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,.....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.
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