Buying a Bridal Trossy: 1877

trousseau

A French fashion doll with her trousseau.

BUYING A BRIDAL “TROSSY”

One day last week, a powerfully-built young man, to whose right arm was linked a tall, thin girl of eighteen, with a sharp nose, pale blue eyes, and hair like the color of an old knife handle, entered a Lake avenue store, with both eyes full of business. As the pair took seats a clerk intimated that he was ready to take bottom price on any goods in the store, from the finest silk to the glaziest calico.

“This is kinder delicate business for us,” replied the young man, casting sheep’s eyes at the girl.

“That is to say—that is—yes, ahem!” stammered the clerk.

“But I guess we’ll live through it, Molly, and so here goes. What we want is a trossy for this girl—a bridal trossy, I believe they call it.”

“That is exactly what they call it,” replied the clerk; “and tell me what articles you want, and I’ll give the lowest figure.”

The pair looked at each other in a half foolish way for a minute, and the girl hid her face behind a stack of goods.

“A little skeery, but she’ll git over it,” mused the lover. “The first thing I s’pose is a dress?”

“From one to sixteen dresses as you like. You’ll take a black silk, perhaps!”

“And perhaps I won’t. There’s no style about us, Mister. We marry for love, and we’ve got to make a little money go a long ways. Is calico purty low?”

“Oh, Zeke!” gasped the girl, suddenly showing her face.

“”Well, we’ll got a little better, then, though calico is my motto. Hand us down something about 20 cents per yard. Give us dove color, for doves are meek and lovely, and so is Molly.”

Twelve yards of dove  colored goods were cut off, and Zeke looked around and said: “Less see. I s’pose a back comb, two yards of blue ribbon, a bunch of hair pins and two or three collars ought to figure in somewhere.”

The clerk agreed and they were figured in.

“Less see. She’ll wear her sister’s hat to stand up in, and her sister’s shoes won’t show if she has a long dress on. I guess that’s about all, isn’t it, Molly!”

The girl blushed very red, beckoned him closer and, after a minute he turned to the clerk and said:
“It’s kinder throwin’ money away but she’s purty and gentle, and I don’t mind. She thinks she ought to have a fifty cent corset and two pairs of stockings.

The articles were brought, inspected and placed with the “trossy,” and after the lovers held another whispered conversation, Zeke observed:
“Well, that’s all. Figger up and there’s your cash. We’ve got to go and git some hair oil, and a dollar gold chain with a locket to it, and a pair of sleeve buttons and some shoe strings, and you see the outfit is going to squeeze me bad.”

“When does the marriage come off?” asked the clerk.

“In about ten days. She’s a good girl and loves me, and I am trying to do the fair thing by her. ‘Taint many young men who would put up seven dollars on a bridal trossy for his girl; but when I make up mind to marry any one I’m almost reckless of wealth. She didn’t need the corsets any more than I need suspenders, but she had a sister married with a corset on, and she didn’t want to be behind her.”

“I hope you’ll be happy.”

“We sh’ll be—can’t help it. This ‘ere girl can sling more enthusiasm into a mess of taters than any queen in Europe. I had to take her old dad by the collar and jerk his heels to the ceiling before he’d consent to this marriage. Well, good by.”

Rhode Island Press [Providence RI] 21 July 1877: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A well-meant, but highly-irregular proceeding! We have already blushed for the young man who sent his betrothed a night-gown, which was quickly identified by the recipient as a burial robe. No groom had any business buying collars, hair-ribbons or dove-coloured fabric before the wedding day. And the notion of a bridegroom discussing, not to mention, purchasing corsets and stockings is utterly beyond the pale. (At least in the respectable parts of the English-speaking world; the French handled things rather differently, as we see in this post about Madame Junot’s trousseau.)  It was entirely the responsibility of the bride or her family to sew or to purchase a trousseau, sometimes in a most lavish vein, as we see from this squib.

CHIT-CHAT—TROUSSEAU.


Once more we are called upon by the exigencies of the season to give some hints on this all-absorbing subject. We will suppose that the sea-side trip, or the visit to the Springs, has been successful. The young people are actually engaged, and the fair fiancée commences her consultations with milliners and dressmakers. She has shopped before expensively, but never with a carte blanche from papa. Now “the dear child must not be denied anything;” and as they will be her last bills— unless the fashionable precedent of speedy separation is followed— it is not best to be too particular. The bridal robe, the party dresses, the traveling dresses, and the wedding bonnet, are ordered. Fifty dollars go for a handkerchief to hide the expected tears and blushes; five hundred for the dress (of a truth; dear reader, it is no fabulous cost); one hundred and fifty for the veil— afterwards the scarf for dinner parties;—and so on to the end of some thousand dollars, spent exclusively in finery. There is no other name for it. 
Godey’s Lady’s Book September 1850

Mrs Daffodil has previously posted about the extravagant trousseau of an American bride, indiscreetly noted in the papers.

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.

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