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Portieres Try the Patience: 1901



Feminine Fad That Causes the Masculine Gender Misery and Annoyance.

Men have many traits that the better half of humanity wot not of. One of the greatest of these in the estimation of a majority of the sex is the reed portiere that is found in so many private houses and public places in summer. Beside it melted collars and crumpled shirts and all the other aggravations incidental to the heat fade into insignificance. One man actually forgets them while he is trying to master the intricacies of those long beaded strings which swirl so maddeningly around his head, says the Chicago Chronicle.

In one of the hotels a wide door way is hung with such a portiere, and the methods pursued by the lords of creation greatly amused one woman spectator the other evening. Most of them came through shoulder first, only to be caught halfway by a sinuous length that wound itself around their necks and refused to be dislodged without coaxing. Others came head first and escaped with minor buffetings. One ingenious youth placed his hands wedge fashion and dove into the room with quite inelegant haste.

The men who were accompanied by women were in great stress of mind as to how to proceed, but they usually succeeded in corralling a sufficient number of the strands to allow the companions to pass and then they slipped through themselves, shaking off the ends that smote them as a water dog shakes off the liquid drops.

In private houses where the master is of an impatient temperament these portieres will be found parted m the middle and tied firmly back with ribbons, for, in the language of one such masculine, “life’s too short and the weather’s too hot to be eternally combating with a lot of elusive sticks that are always where you don t expect them to be.”

As a test of character the reed portiere is valuable, and a young woman might obtain some significant side lights on the disposition of her masculine callers by intrenching herself behind such a barrier and watching the emotions writ on their mobile faces as they endeavored to reach her side.

Emporia [KS] Daily Republican 13 August 1901: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The disconcerting summer portieres that so rattled the gentlemen were to be found in reeds, bamboo, rolled bark, papier-mache, glass beads, and shells. They seem to have been a “happy hands at home” craft for ladies who found time hanging heavily on their hands.

Sea shell portiere summer spoils

If women staying at seashore resorts will spend part of their idle time in collecting a variety of shells, they may utilize them in the fall for a unique door drapery. Fasten the shells thickly on fish netting, then drape of the netting over a door casing and let it hang down at the sides. The shell trimmed netting also makes an attractive portiere by lining it with a light shade of sea green silk finished material. The Ypsilanti [MI] Commercial 12 August 1897: p. 5

Do you remember the thin, yellow, almost flat shells which are so abundant on all beaches? Of course you do, but when you saw them by hundreds in the white sand I am sure you never imagined what a beautiful portiere could be made from them. Yet to this use have they been put by my young friend. She pierced each shell with a hot wire, and then with a delicate wire fastened the narrow end of one to the wide end of the next until a string sufficiently long to reach form the curtain pole to the floor was made. Enough of these were fashioned for the entire portiere. At the top they are held in place by a narrow strip of cloth of the same color as the shells. The effect is something like the Japanese portieres, but the coloring being Nature’s own is prettier, and then the cost—twenty cents, the price of the wire, and twelve cents for the strip of cloth.

New York [NY] Herald 18 May 1890: p. 14

Home-Made Bead Portieres.

A very pretty work a great many energetic women are trying now is that of making their own bead portieres. The Japanese shops sell bamboo and strings of beads, so that one can make curtains to harmonize perfectly with each room. For instance, I saw a charming effect produced by a portiere of green beads used between a dining room and a small conservatory adjoining. You have no idea how exquisite the plants and flowers looked through this transparent screen of green. Gold beads give a sunshiny effect, and portieres of solid pink or blue beads are dainty in the extreme. A friend who has recently returned from Japan tells me that the curtains strung in patterns are made by having the designs drawn on large pieces of paper and laid on the floor, and then the beads are strung on just as we would trace out the lines in making lace.

The Times [Philadelphia PA] 22 October 1894: p. 7


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 anecdote

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.