Friday, April 26, 2013

Etiquette Regarding Victorian and Edwardian Toilettes for Gentlemen and Ladies

SECTION I

Patent for a Ladies' Toilet Cabinet, November 1869
Of the Toilet-

Madame Rowley's "Toilet Mask," or "Face Glove"

Propriety requires that we should always be clothed in a cleanly and becoming manner, even in private, in leaving our bed, or in the presence of no one. It requires that our clothing be in keeping with our sex, fortune, profession, age, and form, as well as with the season, the different hours of the day and our different occupations. Let us now descend to the particulars of these general rules.

What the fashionable men are wearing throughout the day.
The dress for a man on his first rising, is a cap of cotton, or silk and cotton, a morning gown, or a vest with sleeves; for a lady, a small muslin cap, (bonnet de percale,) a camisole or common robe. It is well that a half corset should precede the full corset, which last is used only when one is dressed; for it is bad taste for a lady not to be laced at all. 
 
Madame C.J. (Sarah) Walker, founded her own business and began selling her own product called "Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower," a scalp conditioning and healing formula, after suffering from a scalp ailment that caused her to lose some of her hair and experimenting with homemade remedies of another. To promote her products, she embarked on an exhausting sales drive throughout the South and Southeast selling her products door to door, giving demonstrations, and working on sales and marketing strategies. In 1908, she opened a college in Pittsburgh to train her "hair culturists." Madame Walker became the first known African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire, catering to the toilette needs of African-American women.

The hair papers, which cannot be removed on rising (because the hair would not keep in curl till evening,) should be concealed under a bandeau of lace or of the hair. They should be removed as soon as may be. In this dress, we can receive only intimate friends or persons, who call upon urgent or indispensable business; even then we ought to offer some apology for it. To neglect to take off this morning dress as soon as possible, is to expose one's self to embarrassments often very painful, and to the appearance of a want of education. 
Laurence Olivier in morning dressing gown, "The Prince and the Showgirl"
"In this dress, we can receive only intimate friends or persons, who call upon urgent or indispensable business; even then we ought to offer some apology for it. To neglect to take off this morning dress as soon as possible, is to expose one's self to embarrassments often very painful..."
Moreover, it is well to impose upon yourself a rule to be dressed at some particular hour (the earliest possible,) since occupations will present themselves to hinder your being ready for the day; and you will easily acquire the habit of this. Such disorder of the toilet can be excused when it occurs rarely, or for a short time, as in such cases it seems evidently owing to a temporary embarrassment; but if it occur daily, or constantly; if it seems the result of negligence and slovenliness, it is unpardonable, particularly in ladies, whose dress seems less designed for clothing than ornament. To suppose that great heat of weather will authorize this disorder of the toilet, and will permit us to go in slippers, or with our legs and arms bare, or to take nonchalant or improper attitudes, is an error of persons of a low class, or destitute of education. Even the weather of dog-days would not excuse this; and if we would remain thus dressed, we must give directions that we are not at home. On the other hand, to think that cold and rainy weather excuses like liberties, is equally an error. You ought not to be in the habit of wearing large socks (this is addressed particularly to ladies,) as socks of list and similar materials; much less noisy shoes, such as wooden ones, galoshes lined with fur, shoes with wooden soles, socks, etc... this custom is in the worst taste. 
Visiting Toilettes 1897  "... a lady of good breeding should not go out in a morning dress, neither with an apron nor cap, even if it is made of fine cloth and trimmed with ribbons; nor should a well-bred man show himself in the street in a waistcoat only, a jacket without sleeves, etc..."
When you go to see any one, you cannot dispense with taking off your socks or clogs before you are introduced into the room. For to make a noise in walking is entirely at variance with good manners. However pressed one may be, a lady of good breeding should not go out in a morning dress, neither with an apron nor cap, even if it is made of fine cloth and trimmed with ribbons; nor should a well-bred man show himself in the street in a waistcoat only, a jacket without sleeves, etc... We said before that the dress should be adapted to the different hours of the day. Ladies should make morning calls in an elegant and simple négligé, all the details of which we cannot give, on account of their multiplicity and the numerous modification of fashion. We shall only say that ladies generally should make these calls in the dress which they wear at home. 
I would never go out of the house in this attire!  "Gentlemen may call in an outside coat, in boots and pantaloons, as when they are on their ordinary business."
Gentlemen may call in an outside coat, in boots and pantaloons, as when they are on their ordinary business. In short, this dress is proper for gentlemen's visits in the middle of the day. With regard to ladies, it is necessary for them when visiting at this time, to arrange their toilet with more care. Ceremonious visits, evening visits, and especially balls, require more attention to the dress of gentlemen, and a more brilliant costume for ladies. There are for the latter, head-dresses particularly designed for such occasions, and for no other, such as rich blond caps, ornamented with flowers, brilliant berets and toques, appropriate to the drawing-room. 

The nicest cloth, new and very fine linen, an elegant but plain waistcoat; a beautiful watch, to which is attached a single costly key, thin and well polished shoes, an entirely new hat, of a superior quality -- this is a dress at once recherché and rigorously exact, for gentlemen of good taste and tone. One's profession requires very little modification of this costume; we should observe, however, that men of science (savans) and literary men and those in the profession of the law, should avoid having a fashionable or military costume, which is generally adopted by students, commercial men, and exquisites, for the sake of tone or for want of something to do. Situation in the world determines among ladies, those differences, which though otherwise well marked, are becoming less so every day. 


Everyone knows that whatever be the fortune of a young lady, her dress ought always, in form as well as ornaments, to exhibit less of a recherché appearance and should be less showy than that of married ladies. Costly cashmeres, very rich furs, and diamonds, as well as many other brilliant ornaments, are to be forbidden a young lady; and those who act in defiance of these rational marks of propriety make us believe that they are possessed of an unrestrained love of luxury, and deprive themselves of the pleasure of receiving these ornaments from the hand of the man of their choice. 

All ladies cannot use indiscriminately the privilege which marriage confers upon them in this respect, and the toilet of those whose fortune is moderate should not pass the bounds of an elegant simplicity. Considerations of a more elevated nature, as of good domestic order, the dignity of a wife, and the duties of a mother, come in support of this law of propriety, for it concerns morality in all its branches. We must beware of a shoal in this case; frequently a young lady of small fortune, desiring to appear decently in any splendid assembly, makes sacrifices in order to embellish her modest attire. But these sacrifices are necessarily inadequate; a new and brilliant article of dress is placed by the side of a mean or old one. The toilet then wants harmony, which is the soul of elegance as well as of beauty. Moreover, whatever be the opulence which you enjoy, luxury encroaches so much upon it, that no riches are able to satisfy its demands; but fortunately propriety, always in accordance with reason, encourages by this maxim social and sensible women. Neither too high, nor too low; it is equally ridiculous either to pretend to be the most showy, or to display the meanest attire in an assembly. The rules suitable to age resemble those which mediocrity of fortune imposes; for instance, old ladies ought to abstain from gaudy colors, recherché designs, too late fashions, and graceful ornaments, as feathers, flowers, and jewels. 

I'll think about that tomorrow!
"The toilet then wants harmony, which is the soul of elegance as well as of beauty."

A lady in her decline dressed in her hair, and wearing a dress with short sleeves, adorned with collars, bracelets, etc... offends against propriety as much as against her interest and dignity. The rigorous simplicity of the dress of men establishes but very little difference between that of young and old. The latter, however, ought to choose grave colors, not to follow the fashions too closely; to avoid garments too tight or too short, and not to have in view in their toilet any other object but ease and neatness. 
A Toilet Comb Patent in 1910 to help ladies push stray, shorter hairs under longer hairs, when finishing their style.
Unless the care of their health, or complete baldness, requires them to wear a wig, it is more proper that old persons should show their white and noble heads. Old ladies, whom custom requires to conceal this respectable sign of a long life, should at least avoid hair too thick or too full of curls. If they would not appear ridiculous and clothed in a manner disagreeable or offensive, ladies ought to adopt in summer light garments, and delicate colors, and in winter, furs, thick and warm fabrics, and deep colors. Men till lately were almost free from this obligation; they used to be constantly clothed in broadcloth in all seasons: but now, although this may form the basis of their toilet, they must select stuffs for winter or summer, as may be suitable. 
Balderdash!  This is not a wig!
"Unless the care of their health, or complete baldness, requires them to wear a wig, it is more proper that old persons should show their white and noble heads.
It is in good tone for gentlemen to wear a rich cloak; an outer garment over the coat (especially one of silk,) is left for men of a certain age. It only belongs to septuagenarians and ecclesiastics to wear doublets or wadded outer coats. To finish our instructions relative to the toilet, it only remains for us to make a few observations. It is superlatively ridiculous for a lady to go on foot, when dressed in her hair, or attired for the drawing-room or a ball. If one dwells in a provincial town where it is not customary to use carriages, they should go in a chair. Who does not perceive how laughable it is to see a lady who is clothed in satin lace, or velvet, laboriously traveling in the dust or mud. Vary your toilet as much as possible, for fear that idlers and malignant wits, who are always a majority in the world, should amuse themselves by making your dress the description of your person. 
Part of the Gentleman's Toilet is was a Mustache Guard

Certain fashionables seek to gain a kind of reputation by the odd choice of their attire, and by their eagerness to seize upon the first caprices of the fashions. Propriety with difficulty tolerates these fancies of a spoiled child: but it applauds a woman of sense and taste, who is not in a hurry to follow the fashions and asks how long they will probably last before adopting them; finally, who selects and modifies them with success according to her size and figure. It would be extremely clownish to carry dirt into a decent house, especially if one makes a ceremonious visit; and, when there is much mud, or when we cannot walk with skill, it is proper to go in a carriage, or at least to put in requisition the services of a shoe-black at a short distance from the house. 

"Patent for a Hair Receiver" from 1901
Young people who become bald, should not hesitate to have recourse to wigs. Nothing more saddens the appearance, than those bald skulls, which seem always to invite the observations of the anatomist.
 
 From "The Gentleman and Lady's Book of Politeness
and Propriety of Deportment, Dedicated to the Youth of Both Sexes" by Elisabeth Celnart