4/30/15

widowhood way back when; victorian veil threats


Before the 20th century, widows were expected to follow strict dress codes and rituals. In addition to a total wardrobe makeover (all in flat black), respectable widows couldn’t go out in public without wearing a long black “widow’s veil” that, when pulled down over the face, also covered much of the body.

Being a slave to fashion however, had it's drawbacks.

According to an excerpt from an 1886 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, "This fashion is very much objected to by doctors, who think many diseases of the eye come by this means, and advise for common use thin nuns' veiling instead of crape (AKA “crepe” fabric), which sheds its pernicious dye into the sensitive nostrils, producing catarrhal disease as well as blindness and cataract of the eye."

The article goes on to say, "It is a thousand pities that fashion dictates the crape veil, but so it is. It is the very banner of woe, and no one has the courage to go without it. We can only suggest to mourners wearing it that they should pin a small veil of black tulle over the eyes and nose, and throw back the heavy crape as often as possible, for health's sake."

You say crepe. They said crape. I say... let's take the whole thing off!