimby, the first woman to qualify for a pilot’s certification in the United States.  She wore a stylish and distinctive purple flight costume, possibly as part of her role as spokeswoman for a grape soda called Vin Fiz, after the aeroplane. Sadly, she died in a flying accident in 1912, age 37.

By 1916, aviation costume was somewhat codified, as opposed to the early days of flying ladies, when a good deal of improvisation went on.  There are photo-gravures of Miss Katherine Wright, sister and manager of the Wright Brothers, her skirts tied with a scarf to avoid embarrassing exposure aloft.  Some female pilots went without corsets for fear that a crash might lead to a whalebone impalement. Masculine garments were borrowed and cobbled together in functional, if not decorative ways.


Costumes That Are Now Designed For the Lady Aeroplanist.

“Madam, your airship awaits you.”

“Very well, James. I’ll be there just as soon as I get my new aviation hat on straight.”

No, gentle reader, this is no joke. So interested have the fair sex become in aerial navigation and such progress has been made by the airship inventors that it begins to look as if the prediction made two years ago that milady would do her shopping by airship in 1910 might come true. At any rate, the big London and Paris dressmakers seem to think so, for they have included in their latest styles some new and striking aviation costumes for the feminine fliers. No doubt there will be a demand for them, as a number of women have sailed in aeroplanes recently.

the aeroplane hat

When going up in an airship the greatest danger is of taking cold in the throat or ears, and a hat has just been placed on the market which protects both organs.

aviation costume 1909

Besides the aviation costume shown in the illustration, which was designed in London, one is being shown by the Paris dressmakers. It is rather advanced, but then the woman who goes aeroplaning is an advanced woman. The costume consists of a waterproof hood, a heavy woolen sweater, canvas knickerbockers, army puttees and stout shoes. A pair of automobile gauntlets, and if desired, goggles, complete the rather bizarre costume.

During his stay in Europe Wilbur Wright took up at various times six women—his sister Miss Katherine, Mrs. Leon Bollee, Mrs. Lazar Weiler Countess Lambert, and Mrs. Hart O’Berg, wife of his business manager on the other side.The Wright brothers confess rather proudly that their sister knows almost as much about aeroplanes as they do, and is competent to handle one in flight alone. During the recent remarkable demonstration of airhsip possibilities at Rheims, France, the women spectators were even more enthusaistic than the men. Every indication points to a continuation of this enthusiasm among the more daring of the sex, to the point of actual ownership and personal operation of flying machines.

International Gazette [Black Rock NY] 2 October 1909: p. 3



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.