Good Victorian brides took advice aplenty from mother
Our household is currently in the middle of pre-wedding festivities for family old and new.
Traditions are still important in the Australian bride’s calendar and the bridal shower remains as an event for more mature and experienced females from both sides of the family to pass on their wisdom for creating a successful marriage.
According to World Bride magazine: “… bridal showers became popular during the late Victorian Era. Ladies of the upper echelons of society held them to celebrate, gossip and exchange gifts, food and thoughts on the soon-to-be-wife’s new role. During these parties, women would often place small gifts inside a paper parasol and ‘shower’ them over the bride-to-be”.
While our get-together was a more modest event, and there were no parasols, only huge umbrellas erected to ward off summer heat, there was much fun and frivolity in the sharing of tips for the bride-to-be.
The bridesmaids decided a pinata, filled with guests’ hints on how to create a successful marriage, was the more fun way to “shower” this Brisbane bride.
One bright young guest added a small book titled Don’ts for Wives written in 1913 by Blanche Ebbutt. This must have been a bestseller for those left-over Victorian showers, and made for plenty of entertainment at a 2017 event.
The preface states that “Art is a hard mistress, and there is no art quite so hard as that of being a wife. So many women exhaust their artistic power in getting married, which is, after all, a comparatively easy business. It takes a perfect artist to remain married – married in the perfect sense of the term – but most of us have to be content to muddle through.”
The remainder is divided into sections such as Personalities, How to Avoid Discord, Evenings at Home, Household Management, Financial Matters, Dress and Children.
So here are some fashion tips from 1913.
- Don’t be satisfied to let your husband work overtime to earn money for frocks for you. Manage with fewer frocks.
- Don’t dress badly, even if your allowance is small. If you can’t have new gowns with every fleeting change of fashion, never have them made in an extreme style, so that they may not be too accurately dated. Let them be of good material, dainty, and well cut; there is nothing gained by being dowdy.
- Don’t take your husband on a laborious shopping expedition, and expect him to remain good-tempered throughout. If you want his advice on some special dress purchase, arrange to attend to that first, and then let him off. Men, as a rule, hate indiscriminate shopping.
- Don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of dressing carelessly when there is “only” your husband to see you. Depend upon it he has no use for faded tea-gowns and badly dressed hair, and he abhors the sight of curling pins as much as other men do. He is a man after all, and if his wife does not take the trouble to charm him, there are plenty of other women who will.
- Don’t talk to your husband about anything of a worrying nature until he has finished his evening meal.
But my favourite hint was “Don’t sneer at your mother’s old-fashioned ways. They suited your father well enough, and perhaps she can give you points”.
Amen to that.
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