Thursday, May 4, 2017

Etiquette and a Grecian Bend

The Grecian Bend... it is the latest "thing" in polite accomplishments. Not to know the Grecian Bend at Saratoga and Newport this season is to "vote yourself out of refined society." 

Letter from New York

[From Our Special Correspondent] 

New York, August 15th

As I have not yet learned the "Grecian Bend," I have declined a visit to the watering places. Your fashionable readers, of course, know what the Grecian Bend is. But your more fashionable folk may require to be told that it is the latest "thing" in polite accomplishments. Not to know the Grecian Bend at Saratoga and Newport this season is to "vote yourself out of refined society."

When first your correspondent heard of the Grecian Bend, in the innocency of his heart and the antiquity of his ideas, he thought it referred to archery practice, including the drawing of the long bow by the newspaper correspondents at these watering places. Then it occurred to him that it might mean that graceful action by which a man in tight-fitting habiliments gets at his pocket book — a gentle stoop to prepare the pocket for the insertion of the digitals. As this is the most frequent action at our watering places, it seemed proper that it should possess a studied grace. But this is not the Grecian Bend.

Not to keep your readers longer in suspense, here is what the newest accomplishment of our belles and beaux really is. You must know in the first place that the very extreme of the present Paris toilette prevails at Saratoga, Newport and the other fashionable summer resorts this season. The most striking costumes are the chignon, worn on the top of the head, from which two long switches of loose hair depend, hanging from each side of the center down the back. The "pannier" is worn at the top of the hoop, and around and upon it are gathered five or six yards ot material, forming what is called the "blancbisseuse," or "washwoman's" style. A band encircles the wearer's hips, just below this monstrous hump, and the dress below falls straight to the feet. To relieve this straightness and give effect to the hump aforesaid, the belles assumed what is called the Grecian Bend.

This is performed, says a fashion critic, "by pulling the lower hips up to a point, even with the lower ribs, drawing the stomach in and throwing the shoulders forward, with the hands dropping pendent from the upraised elbows, like the paws of a dancing bear, or, to use a politer simile, like the shaking​ quakers in a dance." 

"When the whole affair is carried out in a dance," says a correspondent, "by a gay and luxuriant youth, with his hair parted in the middle, placing his right arm under the belt of the lady, with fingers extended as in a spasm between the shoulder-blades, while with the thumb and second finger of the other hand he holds her wrist, leaving the hand to hang lifelessly pendent, we have an exhibition of snobbishness and cockneyism which might put all sensible Americans to the blush." – August, 1868

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia