Category Archives: etiquette

Garters of Funereal Black: 1909

1910 french mourning catalog merry widow

A very merry widow from a 1910 catalogue of mourning goods.

A wife, pretty enough to warrant her desire for decorative garments, wasn’t appreciated by her grouchy husband. He was kicking hard at a batch of lingerie which she was trying to make him pay attention to. She appeared before him in a film of lace.

“What do you call that?” he growled; “it looks to me like a fishnet that has caught a mermaid.”

“I’ll swear solemnly that only one idea was in my mind when I had this sent home on approval,” she sobbed. “I said to myself, how proud it’ll make my husband to see me in it—in case of a fire.”

That plea won. The man bade her keep the garment. A pair of jeweled black garters were next to be offered for his scrutiny. Their price was $10.

‘I can see why those Rhinestone diamonds catch your eye,” he grunted, “But why, oh, tell me why, have jet-black garters on flesh-tint silk stockings?”

She took to weeping to get an idea. Her gasps and moans broke him all up, and he asked what she was crying about.

“If I must tell,” she slowly said, ‘twixt sobs, “I will, though I meant to keep the secret locked within my own breast. My dear brother, who died only a few weeks ago, was a stickler for all the conventional usages of mourning, while you disapprove strongly of wearing black in token of grief. Well, there I was in a dilemma. My dear brother would want me to put on black for him, but my dear alive husband would be offended by it. I hit on a way to honor bruddy’s memory without disregarding hubby’s desire. I wouldn’t change any of my garments to the hue of mourning, but, quite unknown to all save you, me and the spirit of my departed brother, I would wear these garters of funereal black. I was caught and rended between love and duty, and I fondly hoped I had solved a complex problem sentimentally. However, if you object, then—“

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 4 April 1909: p. 40

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  One can only admire the lady’s talent for improvisation and her patience with that growling husband….

Calls for mourning reform from those who believed it to be unwholesome and over-costly echo down the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Mrs Daffodil suspects that the husband above objected principally to the cost, although his ghost would have been greatly offended if his wife did not put on full mourning after his passing. Here is an eloquent plea for the mourning band:

How long are we all to slavishly bow to this unwritten law of mourning, which forces us to adopt a custom inartistic and unsanitary, a blot upon the beauty of the world. a depression upon the nerves and spirits of the entire family, and very often a cruel tax upon the purse, for “mourning” and debt are only too often interchangeable terms. Why can we not break away from this tyrannical old law? There are women who, being widowed, abandon colors utterly and absolutely, just as some mourning mothers find a sorry comfort in wearing densest black as an outward expression of “that within which passeth show,” and their sincerity lends dignity and pathos to the mourning garb. But only think of the thousands who, for aunt or uncle, cousin (distant or near) or for relatives by marriage, resentfully don the purely conventional mourning, that they hate as a restraint and loathe as unbecoming;

Why may we not adopt in such cases the mourning band about the arm, securely stitched to the left sleeve of coat or jacket? It is too modest to mar either costume or suit, while it quietly and effectively announces our loss and expresses our respect.

The etiquette of mourning, like the man who drinks, or is addicted to drugs, demands a steady “tapering off”.” You should pass from crape to plain black–thence to black and white–thence to lavender and gray, and thus gently glide into blues, pinks, etc. But sometimes the deepest mourning is the briefest.

The Pittsburg [PA] Press 3 June 1906: p. 41

 

For more on the nuances and curiosities of Victorian mourning, Mrs Daffodil recommends The Victorian Book of the Dead, also available for Kindle.

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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Tips for the Summer Guest: 1920

Ten Commandments for the Summer Visitor.

By Dorothy Dix

The World’s Highest Paid Woman Writer

First: Never invite yourself to anybody’s house. When you desire to graft a hotel bill do not write to one friend that you yearn to behold her beauteous countenance, and the seraphic faces of her offspring or to another acquaintance that your doctor has recommended sea baths, or mountain air for you, and will it be convenient for her to have you come and make her a little visit. Bear in mind that the United States mails are still running and pen paralysis is a rare disease. Also that the telegraph and telephone perform their accustomed functions and that those who desire your presence will have no difficulty in making it known to you.

There are many pests that go up and down in the land seeking whom they may devour, but none is so pestiferous as the self-invited guest.

Second: When you go to make a visit go at the appointed hour and on the designated train. Also take with you a small amount of baggage. Nothing gives a hostess such a sinking of the heart as for a guest to arrive with a mountain of trunks that looks as if she had come to stay to the judgment day.

Third: Don’t take your angel child with you, or your Pomeranian, pup, or your cat, or your parrot, or any pet whatsoever. For the child that draws pictures with a pin on the best mahogany table, and plays cars on the Persian rugs, and spoils things at table, and the strange dog that howls by night, and the parrot that wakes sleepers at dawn by its screeching, cause a hostess to curse her who brought these afflictions upon her, and to write “Never again” against her in her visitors’ book

Fourth: If you are a food faddist, and have to live on any sort of diet, for heaven’s sake stay at home, or go to a hotel where you can pay for the trouble you make. It’s sheer brutality to inflict a bum stomach or unstrung nerves on your friends, and If, you have to live on stale bread and skimmed milk, or have everything kept quiet while you sleep of an afternoon, win the eternal gratitude of those who ask you to visit them by saying “no.”

Fifth: Play cricket. Be a sport. When you are in Rome do as the Romans do. Fall in with every plan that has been made for your amusement, and help push things along. If a picnic has been arranged, don’t say you loathe sitting on the ground and eating messy things with ants and bugs in them, and that you will stay at home and write letters while the others go. If your hostess is a golf fiend who lives on the links, golf with her. If she plays bridge, sit in the game no matter how weary it makes you, for an unadaptable guest is even as a bull in a china shop. It upsets everything and messes up the whole place.

**

Never forget that the only way that a guest can pay her way is by making herself as agreeable as she can. Therefore pull all your little parlor tricks and go thru your repertoire. And, above all, can the argument. If you differ with your hostess on politics and religion, and the proper length of skirts, and what is going to become of the youth of the present day, keep your views to yourself. Nobody’s ideal of an agreeable guest is one with whom they were fighting all the time.

Sixth: Put the soft pedal on your attainments and possessions, and swell the chorus in praise of all that your hostess does and has. Rave over her views. Take a real heart interest in her tomato plants. Let her descant to you by the hour about her Minnie and her Johnny. Pat her doggie on the back, and keep silent about your own.

It was to get a sympathetic audience and to show off before you that you were invited. You can get even with her when she comes to see you. Anyway, it’s the price one must pay for visiting in country places, for a country home seems to bring out the vanity in people as a hot poultice brings out the measles. Seventh: Always make your hostess feel that you are having the time of your life. Wear the smile that won’t come off, and whoop up the Glad-I-Am-Here stuff, and when you feel the smile beginning to crack and that there isn’t another cheer in your system, get a telegram that calls you suddenly away.

Eighth: Never be one of the crape hangers who sits and tells what a grand time she had last summer, when she visited the Milllonbucks and what a splendid limousine they had, and how many servants they kept. It makes a hostess think bitterly of her tin Lizzie and her one maid of all work, and wonder why she is putting herself out to entertain you.

Ninth: Never flirt with your hostess’ husband, nor her son, nor her brother. It’s against all the rules of the game. It’s hitting below the belt. Even a savage respects the bread he has eaten, and as long as you are under a woman’s roof, all of her possessions are sacred to her.

Tenth: Make short visits. That is the secret of being a popular and much sought after visitor. There are so many people we would like to have come, if we could be certain when they would go. Never extend a visit, no matter how much you are entreated to do so. After-climaxes always fall flat. Never forget that it is better to go while people weep to see you leave than it is to stay when they shed tears because you refuse to depart.

(Copyright. 1920, by the Wheeler Syndicate, Inc.)

The Topeka [KS] State Journal 25-26 July 1921: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Miss Dix, whose byline frequently contained the phrase, “The World’s Highest Paid Woman Writer,” had much to say about the summer visitor. One can only conclude that her immense wealth gave her entrée to a delightful selection of summer resorts and country houses and, consequently, to the summer parasites infesting these earthly paradises.

She adds two other Commandments to the ones above, in other syndicated articles:

Don’t sponge. Provide yourself with the things you are liable to need before you leave home. There are no other guests in the world so afflicting as the borrowers. Take along your own stationery and stamps, your own toilet articles and sewing things. There isn’t a hostess who hasn’t been driven wild by the insatiable demands of girl guests who had forgotten to bring along needles and thread, and scissors and writing paper, and stamps, and curling irons, and who could have kept a relay of servants on the run supplying them with the things they had to borrow. Nobody loves a dead beat.

Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously over this dictum. She flatters herself that she runs a well-regulated household. No guest at the Hall would ever be made to feel a “dead beat” if they forgot their sewing kit or curling iron. The maids would look askance at a guest who brought her own writing paper and stamps.  The guest rooms at the Hall, as well as the morning room, factor’s office, and library, are amply stocked with both.

Still, Miss Dix adds a final commandment that will warm the hearts of servants everywhere.

Don’t make any unnecessary trouble for the servants, and don’t withhold the tip from the maid to whose burdens you are adding. Keep your own room tidy. Hang up your clothes. Straighten up your dresser, and be not sparing of small change to faithful Mary who hooks you up, and obliging Eliza who presses out your chiffons. Chief among those who are never asked a second time are those nickel-nursing guests who keep the maids on a trot doing chores for them and who think they have sufficiently rewarded such service by handing out a few words of thanks and a dinky pocket handkerchief upon their departure. The servants determine the invitation list oftener than you think, so if you want to be a popular guest who is much sought after, be not one of those whose coming makes Hilda and Dinah threaten to give notice.

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.

 

An Independence Day Toast: early 1800s

 

lady with firecrackes

A pleasant retort was that once given by Admiral Marsden many years ago at a dinner in Malta. It was given on the Fourth of July by him to the American officers on a man-of-war, and all the English officers in the harbor were guests. They were no better bred than many Englishmen of that day, for when the regular toast, “The day we celebrate,” was read, they set down their glasses untasted. The venerable host added, gently:

“The day, gentlemen, when England celebrates the coming of age of her eldest daughter.”

Every face cleared, and the toast was drunk with hearty cheers.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 1 July 1915

Mrs Daffodil wishes all residents of “England’s eldest daughter” a delightful holiday week-end and more presence of mind in the handling of pyrotechnics than the lady on the cover of Harper’s. Mrs Daffodil will be taking a brief holiday as the Family is off to The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for a spot of tennis-viewing.

For images of vintage patriotic tableaux from Independence Day, 1918, please see Mrs Daffodil’s previous post.

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 Modest Proposal About English Wedding Presents: 1872

A representative specimen of English wedding gift horror http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23462/lot/212/

ENGLISH WEDDINGS, AND WEDDING PRESENTS.

It is a matter of unquestionable notoriety, that all marriages are made in heaven; and it is equally certain that the beautiful descriptions of them, which we read, must be due to celestial correspondents. Such choice of words, such felicity of arrangement, such grace of epithets, could not emanate from any inferior source; and the future historian will best gather from these chronicles the condition of the English language in our day, and the manners and customs of those who spoke it. We shall not, perhaps, be accused of unnecessary repetition, if we call attention to the subject.

The sun is shining, and peculiar interest is excited. The bridegroom is accompanied by his friend, who is officiating as groomsman, and who is qualified by frequent service for the efficient discharge of the multifarious duties which are attached to the position. At precisely thirteen minutes and a half past eleven they alight at the church, saluted by the acclamations of the crowd, the excitement of the bystanders, and the symphony of bells. When the door is opened, four and twenty perpetual curates and prebendaries, deans and archdeacons, begin to assist one another. The scene increases in interest, until the climax is reached, when the bride enters, leaning on somebody’s arm, and supported by her bridesmaids, supplied with jewelry by a neighboring firm, which thus has the good fortune to secure eight advertisements of its goods.

The religious ceremony is performed with peculiar solemnity, unbroken, save by the fidgeting of the groomsman; the benediction is pronounced, and on repairing to the vestry, the formalities of registration are gone through, — a part of the ceremony which is often described in language worthy of Burke. After this, the party repair again to a mansion or residence, where a sumptuous dejeuner is prepared, and numerous covers are laid; a mysterious but interesting process. It is here that English oratory is displayed to its best advantage; and graceful tributes are paid on all sides, characterized by good taste, by brevity, and fluency. The peer forgets his pomposity, and the fact that nobody listens to him elsewhere; the groomsman feels that the lightest part of his duties has come, and all regret the close of his remarks. At precisely four minutes past two the bride and bridegroom take leave of their friends, and seek the seclusion of a country-seat.

Meantime, the “friends” separate, and the correspondent is enabled to furnish those advertisements which all read with interest, if not with excitement. The enumeration of the presents and of the names, both of their eminent manufacturers and of their donors, fills columns, and affords invaluable opportunities for fine writing. The “members of the domestic household,” called sometimes by profane and illiterate people servants, contribute something difficult to carry, and impossible to pack.

It is interesting to know that the flowers were not the production of nature, but were expressly supplied for the occasion by the floral manufacturer; nor is the name of the pastry-cook wanting, who made the indigestible compound termed a “bride-cake.” A few years more, and we shall be told the incomes of the guests, their ages, and the construction of the ladies’ petticoats. It may be that publicity is thus ostentatiously given to the names of those who contribute towards the future menage of the happy couple, in order that the standard may be raised, and that the donor of a water-bottle may shrink from appearing in the same list with the donor of a diamond bracelet. That aim, however, has not yet been realized, and the list of objects is as varied, and as free from all connection with each other, as the words which make up a page of Johnson’s Dictionary.

The company is a medley one; sugar-basins and aneroids, an antique pair of bellows, the Zoological Gardens faithfully represented in ormolu, a musical-box, a sketch mounted as a fan, fifty travelling articles to make locomotion impossible, a basket of snowdrops, and nine addresses on vellum, congratulating the bridegroom on the examples he has to imitate and on the wisdom of his choice, quite unreadable from the magnificent flourishes with which the initial letters abound, and signed by the schoolmaster and schoolmistress in behalf of the scholars.

Were the bride and bridegroom endowed with ostrich-like digestions, they might find some use for these articles. As it is, they often prove the most unmitigated nuisance, a misery alike to him who gives and to him or her who receives. It occasionally happens that the announcement of an engagement, instead of recalling the fact that two people are perfectly certain of being happy for life, that the cares of this world are over for them, and that a beautiful account of their marriage will appear in the newspapers and enrich the literature of the country, only suggests the painful thought that a present must be given, and, in order to be given, must be bought.

To explain the grounds for this impression would be impossible; a slight relationship exists between the victim and one or other of the engaged pair, and the persons about to marry are going to live in London, possibly in a large house; it may be that the intending giver received at some former period a perfectly useless and now blackened object, too dirty to make its appearance again in the world of rubbish, and that he feels bound to reciprocate the attention. “Human nature,” says a great authoress, “is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person who either marries or dies is sure of being kindly spoken of.” Whatever may be the cause, the dilemma remains the same. Much mental agony is undergone, increasing as the interval before the marriage becomes shorter. Some prudent persons have a stock of objects always on hand, one of which they forward upon receipt of the intelligence; and thus they may have the good fortune to send the first of the fifteen inkstands which follow.

She who hesitates is lost; now helplessly bemoaning her condition, now peering uneasily into shop-windows, and finding that every thing costs seven pounds, when she is prepared to spend only four. Her sense of her unfortunate position daily grows in intensity, and she may next be seen sitting in a shop, with a choice selection in front of her, amongst which are a blotting-book covered with excrescences of brass like a portmanteau, a miniature helmet, two shepherdesses of modern Meissen, a silver-gilt machine for brushing away crumbs after breakfasting in bed, a gentleman in ormolu looking into a windwill about the same size as himself and of the same material, both containing cavities in their insides for matches, the discovery of which would occupy a lifetime. What a choice is here! The biggest fool of her acquaintance has just ordered the silver-gilt machine, which costs thirty pounds, so she takes the windwill with a sigh of relief, and sends it as a little object to remind her friend of the happy hours they have spent together.

Her friend sends in return a little note, assuring her that she will always value it, reflecting that it is a just requital for the ormolu porcupine stuffed with pins which she had presented on a previous occasion. But the donor and the windmill are not destined to lose sight of one another just yet.

It is bad enough to see the rubbish in the shop, but there is some excuse for the production of these costly and worthless trifles. What the dogs are in the East to the streets, the givers of modern wedding presents are to the trade, — the scavengers of refuse; what is too dirty, too useless, too ugly for other purposes, they absorb; but it is too hard to be called upon to look at it again when exposed to view in the drawing-room of the unfortunate girl whose future life is to be spent, or supposed to be spent, in its contemplation. There are entertainments of divers kinds and degrees of dullness; but the entertainment which is given for the display of the objects we have described is without an equal.

Neatly arranged upon the tables in symmetrical order lie these specimens of English taste, “several hundreds in number,” slips of paper being attached to them recording the names of the givers. Here the lady and the windmill meet once more, regretfully perhaps, for some kind friend announces that she only gave two pounds for the candlesticks opposite; another has picked up something for thirty shillings, which produces a sublime effect, and the name of the shop where similar objects can be procured is whispered in secret. There is a pleasing equality evinced in the display; her Grace and the housemaid think the same thing ” beautiful,” and probably spend the same amount of money upon the object of their admiration.

The custom of giving wedding presents, as it now exists, is a social tax which, though paid by every one, is only paid grudgingly and on compulsion. It represents neither affection nor interest, and is not productive of the smallest profit to any save the tradesmen whose wares are sold for the purpose. Its counterpart can only be found in the custom which existed a short time ago of giving leaving-books at Eton. The fashion was exactly analogous; little boys give them to big boys, to whom they always had been, and to whom they continued in after life, complete strangers, subscribing themselves their “sincere friends on their leaving Eton.” The head-master submitted to the custom at a smaller cost; wise in his generation, and being an elegant classic, he had published, or privately printed, a quarto edition of some Latin author, which, it is needless to say, nobody ever wanted, and no one ever bought. This peculiarly useless volume was exchanged for the sum of ten pounds, deposited in some corner of the room by the boy who was bidding good-by, whence it was generally supposed that the head-master ultimately took it. This pleasant mode of escaping the tax was, unfortunately, not open to those who paid for the leaving-books presented by their sons to their sincere friends, and who not unnaturally considered that the annual expenditure of fifteen or twenty pounds was hardly compensated by the possession of some scores of soiled copies bound in yellow calf.

What these books are to the library, wedding presents are to the ordinary furniture of a house. What is to be done with the windmill? Should the first opportunity be seized for getting rid of it, there is the risk that its donor will tenderly inquire after it. It cannot be given away after the lapse of six months; for its color is gone, and it looks as if it might have been present at Hilpah’s wedding to Shalum. The poor thing eventually finds a shelter and a home in some spare bedroom of a country house, where damp and dust hasten its decay. Sometimes it is destined to a harder fate. One swallow does not make a summer, and the gift of a wedding present does not insure the celebration of a marriage; the engagement may very possibly be broken off, and one of the consequences is the return of the windmill to its unhappy and original possessor, whose feelings on its re-appearance we forbear from commenting on.

If the State would include wedding presents among the assessed taxes, and fix a definite sum to be paid at the beginning of each year, great relief would be experienced; the government would, of course, realize a profit, and a large sum would still remain to be distributed as marriage portions. The present inequality would be remedied; for, as it is, those who never marry at all (and their number is daily increasing) receive no return for their original outlay; but on the institution of the tax this need no longer be the case. Single women, on attaining the age of forty-five, might, on condition of subscribing a declaration setting forth the extreme improbability of their marrying, and their aversion to that condition, receive the sum to which they would have been entitled on marriage. Widows, on the other hand, would get nothing under any circumstances, being exhorted to remain contented with the ormolu of the first marriage.

During the interval before the adoption of this plan we have but one remedy to propose. Surely the old shoes which are now so lavishly thrown away at the departure of the bride and bridegroom, are capable of conversion into some valuable substance; which cannot be predicated of wedding presents. Let, therefore, the next “groomsman ” set a bright example, and deserve well of society and the oppressed; as the carriage starts, let a shower of aneroids, barometers, bellows, candlesticks, vases, mosaics, and antiques, gracefully fall and flutter around it. Thus we feel sure that a “peculiar interest would be excited,” while the struggles of the crowd to possess objects which to their inexperienced eyes might seem capable of being exchanged for a shilling would give additional animation to the scene. The prevalence of this custom might be expected to modify to some extent the present fashion, the chief compensation for which must be found in the advantages which result from a study of the pages of the Court Journal.

Every Saturday 27 April 1872: p. 449-51

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil fears that she has nothing to add to these really excellent proposals, except to note that the shower might result in shards of broken Dresden china and glass in the streets. That would annoy the horses, but crossing-sweepers might be delighted with the added employment and tips.

It is a bore, but one may also exchange or sell the horrors.

As for the loss of wedding gifts to the ladies who remain unmarried, this “bachelor-girl’s” father and friends were thoughtful enough to make up the deficit: 

One of the great bugbears of spinsterhood has been demolished by a Minnesota woman. Though she had had many suitors, of course, she was still unwedded at thirty, and one day, as she was sending off a gift to a girl friend who was about to be married, she bewailed the fact that the bachelor-girl never got wedding-presents or a trousseau. Her father promised that she herself should not be slighted in this respect, whether she married or not, and a few weeks ago, when she accepted the offer of a business position and decided to take up her bachelor residence in Chicago, the old gentleman was as good as his word. He gave her a handsome check to buy a complete outfit of clothes, from shoes to bonnets, and many of her friends took up the idea and gave her useful and ornamental articles for her bachelor apartment. And now it is announced — whether it be through the aid of her fine feathers or not is not stated — she is to marry the president of the company that employs her.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] March 21, 1898

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.

 

Bridesmaid Superstitions: 1888

1889 wedding wreath

1889 wedding wreath: orange blossom and myrtle flowers of wax and fabric. https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/wedding-wreath/twEacgKuA0O25Q

PECULIAR NOTIONS.

Some of Those Relation to Bride-Maids and Their Duties.

Instead of being so many graceful ornaments at the marriage ceremony, as nowadays, the bride-maids in olden times had various duties assigned to them. Thus, one of the principal tasks was dressing the bride on her wedding morning, when any omission in her toilet was laid to their charge. At wedding, too. where it was arranged that the bride should be followed by a numerous train of her lady friends, it was the first bride-maid’s duty to play the part of drill mistress, “sizing” them so that “no pair in the procession were followed by a taller couple.” She was also expected to see that each bride-maid was not only provided with a sprig of rosemary, or a floral rose pinned to the breastfolds of her dress. but had a symbolical chaplet in her hand. In many parts of Germany it is still customary for the bride-maids to bring the myrtle wreath, which they have subscribed together to purchase on the nuptial eve, to the house of the bride, and to remove it from her head at the close of the wedding-day. After this has been done the bride is blindfolded, and the myrtle wreath being put into her hand, she tries to place it on the head of one of her bride-maids as they dance around her; for, in accordance with an old belief, whoever she crowns is sure to be married within a year from that date. As may be imagined, this ceremony is the source of no small excitement, each bride-maid being naturally anxious to follow the example of the bride. Referring once more to the bridal wreath and chaplet, it is still current notion in many parts of our own country that the bride, in removing these, must take special care that her bride-maids throw away every pin. Not only is it affirmed that misfortune will overtake the bride who retains even one pin used in her marriage toilet, but woe also to the bride-maids if they keep any of them, as their prospects of marriage will be thereby materially lessened.

La Cygne [KS] Journal 12 May 1888: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  To-day, of course, the brides-maid has a massive list of expensive and onerous duties: Pedi-dates, spa week-ends, a “Hen Do” in Las Vegas or Bournemouth, and unspecified and on-demand “pampering.” The list above only scratches the surface of a long list of vintage “do’s and don’t’s” for the bridal attendant. Some others:

Slices of cake passed thru the bride’s wedding ring and eaten by the bridesmaids, will bring a husband within a year.

A piece of wedding cake should be put under the pillow of a maiden and if she dreams of a man, she will marry him within a year.

In some countries a plain gold ring is baked in the wedding cake and the maiden who gets the slice with the ring will have the privilege of proposing to a man of her choice.

Bridesmaids date from Anglo-Saxon times. It was the bridesmaid’s duty to escort the bride to church, and it was believed that the girl on whom this honor fell would be married within a year.

A bridesmaid who stumbles on the way to the altar will die an old maid.

Signs, Omens and Superstitions, Milton Goldsmith, 1918: p. 12-13

Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride, 1896

It is said when a bride retires to rest on her wedding night, that her bridesmaid should lay her stockings across, so as to assure her good luck.

If one of the bridesmaids stumbles, it carries evil luck to the bride.

When the bride goes from her seat to the altar, the bridesmaids must close up quickly, lest the seat grow cold, which is a sign the bride and groom’s love will quickly grow cold also.

If one of the bridegroom’s stockings, thrown by one of the bridesmaids, falls on the bridegroom’s head, it is a sign she will be married herself soon.

If a bridesmaid goes to bed backward, with her hand over her heart, and the first man she sees in the morning is an old man, she will marry before the year is out.

Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Cora Linn Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, 1903

Mrs Daffodil wonders that, with so much responsibility to bear, anyone would accept such a weighty honour.

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 Selfish Bride-to-Be: 1906

A June Bride

THE SELFISH BRIDE-TO-BE

It is, of course, tacitly understood by the majority of people that considerable allowances must be made for two young persons who have entered that blissful state just preceding matrimony. Indulgent parents remember the time when they themselves were youthful lovers, with the sole desire to enjoy each other’s society, right away from that of all friends and relations. Consequently they endeavour to afford their daughters every opportunity of indulging in the pleasure of love’s sweet young dream, at the proper time and with the proper person.

Unattached young people, too, as a rule, are in sympathy with the lovers, look forward to enjoying similar privileges when their “Mr. or “Miss Right” comes along; and so they on their part do their best to make the course of true love run smoothly for brother or sister, as the case might be.

Becomes Selfish.

All this, of course, tends to increase the happiness of an engaged girl to a great extent, but—and alas! that it should be so—she is also inclined to become rather selfish under the circumstances. Not intentionally, perhaps.

Lovers are quick to notice the attitude of a girl toward those at home, and value her accordingly. Moreover, any selfishness in this direction is apt to drive a lover away, as is shown by the following incident which came under the writer’s notice a short time ago.

The elder of two sisters became engaged, and, in consequence, considered that the other sister should perform most of those household duties which they had formerly shared between them after coming home from business, owing to the fact that their mother was practically an invalid.

Lost Her Love.

The younger sister did the work without complaint, while the elder girl spent her spare time either with her lover or making and attending to her own wearing apparel. It was not long, however, before the lover recognized the selfishness of his fiancée and after a time went so far as to speak to his sweetheart about the matter. The latter repudiated the suggestion that she was selfish, and a quarrel ensued, which resulted in the engagement being broken off. The sequel to this affair was that the man married the younger sister, whose true worth he recognized.

This is a fit and proper reward for unselfishness.

The Harbor Grace Standard 14 April 1906: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Oh, what a lovely wedding day that must have been, with the elder, dressed in a bridesmaid’s dress of some unbecoming shade, glowering at her sister behind her bouquet of Anemone, Marigold, Yellow Roses, and Amaranthus, otherwise known as “Love lies bleeding.” Mrs Daffodil would have taken the obvious precaution of employing a food taster at the wedding breakfast.

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.

Hints on Tiaras: 1907

It was not long ago that a woman went to a metropolis from her country home to spend a night in a hotel. She brought her jewel box with her and a clever hotel thief away with her tiara. To this day she has never got the jewels back and there are persons heartless enough to say that a woman who could not spend a night in town without her tiara deserved to lose it. They do not understand the importance that this form of jewellery has assumed. In explaining why she had come to town for twenty-four hours with such a valuable ornament, the victim of the thief called on English precedent and quoted a duchess, who said she would as soon go about now without her tiara as without her toothbrushes.

The ring of tiaras in the so-called golden horseshoe of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York bears witness to the importance that this form of headdress bears to wealth and social distinction. The outward and visible sign of a certain material condition is the tiara. In England the duchesses have had them for years, and the wealthy intruders, whether they come from Australia or South Africa, immediately concern themselves the style of their tiaras.  In the large cities the show girl or the actress who has acquired fame wants first of all a tiara.

The crown of diamonds and pearls that rests on the brow of Miss Gilman will  undoubtedly make its appearance in rivalry with other tiaras once an impending social event takes place. This tiara was by the most famous jeweller of the Avenue de l’Opera, and is classical in the purity of its outlines. It follows exactly the form of a princess’ crown and the younger women of the royal family in Germany, Russia, and England top their charms with such an adornment once they have reached an age in which the tiara is permissible.

These crowns are not for the young women of the sort of society that understands their purpose. It is the dowager who has the first call. Young girls not yet married are allowed to enjoy the tiara only in a discreet form shown. A thin band of gold and jewels–preferably not diamonds–with the mitigation of an aigrette–is the most ambitious form that any young woman with an idea as to the fitness of things would aspire to.

 

The English crown worn by Ellis Jeffreys is the fashion most popular now in London when the wearer is not going to an impressive social function. These tiaras are made with not more than three points which are sometimes in the form of stars. Mrs. Titus of New York, has a diamond tiara composed wholly of five stars. The center star, which sits over the forehead, is the largest, and the four others decline gradually in size until the two at each end are not more than two inches in diameter. The central star, however, measures three inches from point to point. These are the tiaras which are appropriate, according to the modes imported from London for dinners, for a box in the theatre, and, above all, for rather young matrons on all occasions.

 

Dowagers who have passed beyond a certain age would never be content with such a slight jewelled decoration in the hair, for when they wear a crown it is imperative that it have a certain weight and value. A well-known matron wears on state occasions a wonderful tiara of diamonds and pear-shaped pearls. The diamonds are arranged in two circles of large stones with a grilling of smaller gems forming a connecting network between them. Twelve large pear-shaped pearls rise from the top band of diamonds.

Queen Marguerita of Italy in pearls and tiara.jpg

The same treatment of the pearls is seen in the tiara of Mme. Boninsegna, which is heavier in appearance and characterises of the exotic taste of the Southern craftsmen. This tiara, which was made in Rome after one worn occasionally by the Dowager Queen Margherita, shows the Italian love of sumptuousness and impressiveness at the cost of grace and lightness. Such a headdress would, of course, be impossible except on a most formal occasion. The woman who appeared at dinner with such a structure on the top of her head would embarrass the waiters as well as the guests. The pictures of the court beauties of Italy, show many of them attired with just such massive and magnificent tiaras. It is said that Elena the present Queen, has made the most emphatic protest possible against this ornate fashion by always assuming on festal occasions a very narrow coronet, which is in form very much like that worn by Miss Jeffreys.

It seems to be an unwritten rule that tiaras should be of diamonds, although there is no stone so trying to women not in the first blush of youth. A massive crown of flashing brilliants on any woman’s head will absorb all the brightness from her own eyes, making them look dull and old in contrast. It is for that reason that Sarah Bernhardt long ago gave up diamonds for other stones.

 

Women who wear tiaras in this country do it of course with no idea of their political significance, while in Europe it is necessary in private life to avoid  the pointed crown, which indicates rank, whether it be the five points of the countess or the nine points of a princess. Such precautions are not necessary in this country, and women take any share which they can afford, or which is becoming to them. It was this freedom in selection that led a foreigner to express his astonishment at a large ball given recently in New York.

“How does it happen,” he asked, surprised at the number of nine-pointed coronets, “that there are only princesses here in the United States?”

The semi-precious stones that have recently come to be used so generally are popular for headdresses now, and a tiara of them may be bought for less than $500, whereas a diamond tiara may cost from $100,000 to three times as much. These stones afford very attractive combinations of color. Thus the coral tiara made of the pink stones which is worn by a society woman with prematurely gray hair is more appropriate than anything else she could possibly put on.

turquoise tiara

Turquoise and diamond tiara, which may also be worn as a necklace, c. 1890 http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-late-victorian-turquoise-and-diamond-tiara-5575584-details.aspx

In the same way, tiaras of turquoise and topaz are very becoming to women who are very blond or very brunette. These semi-precious stones are usually set in very light designs, with no effort to give the look of solidity usually sought in the diamond tiaras of the finest kind.

Another new style popular this season for the first time is the enamel tiara, made in imitation of flowers and leaves. They are for the most part low and compact, having the appearance of flowers entwined so as to make a wreath for the hair. They are usually much smaller than the size of the real flower or leaf, and are sometimes finished with diamonds and other stones. The ornamentation of the stones is slight, however, as the prevailing intent of the design is to imitate nature. These enamel tiaras sometimes reach $200 in price.

The Washington [DC] Post 20 January 1907: p. 71

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: To-day is “International Tiara Day,” a time to celebrate the charms of the tiara in all of its many incarnations.

Khedive of Egypt tiara Danish Royal collection Cartier 1904

Khedive of Egypt tiara by Cartier, 1904. From the Danish Royal collection. http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2017/06/tiara-thursday-khedive-of-egypt-tiara.html

A New York millionaire’s wife is wearing a diamond tiara about which she tells an amusing anecdote. Last summer the wife was abroad, and her husband told her she could buy a tiara if the price was not exorbitant. The woman selected a beauty in Paris, and cabled a description: “Tiara with pearl tip. Price. 85,000 francs.” The husband replied: “No. Price too high.”

But the woman misread the objecting cable message.

She thought her husband’s stocks were on the advance, and that he signified his generosity by cabling “No price too high.” Instead of buying the tiara for 85,000 francs she selected a handsomer set of gems for 125,000 francs, or $25,000.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 23 May 1904

May all of Mrs Daffodil’s readers celebrate International Tiara Day in so felicitous a fashion!

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.