Mourning Fashions Etiquette – June 1900
The mourning customs of different countries vary distinctly, each following its particular code or rules, though that of England and France largely influences American usage. A widow wears deep mourning for a more significant period in America than she does in Europe, where two years is considered sufficient.
Formerly a widow was expected to wear for one year a gown almost covered with crape and for nine months longer one only a little less elaborate. Now the crape is often discarded altogether after six months.
The widow’s cap is worn for one year, though some dispense with it entirely; in America, indeed, it is rarely worn. The heavy crape veil is not so generally worn like that of crêpe lisse or silk grenadine, and it is not worn over the face except when the grief is new.
All physicians agree that thick veils are detrimental to health, and the attention attracted by them is by no means desirable. A short veil of Brussels net with a border of crape in either one relatively wide or several narrow folds is worn over the face, and the long veil is arranged to fall over the bonnet at the back.
Formerly a widow could not attend social functions of any character until One year at least had passed, but the present rules demand only three months of absolute seclusion.
Twelve months is the regulation time for mourning for parents, though young girls may adopt half-mourning after six months. From six to four months, according to individual feeling, is the period for mourning for either brother or sister.
The cut in mourning clothes should be almost severely plain and simple. Trimmings of dull jet and passementerie and chiffon appliqués are permissible after the veil is laid aside, but bands of crape, chiffon, dull-finished silk, and plain braids are more used.
Pure white with dull-black ribbon decorations is considered deeper mourning than black-and-white materials, and it is especially recommended for home wear.
Henrietta, cashmere, dull-finished woolens, crape cloth, albatross and nun's-vailing are standard mourning fabrics and develop very pleasing gowns. Tailor costumes of Melrose and Imperial serge are devoid of any trimming except rows of machine-stitching or stitched straps of the goods.
Bone buttons are used on the jackets of these suits.
Cheviots and French foulé—an unfinished cloth—are also used for these costumes.
Plissé crepon develops vibrant deep-mourning gowns. A dull, lusterless finish characterizes this material, of which there are numerous weaves. Silk and wool poplins are primarily used for gowns to wear at church and such places - as it is permissible to visit, while crêpe de Chine has much to recommend it.
Among the desirable sheer fabrics are grenadine barège, a very thin silk-and-wool vailing and also a grenadine of the same sheer texture with an attractive blocked weave. A lining of dull taffeta, surah or India silk is essential with open-work goods.
There is a close resemblance between Sicilian and bengaline silk, though the luster of the former is very dull; it may suitably be worn in deep mourning.
Rich capes are developed from this silk, and where the period of mourning permits, they may be ornamented with dull jet and chiffon.
India and foulard silks are much in favor. Taffeta silk, with a dull finish, will be used for entire dresses and separate waists and also for a foundation for any of the sheer fabrics.
Numerous attractive Summer fabrics will be used to make both deep and second mourning dresses; among these are all-black mulls and Swiss, and others have either a black or white ground with the figure in contrast.
Among the accessories worn with mourning gowns are soft hemstitched linen collars and cuffs; a soft white ruching made of crape, to be worn at the neck and wrists, is very attractive.
The widow's ruché of white crape relieves the somberness of the heavy, dull-black bonnet, though the adoption of this accessory is decided upon by individual taste. The only jewels permissible in mourning are pearls and diamonds, though few of these should be worn.
Mourning Costume Fashions
Figure No. 1. (Above Left) This charming costume represents a fancy basque-waist and circular skirt shaped in points and extended by a circular flounce.
The waist pattern is No. 3936, which is in eight sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-four inches, bust measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents and the skirt pattern is No. 3939, which is in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents.
Crepe de Chine and crape are tastefully combined in the costume. The fronts of the waist are full at the bottom, meet at the bust and are cut away below to reveal a full vest of crape, and above to show a yoke of crape tucked.
They are fancifully shaped at the shoulders, extending over the tops of the sleeves. The circular skirt is pointed at the bottom, where a circular flounce lengthens it.
Figure No. 2. (Above Center) This costume is developed from French foulé and crape, with tiny bias folds of crape as its only ornamental features. There is a full yoke of crape, and below the fancifully shaped bolero of cloth a deep Robes Pierre girdle mitred at the back is prettily revealed. The collar is odd and has an inside section that is pointed at the back.
The mousquetaire sleeves are completed with flare cuffs of the cloth. Tucks are introduced with unique and graceful effect in the skirt, which is further emphasized by the double-box plaited gore at the back.
The basque-waist is developed by pattern No. 3973, which is in seven sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-two inches, bust measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents.
Pattern No. 3924, which is in nine sizes, for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents, was employed to shape the stylish skirt.
Figure No. 3. (Above Right) Jacket pattern No. 3996, in nine sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-six inches, bust measure, price 10d. or 20 cents, and skirt pattern No. 4048, which is in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, price 10d. or 20 cents, are combined in this stylish tailor suit, which is developed from cheviot-serge with a simple decoration of machine-stitching.
The open fronts of the smart Eton jacket are slightly rolled at the top, and a high, flaring collar gives completion at the neck. The sleeves are close-fitting. The skirt is a new five gored mode, and tucks or an underlying box-plait may secure the fulness at the back.
A shirt-waist of dull-finished black taffeta, India silk or peau de soie would be suitable to wear with this outdoor costume.
Figure No. 4. — The association of crape with a silk-and-wool nun's vailing in this street costume is admirable. A fancy collar with long, tapering ends and stitched plaits are the distinguishing features of the attractive waist, which pouches slightly.
The blouse is cut out at the top to disclose in a V affect the smooth chemisette, and circular cuffs give a final touch to the shapely two-seam sleeves. A circular flounce of crape lengthens the circular skirt, and the full-length gore at the back may be laid in a box-plait, or be tucked at the top, as preferred.
Blouse pattern No. 3861, which is in seven sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-two inches, bust measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents, was united with skirt pattern No. 4058, which is in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, and cost 1s. or 25 cents, in developing this stylish costume.
Figure No. 5. (Above Left) This attractive costume was developed from light-weight cheviot associated with white black-dotted India silk and peau de soie, narrow braid and machine stitching furnishing the decoration.
Pattern No. 3995, which is in seven sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-two inches, bust measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents, was used to shape the basque-waist, while pattern No. 3997, which is in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents, was employed for the graceful seven-gored skirt.
The fanciful bolero adds an air of distinction to the basque-waist, and further attractiveness is given by the Robespierre belt of peau de soie and a full vest of dotted silk. The under-box plait at the lower part of each seam at the front and sides and the box-plaited gore at the back gives character and grace to the skirt.
Figure No. 6. (Above Center) The stylish blouse with fancy bolero embraced in No. 3988, in seven sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-two inches, bust measure, price 10d. or 20 cents, is associated with skirt pattern No. 3981, which is in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents, in this street costume.
Eudora cloth and soft, dull-finished silk are chosen for the mode, with machine-stitching and folds of the silk as the ornamental features. The deep shawl-collar distinguishes the bolero, and the close-fitting sleeves extend over the hand in a point.
The pouching fronts and high stock-collar are also of the silk, and the scarf, which is gracefully tied in front, is of the same soft textile. The ingenious arrangement of side-plaits gives the impression of a one-piece skirt at the front and a triple box-plait at the back.
Figure No. 7. (Above Right) Soft Henrietta cloth and crape are associated in this costume. The fanciful bolero gives added dressiness to the basque-waist, which is made with a shallow yoke, and finished with a stock and fancy flare cuffs.
The blouse is No. 3968, which is in eight sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-four inches, bust measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents. The five-gored skirt is decorated with three bands of crape.
Pattern No. 4048, which is in nine sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-six inches, waist measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents, was employed to shape the skirt.
Figure No. 8. (Above Left) Extreme grace characterizes the costume shown at this Figure, which represents a tasteful combination of Henrietta and crape, with a useful decoration of machine stitching. The shaping of the blouse is decidedly unique but attractive.
The fancifully shaped center-front extends to the back at the neck, and the stretched back is cut low to reveal a smooth, round yoke of crape, while both the center front and side-fronts are cut away, exposing the full fronts of crape. A cap-facing of crape outlined with a narrow band of crape distinguishes the sleeves.
The skirt is cut circular and tucked at the front and sides, the tucks terminating a short distance from the bottom.
The fancy basque-waist was shaped by pattern No. 3819, which is in seven sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-two inches, bust measure, and costs - 10d. or 20 cents, while the stylish two-piece skirt was designed by pattern No. 3568, which is in seven sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-two inches, waist measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents.
Figure No. 9. (Above Right) This modish costume embodies a becoming basque-waist and skirt. Pattern No. 3929, which is in eight sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-four inches, bust measure, and costs 10d. or 20 cents, was used for the waist, while the skirt was shaped by pattern No. 4081, which is in seven sizes for ladies from twenty to thirty-two inches, waist measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents.
Louisine, a dull-finished, luxurious, silky fabric, and crape were combined effectively in the costume, with bands of crape and machine-stitching for trimming.
The fichu bertha and deep, smooth yoke are the especially noticeable features in the blouse. The yoke and high stock collar are made of crape, finely tucked or plaited, and a bertha outlines the yoke. Scalloped flare cuffs complete the close-fitting sleeves of this costume.
Clusters of tucks below yoke depth characterize the novel skirt. The pleats terminate at flounce depth, and an under-folded double box-plait appears at the back.
Figure No. 10.—Pattern No. 3969, which is in eight sizes for ladies from thirty to forty-four inches, bust measure, and costs 1s. or 25 cents, was employed to shape this exquisite costume.
Coarse dotted net over dull-finished taffeta was used to develop the gown, with decoration of dull-black ribbon. The blouse pouches becomingly in front and is stylishly tucked. A round yoke emphasizes the back, while in front the yoke is pointed.
The net is finely tucked to form both the yoke and stock-collar. The two-seam sleeve displays a lengthwise cluster of tucks, and a ruffle of ribbon gives completion at the wrists. A soft belt of a ribbon is worn around the waist.
The circular skirt is distinguished by clusters of fine tucks extending from the belt to within a short distance of the lower edge.
"Mourning Fashions Etiquette," in The Delineator: For Town and Country Issue, Paris-London-New York: The Butterick Publishing Co., Ltd., Vol. LV, No. 6. June 1900, p. 822-824.
Editor's Note: Some terminology used in the description of women's clothing during the 1800s and early 1900s has been changed to reflect more modern terms. For example, a women's "Toilette" -- a form of costume or outfit has an entirely different common meaning in the 21st century. Typical terms applied to "toilette" include outfit, ensemble, or costume, depending on context.
Note: We have edited this text to correct grammatical errors and improve word choice to clarify the article for today’s readers. Changes made are typically minor, and we often left passive text “as is.” Those who need to quote the article directly should verify any changes by reviewing the original material.