Friday, April 26, 2013

Etiquette Regarding Victorian and Edwardian Toilettes for Gentlemen and Ladies


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 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Etiquette and Politeness – An 1860’s Manual for Ladies

On Dress

Women in pink capes, France, 1860
“A lady is never so well dressed as when you cannot remember what she wears.”

No truer remark than the above was ever made. Such an effect can only be produced where every part of the dress harmonizes entirely with the other parts, where each color or shade suits the wearer's style completely, and where there is perfect neatness in each detail. One glaring color, or conspicuous article, would entirely mar the beauty of such a dress. It is, unfortunately, too much the custom in America to wear any article, or shape in make, that is fashionable, without any regard to the style of the person purchasing goods. If it is the fashion it must be worn, though it may greatly exaggerate a slight personal defect, or conceal or mar what would otherwise be a beauty. It requires the exercise of some judgment to decide how far an individual may follow the dictates of fashion, in order to avoid the appearance of eccentricity, and yet wear what is peculiarly becoming to her own face or figure. Another fault of our fair countrywomen is their extravagance in dress. No better advice can be given to a young person than to dress always according to her circumstances. She will be more respected with a simple wardrobe, if it is known either that she is dependent upon her own exertions for support, or is saving a husband or father from unnecessary outlay, than if she wore the most costly fabrics, and by so doing incurred debt or burdened her relatives with heavy, unwarrantable expense. If neatness, consistency, and good taste, preside over the wardrobe of a lady, expensive fabrics will not be needed; for with the simplest materials, harmony of color, accurate fitting to the figure, and perfect neatness, she will always appear well dressed.


Women in dresses and bonnets, 1860

This is the first of all rules to be observed with regard to dress. Perfect cleanliness and careful adjustment of each article in the dress are indispensable in a finished toilet.  Let the hair be always smooth and becomingly arranged, each article exquisitely clean, neat collar and sleeves, and tidy shoes and stockings, and the simplest dress will appear well, while a torn or soiled collar, rough hair, or untidy feet will entirely ruin the effect of the most costly and elaborate dress. The many articles required in a lady's wardrobe make a neat arrangement of her drawers and closets necessary, and also require care in selecting and keeping goods in proper order. A fine collar or lace, if tumbled or soiled, will lose its beauty when contrasted with the same article in the coarsest material perfectly pure and smooth. Each article of dress, when taken off, should be placed carefully and smoothly in its proper place. Nice dresses should be hung up by a loop on the inside of the waistband, with the skirts turned inside out, and the body turned inside of the skirt. Cloaks should hang in smooth folds from a loop on the inside of the neck. Shawls should be always folded in the creases in which they were purchased. All fine articles, lace, embroidery, and handkerchiefs, should be placed by themselves in a drawer, always laid out smoothly, and kept from dust. Furs should be kept in a box, alone, and in summer carefully packed, with a quantity of lump camphor to protect from moths. The bonnet should always rest upon a stand in the band-box, as the shape and trimming will both be injured by letting it lie either on the face, sides, or crown.

Let each dress worn by a lady be suitable to the occasion upon which she wears it. A toilet may be as offensive to good taste and propriety by being too elaborate, as by being slovenly. Never wear a dress which is out of place or out of season under the impression that "it will do for once," or "nobody will notice it." It is in as bad taste to receive your morning calls in an elaborate evening dress, as it would be to attend a ball in your morning wrapper.

To appear well dressed without harmony, both in color and materials, is impossible. When arranging any dress, whether for home,  street,  or evening,  be careful that each color harmonizes well with the rest, and let no one article, by its glaring costliness, make all the rest appear mean. A costly lace worn over a thin, flimsy silk, will only make the dress appear poorer, not, as some suppose, hide its defects. A rich trimming looks as badly upon a cheap dress, as a mean one does upon an expensive fabric. Observe this rule always in purchasing goods. One costly article will entirely ruin the harmony in a dress, which, without it, though plain and inexpensive, would be becoming and beautiful. Do not save on the dress or cloak to buy a more elaborate bonnet, but let the cost be well equalized and the effect will be good. A plain merino or dark silk, with a cloth cloak, will look much better than the most expensive velvet cloak over a cheap delaine dress.

"The war stopped being a joke when a girl like you doesn't know how to wear the latest fashion. And those pantalettes: I don't know a woman in Paris who wears pantalettes any more..." Rhett Butler after bringing Scarlett O'Hara the gift of a new hat, and she doesn't know how it's worn

Do not be too submissive to the dictates of fashion; at the same time avoid oddity or eccentricity in your dress. There are some persons who will follow, in defiance of taste and judgment, the fashion to its most extreme point; this is a sure mark of vulgarity. Every new style of dress will  admit of adaptation to individual cases, thus producing a pleasing, as well as fashionable effect. Not only good taste, but health is often sacrificed to the silly error of dressing in the extreme of fashion.  Be careful to have your dress comfortable and becoming, and let the prevailing mode come into secondary consideration; avoiding, always, the other extreme of oddity or eccentricity in costume.

Be always careful when making up the various parts of your wardrobe, that each article fits you accurately. Not in the outside garments alone must this rule be followed, an ill-fitting pair of corsets, or wrinkles in any other article of the under-clothes, will make a dress set badly, even if it has been itself fitted with the utmost accuracy. A stocking which is too large, will make the boot uncomfortably tight, and too small will compress the foot, making the shoe loose and untidy. In a dress, no outlay upon the material will compensate for a badly fitting garment. A cheap calico made to fit the form accurately and easily, will give the wearer a more lady-like air than the richest silk which either wrinkles or is too tightly strained over the figure. Collars or sleeves, pinned over or tightly strained to meet, will entirely mar the effect of the prettiest dress.

And by economy I do not mean mere cheapness. To buy a poor, flimsy fabric merely because the price is low, is extravagance, not economy; still  worse if you buy articles because they are offered cheap, when you have no use for them. In purchasing goods for the wardrobe, let each material be the best of its kind. The same amount of sewing that is put into a good material, must be put into a poor one, and, as the latter will very soon wash or wear out, there must be another one to supply its place, purchased and made up, when, by buying a good article at first, this time and labor might have been saved. A good, strong material will be found cheapest in the end, though the actual expenditure of money may be larger at first.

Many ladies have to trace months of severe suffering to an improper disregard of comfort, in preparing their wardrobe, or in exposure after they are dressed. The most exquisite ball costume will never compensate for the injury done by tight lacing, the prettiest foot is dearly paid for by the pain a tight boot entails, and the most graceful effects will not prevent suffering from exposure to cold. A light ball dress and exquisite arrangement of the hair, too often make the wearer dare the inclemency of the coldest night, by wearing a light shawl or hood, to prevent crushing delicate lace or flowers. Make it a fixed rule to have the head, feet, and chest well protected when going to a party, even at the risk of a crushed flower or a stray curl. Many a fair head has been laid in a coffin, a victim to consumption, from rashly venturing out of a heated ball room, flushed and excited, with only a light protection against keen night air. The excitement of the occasion may prevent immediate discomfort in such cases, but it adds to the subsequent danger.

Be careful always that the details of your dress are perfectly finished in every point. The small articles of a wardrobe require constant care to keep in perfect order, yet they will woefully revenge themselves if neglected.  Let the collar, handkerchief, boots, gloves, and belts be always whole, neat, and adapted to the dress. A lace collar will look as badly over a chintz dress, as a linen one would with velvet, though each may be perfect of its kind. Attention to these minor points are sure tests of taste in a lady's dress. A shabby or ill fitting boot or glove will ruin the most elaborate walking dress, while one of much plainer make and coarser fabric will be becoming and lady-like, if all the details are accurately fitted, clean, and well put on. In arranging a dress for every occasion, be careful that there is no missing string, hook, or button, that the folds hang well, and that every part is even and properly adjusted. Let the skirts hang smoothly, the outside ones being always about an inch longer than the under ones; let the dress set smoothly, carefully hooked or buttoned; let the collar fit neatly, and be fastened firmly and smoothly at the throat; let shoes and stockings be whole, clean, and fit nicely; let the hair be smooth and glossy, the skin pure, and the colors and fabric of your dress harmonize and be suitable for the occasion, and you will always appear both lady-like and well-dressed.


Woman in a "Home" or "Promenade" Dress 1860

The most suitable dress for breakfast, is a wrapper made to fit the figure loosely,  and the material, excepting when the winter weather requires woolen goods, should be of chintz, gingham, brilliante, or muslin. A lady who has children, or one accustomed to perform for herself light household duties, will soon find the advantage of wearing materials that will wash. A large apron of domestic gingham, which can be taken off,  if the wearer is called to see unexpected visitors, will protect the front of the dress, and save washing the wrapper too frequently. If a lady's domestic duties require her attention for several hours in the morning, whilst her list of acquaintances is large, and she has frequent morning calls, it is best to dress for callers before breakfast, and wear over this dress a loose sack and skirt of domestic gingham. This, while protecting the dress perfectly, can be taken off at a moment's notice if callers are announced. Married ladies often wear a cap in the morning, and lately, young girls have adopted the fashion. It is much better to let the hair be perfectly smooth, requiring no cap, which is often worn to conceal the lazy, slovenly arrangement of the hair. A few moments given to making the hair smooth and presentable without any covering, will not be wasted. Slippers of embroidered cloth are prettiest with a wrapper, and in summer black morocco is the most suitable for the house in the morning.

A lady should never receive her morning callers in a wrapper, unless they call at an unusually early hour, or some unexpected demand upon her time makes it impossible to change her dress after breakfast. On the other hand, an elaborate costume before dinner is in excessively bad taste. The dress should be made to fit the figure neatly, finished at the throat and wrists by an embroidered collar and cuffs, and, unless there is a necessity for it, in loss of the hair or age, there should be no cap or head dress worn. A wrapper made with handsome trimming, open over a pretty white skirt, may be worn with propriety; but the simple dress worn for breakfast, or in the exercise of domestic duties, is not suitable for the parlor when receiving visits of ceremony in the morning.

The home evening dress should be varied according to circumstances. If no visitor is expected, the dress worn in the morning is suitable for the evening; but to receive visitors, it should be of lighter material, and a light head-dress may be worn. For young ladies, at home, ribbon or velvet are the most suitable materials for a head-dress. Flowers, unless they be natural ones in summer, are in very bad taste, excepting in cases where a party of invited guests are expected. Dark silk in winter, and thin material in summer, make the most suitable dresses for evening, and the reception of the chance-guests ladies in society may usually expect.

Walking dresses, to be in good taste, should be of quiet colors, and never conspicuous. Browns, modes, and neutral tints, with black and white, make the prettiest dresses for the street. Above all, avoid wearing several bright colors. One may be worn with perfect propriety to take off the sombre effect of a dress of brown or black, but do not let it be too glaring, and wear but little of it. Let the boots be sufficiently strong and thick to protect the feet from damp or dust, and wear always neat, clean, nicely fitting gloves. The entire effect of the most tasteful costume will be ruined if attention is not paid to the details of dress. A soiled bonnet cap, untidy strings, or torn gloves and collar will utterly spoil the prettiest costume. There is no surer mark of vulgarity than over dressing or gay dressing in the street. Let the materials be of the costliest kind, if you will, but do not either wear the exaggerations of the fashion, or conspicuous colors. Let good taste dictate the limits where fashion may rule, and let the colors harmonize well, and be of such tints as will not attract attention.

The dress should be plain, and in winter furs and dark gloves may be worn.

The dress should be of light silk, the bonnet dressy, and either a rich shawl or light cloak; no furs, and light gloves. In summer, a lace or silk mantle and white gloves should be worn.

Should be of such material as will bear the crush of a crowded store without injury, and neither lace or delicate fabrics should ever be worn. A dress of merino in winter, with a cloth cloak and plain velvet or silk bonnet is the most  suitable.  In summer,  a dress and cloak of  plain mode colored Lavella cloth, or any other cool but strong fabric, with a simply trimmed straw bonnet, is the best dress for a shopping excursion.

Women's fashions for winter in England

A lady who is obliged to go out frequently in bad weather, will find it both a convenience and economy to have a storm dress. Both dress and cloak should be made of a woolen material, (varying of course with the season,) which will shed water. White skirts are entirely out of place, as, if the dress is held up, they will be in a few moments disgracefully dirty. A woolen skirt, made quite short, to clear the muddy streets, is the proper thing. Stout, thick-soled boots, and gloves of either silk, beaver-cloth, or lisle thread, are the most suitable. The bonnet should be either of straw or felt, simply trimmed; and, above all, carry a large umbrella. The little light umbrellas are very pretty, no doubt, but to be of any real protection in a storm, the umbrella should be large enough to protect the whole dress.

Here a dress of the most inexpensive kind is the best. There is no surer mark of vulgarity, than a costly dress in the market. A chintz is the best skirt to wear, and in winter a dark chintz skirt put on over a delaine dress, will protect it from baskets, and the unavoidable soils contracted in a market, while it looks perfectly well, and can be washed if required.


"A friendly hint to young ladies who wear those dear delightful barege dresses. Always let the slip (or whatever the mysterious garment is called) be as long as the outer dress?"- Punch

Traveling dresses should be made always of some quiet color, perfectly plain, with a deep mantle or cloak of the same material. When traveling with a young babe, a dress of material that will wash is the best, but it should be dark and plain. A conspicuous traveling dress is in very bad taste and jewelry or ornaments of any kind are entirely out of place. Let the dress be made of dark, plain material, with a simple straw or felt bonnet, trimmed with the same color as the dress, and a thick barege veil. An elastic string run through a tuck made in the middle of the veil, will allow one half to fall over the face, while the other half falls back,  covering the bonnet, and protecting it from dust. If white collars and sleeves are worn, they should be of linen, perfectly plain. Strong boots and thick gloves are indispensable in traveling, and a heavy shawl should be carried, to meet any sudden change in the weather. Corsets and petticoats of dark linen are more suitable than white ones, as there is so much unavoidable dust and mud constantly meeting a traveler.

Woman in Ball Costume 1860

Must be governed by the number of guests you may expect to meet, and the character of the entertainment to which you are invited. For small social companies, a dark silk in winter, and a pretty lawn, barege, or white muslin in summer, are the most appropriate. A light head-dress of ribbon or velvet, or a plain cap, are the most suitable with this dress. For a larger party, low-necked, short-sleeved silk, light colored, or any of the thin goods made expressly for evening wear, with kid gloves, either of a color to match the dress or of white; black lace mittens are admissible, and flowers in the hair. A ball dress should be made of either very dressy silk, or light, thin material made over silk. It should be trimmed with lace, flowers, or ribbon, and made dressy. The coiffure should be elaborate, and match the dress, being either of ribbon, feather, or flowers. White kid gloves, trimmed to match the dress, and white or black satin slippers, with silk stockings, must be worn.

"There is such a variety of opinion upon the subject of mourning, that it is extremely difficult to lay down any general rules upon the subject." Mourning Dresses 1860

There is such a variety of opinion upon the subject of mourning, that it is extremely difficult to lay down any general rules upon the subject. Some wear very close black for a long period, for a distant relative; whilst others will wear dressy mourning for a short time in a case of death in the immediate family. There is no rule either for the depth of mourning, or the time when it may be laid aside, and I must confine my remarks to the different degrees of mourning.

For deep mourning,  the dress should be of  bombazine, Parramatta cloth, delaine, barege, or merino, made up over black lining. The only appropriate trimming is a deep fold, either of the same material or of crape. The shawl or cloak must be of plain black, without border or trimming, unless a fold of crape be put on the cloak; the bonnet should be of crape, made perfectly plain, with crape facings, unless the widow's cap be worn, and a deep crape veil should be thrown over both face and bonnet. Black crape collar and sleeves, and black boots and gloves. The next degree is to wear white collar and sleeves, a bow of crape upon the bonnet, and plain white lace facings, leaving off the crape veil, and substituting one of plain black net. A little later, black silk without any gloss, trimmed with crape, may be worn, and delaine or bombazine, with a trimming of broad, plain ribbon, or a bias fold of silk. The next stage admits a silk bonnet trimmed with crape, and lead color, dark purple, or white figures on the dress. From this the mourning passes into second mourning. Here a straw bonnet, trimmed with black ribbon or crape flowers, or a silk bonnet with black flowers on the outside, and white ones in the face, a black silk dress, and gray shawl or cloak, may be worn. Lead color, purple, lavender, and white, are all admissible in second mourning, and the dress may be lightened gradually, a white bonnet, shawl, and light purple or lavender dress, being the dress usually worn last, before the mourning is thrown aside entirely, and colors resumed. It is especially to be recommended to buy always the best materials when making up mourning. Crape and woolen goods of the finest quality are very expensive, but a cheaper article will wear miserably; there is no greater error in economy than purchasing cheap mourning, for no goods are so inferior, or wear out and grow rusty so soon. 

From "The Ladies' Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness" by Florence Hartley

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