Tag Archives: Victorian fashions

Fashion by Accident: 1877

Gustave Caillebotte Paris Street; Rainy Day 1877

How We Get Our Habits

Things that are novel are liable to be regarded as nice. Once accepted, no man can tell how long they are going to remain. A good many years ago, a married couple, of noble tendencies— we refer to their birth—were descending a stairway, in Paris. The lady was dressed quite simply. The gentleman blunderingly stepped on her dress and tore the same from her waist in the rear. The lady hit him savagely with her parasol, breaking the handle of that article.

“What shall we do now?” she said, with a sob.

“I’ll tell you, my dear,” he replied, with that cheerfulness and adaptability to circumstance which married men know so well how to assume quickly. “Drop your shawl to your waist, so covering the rent, and there you are.”

“How ridiculous!” she replied, shedding tears copiously. “I shall look like a fright. I shall never dare to appear on the street again. You wretch! I shall be the talk of the whole town.”

“It cannot be helped, I am afraid,” remarked the gentleman, ruefully. ” We must get home somehow. And really, my dear, I think the dress will look quite nicely. It will be a novelty, anyhow.”

“My new silk!” exclaimed the lady, wringing her hands. “It will be utterly spoiled. The skirts will sweep up unutterable filth. It will be loaded with mud, and nutshells, and straws, and little sticks, and dust, and everything. You abominable person! You have ruined me forever.”

“I hope it is not so bad as that,” said the poor man, trying to smile. “But, see here, my dear! I am as unfortunate as you. Observe how ridiculous you have made this hat. You have battered it out of all shape with your parasol. It looks—it looks like a section of a badly-used stove-pipe. I am ashamed to be seen on the street with it.”

“And the parasol!” continued the lady. “The stick is broken off nearly up to the shade. I dare not go out without it, but it looks so absurd that I shall be the laughing-stock of all we meet.”

The couple were a long distance from home. The ludicrousness of the situation finally overcame their timidity and vexation, and they laughed. This put them in such a good humor that they became bold. Marching out to the street, they went on their way looking as if nothing had happened. People stared at them curiously. But they were known and respected, and there were no smiles and no questions. The ladies of Paris occasionally look around for a back view of the ladies they have passed. It is a custom peculiar to no other part of the world. In this instance the backward glances were numerous, but by no means alarming.

“Why, look at the Countess’ dress!” was the general remark. “It sweeps the walk at least a yard in her rear. How sweet! The folds of the dress fall so gracefully! It is evidence that there is no stinginess in the Countess’ family. It shows that art will have its way regardless of expense. It is the consummation of grace. And observe the Countess’ parasol! The shade is down to the tip of the Countess’ nose. There’s utility for you. What is a shade for but to keep the sun off? What is the use of a yard of stick? It is an unnecessary weight and it serves to let the sunshine in under the shade. It is the sweetest and best of parasols.”

The Count had no less reason to be happy.

“By Jove!” remarked the gentlemen who looked at him. “The Count’s hat is a stunner this time. Looks as if it had been accidentally elongated. That’s art. Studied carelessness, you know. Seems to be stiff, too. That’s art. Seems to have a superfluous amount of vacuum; but what’s a hat unless you have enough of it? Wonder where the Count got it? His own invention, probably. Just like him. Nobody knows how to dress tastefully equal to the Count. It is the hat of hats. It is the brightest and most artistic and most valuable hat that ever came from the maker’s.” This was centuries ago. A week after the event all Paris had a peculiar parasol, and likewise the trail and the stove-pipe hat. Since then they have traveled all over the world, and, dear children, they are with us yet. We stepped on one of them a moment ago. Our hat was banged with another of them, as a result, sufficiently to make another fashion in that article. But, alas! we are not a Count.

Chicago [IL] Tribune 16 December 1877: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Happy accidents, indeed!  It takes supreme confidence, (not to say arrogance—no doubt bequeathed with the coat of arms and the strawberry-leafed coronet to those of noble blood) to turn wardrobe blunders into fashion triumphs.  But noble blood does not have a monopoly on this confidence a la mode:

One of those lucky girls who can turn their mistakes into victories is said to have originated the fashion of wearing ribbons belts twisted so as to make a point in the center of the back. Dressing in a hurry, she drew her belt carelessly about her waist and hastened down to breakfast to be greeted by her dearest enemy, before she had traveled half the length of the hotel dining room, with, “Oh, Adele, dear, your belt is twisted right in the middle, don’t you know! Run back and straighten it before Mr. __ sees it. He is so critical about little matter.

“Don’t you think it gives a nice pointed effect?” demanded Adele, catching sight of her reflection in a friendly mirror, “I do!” and she marched serenely to her seat, and after two days of wearing her belt twisted, the other girls agreed with her. As for the critical Mr. __, for some reason, of which possibly Adele has the secret, he seems curiously indifferent to the dearest enemy nowadays, but Adele is very kind to her.

The Courier-News [Bridgewater NJ] 29 August 1889: 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 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.

The Fin-de-siècle Bow: 1896

It Flaunts From the Bonnet and Adorns the Lapdog.

THE NEW MARLBOROUGH KNOT.

The Bow and the Bloomer Not Harmonious—A Knot That Means Death to the Big Sleeve.

The bow is fashion’s fad. It has burst into bloom everywhere. It is omnipresent. The old, the young, the rich, the poor, every class and condition of femininity has yielded to its magnetic influence and it has become fashion’s crest for 1895. How long it will reign in the feminine heart remains to be seen. Time only can prove that. Gentle woman has cast her own fair form before its shrine and her lingerie, her hosiery, her garters, her shoes, her gowns, her millinery, her neckwear, her fans, flowers, bon bons, her muff, her parasol, every accessory within and every accessory without–everything seen and everything unseen–all, all are decorated with this recent fad of fashion and the power behind fashion’s throne dares not predict where it may end.

Gentle woman has had other fads. She embroidered her gowns with sunflowers and cat tails at one time and in her hand she carried sunflowers and cat tails; later she worshipped at the shrine of the rose, and still more recently she smiled with favor upon the violet. She bowed before Napoleon and Trilby, but her subjection has never in any instance—no, not in all instances put together—been as complete in its nature as in this reign of the bow.

She has gathered the bow from the bric-a-brac and from the piano legs and tied it about her own anatomy—her neck, her knees, her elbows, her waist; she has perched it upon her shoulders and upon her head, and she has encouraged it in every locality to flaunt and obtrude and intrude and protrude, and in all fabrics, and all hues and combinations of hues, solitary and in flocks. It has fluttered; or it has taken root and simply grown and blossomed, and we submit; we are even reconciled. It is absolute femininity; it is in contrast to the new woman and her bloomers. The bow is stationed at the dividing line of sentiment, and while the fin-de-siècle woman bombards our intelligence with her ideas about advancement there is another kind of woman who sews true, old-time feminine sentiment into bows, and with the latter the she bombards the camp of the enemy.

fin de siecle bows asserts itself in millinery

It is impossible to state whether the bow belongs to us on account of its credentials handed down from the period of the empire; whether its popularity is of Japanese origin, or whether it is simply the result of evolution and a final reaction from the English mode that has been in favor for several years. It is with millinery perhaps that the bow takes the greatest liberties. This winter my lady’s bonnet may be simply a bow, and be-spangled or not, just as she likes. It may be built on a wire foundation worn at the front of her head or at the back, and with an aigrette or a jeweled hat pin to stand sponsors for its claim to being a bonnet. It may dart out in front, or flare at the sides, windmill fashion; it may flare at the side of the hat like a great wing, or it may settle over the hat like a pair of wings. It may be as conspicuous as a weather vane or it may nestle back of a bird whose pinions are spread; it may flare at the back of the hat like a bat shaped bulletin, or it may spread its loops to the four points of the compass. It may be even tied in “a true lover’s knot under the chin.” The Priscilla-like maiden is not now much in evidence. The winter-of-’95 maiden is nothing if not smart in her get-up. One of the most striking features in the Vanderbilt trousseau was a Virot bonnet with nodding plumes and wide strings of French flowered ribbon tied under the chin in this same lover’s knot.

fin de siecle bows windmill2

The Marlborough bow, now worn at the back of the neck, is named in honor of this new American duchess. Every dark gown must be lighted up by the Marlborough bow and in most daring colors, too, is this startling neck adornment perpetrated. Deep crimson, magenta, rose pink, apple green, yellow, and all flowered, striped brocaded, and combined with every tint in silk, satin or velvet stripes. It is seen in whatever design in four-inch ribbon the manufacturer can produce. Nothing is too gorgeous for the season’s belle or debutante to utilize in the Marlborough collar and bow. She pins the broad ribbon to place in front, and then winds it about her throat and thoroughly effective is the result produced by the startling and assertive bow she ties at the back of her neck. About the folds of this bow cluster little curls of fluffy hair and the shades in the ribbon blend into her fair pink skin. Woe to her, indeed, when the colors do not harmonize with her complexion and repeat their prevailing tone in her eyes!

fin de siecle bows shoulder

The bow does not flock as much as it did. On last season’s gown it spread itself like a cluster of butterflies about the dress skirt. It now confines itself more to unexpected places, and it perches where you are not looking for it. At a bridesmaid’s dinner given last week in New York one of the most fetching toilettes was made of lavender crepon, and on one shoulder rose in perpendicular lines the loops and ends of an assertive bow made of watermelon-pink velvet. The fan carried by the same person wore also the same sort of a bow.

fin de siecle bows louis XIV sleeve

The Louis XIV. bow is absolutely the latest, and, by the way, it is this bow that is to liberate us from the thraldom of the huge sleeve. Already that feature in attire is beginning to lower its flag of supremacy. The sleeve begins to droop, its shirring is now falling down around the curve of the shoulder; later it will enjoy its final inflation in the huge puff at the elbow and last the bow on the elbow, as illustrated here, will supersede it. This will be some time hence, but it will come. Who could have predicted four years ago the sleeve as we now behold it?

The florist and the confectioner estimate the value of the bow to enhance the attractiveness of their goods. Even the modern modish funeral does not escape, and a large bunch of white chrysanthemums may be tied with six-inch white satin ribbon and hung on to the middle handle of the casket.

fin de siecle bows lingerie

However important are all these conspicuous bows, the true sentiment of the bow never penetrated deeply into the feminine-heart until fair woman applied it to the decoration of her underwear. Every week after she has trimmed her freshly laundered underwear she is as attractive as lace, dimity, dainty ribbon and the half-hidden curves in all their classic outline can make her.  While the bow adorns her underwear, it will stem the tide that tends toward bloomers. My lady ties her robe de nuit with ribbon bows at the neck and wrists and ties a blossom in with the loops. She sews loops of ribbon in among the flounces of her petticoats; she adorns her garters with huge sachet rosettes of ribbon. She runs a tiny ribbon about the neck of her chemise and she perks bows at the shoulders of that same garment. She loops up her nether garments in festoons with bows that duplicate those on the shoulders and she ties her petticoats and her corset covers to place in the same fascinating manner. ‘Tis safe to assert that while she chooses to wield the sceptre of a ribbon bow, as she does now, the world will continue to submit to feminine rule.

HARYOT HOLT CAHOON.

Star Tribune [Minneapolis MN] 24 November 1895: p. 22

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Most interesting. Mrs Daffodil had no notion that bows would stem the riding tide of bloomerism.  Bloomers, whether on or off the wheel, have always been suspect to certain upright members of society.  In 1891, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, condemned women bicycle-riders, tactlessly stating that they resembled witches on broomsticks. He also objected to what he believed to be the indecorous posture of ladies on the wheel.

Speaking of Bishop Coxe’s objection to women on bicycles, the Boston Herald says: “The Bishop does not appear to understand that the bicycle is not equipped with a side saddle, and that riding astride is the only way to promulgate this interesting vehicle.” We ought not to be surprised, perhaps, if the Boston woman rides astride [or man-fashion as it was called]  a bicycle, but if so she is lonely among her sex in that accomplishment. The women’s bicycles we have seen are provided simply with a seat, and they are no more required to ride astride than sit astride on an ordinary chair. If the good Bishop thinks that women straddle a bicycle as men do theirs he should request some fair Buffalonian to explain to him the difference. Rochester HeraldThe Gogebic Advocate [Ironwood, MI] 11 July 1891: p. 2

What the Right Reverend Arthur Cleveland Coxe failed to understand is that there is no surer way to arouse public interest in the novel or indecorous than to denounce it from the pulpit. Bows and Bishops will never ban the bloomer or the bicycle.

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 Button Girl: 1896

The Button Girl's rainy day suit 1896

Her rainy-day suit trimmed with buttons.

 THE BUTTON GIRL

Craze Has Struck Town with “Let’s Get Married” for a Record.

TEN TO ONE OF IT SOLD

Girl Who Wears 500 and Weighs as Much as a Museum Woman.

The button fad has struck the town at a gait that Trilby’s shoes might envy. Were that woman more youthful she would add a sabre to her military coat and go out and fight for her laurels upon the field of fadism.

The button girl has sprung up, like the button, in a day, and instead of being decorated with flags and campaign ensigns, she is wearing buttons! If the button-makers have been wise enough to have a political sentiment engraved upon the little pearl colored ensign, well and good! You may read “I’m a silver man; papa’s for tin,” as you ride down; in the cars of a morning. And if the local button-maker has made a certain stamp of button you may see “Gold’s good enough for me” under the ripe chin of a pretty miss on her way to a political meeting. But the buttons mostly are non-sectarian, as an old lady remarked as she read the Inscriptions upon the buttons of her granddaughter’s button collection. “There’s everything from ‘Put a penny in the plate’ to ‘Sunday-school’s out.'”

The True Button Girl.

There is one style of the button girl, the girl who loves buttons. She takes up the craze less as a fad than as a real fancy. She likes to own the buttons and caresses them as she would cancelled stamps or worn-out coins. They are so pretty, she thinks.

This style of young: woman is the one who carries on her conversation by buttons. They save breath and are so realistic. Like an Illustrated song!

To a caller dropping in for lunch she can say: “Ginger-snaps, fresh to-day.” And to the guest at parting she can point to a button that will remark: “Stay longer next time.” And when looking in her own mirror a minute later she can point to a reflective button, “Glad she’s gone.” This is for the girl who loves her buttons and finds company in them. They meet any and all occasions.

A gentleman entering a dry goods shop went to the notion counter for some trifle. Behind it stood a pretty girl. Her breastpin was a button, “Meet me Sunday.” And for cuff buttons she had: “Will you go treat?” and “I don’t know the way home.” These rather embarrassed the gentleman, but when the girl turned around he read: “Now’s your time.” And when she flashed her head around, her neck ribbon was fastened at the side with “Caramels, please,” and “Soda, five cents.”

This settled the gentleman. He walked out without the spool of thread and went home to tell his wife, only to learn that the button fad had struck the town and he had encountered the first installment of it.

Dressed in Buttons.

There are decorative buttons that trim a gown. These are purchased by the hundred at so many for a cent. They are for the girl who wears a great many buttons–in fact, dresses in them.

One of these maidens came down town on a rainy day, with her rainy-day suit a sight in buttons. There were buttons around the foot of her skirt. Buttons around the yoke of her waist. Buttons around her belt. Buttons upon her vest, two pyramids of them. Some were blue, others white, and others as black as the mud underfoot.

The pyramids upon the vest were the most interesting. At the top you read: “A policeman will take me home.”’ Below you saw: “Bloomers under this skirt,” and by the side of this interesting announcement, “My feet are wet” and “One of my legs is really longer than the other.”

As the pyramid grew in proportions the announcements became still more entertaining. The bottom row said: “Does your umbrella leak?” “Make room for me.” “Home’s the best place.” “Wish I didn’t work.” “Don’t you hate rain?”

The lower pyramid went on in the same diverting strain until you gladly read as the bottom button: “Guess I’ll get out here.”

“This is my corner,” was the announcement on her hat.

The feature of the button fad is its personality. Like Li Hung Chang, [Chinese politician and diplomat, who toured Europe and North America] the button is privileged to ask almost any question without rebuke. The simple, “Do you own your bike?” is passed by unnoticed. And “Don’t puncture your tire” is taken in the spirit in which it is sent–that of general advice. The button has its mission as well as its peculiarity.

The largest number of buttons that could be worn was determined by the girl who piled 500 upon her dress. She was the one who clothed herself, so to speak, in buttons. Her only other adornment being a simple black dress. The buttons did the rest. Each button weighed a large fraction of an ounce, so her weight was increased many pounds avoirdupois.

Modest Buttons.

Many girls who will not wear buttons openly slip them under the lapels of their jackets, and when you pass them the wind will take the lapel and flip it forward and you will read: “Meet me at the Bargain Counter.” Under the other lapel you will catch “Stop Winking at Me.”

“Take Off Your Hat,” “Here Comes a Lady,” are twin buttons standing side by side where you can see them, as the obliging lapel stays back. And hidden almost in its depths is the modest declaration, “No Man Ever Kissed Me.” This is the button craze as exemplified by the retiring girl who would not for the world wear her buttons outside. Too much like wearing her heart upon her sleeve!

Charming little buttons come, for underwear. Girls know all about these buttons. Get some girl with a pronounced attack of the button fad to tell you. She wears buttons on her underwear, you can be sure. Without being vulgar and without violating the proprieties you may know that one of them says “This is a bicycle corset,” and another declares “Ribbons on everything.” “I like violet best” is a statement you see peeping out of the neck of a morning gown, and if the gown be a folded one in front you may catch a gleam of “Here’s my heart.” “I’m the youngest of the family” is another confidential remark told by a sly button.

The button fad is not to be condemned, for it entertains, and that is more than can be said of most fads. It is a useful one, too, for the buttons are pins, and what would we do without pins? Men wear these pins under their, coat lapels and outside. And they lodge them in their cravats and even decorate their trousers bands with them. “I’m a Samson” holds up the trousers band of a young Yale wrestler, and “I’m Sandow’s Cousin” [Eugen Sandow, a German athlete and strongman] trimmed a sweater in which a Harvard oar’s football man rested.

“Tell Your Troubles to a Policeman” keeps many a bicycle cap in shape. And now you see “This Lady’s My Sister.”

“I Want a Match” is worn by girls, and “Please Help Me Mount” is another legend of the fair one.

The Button Business.

The button fad enriches many a manufacturer, for there are 500 button businesses in the United States and this means many a factory. The materials are cheap, but the workmanship is complicated. Every button passes through ten pairs of hands before it can come to you marked “I’m All Right;” and “Go to L” is sadly marred and disfigured if you get it before the polish has been put on. The Chimmy Fadden [a “Bowery boy” character, from the Chimmy Fadden stories by journalist Edward W. Townsend.] button is a popular one. One dear old lady wore “What t’ell” for some weeks, upon her cap strings before she knew what it meant. “I thought it was the old-fashioned ‘What tell?’” said she, blushing for the first time in fifty years, when the literal translation was laid before her. “And the little button was so becoming to the strings,” she said regretfully, as her grandson put it on and went out.

“Let’s get married,” is the button that wears the medal record as the world’s record breaker. And next to this comes “Let’s kiss.”

“Let’s get married” sells 10 to 1.

There is no lesson to be learned from this. But the trend of popular admiration can be noticed from it. The boys in the street sell “You’re my pretty girl” three to one of almost any other, and nine girls out of ten purchase “Love me, love my dog,” instead of “The Church Bell is ringing.” Truly love has always been the maiden’s as well as the poet’s theme.

A button box with the new girl does not mean the amiable old cracker box, willed to her from her grandmother, in which she keeps a miscellaneous assortment of buttons for yawning places. It means a nice little cabinet for buttons with a legend upon them. And the time-honored penny box means the money she is saving to buy more buttons.

Lincoln [NE] Evening Call 1 November 1896: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is quite fond of topical fads of this sort, which have their wild hey-day, only to be relegated to the dust-bin of History in a few months’ time. How many of these buttons survive, either in the historian’s notes or in a glass case in a museum?

We do find a few remnants of the fad: hikers and Volksmarchers assiduously collect buttons to show where they have been. The young lady, who trimmed her “rainy-day” suit with buttons would have found herself in congenial company with London’s Pearly Kings and Queens, who still reign in button-clad splendour to-day.

To be Relentlessly Informative, the “Trilby shoe” was a model with a very pointed toe named for the wildly popular novel by George du Maurier. Trilby has “the handsomest foot in all Paris.”

McClure & Eggert, the enterprising firm of Shoe Manufacturers of our city, have just gotten out a Trilby Shoe in button and lace. It is a beauty, made on a new needle-toe last. Paris vamp, nice long tip; made out of a fine kid. The Buffalo [NY] Commercial 23 February 1895: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil is struck by how many of the button slogans are either highly indiscreet or could be read as double-entendres. “I want a match” might mean that the naughty young creature smokes or that she is unabashedly in the marriage market. Sly, indeed, although Mrs Daffodil suggests that “cheeky” is the mot juste. 

 

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.

Encore: The Indiscreet Trousseau of an American Bride: 1870

A wedding gown from 1870.

[Originally published in 2013]

THE BUTLER-AMES WEDDING.

The Trousseau of an American Bride.

[Mrs Daffodil omits the lengthy description of the importance of the match, the charms of the bride and the accomplishments of the groom.]

THE TROUSSEAU

Nearly all the bridal outfit was ordered abroad, and was selected and made under the supervision of Mrs. Webster, the sister of Mrs. Butler. Everything is very elegant, and neither pains nor expense has been spared to make the trousseau as complete as possible. Among the things that were sent were.

One dozen robes de nuit trimmed with Valenciennes; one dozen [sic] robes de nuit trimmed with French work; one dozen sets under-clothing with Valenciennes bands and edges; one dozen sets under-clothing with French embroidered bands and edges; one dozen embroidered cambric combing jackets; one dozen corset covers trimmed with Valenciennes and French embroidery; one-half dozen embroidered flannel underskirts; one dozen cambric skirts for walking dresses; one dozen cambric skirts for train dresses; one dozen pair silk stockings; one dozen pair Lisle-thread stockings; two dozen pair Balbriggan stockings; three pair slippers; two dozen pair white kid gloves, six buttons; one dozen pair light shade kid gloves, three buttons; one dozen pair dark shade kid gloves, three button; four sets French flowers, six fans, five hats, six white cambric dresses, one white French muslin with train, six embroidered muslin jackets, two point lace handkerchiefs, one dozen Valenciennes handkerchiefs, one dozen French embroidered handkerchiefs, two dozen hem-stitched (with initial) handkerchiefs, point lace overskirt and flounce half yard deep, Duchesse lace overskirt and flounce half yard deep, point lace shawl, two Llama lace jackets, four parasols, six suits.

Everything is in the most perfect taste, and, like all French things, exquisitely and daintily made. There is nothing stiff or set-looking, but it seems almost as though the things were tossed together and held by invisible thread. The laces are of the finest and the embroidery of the most delicate. Assuredly no princess royal could have daintier or more elegant things than this young American bride. There is a coquettish grace about everything that in some way suggests the wearer. The jaunty little jackets, with relief of lavender, blue, or green running through the embroidery, the stylish hats and the coquettish parasols—everything is Parisian in the extreme. The suits are very stylish and pretty.

Among the most markedly striking is the travelling suit of China silk of the new tea rose shade ecru. The lower skirt is trimmed with deep ruffles and puffs, and in length just touches the floor and the back, and reaches to the instep in front, just clearing the foot. The over-skirt is rather long and quite bouffant, trimmed with ruffles of the same and a Cluny lace, an inch and a half in width, exactly the shade of the dress. The jacket is a graceful, half-fitting affair, with loose sleeves, trimmed to correspond with the upper skirt. A fall of Valenciennes lace is fastened into the sleeve, and drops over the hand.

The hat is a jaunty little soft-crowned thing, made of the same material as the dress, of a nondescript shape, utterly unlike anything yet seen in America, and is trimmed with green ribbon, plaited quite full around the crown, and completely covering the very narrow brim. A rosette is placed at the left side, and that constitutes the whole trimming. It is very simple and girlish, and exceedingly becoming to the face of the wearer.

The boots, too, are like the dress, with square, rather broad toes and high heels, nearly in the middle of the foot. The boot is lower than those that have been worn for two or three years past, being only about seven inches in height. They are buttoned with tiny gilt buttons.

The parasol is quite a new idea, and is what young ladies call “perfectly stunning.” The handle, which is quite heavy, and covered with green Russia leather, forms a walking stick. The head is a horse-shoe of French gilt, which surrounds a tiny looking glass. The shade is of ecru China silk, lined with green, and ornamented with heavy ecru cord and tassel. The fan is of sandal-wood and ecru silk, with the monogram B.B. painted on it in green.

There is a lovely black silk suit made with only one skirt, trimmed with three quite broad ruffles pinked on the edges. The jaunty little coat is trimmed with deep fringe, with the finest Valenciennes at wrist and throat. The hat is of black thread lace, with a moss rose and half open bud at the left side. The fan is very elegant; the sticks are gilt, and the upper part of the fan of black satin, beautifully ornamented. A lovely necklace accompanies this suit. It consists of flat pieces of jet about an inch square and fastened together by heavy links of gold. There are three pendants of jet and gold, very unique and elegant.

Another lovely suit has an under-skirt of heavy purple silk, trimmed with one deep ruffle and a puff. The overdress is of a cream shade of Canton crepe. The skirt is quite long, and much looped at back and sides. It has no trimming, but is simply pointed and bound with the same material. The jacket matches, and has loose sleeves. The hat is purple silk, covered entirely with point lace, with a bunch of heliotrope at the extreme left side.

But a blue silk suit in artistic perfection and grace puts all the rest in the shade. The lower skirt is of quite a dark shade, trimmed with a ruffle and double puffs, with a braid of the dark silk lined with three shades lighter.

The overskirt is of the lighter shade trimmed with a heavy fringe of the same shade, which, instead of being made and sewed in, is knotted into the silk. The jacket is a still lighter shade, and is trimmed with the braid of the two other shades of silk. The hat is of white chip bound with black velvet, and trimmed with bands of white uncut velvet and a long ostrich plume, passing over the top of the hat and falling over the hair. The fan is of carved ivory and white ilk, with delicate rosebuds painted on it. The parasol is very lovely; the handle is white carved coral, the shade of white heavy silk, lined with a brighter silk, with a fringe of marabou feathers. The laces are exquisite, the point overdress and flounce being of the finest texture and most delicate pattern. The handkerchiefs are gossamer, and airy enough for the queen of the fairies.

THE BRIDAL DRESS

This is one of the most elegant dresses that could be worn on such an occasion, and is of white relours silk. It was made with a court train, a puffing of tulle passed around the bottom of the skirt, and on this is placed the flounce of Duchesse lace. The overdress of Duchesse was worn with it.

The long tulle veil is fastened on with the most delicate orange blossoms that formed a sort of coronet in front and fell drooping over the lace in sprays of buds and leaves. The fan is of pearl and point lace, with the bride’s monogram beautifully wrought in the lace. No bride has ever had a more beautiful or complete trousseau than Miss Butler, and it must be a very unreasonable one who would ask for anything more lovely.

Evening Post [New York, NY] 23 July 1870: p. 4

EXTREME SNOBBERY.— The description of the wedding outfit of Miss Butler, married to General Ames, comes under this head. It is the first time that we have ever seen any allusion to the undergarments of a young lady about to be married, and who furnished the list. Imagine the reporter— no doubt, standing by, with pencil and paper in hand— superintending the counting of the stockings, nightgowns, underclothing, corsets, corset covers, combing jackets, and skirts! There must have been some articles coming under the head of etceteras, for we do not see any mention of bifurcated garments. And how particular about the gloves! The anxiety there must have been that he got the proper number of buttons on each glove correct. We approve of the Balbriggan stockings, for we know they are a good article. But don’t let us lose sight of the gloves: Two dozen pairs of white kid gloves, six buttons; one dozen pair of light shade kid gloves, three buttons; one dozen pair of dark shade kid gloves, three buttons. Two buttons and one button must be vulgar; so, in future, we shall none of them. One dozen nightgowns trimmed with Valenciennes, and one dozen trimmed with French work, is a pretty fair allowance. One dozen combing jackets is about right, but two dozen corset covers is, we think, too liberal. We cannot devote more space to this nonsense. We can only regret that a Senator and Representative of Congress would consent to such an exposure. We must not neglect to state that the articles were all made in Paris. There was not talent enough in this country to make a trousseau for an American lady. How different is the description of the marriage of the Earl of Derby. Perfectly modest, inasmuch as no mention is made of a trousseau, let alone stockings, combing jackets, and corset covers; and it may be a piece of information to snobs in general to state that the earl and his groomsman wore frock coats at the marriage. In republican America such a garment would have been frowned upon. Godey’s Lady’s Book October, 1870

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: 2,500 guests were invited to the wedding, including General and Mrs. Grant, who sent their regrets. Delightful as the white carved coral parasol handle sounds, reading such vulgarities as “neither pains nor expense has been spared,” Mrs Daffodil is inclined to agree with the satirical author of the second item. It is one thing to describe items such as fans or parasols or even walking suits. At a time when ladies were ideally mentioned in the papers only at birth, marriage, and death, this public inventory of intimate garments seems in dubious taste.  It caused much comment and censure in the press.  To be fair, it is the ostentation one would expect from a bride whose mother was an actress prior to her marriage.

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.

Week-end Compendium: 23 January 2016

"The Snow Queen"

“The Snow Queen”

Mrs Daffodil  hopes that all of you are warm and safe from the impending snow-storms, or, if house-bound, have sufficient bread, milk, and brandy laid on.

This week’s links for Mrs Daffodil:

Sixteen-button Bouffants: A Chat with the Fashion Gazette Editor: 1888, in which an innocent young girl is given some quixotic fashion advice by a well-meaning male editor.

The Flapper and Her Corset: 1921 offers dire warnings to all flappers who wish to leave off their under-pinnings. An early example of “fat-shaming.”

The sad story of Old Lisbeth and her ghostly visit to a former master who had treated her kindly.

See Mrs Daffodil on Sunday for how to make a sandstorm on stage.

Over at the Haunted Ohio blog we find the following:

“Uncanny Meteors:” Spook Lights in New Zealand, in which a naturalist relates his very close encounter with apparently sentient glowing orbs.

The Ghost of Mary Seneff, who haunted the site of her watery grave, after she was hacked to death and thrown into a local creek.

From the Archives: Enough Rope: The Hangman’s Rope in the Press, a light-hearted look at specifications for hangmen’s ropes and the superstitions surrounding them.

Favourite posts of the week: Cellphones and the Paranormal. And The Awful Greatness of the Cherry Sisters.

A "Snowflake" costume by "Zig," c. 1925. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1222891/costume-design-zig/

A “Snowflake” costume by “Zig,” c. 1925. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1222891/costume-design-zig/

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.

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.

The Easter Girl of 1897: Prefers her tandem bicycle and driving coaches to a bonnet.

1897 Easter Amusements

The Easter Girl of 1897

The Easter girl of ’97 will not be a mere clothes horse for the display of the art of the modiste, nor will she be a dummy for carrying a milliner’s creation. Good clothes she will doubtless have, but by far her greatest attention will be paid to the outdoor possibilities of Easter Day and to the costumes which she, as a modern Diana, may wear.

          The Easter girl of ten years ago possessed a new silk gown and a flower hat, and in that she was content to pass Easter between church and “the avenue.” But the Easter girl of this year will take off the silk and the flowers after church and get ready to enjoy God’s air and God’s sunshine with the health which the good God has given her. She will enjoy these in as many new ways as the thought and art of man have been able to invent for her.

          Her newest “trick” is with the automobile carriage. This nice little arrangement is for the mannish young woman who likes to drive herself, but whose parents and friends are afraid of the high steppers for her. The automobile satisfies the needs of both. It is “sporty” enough to satisfy the girl who wants to look very chic, and it is safe enough for anybody.

In Paris, where things travel proverbially slow for woman’s advancement, they have the automobile on the Bois constantly and daily. The prettiest of American women propel the carriages and the fattest faced of little French grooms sit alongside. In America there are a few of these, and many are promised for Easter.

          But the girl who enjoys herself most in the outdoor sports of this spring is certainly the bicycle girl. Now that the ban is removed from the wearing of bloomers, she can put on the little checked trousers, jump on the wheel and ride until every nerve tingles and her cheeks are red with fun. The Eastern girl of ’97 will ride a tandem.

          The thing is to form yourself into a tandem club, the membership being limited to two. The different “clubs” band together into a “league,” and there you have the newest fashioned of women’s clubs. Each “club” has its own uniforms, and the entire “league,” composed of forty or more tandem “clubs,” wears the same hat. By this mark they are recognizable. Most of them wear bloomers. But it is a strange fact, and one illustrating the perversity of the feminine mind that, now that the bloomer ban is removed and there is no objection to the wearing of bloomers, few women cry for them. The forbidden fruit was much more tempting than the freely proffered article. There isn’t the same novelty and naughtiness about the bloomer now and women are discovering how unbecoming it is.

          The horseback young women are becoming so very progressive that they ride a double-sided saddle. This is a strange little affair made for fitting any saddle. You ride out ten miles to a “riders’ retreat,” stop for luncheon, adjust your saddle, and ride back on a different side of the horse. You can ride either right or left.

          For this improvement thanks must be given the bicycle. Physicians discovered, or thought they discovered, that it was unhealthful to ride always on one side, though heaven knows no woman rides enough to hurt herself on the sidesaddle, and hence the either-sided affair. This is, after all, very nice, as it gives one a change; and a change is something the Easter girl of ’97 must and will have.

AN EASTER PICNIC.

There is the strangest Easter fad in the air among the girls of this Easter. You know the old stages that used to perambulate through the streets—do now on certain old thoroughfares—well, they are chartering these carry-alls for Easter expeditions. The game is to invite your friends, fill the “box seat” with eatables, gather up one and all by calling at the door about 2 o’clock, then drive away to the spot where the earliest and biggest Easter violets grow. Of course the girl who charters the caboose and gives the Easter party does the driving. That is part of the Easter program.

          There will be some very nice Easter coaching tours among those who own the coaches. The start is made after luncheon, after the Easter music has been heard, and the stay, if the men can get an Easter vacation, is over Easter Monday. The woman here does the driving also.         

So determined is the Easter woman to spend the first recognized day of spring out of doors that modistes and shopkeepers are bowing to her will. They are furnishing the finest of athletic out-door costumes, fine enough to tempt the caramel and novel-reading woman from her couch and to lure her out into the parks to show the gowns if not to enjoy herself.

Wheeling [WV] Register 4 April 1897: p. 13

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:

In 1891, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, condemned women bicycle-riders, tactlessly stating that they resembled witches on broomsticks. He also objected to what he believed to be the indecorous posture of ladies on the wheel.

Speaking of Bishop Coxe’s objection to women on bicycles, the Boston Herald says: “The Bishop does not appear to understand that the bicycle is not equipped with a side saddle, and that riding astride is the only way to promulgate this interesting vehicle.” We ought not to be surprised, perhaps, if the Boston woman rides astride [or man-fashion as it was called]  a bicycle, but if so she is lonely among her sex in that accomplishment. The women’s bicycles we have seen are provided simply with a seat, and they are no more required to ride astride than sit astride on an ordinary chair. If the good Bishop thinks that women straddle a bicycle as men do theirs he should request some fair Buffalonian to explain to him the difference. Rochester Herald. The Gogebic Advocate [Ironwood, MI] 11 July 1891: p. 2

 Mrs Daffodil wishes her readers a very happy Easter, whether upon the wheel or at the reins of a coach–or with a box of chocolate cremes and a novel.

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.