Old-Fashioned Jet Brooch Replaces Crepe: 1918

An 1840s mourning brooch in "French Jet" or black glass. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O120605/brooch-unknown/

An 1840s mourning brooch in “French Jet” or black glass. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O120605/brooch-unknown/

Old-Fashioned Jet Brooch Replaces Crepe.

American Women Join in Move to Discard Mourning Garments.

Now that almost all American women are joining it the movement to help win the war by banishing from the streets the depressing sight of crepe and deep mourning garments, the need is felt for some expressive symbol that shall be the privilege of those bereft by death, whether through the war or through other causes.

It has been universally acknowledged that courage is as important these days as money or other material means of help; and high courage and deep mourning do not go together, either in the hearts of the bereaved, or in the hearts of those facing the imminent possibility of bereavement. All colors—or almost all—worn this season are soft and neutral in tone, and all styles are exceedingly simple, so the brave and truehearted woman who sacrifices personal prejudices for the good of the greater number, and gives up mourning even though it be a comfort to her own spirit, need not feel herself unduly conspicuous in dress. But every woman who feels it a sacrifice to give up her mourning apparel would appreciate some distinguishing symbol the wearing of which would satisfy her own heart.

When the question was being discussed the other day in a room full of women, knitting for the Red Cross, one sweet-faced little woman pointed to a beautiful old-fashioned jet brooch at her throat. “This,” said she, “is my mourning. It is a treasured family heirloom full of dear associations. The members of our family do not believe in mourning apparel, but this brooch represents to me, mourning. It is never worn except at such periods, and is then worn constantly—with all costumes. When I wear this brooch, I am in mourning as truly as though clothed in deepest black.” The idea seems a very beautiful one which may well be passed on. In every family there is some piece of jewelry of this sort beloved because of association with those who have gone before and worthy of being the special symbol of remembrance and a time set apart from worldly pursuits.

Oregonian [Portland, OR] 23 June 1918: p. 73

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: There was a good deal of controversy about the wearing of mourning during the Great War. Some felt that it hampered the wearer from fully participating in the War Effort. Others decried the expense and waste in wartime. And still others felt that it had a bad effect on the spirits and health, both of the wives and mothers who wore it and the soldiers home on leave who would be surrounded by a crepuscular sea of crape, just at a time when they were trying to cope with the Horrors. The Great War saw a decline in the formal mourning traditions of the Victorian era.

An abridged version of this article will appear in The Victorian Book of the Dead.

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.


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