Victorian Mourning part two,The clothing

Victorian mourning after the funeral was ended became the domain of the ladies closest to the deceased.While men wore black ties and perhaps carried momentos such as hairwork watch “chains” Women had  months or years of wearing mourning clothing ahead of them .This fell into roughly three sections ,full mourning,half mourning and finally normal clothing but with mourning momentos such as hairwork bracelets ,lockets ,necklaces and widows would be expected to continue to wear “sober”clothing unitil they remarried.


Full mourning,This is more or less a Victorian developement of the previous mourning customs,while everyone would wear black when a relative or husband died the elaborate clothing and depth of mourning changed in Victorian times.Hair filled lockets had been common in Georgian times however it was the rigidity and complexity of Victorian mourning dress that created new booming industrys ,The Whitby jet industry went from a few dozen workers to thousand or more at this time.likewise the insistence on have certain kinds of mourning dresses ,All black Dull fabric for deepest mourning ,all black but textures ad some sheen were allowed later ,followed by black with some white ect meant that a booming industry was created for tailors ,the requirement for black crepe to be the fabric de rigure of first stage deepest mourning boosted the business .Many less wealthy  mourners resorted to dyeing their normal clothing and that of their servants black ,,so black dye production increased (These clothes when then bleached once mourning was over).

first stage mounring

Full mourning

Full mourning, a period of a year and one day for a widow or between three and six months for  those mourning other close relatives , was represented with dull black clothing without ornament mostly black crepe or thick black wool in winter .widows were not supposed to appear in public . The most typically Victorian innovation at this point was the weeping veil of black crepe or perhaps very fine silk . jewelry was not permitted in this stage though in less rigid circles ,small and  simple momento hairwork ,jet pins might be worn to attach collars etc Any decorate should be avoided at this stage unless necessary ,mat and all black trim at cuffs or neck was permitted ,any lace such as dress collars , cuffs must be plain matt black fabric  Bonnets shawls Fans,purses ,reticules ,parasols ,capes  aprons and gloves would be plain black matt fabrics

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.Any potential visible underwear such ,petticoats ,stockings also had to be black .Calling cards would have black edges .

For later  first stage mourning ,white lace  fabric or lace was permitted for collars and cuffs (weepers cuffs)and a white widows cap .jewelry was now permitted as long as it was mourning jewelery ,made from hair ,jet ,or possibly  with traditional “mourning ” stones such  opals .The main dress was still made from a lusterless cloth but any veil  could be  worn back over the head. Some  widows frequently remained in mourning for the rest of their lives.

For second stage mourning

black dress 2nd

More variety of fabrics could be added shiny satins or velvet, more ornamentation such as ribbon trims to cuffs ,fringing more lace or passemetry could be used

More variety such as self striped or checked fabric could be added for special events

Widow had to remain in mourning the longest ,though unmarried young males might remain in mourning as long as female members of a household after a death . Parents who lost a child wore deep mourning for nine months and half-mourning for three. Children mourned their parents for a similar length of time. The death of a brother or sister was mourned for six months in  deep and three months in half-mourning. The deaths of  those outside the close family such as brothers or sisters inlaw aunts, uncles,close friends  each demanded some degree of public mourning, ranging from six weeks to three months. It is sad to think that in the case of the Brontes each sisters died while wearing mourning for a lost sibling,Emily for Branwell ,Anne for Emily and Charlotte would have spent as much as two years in deep mourning .


Half mourning

More variety of colour was allowed, particularly favoured  were  pale shades of purple  pale,lilacs , and subdued mauves, though white could also be worn  and just possible very dark red or deeper dark purples.


About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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