Women in mourning
Just as in any other situation in 19th century society, what one wore when in mourning had strict rules to which one was obliged to adhere. Like today, black played a dominant role in what women in 1853 wore after a loss.
During the initial months, clothing was to be in wool and decoration kept simple. The sleeves were worn tight, with cuffs and collar made from crape with a soutache trim, or, preferably, embossed tulle. The head would be covered by a cashmere hat or a crape hood, with a crape veil which would hang longer than the standard veil. A shawl or short cape made from cashmere would also be worn.
Into the second period of mourning, wool remained predominant but black cashmere dress could be worn with silk decorative details; black lace was also allowed. A scarf or short cape in barège could replace the shawl.
During the period of “half-mourning”, silk, grey taffeta, short capes of a similar material, lace hoods, white sleeves and even straw hats with grey or violet trimming were allowed. “Half-mourning” flowers included scabiouses, violets, heliotropes and lilacs.
Emmanuelle Papot (tr. & ed. H.D.W.)