I saw the new adaptation of “The Women in Black” tonight.
I was actually quite impressed by how historically accurate the mourning gowns were in this movie! You saw everything from the dark “Deep mourning” Crepe fabrics, to a women dressed in “Light mourning” wearing a purple shirt and a skirt that I believe was edged in Crape.
The Victorian/ Edwardian era was VERY particular about what was worn during a woman’s period of mourning. Women in the family were the bearers of the emotional weight for their family when there was a passing. Men on the other hand, (with the exception of a few days after a funeral) were expected to bounce back and go bring home the proverbial bacon. So, men often did not have much of a dress code in any manner during mourning after 1850. Children often wore white at a funeral in their innocence. So this burden was the women’s duty. She had to carry the weight of the family’s grief. These women were expected to be the symbol of the house hold, that if someone were to look at her, they would not only know someone died, but they would know who (a friend/family member) and how long ago it had happened depending which garment she had on.
The general English rules were as follows:
If it was a friend who passed or relative of a friend who passed, your mourning period for respect was considerably shorter, often in the rage of just a few weeks or months.
But, if it was your child or relative you would be in “deep mourning” for 1 year and 9months. Which meant you wore a non-light reflective fabric that was typically of Crepe. Crepe is a crinkly matte fabric that if you were to stand in the sun in it, you would see no light coming off it. A “black hole” of fabrics, if you will. You would also wear a bonnet, or hat with a black veil lined with crepe. Even your jewelry during these periods was regulated of black jet. Or Brooches that contained locks of hair from the deceased, or photos, or cameo pendants. But, many typically had a black enamel around the brooch, or were solid black.
Here is a photo of “deep mourning”
After that, for another 9months you were allowed to go into a “moderate” mourning, which was for two reasons.. after almost two years of wearing crepe, the black fabric will start to diminish into a rusty bronze color and will give off a very strong odor. So, wearing this full time becomes very unattractive. So, during moderate mourning in the first 6months of this stage you are allowed to wear other dark black fabrics that were trimmed heavily with crepe, then less crepe for the remaining 3 months. Also in this last stage of mourning women were permitted to wear some colors of grey, lilac, and violet.
But, for women who lost their husbands and were widowed, would often never end their mourning period… and typically wore black as the main color in clothing for the rest of their lives.
This all started to lighten up a bit after Queen Victoria passed away, then into the Edwardian era which believed that being in “deep mourning” for nearly two years was far to “self indulgent” and unnecessarily elaborate.
After That, with WW1 and then on, death was such a mechanized process due to war, the structured mourning rituals just became to much of a tedium to ritualized to such an extent. Which with time and even more decreases in death ritual eventually brings us up to speed now. Where we would rather ignore this part of life (or the end of it) then acknowledge it, and pretend that we are immortal.
But, I digress back to my original topic.
I was quite impressed by the accuracy in clothing for the new Movie.
If you are as intrigued by mourning fashion as I am, I do suggest giving it a peek.
I am actually planning on dressing in “deep mourning” as The Woman in Black for a Convention in April. I almost have the full outfit (though sadly not in crepe).
I am waiting on my veil, and a better bustle, and I am trying to get my hands on a mourning brooch!
Yep, this is me. Like I said, not the whole outfit, but, it is a work in progress!
But, I will say, if you want to sell/give me any antique mourning/funeral paraphernalia.
I would be happy to add it to my collection and post about it, so feel free to contact me!
Thank you for reading!
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