Godey's Lady's Book - Aug, 1849 - Fashion


We have at length come to the bridal costume itself, after having dispatched all preliminaries, and, like the man at the Panorama, when the “next object of interest” is approaching, we now exclaim, in exulting tones-


Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the innocence and purity of girlhood, and the unsullied heart which she now yields to the keeping of the chosen one.

This (white) should also be the hue of the flowers which compose the wreath and bouquet, for both are now considered indispensable. Orange flowers have recently driven all other floral competitors from the throne; but in the country, where they cannot be procured, white rosebuds are an excellent substitute, and the lily of the valley has been, by some, preferred to either. Natural flowers in the city, we are sorry to say, are seldom seen. French imitations keep fresh longer, may be worn again at pleasure, and but for the absence of perfume, could scarcely be detected in many cases. But it seems to us that the purity of the sentiment is entirely lost in these artificial substitutes.

The use of the wreath is to confine the veil, which is at present placed quite high upon the head, and flows back over the shoulders. It should never be worn after the ceremony. Save when real Brussels lace can be afforded, which is very rarely in this country, plain illusion, or tulle, is the material— it should be very full and long.

The fashion of bouquets was probably introduced on the emergency of that disagreeable position, described as “not knowing what to do with one’s hands.” To be sure, the bride has the manifest purpose in view, of giving hers away, but they are hard to dispose of meanwhile. So a large bouquet, as ungraceful as possible, is held as awkwardly as may be by the poor creature, in a silver holder, usually the bridegroom’s gift. It is customary in the city, at fashionable weddings, for the gentlemen in attendance to present the ladies in waiting with a bouquet in colors (to distinguish it from the bride’s), with a holder a trifle less elegant than hers. A delightful arrangement for the lady, and rather an expensive one for the gentleman. Now we have a word to say on this point. We would suggest that these “nosegays” be a little more delicate in size and tasteful in arrangement. To look less like the celebrated “warming-pan” articles got up by Mr. Witherden, in the “Old Curiosity Shop,” and the weighed-down air of the ladies would thus be removed. Why will not Buist, Dunlap, or some of these clever fellows see to it?

The material of the dress should be chosen with regard to the bride’s present circumstances, and the position she is about to assume. White satin, with a Brussels lace over dress, is well enough for city drawing-rooms; for heat, gas lights, polkas, and Parkinson’s suppers. But in the country, or when marriage is entered into by those who draw near the altar with a deep sense of the new duties thus incurred, and consequently think it no time for revelry and dissipation, the plainer the dress the more tasteful it will be acknowledged.

Swiss muslin, embroidered linen cambric, crape and silk robes, are worn this season. The robes are in entirely new patterns, being fastened and knotted gracefully with plaits of pearl-edged white ribbon. The skirts are single, double, or triple, as best suits the form of the wearer. We have lately examined a large importation at Levy’s, prices varying from $26 to $100, and $150. These silk robes are the latest style, and are extremely elegant. For ourselves, we candidly consider a fine Swiss or India muslin, fastened with white ribbon and natural flowers, more tasteful than either.

White silk stockings and satin slippers should always be the accompaniment of a bridal dress. Kid or prunella* have a vulgar look.

Colored ornaments should, of course, be laid aside; neither is it etiquette for a bride to wear diamonds, even if they have just been presented, and she is dying to display them. That is, at the ceremony; should it be fixed for the morning, and an evening reception be given; moreover, if she thinks it will astonish her “dear five hundred friends very much,” she may venture upon them then. Silver ornaments, comb, etc., are now most generally seen. They are light, and usually tasteful, but true to an old fashioned notion of simplicity— save the comb; we think they had better, in all cases, give way to no ends of ribbon and the flowers.

The gloves should never fit closely, else there is a scene of embarrassment when it is attempted to withdraw that from the right hand. They may be short or demi-long, as taste may be, the wrist trimmed with a fine wreath, or ruche of ribbon or tulle.

It is usual to employ a coiffeur on all such occasions. Charge him, by all means, to dress your hair as simply as possible. The veil and wreath are quite enough, without the enormous bows, puffs, and braids they are so fond of building up.

Some one wishes to know, in this article, if a widow, on marrying the second time, should wear white. It strikes us that the significancy of the emblem is lost on such an occasion; and we would advise, if they are so foolish as to commit such an indiscretion, that it be done as privately, and with as little display as possible.

*prunella - a strong, dark in color, woolen fabric