Category Archives: Fads

The Suffragette Costume: 1910

A lady's mannish Tyrol hat, c. 1901 http://collections.lacma.org/node/232927

A lady’s mannish Tyrol hat, c. 1901 http://collections.lacma.org/node/232927

SUFFRAGETTE COSTUME THE LATEST

The suffragette costume will be a novelty of the winter fashions—the derniere cri—the United Ladies’ Tailor Association of America say, and they ought to know.

The suffragette gown should meet the requirements of the most advanced suffragist. The skirt is made in two parts, like men’s trousers, but the deft tailor has been able to make it appear as if it were a diminutive straight lined tailor skirt, when the suffragette is not in action. On a manikin the skirt doesn’t in the least suggest trousers. It is made with hip pockets, so that if the suffragette wants to make a campaign speech she can keep her hands in her pockets man fashion.

The tailor who designed it explains that the coat is a short, slightly fitted box affair with regulation men’s pockets, revers and lapel button hole.

“Of course, you don’t have to be a suffragette to wear this comfortable new suit,” the tailor says, “for it is fine for any woman, especially if she is fond of walking. It is splendid for skating, and for golf or tennis or any athletic sports or for shopping, as the division does not impede the leg action as the ordinary skirt does. It ought to be called the Flatiron skirt, but I thought I’d recognize the fast increasing body of women who want the ballot.”

Another new corner in the world of fashion is the busy woman’s coat. A woman can start out at 6 o’clock in the morning wearing an evening gown and nobody will be the wiser, as this clever coat will conceal the fact. It is made with an envelope pocket in the back, where the train can be concealed, and it buttons up the back to hide the low neck gown. There are eight buttons on the coat. At noontime if the lady wants to lunch she can unbutton two buttons and change her coat into a smart tailor suit. At 3 o’clock, if she wants to motor, two more buttons are unfastened, a cape slipped up, and she has an entire change for autoing. At 5 o’clock, if she wants to take tea in her aeroplane, she can unfasten two more buttons, and she is ready to fly. At 6 o’clock she can undo two more and be dressed for a restaurant and at 9 o’clock she can check her coat and be ready to dance the rest of the night.

Duluth [MN] News-Tribune 28 September 1910: p. 4

Constance Wilde in a divided skirt. On 6 November 1888, Constance Wilde delivered a speech 'Clothed in Our Right Minds' to the Rational Dress Society defending 'divided skirts.' [Thanks to Eleanor Fitz for posting this on Twitter.]

Constance Wilde in a divided skirt. On 6 November 1888, Constance Wilde delivered a speech ‘Clothed in Our Right Minds’ to the Rational Dress Society defending ‘divided skirts.’ [Thanks to Eleanor Fitz for posting this on Twitter.]

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has never understood why a suffragette’s costume was required to mimic that of the gentlemen. Who would be tormented by a high-starched collar or a stiff-bosomed shirt? Why the unalloyed fascination with bifurcated garments? Mrs Daffodil has never had any trouble performing the most arduous duties in a skirt. A skirt will swing and fall freely, whereas divided skirts have a troubling tendency to bunch. They seem double the bother of skirts.

Then there is the question of pockets. Pockets are not the exclusive property of pantaloon-wearers. If a lady needs pockets, they may easily be added to her suit or gown. The dressmaker may raise her eyebrows, but you are the one paying the bill.

And that bill might be shockingly high–not unlike the premium ladies still pay for quality clothing and for maintaining that clothing, such as dry-cleaners’ bills, which are higher for cleaning women’s articles than for comparable ones for men.

mrs o h p belmont's suffragette costume 1910

Mrs. O.H. P. Belmont’s Suffragette Costume, 1910

Suffragette Costumes, Only $225.

From New York comes the new of another model suffragette costume and it cost only $225, too!

To Mrs. Alma Webster Powell of Brooklyn belongs the honor of designing it. She wore it for the first time at a suffrage meeting Thursday night. She says women are bound to adopt it.

“It consists,” says the dispatch, “of a pair of black serge bloomers, fastened to a piece of goods that fits smoothly over the hips, a long, easy-fitting black serge coat, with black satin buttons down the front, and shining black boots that extend half way to the knees. The bloomers are full and are plaited upon the smooth hip covering.”

What could be more fascinatingly masculine? But the critical mind is compelled to note an interesting distinction. The suffragette costume tends, in respect to form, more and more to the masculine ideal. But in other respects, particularly as to price, they show no evidences of approach.

To judge from Mrs. Powell’s $225 suffragette costume–and she has another for evening wear that cost only $375–and from the fact that the model female voter togs exhibited at the show of the New York Tailors association cost $175, they can never take the place of trousers.

Trousers are accustomed to appear in show windows with such enticing legends as “This Nobby Pair Only $6”; or “Take Me Home for $5.75; or “Was $7. Now $4.35.” That is one of the most familiar commercial aspects under which trousers appear to the world at large.

Imagine a typical suffragette suit, as they are being made and reported, attempting a similar show window role! “Very Nobby–Only $375!” “Special Sale Today–$225!” “Trousers Without Suffragette Coat–This Week Only $150!” The very idea is ridiculous.

Who has not seen, at some time or other, an attractive sign “Mercury $3 Pants”–borne about town in a wagonful of brass band? Could the trousering, as expounded at present, expect to figure in a similar connection? Well, hardly! It would simply be a waste of money to hire a wagon and a brass baud to exploit a sign reading “Venus $375 Suffragette Suits.” or something to that effect.

It may also be confidently stated that there would be something absolutely ridiculous in the sight of a kite flying above Chicago, bearing a long streamer exalting, not somebody’s $16 men’s suits, but the Carrie Chapman Catt, or the M rs. O. H. P. Belmont, or the Alma Webster Powell “$225 Suffragette Quick Sellers.”

Why suffragette trousers should cost more than pants can ever hope to cost is not wholly clear. We only know they do. No suffragette costume yet reported sells for less than $175. That fact emphasizes the distinction between the gorgeous trousering and the simple, democratic trouser or common, plebeian pants.

The Inter Ocean [Chicago IL] 6 November 1910: p. 6

The Suffragette Suit designed by American Tailors Asssociation November 1910

The Suffragette Trouser Suit, as designed by a group of New York tailors, 1910

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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A Phrenological Failure: 1824

veggie face

 

The science of Phrenology is not likely to be long in fashion. Important anticipations were entertained of indications and discoveries in the head of Thurtell, but they have failed. Some time ago a gentleman found a large turnip in his field, the shape of a man’s head, and with the resemblance of the features of a man. Struck with the curiosity, he had a cast made from it, and sent the cast to a Society of Phrenologists, stating that it was taken from the head of Baron Turnempourtz, a celebrated Polish Professor, and requesting their opinion thereon. After sitting in judgment, they scientifically examined the cast, in which they declared that they had discovered an unusual prominence, which denoted that he was a man of an acute mind and deep research, that he had the organ of quick perception, and also of perseverance, with another that indicated credulity. The opinion was transmitted to the owner of the cast, with a letter, requesting as a particular favour that he would send them the head. To this he politely replied, “that he would willingly do so, but was prevented, as he and his family had eaten it the day before with their mutton at dinner.”

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 135,1824

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “science” of Phrenology was just getting started. Although it was scientifically discredited by the 1840s, it survived in the patter of the snake-oil salesman, and as a popular lecture-circuit topic and parlour entertainment into the early 20th century, as Mrs Daffodil has written in Bump Parties: 1905, 1907.

Thurtell was John Thurtell who murdered Mr William Weare over a gambling debt. The crime caused a sensation; the gruesome particulars were memorialised in a ballad, part of which ran:

They cut his throat from ear to ear,
His head they battered in.
His name was Mr William Weare,
Wot lived in Lyons Inn.

Thurtell committed a vicious murder, but was astonishingly stupid over it, openly boasting that he would “do” Weare, who was said to have cheated Thurtell at cards, and leaving the murder weapon, one of a matched set he owned, in the road. No doubt the phrenologists wanted to analyse his cranium to determine where he went wrong and prevent future murderers from making the same egregious errors.

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 Valentine Charm Party: 1911

cupid and two putti.JPG

VALENTINE CHARMS

A recently engaged girl gave a charming valentine charm party to her young girl friends. The invitations were made of water-color paper, and were in the form of tiny padlocks, with a dainty key attached. A painted Cupid was on one side and the following words filled the other: “If thou wouldst know the secrets and charms of love which St. Valentine keeps under lock and key, meet at the mystic board at 29 Chestnut St., at eight o’clock, on February fourteenth.” After a session of girlish chatter, and a social game or two of “Hearts,” the guests were taken to the dining-room, which was hung with many-colored dangling hearts. Heart-shaped ices, “kisses,” “lover’s delight,” etc., were served. Garlands of vines, rosebuds and hearts trailed from the chandelier over the white cloth. The centerpiece was a mammoth crimson rose made of crape paper surrounded by ferns, and its heart contained as many petals as there were guests. Each petal was fastened to a white satin ribbon which led to each place. After the plates had been removed, the guests remained at table and the charms began, when each guest gently drew her streamer and its petal. The petal contained her fortune. The heart of the rose being drawn away disclosed a tiny Cupid in a white satin bride’s slipper. The slipper was filled with crape-paper rose leaves of various colors. Each guest received three leaves on which she wrote a lover’s name (a different lover for each leaf). and dropped them into her individual bowl of water. The first to come up was to be her future husband. On each place-card was found five bay leaves, a tiny crimson candle, two matches and a pencil. Then tiny cups of tea were brought in. The maidens wrote their wishes on the bay-leaves, lighted the candles and burned the leaves, so that the ashes fell into the tea. At a given signal the tea, ashes and all, was consumed, and thus St. Valentine’s help was insured for the gratification of the wishes. Each guest then received an egg, on the shell of which was written the name of her best love, with indelible ink. The eggs were boiled and each lassie claimed her egg. Then the yolks were removed and salt put in its place. The girls bravely ate the eggs, salt and all, while their wishes were made. If they retired without taking a drink of water, the person of whom they dreamed was to be lord of the future, and the wish would come true. The favors for the occasion were satin sachets with a garland of rosebuds and lovers’ knots painted on the surface. A long-stemmed crimson rose was pinned to it. In the heart of each rose was a tiny gilt heart with a quaint valentine verse on it.

-Florence Bernard.

The Delineator, Volume 77, February 1911: p. 157

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  What dainty accessories as a backdrop to the performance of ancient (and to be perfectly frank, rank) superstitions!  Mrs Daffodil has written before about the Valentines’ rites and customs of yore in Holly Boys, Ivy Girls, Eggs, and Billets. The bay leaves were more usually pinned to the young lady’s pillows, but one supposes there are fads in love charms as well as Valentines.

 

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 Handsome Man a Mistake: 1903

 

Leyendecker handsome man

The Handsome Man a Mistake.

Her Royal Highness, Woman, has decided that physical beauty ought to be the monopoly of her sex, and that the Handsome Man is a mistake. She has been investigating him in various roles, and declares that as a lover he is unsatisfactory, as a husband a failure, and as a brother a nuisance. The fiancée of the good-looking man has to pay dearly for her capture of an Adonis. She lives in a state of perpetual siege against a host of fair rivals, and has to run the gauntlet of such remarks as “I wonder what that handsome Mr Jones can see in that Enid Smith,” and “Isn’t it funny how good-looking men always marry such plain wives?” Her troubles are only augmented when she becomes a young matron. She has to stoically endure her husband’s flirtations with other women— who will flatter him if she will not — and to smile amiably when Mrs Robinson praises Jack and Muriel —

“Such pretty children; so like their father!” Last, but not least, she must skimp her wardrobe, while her attractive husband spends on his ties and socks what the Ugly Man would have concentrated cheerfully on his wife’s fur coat.

As a brother the Handsome Man is certainly not an unmixed blessing. From the first moment he opens his “beautiful” eyes he is the idol of an adoring mother, who displays to his moral shortcomings a more than beetle-like obtuseness. As he grows older she palliates his love for pleasure and his disinclination for work by the excuse, “Jack is so good-looking, he is sure to marry an heiress if he goes into society.”

The sister of the  Handsome Man is only asked to parties where the hostess dare not ask him without her, and she is ordered to be civil to all sorts of people who detest her but admire “dear Jack.” Then the handsome brother is generally a woman’s man, which means that Jack will not bring men friends home to smoke and play ping pong and fall in love with his sister. If the modern girl could have her choice in such a matter, she would plump unreservedly for a plain, good-natured, ordinary brother, who would contentedly accept the back seat allotted by twentieth-century women to the “mere man.”

Troublesome though the Handsome Man undoubtedly is, it is probable that, in spite of all her protestations, her Royal Highness Woman will continue to admire and marry him. The Handsome Man of to-day certainly compares favourably with the “pretty” man of 50 years ago. That popular hero was narrow-chested, puny, and pink-and-white, while black whiskers inevitably adorned” his thin cheeks. Today the Handsome Man is stalwart, well set-up, and muscular, for mere beauty of feature will count for very little. He may not be industrious, but he is wise enough to play cricket, football, and golf, and is, by the way, almost as conceited of his prowess in these directions as of his classic nose and chin and “beautiful” eyes.

Otago [NZ] Witness 18 March 1903: p. 61

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Bothersome though they are, these difficulties pale in comparison with the swath cut through happy homes and boarding houses by creatures so utterly lacking in conscience. Mrs Daffodil feels that the word “mistake” is woefully inadequate, given the damage that they do.

The Ravages of the Handsome Man.

There should be something done at once to put a stop to the ravages of the handsome man. The handsome man has not been noted for his nice regard for the rights of other men since the days when Paris ran away with Helen and involved Troy and Greece in a deadly war. It was supposed that the growth of morality and good manners had somewhat curtailed the piratical tendencies of the man who was born with a handsomer face than his neighbors and that he had of late confined his blandishments to susceptible maidens. Some late instances, however, indicate that he is at his old tricks and that he has not reformed at all, but is pursuing his calling of poaching on his neighbors’ preserves quite as vigorously as in the days of Antony and Alcibiades. He is cosmopolitan in his tastes and slights neither high nor low in his attentions.

A young German began housekeeping with his new-married wife in Newark. The young Teuton was poor in this world’s goods, possessing only the wealth of his wife’s affections and a half interest in a bouncing baby. To eke out the slender income of the family a handsome boarder was taken. About a week ago the handsome boarder concluded to leave town and took with him the whole establishment, with the exception of the husband, including $250 in money belonging to. the injured man. A German chemist, while en route to tins country a short time ago, became acquainted with a fair daughter of Germany, to whom he was married on his arrival at New York. The young couple set up their household in Hoboken and to help pay expenses a handsome boarder, also of Teutonic extraction, was taken. After a time the husband thought he discovered that the new boarder was too fond of his wife and ordered him to leave the house. He left, but took the wife and baby with him. It is needless to say that the two German husbands are of one opinion about the deserts of handsome men.

The handsome man does not confine his ravages to the homes of the humble. This is made apparent by a late Hartford scandal. The son of a political millionaire, himself the possessor of no inconsiderable claims to manly beauty, married a fascinating widow who was not only beautiful but talented. But a handsomer man from Boston cast his evil eye on that happy home and it was not. Two suits for divorce and a legal quarrel about the division of a property are the present results of too much handsomeness on the part of that Boston man.

The handsome man of moderate means and good character is also proving dangerous. A New Brunswick family, consisting of husband, wife and three interesting children, has lately become the victim of his wiles. The handsome man in this case is a church member and the trusted employe of a manufacturing company. He has left the church scandalized, the company short and the married man without either wife or children. It is not worthwhile multiplying instances to prove that the handsome man is dangerous and ought to be abolished. That fact is too apparent to admit of a single doubt. A much more interesting inquiry at present is to know how to abolish him. The shotgun and the strong arm of the law have proved alike powerless, and the statesmen and philosophers of this country should bend their gigantic intellects to the task of devising some means to accomplish this necessary work. It may be suggested by way of beginning that young married men should be very chary of handsome boarders.

The Times [Philadelphia PA] 11 February 1883: p. 4

 

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 Most Eccentric Dresser in America: 1916

THE MOST ECCENTRIC DRESSER IN AMERICA
Barbara Craydon

There is in America at least one woman to whom the styles do not matter. Styles may come and styles may go but Baroness Else von Freitag leaves them out of her calculations altogether. She is her own designer and dressmaker. One might say that she dresses as she paints, for as an artist this highly temperamental woman is a follower of the futuristic school.

Seven years ago Baroness von Freitag came to America from Germany. It was not until she entered the art field in New York that she began dressing otherwise than in a semi-conventional way. In fact she seems to have caught her inspiration from the riotous colors of the futurists, and was seen in some of the most marvelous clothes New York has ever observed.

Everything that comes to her hands may be turned to a use in her art of dress. One electrifying costume is trimmed with common meat skewers painted in most intricate design. Another is ornamented with the gilt spiral springs such as one uses in hanging bird ages. Elaborate bead work, resembling the wampum of the Indians figures largely in her scheme of decoration, and heavy embroideries of futuristic design and brilliant colors are made from nothing else than knitting wool. The baroness never throws anything away, and the effect in her clothes is marvelous.

“Clothes,” said the baroness in her studio, “should always be a matter of inspiration not of one person for thousands of different style women, but of each individual. When one follows the styles and makes herself a slave to those who invent the fashions she might just as well be in the uniform of an institution as not for all the individuality expressed in her garments. The only difference between the conventionally dressed persons and the inmates of an institution is that the style and texture of the garment is changed several times a year. While there is little expense in charity uniforms there is a demand for great outlay of money by those who are slaves to the fashions and listen to the dictates of the fashion makers.

“How often have you heard a woman say, ‘yes, the dress is pretty but I cannot wear it, I do not feel right in it.’ What more than an expression of that kind does one need to show that clothes ought to be made for the individual character? It does not matter from what materials things are constructed as long as they suit the personality of the wearer, as long as the colors blend harmoniously.

“Look about you at nature. It is seldom that the landscape presents a pale, fade-away pastel appearance. Flowers are bright with color, greens are vivid, all colors are bright. Why not use them in one’s garments? I revel in color, I must have color and plenty of it, but the colors must be put together artistically. I have found that persons who generally cling to one color have a mental attitude toward the world and things in general that harmonizes pretty well with their colors. Drab clothes fit drab-colored minds. Perhaps that is why people who have been gifted with brilliant minds have worn clothes that have been called fantastic in cut and in color. They have been criticized for such things and have been called eccentric, but then the world always calls persons whom they do not understand eccentric. It is the simplest way out for simple minds, a way that does not demand analysis, and removes all necessity of particular thought.”

Among the studios of New York City the baroness von Freitag has frequently been urged by fellow-artists to pose for pictures and it sometimes amuses her to do so. Her poses are full of imagination, full of life. There are times when she refuses to pose, especially if she does not like the style of work that the artist is doing. She insists that she must be in sympathy with the artist’s work, must understand what he is doing before she can give him a satisfactory pose. The baroness says that just standing or sitting still for an artist is no posing.

The baroness has a most marvelous collection of rings, many of them are silver set with dull stones, others she was made herself from artistically arranged beads. Some of these that she has made are futuristic in the extreme. One might say that she practically paints with her needle and the beads. The result is weird but extremely interesting.

“Why should I not cover my hands with rings if I wish?” she said, looking up from her work. “Others cover their hands with gloves. I think gloves ugly. I would certainly to feel at home with my hands encased with gloves. But my rings are a joy and pleasure to me. Sometimes I can wear only one. It depends upon my state of mind. But when I am very happy and gay I like to wear them all. Barbaric? Perhaps it is. If so, I like the barbaric.”

Shoes, also, the baroness thinks, ought to be a matter of artistic work on the part of the wearer. One pair of slippers of black satin she has made into footgear to suit her. These are Oriental to an extreme, beaded and ringed. And from the back of one hang two large beaded tassels.

When an ordinary “slave to fashions” might spend a day in selecting a hat the baroness will spend a week in making one to please her. One creation is made from the crown of a derby hat which this original woman has painted and glazed until it looks like a highly lacquered helmet. On top, for a decoration, is a long bone hair pin partly sheathed in an intricate bead design. At the back of the hat coming down to the nape of her neck she has added a strip of silver-covered cardboard edged with a gilt trimming. The effect is that of a headpiece of an Amazon, and when dressed in the costume she has designed to go with the hat the baroness carries with her one of her pet alligators.

Truly if one searched the United States from coast to coast, from north to South, it might be difficult to find a more amazingly gowned woman than the baroness, and it would also probably be difficult to find a woman who spends less in money or more in energy on her clothes than she does. As for the enjoyment derived from clothes, the baroness takes a delight in her costumes that is extremely frank and genuine enough to suggest that clothes pleasure may have been neglected by the philosophers as an element of the art of life.

New Orleans [LA] States 1 October 1916: p. 45

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Baroness (the newspaper misspells her name, which is correctly rendered Else von Freytag-Loringhoven) was born Elsa Plötz in the supremely un-futuristically-named town of Swinemünde, Germany.  She came to the United States after helping her second husband fake suicide to escape his creditors. She was a luminary of the Dada and avante-garde movements.  Mrs Daffodil must confess that she is inherently unsympathetic to movements known as “Futuristic” or, indeed, as any sort of “istic,” as they suggest those who advocate the wearing of tin-foil head-gear.

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.

Fashions in Stationery: 1873-1923

pink china stationery rack

Ceramic stationery rack, late 19th c. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1225935

Although there are few vagaries of fashion to be noted in the paper used for friendly and ceremonious correspondence, there are certain definite rules which govern its use, and which the woman who desires to be considered good form cannot overstep.

Every season there are novelties in stationery put on the market, but the wise woman never allows herself to be tempted by the lovely tinted papeterie, which, although a delight to the eye, does not appeal to her innate sense of what is correct. The dreamy blues, romantic rose colors, and dainty greens, should be relegated to the very young, as these delicate shades appeal to the budding tastes of girls and boys, and harmonize with the gushing sentiments of the very youthful. The fancy-stamped paper with the victor’s wreath, the regal fleur-de-lis, and the four-leaved clover in gold or bronze, belong properly to the epoch when the heart is worn upon the sleeve, and the school-boy or girl runs riot with sentiment, harmlessly expressed upon ornate stationery.

When big square envelopes are introduced as a passing vagary, these enthusiastic young people enclose their letters in envelopes big enough for the official correspondence of a cabinet minister; when small ones are used, they run to Liliputian styles.

Men and women of the world never commit themselves to a passing caprice, and cling to the heavy cream-laid octavo sheet, which is at the same time elegant and unostentatious, and which boasts of no ornamentation, save, perhaps, the family crest or coat of arms elegantly emblazoned in the proper heraldic colors, blended with gold, silver, or bronze. Some persons deem this assumption of armorial bearings arrogant, and not in consonance with republican principles; there is, however, no reason why those who are entitled to this distinction should not display their escutcheon upon their stationery. The monogram is frequently substituted, and the cunning of the engraver is evidenced in the artistic entwining of the graceful cipher. According to the canons of good taste, the monogram should not be of too elaborate a character; in fact, to be correct, it must not assert itself conspicuously, while at the same time expressing individuality and elegance.

Fashion’s decrees do not permit of the use of the crest or monogram upon the envelope; it is sufficient to have it engraved at the head of the letter-sheet.

The use of ruled paper is relegated to school children and the untutored classes; properly educated persons do not require lines to guide them; in fact, with the present fashion of straggling handwriting, lines would hamper rather than aid the accomplished letter-writer.

mourning stationery a

Mourning stationery from Dyrham Rectory, Chippenham. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/453623

For mourning, the excessively deep black border is no longer de regle , a narrower one being sufficient to conform with the dictates of mourning etiquette. It is not necessary to intrude the insignia of one’s grief upon the world, but black-bordered paper is the natural accompaniment of the garb of woe. A black monogram or crest may be used upon heavy white paper.

kingston lacy stationery assortment

Stationery assortment from Kingston Lacy. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1256865

For country houses, the hostess provides herself with a quantity of stationery for the season, designed, not for herself alone, but for the use of her guests, a generous supply of which is placed in the escritoire of the guest chamber. As nowadays all country houses are distinguished by names, it is the proper thing for the recipients of the lady’s hospitality to conduct their correspondence on the paper which bears, in the fac-simile handwriting of the hostess, the historic or fancy name of her residence.

The country clubs, the athletic and social clubs, all have an appropriate device engraved upon the stationery which is to be used by members.

In these days of yachting, yacht stationery is supplied to the guests of the owner. Sometimes it is ornamented with nautical emblems, or it bears the name of the craft and the monogram of the yacht club; in many cases the pennant of the club is used, the different colors affording a fine opportunity for the handicraft of the skilled engraver.

In these times of rush and utilitarianism the proper sealing of a letter may almost be classed among the lost arts; even women of leisure deem it a waste of time to use sealing-wax, although those who cling to elegant usages never omit this ceremony, save when writing upon matters of business.

There is nothing more suggestive of daintiness, than the envelope with its circle of pale-colored wax, stamped with the impress of the family coat-of-arms or a graceful monogram. Sealing a letter savors of leisure and elegance, and few women are past-mistresses of the art; men rarely take the trouble to seal their letters.

Courtesy of Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll.

Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1877

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What a difference several decades makes in the notion of size and colour in stationery:

UP TO DATE STATIONERY

Good Form as Shown in the Details of Letter and Note-Paper.

For short notes, invitations and the like, small note size paper, which measures six inches by four and one-quarter inches or thereabouts, is used. For letters the sheet is more nearly square, approximately five and half inches wide by six and a half long. Both are folded once and slipped into envelopes that exactly fit.

Foreign correspondence makes the only exception to this rule, and for letters to be sent abroad a thinner, lighter paper is the preferred one. The very latest novelty in envelopes of this thin, satin finished paper displays a lining of one of the new fashionable colors—purple, gray, red or blue.

The lining is not more than tissue weight, yet the color renders it opaque, and it is possible to send a letter of generous length without excessive postage, while at the same time the contents are protected from curious eyes.

The engraved monogram, initial or address at the top of the sheet in the centre is always in good taste, or, if desired, the address may be used in combination with the initial or monogram. In the latter case the address may either be placed below the initials or in the centre with the monogram or the initials occupying a space to the left.

Simple script letters, from half to three-quarters of an inch in height, intertwined, afford a pretty effect, and are in excellent taste, says McCall’s Magazine . Blocked letters are combined in many attractive ways, and just now there is a marked preference for long, narrow monograms, whether used alone or in combination with the address. Small letters are often enclosed in a little frame of medallion style, but these are mostly preferred by young girls, the larger designs being chosen by more mature folk.

Dull blue and dull red inks for printing monograms and addresses are favorites, gray is liked by many, and tan is always effective on a white ground, while both silver and gold are in good style. Bright colors and startling effects are always to be avoided, but there all rule ends.

Owners of country houses and of boats large enough to serve as temporary homes frequently use the name as well as the general address; as, “The Cedars,” followed by the name of the town. Every yacht club has its own flag, and often this is used together with the owner’s private signal, in the left hand corner, while the name of the boat or the owner’s monogram occupies the centre of the page; or, if a different arrangement is preferred, the signal flags can be shown above, directly in the centre.

Telephone numbers are important, when living out of town, and often the centre of the sheet shows the address, while diagonally across the left hand corner is printed the telephone call and number, the same style of letter being used for both.

The Sun [New York NY] 10 March 1912: p. 35

While every correspondent knew the niceties of papeterie in the 1870s, novelty in stationery drew comment from the late 1800s onward. This novelty actually sounds rather pretty:

Pale green notepaper, with the crest or initials in mother-o’-pearl, is also a fad of fashion.

Auckland [NZ] Star, 31 May 1924: p. 22

stationery portfolio

Stationery portfolio of embossed leather, gilt, and set with a scene in painted mother-of-pearl. Mid-19th century. https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/stationery-portfolio/JAGxkKi3k6yodQ

Country-house hostesses evinced much anxiety about their stationery assortments. Guest rooms were often supplied with special boxes for writing paper. This lockable specimen, in leather,  from Penrhyn Castle suggests stationery of Royal Dispatch box importance.

penrhyn castle stationery box

Stationery box from one of the guest rooms at Penrhyn Castle. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1421560.5

Country House Stationery.

Hostesses who look well to the comfort of their guests always have in every room a bountiful supply of note paper and correspondence cards, inscribed with the name of the house, the post-office address and the telephone number—if there is one.

Country-house stationery may deviate somewhat from the conventional styles considered correct for town use, and if one chooses to use khaki brown note paper or robin’s-egg blue, or even coral pink, one’s vagary will be quite excusable. The name of the house may also be printed at the top of the sheet when nothing less than engraving would be tolerated in town. Some hostesses provide postage stamps for their guests, but this is rather an expensive fad. Telegraph blanks should, however, be in every room, so that telegrams may be speedily dispatched when necessity arises. Post cards bearing pictures of the house or some interesting bit of scenery near-by are always highly appreciated in the guest room.

The Repository [Canton OH] 26 May 1912: p. 31

One might think that such stationery stalwarts as mourning stationery were impervious to fashion, but such was not the case. Just as heavily craped veils fell out of fashion, so did the heavy black bordered letter and envelope.

crossing the bar mourning stationery

Crossing the bar mourning stationery, 1890s. https://museum.wales/collections/online/object/4f076e0c-bbdb-3c36-b54d-30a20556e148/Mourning-stationery-box-of/?field0=string&value0=mourning&field1=with_images&value1=on&index=2

A new idea in mourning stationery is the envelope in pure white save for a fine line of black defining its deeply pointed flap, but with a black tissue paper lining.

Daily Capital Journal [Salem OR] 28 May 1913: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil rather shudders at the notion of green ink being “ultra-fashionable,” and as for green sealing wax….

The latest fad in stationery is note paper of a tawny orange shade, known as Indian gold, on which she who would be ultra-fashionable must write in green ink, securing her envelopes with green sealing wax. Excepting its novelty , which may render it acceptable to some, the fancy seems to have nothing to recommend it, and will probably be but short-lived.

Godey’s Lady’s Book, July 1893

 

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 Festive Christmas Tree: 1906

the festive christmas tree illustration 1906.JPG

The Festive Christmas Tree

It will not be the fault of the shop-keepers if your Christmas tree is lacking in characteristic beauty, for as early as November first the toy departments were beginning to assume a “Christmasy” aspect.

The number of people who purchased decorations at that time was altogether surprising, and from the first week of November to Thanksgiving the buying has been unprecedented. There are two good reasons for early buying; the novelties, of course, quickly disappear and the stock becomes exhausted; again when purchased in ample time there is less danger of the frail ornaments being broken, which is sure to occur when the holiday rush is on for good and everybody is making for the same goal.

While there is nothing strikingly new or unusual among the fanciful embellishments for this year’s Christmas tree, they are sufficiently satisfying and ornate to please the little men and women for whom they are intended, happy sojourners in the Land of Delusion.

FAD FOR DIMINUTIVE TREES.

It is probably owing to the small box-like rooms that prevail in recently built houses and the growing popularity of flat-life that brought the diminutive tree into favor. At any rate, real and artificial trees from 24 inches to l yard high and from this height to the fast vanishing giant balsam that ends unwillingly beneath the ceiling are all equally desirable according to recent advice.

Every purchaser buys a tree best suited to the available space in his home. Children may trim and untrim small trees and so engage their time for days at a stretch, whereas with the usual size tree this is not possible. Besides, there is an economical side to the dwarf-like tree, which is vastly better than none at all, when a larger one proves too great a tax for a slender purse. The attendant annoyance of falling greens and the time required in trimming the tree are reduced to a minimum.

Small trees are also employed to bear the gifts for the children, which is even more fun than finding them under the tree.

ORNAMENTS IN BLOWN GLASS.

A number of very attractive shapes are shown in colored glass ornaments, besides the standard ones that have been doing service for many years. The coloring this year seems to be unusually brilliant, three or four hues often being combined in one piece. Many of the more expensive ones are hand-painted and encrusted with diamond dust.

All sorts of egg and oval shapes are conspicuous, striped, plaided and rainbow tinted, with queer little spirals of gilt running over and around them.

About a hundred and one different models for airships, some horizontally built, others like balloons swinging vertically, are in profuse assortment. These are mostly seen in a single color with spirals of gilt surrounding them. Boats, horns of plenty, besides hosts of others, may be added to the list. Many musical instruments are displayed alike in painted glass, with bright and dull finish.

Bunches of grapes in gold, silver, green and purple glass are available from 5 cents to $1, and must assuredly be included among the essential decorations.

FANS AND FAIRIES.

Miniature fans with the tops finished by frills oi a plain color and enlivened with tinsel, ornate flowers, fancy heads and sparkling dust, are among the attractive novelties; these fans vary from three to six inches, the sticks are of gilt and silver paper, some of which are mounted on heavy cardboard.

The Christmas fairy does not flourish in her undisputed sway today as she did when we were nursery enthusiasts. But she is the same ornate, fluffy spangled lady, sometimes wearing frilled skirts of gold paper, again one of coarse lace with paper flowers and bits of tinsel and stars or one of cotton net standing out in a characteristic, bouffant fashion.

Quite amusing are the little roly-poly decorations, dudes, Indians, clowns, dancing girls, besides those of the animal tribe, rabbits, dogs, cats, pigs, bears and what not, all fancifully garbed, with their bearing attached to swing on the tree.

NOVELTIES IN PAPER AND BEADS.

Both plain and crepe papers enter largely into the fanciful designs of all sorts. Very graceful indeed are the horns of plenty of embossed gold and paper filled with flowers, some of which support a fairy butterfly, glistening with varicolored diamond dust.

Large single flowers, the rose, chrysanthemum and sunflower, besides sprays, are realistically designed in colored papers, their petals touched with gold and silver dust. Torpedo bonbons, wishing bon bons gayly decorated with tinsel, fancy heads and flowers are fashioned of colored papers. These, it may be whispered, are not in the least difficult to make and very effective, and in white, scarlet, yellow, pale blue and pink make a good showing. I neglected to say that in some of the single flowers of crepe paper a little doll’s face unexpectedly appears.

Among the most effective novelties handled by several houses are those of varicolored beads, made up into unique little ornaments. Many of these are of pendant persuasion and occasionally combined with glass beads, as in air ships, for example.

Strings of glistening glass beads and crystal shapes, some in one color shading from light to dark, again several colors alternating with each other, produce a most artistic effect when arranged in garland fashion. In pure white they catch and reflect the light, like so many diamonds.

Crystal or glass fringe in gracefully shaped oval pendants of varying color add a refined brilliancy, to the tree as a whole that seems unmatched by any other medium of decoration.

MARJORIE.

The Sunday Journal [Minneapolis MN] 9 December 1906: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has written on this subject before, discussing how to make a Christmas fairy for tree or table. The vogue for “diminutive trees” also calls to mind an ingenious lady who made miniature beaded trees.

It is rather sad to think that so many of the ornaments so delightfully described above have not survived. The glass ornaments are easily shattered–and even more readily if any person in the house found an air- or pellet-gun under the Christmas tree and especially if they have seen the film, The Thin Man. 

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.