Advice for the Bride’s Trousseau - 1910

Advice for the Bride’s Trousseau - 1910

In every case, the choice of a trousseau should be governed by the circumstances of the bride’s family, and her future position. As has been said before, it cannot be too insistently stated that under no conditions should a daughter demand from her parents what they are unable to give her without desperate struggles and privations extending in many sad cases over several years after the bride’s departure from her home, and after the lovely garments are worn out, still unpaid for.

In every case, too, the needs are more or less individual. If the future home is to be in a village, in a small city, in a suburb, or in a great city, no trousseau planned for one estate will fill the needs of another.

Then too, there is always material on hand which in many cases will significantly aid in the gathering together of moderate, inexpensive equipment. In every case, there must be a variety of necessities. In many cases, there will be a reason for the exercise of close economy.

 It is understood of course that in every case the bride’s trousseau is given her by her parents, or by a very near relative of her own family, but she cannot with dignity accept such a gift from others, least of all from her betrothed or any member of his family.

It is natural for a girl to wish for a beautiful wedding gown, and there is always present in her mind the desire to have it worthy of becoming an heirloom. It is only reasonable too that she should have all that can be given her for this momentous event of her life.

However, where one must economize, and her future life will not call for an elegant evening gown, it would be folly to go to the expense of a costly garment which she could wear but once in her life.

She should instead choose a cloth traveling dress which is always a practical choice. One thing, however, may be advised for any bride in any station of life.

Do not choose cheap or inferior qualities or tawdry trimmings. It is far better to have a very few dresses of suitable material, well made, than many made of shoddy cloth and cut, carelessly put together.

Every bride-elect should make a list of what she thinks she needs. It will be remarkable how, if the amount to be expended upon the trousseau is limited, the list may be cut down.  It is only in this careful way and not by haphazard buying without planning that a small sum of money can be stretched over even a short list.

Suggestions for the Bridal Trousseau

Following are some ideas for the trousseau of a bride in reasonably good circumstances who expects to enter into social life, and from this list may be selected what may suit her taste and preferences.

The wedding gown may be of satin, silk, crêpe de chine or chiffon cloth. It should be high in the neck with long sleeves, and if it is made with a yoke of fine lace which may be detached, it can be used without alteration for evening dress afterward.

One or two or three evening dresses might be desired, and these have all the range of evening colors and materials from which to choose. A black net or lace dress is perennially useful and is always handsome and in good taste. With such a wardrobe, an evening wrap would be a necessity.

A plain tailored suit for traveling, shopping and streetwear are necessary, and another beautiful cloth gown might be added for afternoon wear, calling, and the like. One or two afternoon-dresses of light colors and delicate materials would be found useful for teas and home entertainments.

A satin foulard or taffeta, a thin cloth dress, of voile or etamine, a short cloth skirt for morning wear with odd blouses or a princess dress for wear with various guimpes are all rather important.

House dresses should not be overlooked, and no bride ever regretted any excess provision of dressing jackets, tea gowns, and nice lounging robes.

The trousseau lingerie all but deserves a chapter to itself. When the time does not enter into consideration, these garments should be made entirely by hand, and time will produce beauty that only great expenditure of money can equal.

There is no reason why the most moderately circumstanced bride, if she has several months in which to make ready, cannot, with clever fingers and good taste, equal the lingerie of a far wealthier bride.

It is a pity, however, to waste handwork on a poor-quality material. Linen lawn is always the first choice for delicate handwork. Batiste is good, also the various qualities of nainsook, while long cloth and cambric will serve for the heavier garments, such as long white petticoats and the like.

Valenciennes lace is always appropriate for lingerie, and fine torchon and fine Mechlin are most effective trimmings. German Valenciennes, while dainty, is strong, and wear-resisting and most inexpensive.

For a lovely set of lingerie, nothing is prettier than a complete set decorated with bands of drawn work and hemstitching. Buttonholing and eyelet work may be used effectively for another set.

Lingerie should be marked with the bride’s initials or monogram. It is no longer in good taste and was never advisable to buy underwear or have it made by the dozens, to put them away for coming years to yellow them and make them old-fashioned.

Fashions in lingerie change almost as frequently as fashions in outer garments; indeed, no extreme change in dress occurs without its corresponding influence on lingerie.

Six of each of the undergarment, with what every girl has on hand, is a good supply. This would include six each of nightdresses, drawers, chemises, corset covers, skirts, and undervests. Shoes, slippers, stockings, a flannel petticoat or two, hats, handkerchiefs, umbrella, silk petticoats, etc., should be on the list.

The bride’s parents should supply the household linen. If there cannot be a substantial outlay, a certain sum at least should be set aside for this purpose.

It is all but impossible to give an idea of just the qualities of house linen that would be required by any individual housekeeper, for on almost no subject is there such variance of opinion.

However, sheets, pillowcases, towels, tablecloths, napkins, and various doilies and centerpieces must figure in the list, whatever the amount purchased of each is to be.

One word might be added on the matter of utility. It is foolish to spend money and time on fragile garments that one trip to any heartless laundry will ruin forever. There can be beauty, and a certain amount of wear in garments, without a sacrifice of daintiness.

Too many brides have seen their lingerie come home in shreds and ribbons, directly because foolish instead of prudent judgment ruled the purchasing and the making of them.

Clark, Jean Wilde, Ed., Weddings and Wedding Anniversaries: The Brides Trousseau, New York, The Butterick Publishing Company, 1910, p. 16-18.

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.


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