Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Victoria's Visiting Ensemble

In Victorian times, it was considered the thing to use one's wardrobe from a different vantage point than we would today. 
Among the landed gentry (a class by itself, really), one would have found ladies and their daughters, once old enough, paying a polite visit or two during the proper calling hours. 
Calling clothes were slightly fussier than those one wore to market or in one's own home, being meant to impress.
Many rules of etiquette governed such visits, including that they should not exceed a certain length of time, along with which topics were considered valid. One gave one's calling card at the door to whichever servant answered the bell, and this was then taken to the lady or man of the house on a salver (or small  hand tray) specially designed for such a purpose.
Victoria, being unmarried, had to be chaperoned at all times, and also would not have had her own calling card. Instead, whichever adult she went out with might hand write her name on one of their own cards as a sign to the household of her accompanying said adult.
It is very starchy, I know, but the rules of etiquette were meant to screen visitors, and to keep the then considered less than desirable middle and lower classes from becoming members of Society.
Author Daniel Pool writes in his reference book, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: 
      'If the lady of the house wished to see you, were invited to come inside and enter the drawing room (on the first floor [one above street level] in town houses, the ground floor in country mansions), the room in which a lady always received her visitors. If you were a gentleman, you took your hat and riding whip with you (umbrellas could be left downstairs), presumably to show you did not intend to stay long.
           'And nobody did, as a rule. If you were calling purely for the sake of formality, (weddings, for example, demanded calls; "not to wait upon a bride," says Mr. Woodhouse in Emma, "is very remiss.") you were expected to stay no more than fifteen minutes, and your call could be returned merely with a card [and which could be sent round by the lady via one of her footmen]. If another visitor appeared while you were making the polite chit-chat calls required, you eased your way slowly out, after an introduction--presuming it was to a socially inferior person, a social equal agreeable to being introduced, or a social superior who didn't mind--had been effected. No refreshments were offered, at least until the advent of afternoon tea in the latter part of the century.'
He goes on to say that topics of discussion might cover the weather, or other light subjects of equal safety. And one simply did not discuss in front of others anyone they mightn't know.
It occurred to me this morning [Monday, May 14] how we all kind of follow the same social patterning in our blogging nowadays which the Victorians were using in their way. We "pay calls" and leave "visiting cards", in a new way, just by using our avatars and visiting each other's blogs.....courtesy calls are still alive and well online, aren't they? :)
Our Victoria would have been trained from early on to follow the customs of her times, and to behave in a quiet, ladylike manner in various social situations, all of them fairly restrictive to her playful ways.
We hope you've enjoyed this little lesson in Victorian etiquette along with this latest in our set of clothes for our new paper doll, Miss Victoria Lacey.
Happy Creativity!

PPSPlaytime™: Victoria's Visiting Ensemble

Download Digi PNG Version HERE

Download For Print Version HERE

     Credits: Original 1893 image (prior to our fiddling) courtesy New York Public Library


Plush Possum Studio said...

We've been experiencing some problems with Blogger. It completely re-ordered our post archives, then re-ordered them back the way they were before!
In the process, Artsings's comment tothis post was lost, but not quite.

We copy it here from the comments queue behind the scenes:

"Wow, sounds so stifling to me. I would like to see more "politeness" but not to that extent. Perhaps just practicing kindness would do. Thanks for this most interesting post. Happiness to all. on Victoria's Visiting Ensemble"

Plush Possum Studio said...

Dear ArtSings:
Isn't it good to bea modern woman who isn't restricted by those social rules we mentioned?
We think so!
Have a blissful day, my dear!

Gems-By-Julz said...

I am so glad you are back Rose. I have missed you terribly so posting on Facebook on my page and I hear that Steampunk Journey will be happening this Sunday so will be popping by. Super big hugs from Julz xoxoxo

Plush Possum Studio said...

So good to hear from you, dearie! Hope all's well with you.And thanks fr te facebook promo. It is very kind of you to think of us in such a kindly way.

Dezinaworld said...

Hi Rose and everyone, I am loving the history and the beautiful costumes for Victoria. Your blog is amazing and you are such a brilliant blogger. I take my hat off to you my friend
Hugs June x

Plush Possum Studio said...

June:My dear, coming from you, that is so high a compliment, we are blushing right down to our possum toes.
What a pleasure it is, our being able to interact and enjoy one another's creativity here in our blogosphere!
Rose & Co

Linda M. said...

Hi Rose, Thanks for the etiquette lessons. While I wish we had more politeness in our world I'm sure glad things are not this strict today. Love the images and thanks for sharing. Joyous Wishes, Linda

Plush Possum Studio said...

Linda M.: The mini history lesson included in this post is meant to give background to the reasons for an outfit especially designed for visiting others. It also shows we are far less uptight today than many were in Victorian times!
We have come along way, but must recall what manners are for: to help us all get along better.
Sounds like you see it pretty much the same way as we do here at Plush Possum.
Hope you're enjoying your weekend! Don't forget tomorrow's the day for our next Steam Tea Travels adventure! By noon, MST, we should have things up and rolling.
See you then!

Mina said...

Oh, I love this gown. Though I am glad we have relaxed a bit as a culture, I must admit that I would LOVE to wear some of these vintage dress and hat ensembles. Hugs, Mina

Plush Possum Studio said...

Mina: I get your meaning, They'd be fun to wear for a lark, just not all the time!

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