Advice for the Bride’s Trousseau - 1910


Advice for the Bride’s Trousseau - 1910


Selecting a Trousseau

It is crucial to remember that selecting a trousseau should always be guided by the circumstances of the bride’s family and her future position. This is not just a matter of financial prudence, but a reflection of our responsibility and thoughtfulness towards our loved ones.

It is a reminder that we should never burden our parents with demands they cannot meet without enduring struggles and privations that may extend for years after the bride has left her home, and the beautiful garments are worn out, still unpaid for.

The needs are also more or less individual in every case. If the future home is to be in a village, a small city, a suburb, or a great city, no trousseau planned for one estate will fill the needs of another. For instance, a bride planning to settle in a village might prioritize traditional attire and household items, while a bride moving to a great city might focus on modern outfits and gadgets. 

There is always a wealth of material at our disposal, which can significantly aid in the gathering of moderate, inexpensive equipment. This resourcefulness helps us manage our budget and demonstrates our efficiency in planning. In every case, a variety of necessities is required, and there is usually a reason for exercising a close economy.

It is understood, of course, that in every case, the bride’s trousseau is given to her by her parents or by a very near relative of her own family. This tradition stems from the belief that the bride's family should provide for her needs as she transitions into her new life. Still, she cannot, with dignity, accept such a gift from others, least of all from her betrothed or any family member.


Chosing a Wedding Gown

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 reasonable, too, that she should have all that can be given her for this momentous life event. 

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 that she could wear once. 

Instead, She should choose a cloth traveling dress, which is always practical. 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 very few dresses of suitable material that are well made than many made of shoddy cloth and cut, which are 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. Only in this careful way and not by haphazard buying without planning can a small sum of money be stretched over even a short list.


Suggestions for the Bridal Trousseau

The following are some ideas for the trousseau of a bride in reasonably good circumstances who expects to enter into social life. From this list, she may select what suits her taste and preferences. 

The wedding gown may be made of satin, silk, crêpe de chine, or chiffon cloth. It should be high on the neck with long sleeves. If it has a yoke of fine lace that may be detached, it can be used without alteration as an evening dress afterward. 

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

A plain tailored suit is necessary for traveling, shopping, and streetwear, 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 helpful for teas and home entertainment.

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 and Lingerie

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 time does not come into consideration, these garments should be made entirely by hand, and time will produce beauty that only a significant expenditure of money can equal.

There is no reason why the most moderately circumstanced bride, if she has several months 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, as are the various qualities of nainsook. At the same time, long clothes and cambrics will serve as heavier garments, such as long white petticoats and the like.

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


Bridal Lingerie

Nothing is prettier than a complete set of lingerie decorated with bands of drawn work and hemstitching. Buttonholing and eyelet work may also 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 it was never advisable to buy underwear or have it made by the dozens, to put it away for coming years, to yellow it and make it old-fashioned. 

Lingerie trends change almost as frequently as those in outer garments; indeed, no extreme change in dress occurs without a corresponding influence on lingerie. 

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

One word might be added on the matter of utility. Spending money and time on fragile garments that one trip to any heartless laundry will ruin forever is foolish. Garments can be beautiful and have a certain amount of wear without sacrificing daintiness. 

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


From the Bride's Parents

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

It is only possible 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 be on the list, regardless of the amount purchased.


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


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