Category Archives: Textiles

Buying a Bridal Trossy: 1877

trousseau

A French fashion doll with her trousseau.

BUYING A BRIDAL “TROSSY”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The clerk agreed and they were figured in.

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

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

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

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

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

“I hope you’ll be happy.”

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

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

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

CHIT-CHAT—TROUSSEAU.


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

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

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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Royal Wedding Superstitions: 1886-1922

heather and a good luck horse shoe for a bride 1935

Heather and a lucky horse-shoe for a bride, 1935 http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1364613.11

Europe Has Its Royal Wedding Superstitions

Written for Universal Service By a Retired Member of the Royal Household.

London, Jan. 21. In the English royal family there are current a number of superstitions concerning weddings.

For example, the writer is quite sure that the Princess Mary could not be persuaded to sign her name on her wedding day until after the wedding had taken place. It is one of the oldest superstitions in the English royal family that for a princess of it to sign her name on her wedding day until after the wedding would be a most unlucky thing for her to do.

On the morning of the wedding of the present queen of Norway, which took place at Buckingham Palace, it became urgently necessary for the then Princess Maud to put her signature to a legal document in connection with her private affairs. It was essential that the document should be signed by her in her maiden name. She meant to have signed it the day before her wedding, but forgot to do so. She absolutely refused to sign it on the day of her wedding until after her marriage, and thereby put herself to a great deal of trouble and legal expense over the signing of the document.

Another wedding superstition prevailing in the royal family is that it is lucky for the royal bride to be able to see the sky on waking on the morning of her wedding day. It is extremely unlikely that the Princess Mary will sleep on the eve of her wedding day with the curtains in her bedroom drawn. Her royal highness will be sure to draw them back so that on waking she may behold the sky. This superstition also prevails in the Spanish royal family and it is customary for members of it the night before their wedding to sleep in the open if the weather permits.

It would be regarded as an unlucky thing by the Princess Mary for her to see her father before she sees her mother on her wedding day. What will happen on the morning of the princess’ wedding will be that her mother will come to her room ere she rises, will kiss her on both cheeks and wish her all prosperity and happiness in her future married life.

It has always been regarded as unlucky in the English royal family to make use of a wedding present before the wedding. All the princess’ presents will be kept in a room at St. James’ palace together with the presents sent to Lord Lascelles, until after the wedding.

There is an old saying current in the royal family concerning a royal bride. It runs:

“With the loss of the shoes, gloves or veil of her wedding day,

The luck of the bride will soon pass away.”

The shoes, gloves and veil worn by Queen Victoria at her wedding are still preserved at Windsor. The shoes, gloves and veils worn by Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary on their wedding days are still carefully preserved by each of their majesties and the Princess Mary will be equally careful not to lose these reminders of her wedding day.

The Austin [TX] American 22 January 1922: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil must gently correct the Austin American: Queen Victoria was buried in her wedding veil, so the veil “still preserved at Windsor,” was probably the lace from her gown, which, although quite fragile, still exists.

Orange blossom, white heather, and myrtle were essentials to bring luck to a Royal bride.

Princess Beatrice and Mr William Black between them have done much to render white heather popular. At most of the fashionable weddings which have taken place in London since May the brides have worn white heather It is, in fact, so indispensable just now that the artificial flower-makers produce it in specially large quantities for the marriage market, whilst at weddings at which expense is no object sprigs of the real plant are purposely fetched from the Highlands, At a wedding the other day the bride had real white heather in her bouquet, and there were sprigs of it, mixed with myrtle, on her train as well. Otago [NZ] Witness 12 November 1886: p. 32

All royal brides who are related to the Queen have a sprig of myrtle on their wedding day that is cut from a particular tree. This tree was grown from a slip sent from Germany for the bridal bouquet of the Princess Royal, and the tree it was cut from dates back to the time of the Crusaders. Otago [NZ] Witness, 30 December 1897: p. 43

As per the rhyme about veils and luck, Royal wedding veils received particular attention: the Royal Collection is full of photographs of the veils of the Princesses. Even the continental Royals were punctilious about their preservation:

The wreath and veil form the most important part of a German bride’s wedding dress, and in great families the wedding wreath and veil are carefully preserved among the family heirlooms.

In this connection I was told a rather strange story about the wreath and veil of the German Empress, which the Empress lost some few years after her marriage.

The Empress discovered the loss when she went to show them to a friend, and ascertained that they were not in the box where they were usually kept. The Kaiserin’s wardrobe-room was thoroughly searched, but without bringing to light the precious wreath and veil.

The suspicion of having taken the wreath and veil might have fastened on the Empress’s dresser, only for the fact that she had been for years with the Empress, and was so well known to her that the idea of her having taken them was out of the question. Indeed, the dresser was almost as much distressed at the loss of the articles as her Royal mistress.

The Empress was in a terrible state over her loss, and inquiries were everywhere instituted as to where the wreath and veil could have disappeared to. Ultimately, a year or so later, the missing articles turned up in a box in a lumber-room at the residence of the Grand Duke of Baden, where the Empress had been staying some few years after her marriage, and where apparently she had left her wreath and veil, which she carried about with her for some years after her marriage wherever she went. Seven Years at the Prussian Court, Edith Keen, 1917

Viscount_Lascelles and Mary Princess Royal wedding

Viscount Lascelles and Mary, the Princess Royal, on their wedding day, 1922

While most journalists burbled blissfully along about Royal wedding gifts, articles of the Royal trousseau, and the incomparable charms of the bride-to-be, this article about the wedding veil of Mary, the Princess Royal, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, was uncharacteristically negative in tone. Given the rumours that the marital life of the Princess proved to be less than happy, one might almost call it prophetic.

Wedding Veil to Be Worn by Princess Is of Tragical Origin.

London, Jan. 28. Dire tragedy is associated with the fine old Irish point lace which will adorn Princess Mary’s bridal robe when she marries Viscount Lascelles next month.
It originated from the failure of the Irish potato crop in 1846. The famine which followed was terrible. The peasants lived on the product of their soil and the fruitfulness of the soil, and when misfortune robbed them their desolation was all the more poignant on account of their helplessness.

To a holy abbess in the convent of Youghal in the County Cork, falls the distinction of conceiving this future industry for Ireland. There came into her possession a piece of Milan de Point. She carefully studied the piece of lace and untraveled the threads one by one and finally, after the exhausting research, mastered all the wonderful intricacies of the lacemakers of old Milan.

She then realized its great possibilities as an industry for the starving Irish children. The children cleverest at needlework were the first selected, and she taught them separately what she had learned. They were apt pupils, and the industry spread from Youghal. It spread over the whole of the southern and western counties of Ireland.

Queen Mary has ever been a devotee of needlework, and as Irish point is made entirely with the needle the queen has naturally taken more than a passing interest in this work; for a complete dress of it was made for her at her coronation.

But the vagaries of feminine fashion have interfered with its sale for some months, and it is devoutly trusted in the southern parts of Ireland that the queen’s choice for her daughter’s wedding dress will revive such a demand for Irish lace that will be unaffected by the petty dictates of the mandarins of the Rue de la Paix and Hanover square.

The Anaconda [MT] Standard 29 January 1922: p. 22

 

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 Velvet Coat: 1883

oscar wilde velvet coat

The Velvet Period

A Notable Season in the life of Every Young Man.

A couple of old fellows were standing in front of the Plankington House, smoking five cent cigars, one evening, when a young fellow passed along with a velvet coat on, and before he had got out of sight, an old fellow about sixty years old passed the same place, and he had on a velvet coat. One of the two old fellows knocked the ashes off his cigar, and said: “It catches them all, sooner or later.’ ‘

“What do you mean?” asked the other, as he borrowed his friend’s cigar to light his own.

“Why, the velvet coat period,” said the first man, as he took his cigar back, and puffed on it to keep it going. “Every man, some time in his life, either as boy or man, sees a time when he thinks the world will cease to revolve on its axis if he does not have a velvet coat, and he is bound to have one if he has to steal the money to buy it. It is bad enough for a boy to have the period come on, but it is infinitely worse to escape it in youth and have it attack a man in middle life, but it always hits them, some time. Now, you wouldn’t think, to look at me that I ever had the velvet coat fever, but I had it once in its most violent form.

“About twenty years ago, at the time of the oil excitement, I made a little money in oil, and I got to thinking how I could show how I was no ordinary son of man, and all at once it struck me that a velvet coat could do it for me, and 1 had a surveyor measure me, and had a velvet coat made. I was anxious to have it done so I could put it on and go around among the boys, but when it was done and had been brought home, I all at once lost my grip, and could hardly get up courage to put it on. I let it lay for a week, until my people got to making fun of me about being afraid to wear it, and finally I put it on and wore it down town after dark. Only a few people saw it, and I went home feeling satisfied that the worst was over. What I wanted was to have the community get accustomed to it gradually.  After a while I wore it to my office on days that I was to be busy, so I knew I wouldn’t have to go around town. After the boys in the office got so they could witness my coat without going behind a partition to laugh at me, I concluded to wear it on the street.

“Well, there was an organ grinder with a monkey, out on the sidewalk, when I went out, and the beastly Italian had on an old velvet coat, like mine, only soiled. The monkey was jumping around, picking up pennies, and all at once he saw me. I shall never forget the expression on that monkey’s face. He seemed to take me for his master, and clearly realized that his master had procured a new coat without asking the consent of his little brother. There was a look of pain, as though the monkey felt hurt that such duplicity had been practiced on him, and then the monkey would look at the clothes in which he was dressed up with contempt, and then he would look at my coat with envy. I never felt so sorry for a monkey in all my life. I could stand it to hear strangers say, as I passed by, ‘What fool is that?’ but to see that poor monkey grieve over the style I was putting on was too much, and I resolved if I ever got that coat home I would put it where it could never be seen again. The organ-grinder became alarmed at the actions of the monkey, and jerked on the chain, causing the monkey to tum a back summersault, and the poor animal came up standing in front of his master. He looked at him, and seemed to be at once reassured, and to feel that the apparition was only a horrid dream, and then he looked over his shoulder toward where I had stood, to make sure, and there I was in all my glory. Then the monkey was mad and began to make up faces at me, and I got out of there and went home, with shouts of the monkey’s audience sounding in my ears, and I took off that coat and gave it to the man that took care of my horse, and I never see a velvet coat, either on a boy or man, but I think of what a confounded fool I made of myself in my Oscar Wilde days. If you have a boy, teach him to go through the velvet coat period young, and he will thank his stars.’–Peck’s Sun.

The True Southron [Sumter, SC] 6 November 1883: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Oscar Wilde days,” indeed. Mrs Daffodil has known two gentlemen who went through a velvet coat period: one was an elegant professor of French, whose students all sighed for him; the other was a fair young man with the pale tresses and long nose of a borzoi. The garments are undoubtedly becoming to their owners, and young ladies seem desirous of petting them, but too often a velvet coat brands a young man as “artistic,” with all the opprobrium so frequently directed at that species by doting Papas. Still, many gentlemen remember their velvet coats fondly. Mrs Daffodil appends a poem of nostalgia for such a garment:

My Old Coat

Mortimer Collins

This old velvet coat has grown queer, I admit,
And changed is the colour and loose is the fit;
Though to beauty it certainly cannot aspire,
’Tis a cosy old coat for a seat by the fire.

II.

When I first put it on, it was awfully swell,
I went to a pic-nic, met Lucy Lepel;
Made a hole in the heart of that sweet little girl,
And disjointed the nose of her lover, the earl.

III.

We rambled away o’er moorland together,
My coat was bright purple, and so was the heather;
And so was the sunset that blazed in the west,
As Lucy’s fair tresses were laid on my breast.

IV.

We plighted our troth ’neath that sunset aflame,
But Lucy returned to her earl all the same;
She’s a grandmamma now and is going downhill,
But my old velvet coat is a friend to me still.

V.

It was built by -a tailor of mighty renown,
Whose art is no longer the talk of the town;
A magical picture my memory weaves
When I thrust my tired arms through its easy old sleeves.

VI.

I see in the fire, through the smoke of my pipe,
Sweet maidens of old that are long over ripe;
And a troop of old cronies, right gay cavaliers,
Whose guineas paid well for champagne at Watier’s.

VII.

A strong generation, who drank, fought, and kissed,
Whose hands never trembled, whose shots never missed;
Who lived a quick life, for their pulses beat high,
We remember them well, sir, my old coat and I.

VIII.

Ah, gone is the age of wild doings at Court,
Rotten boroughs, knee-breeches, hair-triggers, and port;
Still I’ve got a magnum to moisten my throat,
And I’ll drink to the past in my old tattered coat.

Modern Merry Men: Authors in the Lighter Vein in the Victorian Era, William Andrews 1904

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 Ins and Outs of Spring-Cleaning: 1917

mopping the floor.JPG

OUR CLUB DIARY

We Discuss the Ins and Outs of Spring Cleaning
By the Secretary

Do you suppose our men-folks are waking up to the fact that the science of housekeeping has taken a big new stride and that the long season of turmoil and hard work and general crossness we used to call spring cleaning is clear out of date? We women are only just growing aware of it ourselves. When the men really sense the fact I expect they’ll add a new Thanksgiving Day to the calendar.

We decided, by way of experiment, to make a change in the method of carrying out our program and to conduct it as a discussion with a leader who should start things and sound the keynote. She was also expected to link the prepared talks together, fill in the chinks, preside over a free-for-all discussion after the papers were read and sum things up at the close. Quite a responsible job, wasn’t it?

We had a clever woman to do it, though, when Lena Morgan took hold, for she is not only a neat and systematic housekeeper who knows a lot about cleaning, but a short career as a school-teacher taught her to use her wits and voice readily when she stands before folks. We appointed seven other women to give ten-minute talks on house-cleaning topics and asked them to confer with Lena so as to keep their ideas in harmony with the general spirit of the topic of the afternoon.

It was one of those early spring days which don’t mean anything, really, but make you think that perhaps spring may be on the way. The ground was soft and there was a gentle warmth in the air when one stood in the doorway; our heavy winter coats felt burdensome when we walked out. Such a day is like a letter from spring to tell us she has started north. It made us feel like furbishing up our homes in welcome. I knew when our club women came into the house for the meeting that they were in a mood for our program.

Nine Things to Remember.

Lena began briskly by reading a group of rules, explaining them as she went along. Here they are:

Keep clean and you won’t have to make a grand annual effort to get clean.

Keep no rubbish about the house-especially moth-collectors.

Pots and pans should be scoured whenever they need it and not be saved up for a tiresome orgy of cleaning.

Keep a list of repairs and of things which need replacing, as you discover them.

The renovating of walls, floors and woodwork can be left until the fires are out.

Don’t tear up more than one room at a time if it can be avoided.

Don’t try to do more than a day’s work in a day.

Have a helper for heavy jobs— and save a doctor’s bill.

Keep comfortable and keep your family comfortable.

Lena used the blackboard to write down a list of the things which could be put to rights early, at any convenient time. I noticed on this list the cleaning of the attic, closets and trunks, sewing machine and dresser drawers.

The Family’s Comfort

When all the fires were out and the housewife wished to clear out the last signs of the smoke and dirt of winter she could tear up a single room at a time, clean and settle it in a day with the least possible stir and disorder. Lena asserted that the housekeeper who kept her house up properly did not need to find spring house cleaning a heavy burden and that a house which had to be cleaned up by a great upheaval was either run on an out-of-date plan or was kept in a slovenly fashion. Everyone shrugged and rustled and whispered as she said it.

I’m sure few men will believe that we gave any time to the topic of how to keep the family comfortable during house cleaning, but we did. The speaker told us in practical detail how to organize our work so as to clean and settle a room in a day. Then she recommended that we serve especially generous and nourishing meals during spring cleaning instead of the usual slighted and scanty ones. Such a plan would refresh the workers and keep the family good-natured too. We copied down a list of foods which could be cooked up in advance, such as good, rich soup stock, a pudding or two, baked beans, scalloped potatoes and macaroni and cheese, as well as some meats and a big jar of cookies.

“Who says housekeeping isn’t a real business?” whispered my neighbor as we listened to a clear-cut talk on the uses and benefits of an inventory of household goods. The speaker showed us the various lists of her family belongings, posted on a card index and fitted neatly into a wooden box. On a card marked silver was a list of the family silver; the best set of china, the everyday set and miscellaneous dishes each had a card. If dishes were broken after they were listed that fact was noted.

I saw a list of kitchen utensils and one of cans of fruit and of glasses of jelly. Wasn’t that a clever idea? Then a housewife could keep track of how much the family can use each year, and the cost of canning it. Table linen, with notes about patterns, was on still another card, together with the cost and date of purchase, whenever she knew it: Towels had their card and so had bed linen. The bedding, with details and the place where unused bedding was stored, was listed on other cards. There was a fine inventory of family clothing, its cost, and other items. We were told that friendly small things were stored together in boxes and an inventory told just where to find them. It made me envious. If I’d had such a system in my house I wouldn’t have needed to rummage through all my boxes and trunks last week when I tried to find some old embroidered trimming for my dressmaker.

There was a great clatter of brushes and cans and a clicking of bottles when Annie Morris came to the front to talk on cleaning equipment. Annie tackled her subject with all the zest of a canvasser displaying his wares and showed us a lot of clever contraptions in the way of labor-saving devices. She wrote out a list of the equipment she recommended, and told us to have it ready for use in advance of the spring-cleaning period.

I mean to have a wool brush like Annie’s for cleaning wall paper. But I’ll not pay a dollar for mine, for I’m sure I can make one to serve the purpose. All I’ll need will be a piece of cleaned sheep’s pelt and a block to tack it on to and an old broom handle fastened to the block. I don’t know any short cut by which I can get hold of a dust brush such as painters use, except by planking down the money. Still, it will be worth buying for the clever way in which it licks the dust out of inaccessible cracks and corners.

Twenty minutes was allowed the speaker on Walls, Woodwork, Floors and Furniture, and she didn’t waste a minute. I can’t begin to repeat all she said, though all her listeners took pages of notes. She warned us that if woodwork needed cleaning it should be thoroughly done or the wood finish would be ruined. She then described three methods of cleaning finished wood. The first was cleansing with tepid suds made of a mild soap. No more than a yard of woodwork should be washed at a time; it should then be rinsed in clear warm water and dried thoroughly. The second method—one I like, myself, in spite of the horrid odor—is to clean with a cloth moistened with kerosene. The wood should finally be rubbed thoroughly with a clean cloth. . The third method—particularly good for white paint—is to clean with warm water, with whiting; the woodwork should then be carefully rinsed and dried. We were told that if we wanted to keep paint and varnish from cracking or growing powdery in the air it was wise to rub it once a year with paraffin oil. This treatment restores to the finish the oils it loses as it ages. Rubbing with linseed oil or with paraffin oil lengthens the life and saves the looks of linoleum.

We filled up two or three more pages of our notebooks as we listened to the talk on carpets, rugs, draperies and bedding. One suggestion seemed designed especially for me. I’ve been wanting a brown rug for my sitting room but couldn’t find it in my conscience to get it, for the old rug was sound though it was faded and ugly. It was a godsend to learn that I could dye the old rug myself by mixing up two or three packages of brown dye with the necessary hot water, according to package directions, and applying the color to the rug with a scrubbing brush. I’ll try a piece first before I plunge into the job, and I’ll lay the rug on a floor which can’t be hurt as I work.

When the discussion opened and Lena invited everyone to take part, a perfect babel of questions and remarks arose which Lena had to regulate and quell. As we adjourned, our hostess brought out her new vacuum cleaner and showed us how thoroughly it cleaned carpets and upholstered pieces so we could scarcely beat out the slightest dust from the fabrics afterward. Katy and Sarah and I live close together and we’ve just about decided to get one on shares. I figure I’ll about save the cost of my share when I dye my old rug so I won’t need a new one.

The Country Gentleman, Vol. 82, 31 March 1917: pp. 42-43

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil will not bore you with the byzantine details of Spring Cleaning at the Hall, which is always done when the Family is away. Suffice it to say that, although Mrs Daffodil attempts to follow the “keep clean” axiom above, there is always upheaval and invariably something more to do if one looks closely.  One year she was appalled to find that a negligent housemaid had dumped all of her sweepings into the Tudor chest in the entrance hall. Another year, a footman’s room was found to be over-run with vermin of every description; he and his room-mate had been in the habit of pocketing unused bits from the Family’s tea-tray; the remnants attracted an infestation that was most difficult to eradicate. His Lordship thoughtfully transferred the two onto the staff of the pig-man, rather than giving them the sack, but they quickly found more congenial employment.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Concerning Negligees: 1900

1902 negligee

1902 negligee http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/159445?rpp=30&pg=1&ft=negligee&pos=3

Concerning Negligees

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

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

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

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

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

lounging in half undress negligee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

student's gown wrapper negligee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a tea gown and dimity matinee negligee

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

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

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

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

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

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

green tuft turkish mules 18th c

hot pink mulesembroidered pink mules

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

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

fur slippersermine slippers

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

A Skirt for Nothing: 1903

pink satin post2

HOW A CLEVER WOMAN GOT A SKIRT FOR NOTHING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Aviation Costume: 1909-1916

 

 

buttonless costume for lady aviators 1909

AVIATION COSTUME FOR WOMEN

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

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

AVIATION COSTUME NEWEST THING IN SPORTS CLOTHES

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

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

Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd

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

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

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

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

sporting costume leather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR FEMININE FLIERS.

Costumes That Are Now Designed For the Lady Aeroplanist.

“Madam, your airship awaits you.”

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

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

the aeroplane hat

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

aviation costume 1909

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

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

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

 

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.