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Funeral Etiquette Part V


Mourning Dress

Grief turns instinctively to the somber garments of mourning for the slight measure of comfort which they give, but modern ideas of enlightened civilization look with disfavor on long crepe veils and any other form of mourning that is so pronounced as to be ostentatious. Black is very depressing, especially to young children, and a mother, however deep her sorrow because of the death of one of her children should keep this in mind and should, at any rate, not wear black every day. If she likes she may wear mourning when she leaves the house. It is a sort of protection, for strangers and thoughtless friends will not be so likely to make remarks that will wound, if they have the black dress to remind them of the bereavement which the mother has suffered. Under any other circumstances the wearing of colors at home and black abroad is a form of hypocrisy, and is, of course, to be deplored.

Black fabrics for mourning should not have a shiny finish nor should they be trimmed except in the simplest way possible. Serge, cloth, duvetyn, Canton crepe, pongee, chiffon, and georgette are appropriate but one should avoid velvets and most fur trimmings. The most suitable furs are plain black seal, fox, lynx, etc., though others may be worn. Bright linings are not permissible.

A woman in mourning does not wear jewelry aside from the wedding and engagement rings. Dull bar pins may be used whenever needed and a brooch, plain or set with pearls, may be worn. Dress accessories should be of dull black, purse, gloves, etc. Handkerchiefs may have a black border or they may be pure white.

The length of the mourning period depends upon the tie which existed between the deceased and the bereaved. Except for an elderly woman whose husband has died and who never intends taking off black the longest period is usually two years, the first in deep mourning, the next in "second mourning" during which time gray, lavender, purple and black-and-white may be worn. This may be shortened at discretion to six months of deep mourning followed by six months of semi-mourning or three months of deep mourning and six of half mourning. The change from black to colors should never be so abrupt as to be startling.

A girl does not wear mourning for her finance except under extenuating circumstances. If he died on the eve of the wedding it is permissible but if the date for the wedding had not been set or if the engagement had not been announced it is questionable form for her to go into mourning for him. It is a very delicate matter and the final court of appeals is the young lady herself. But she should remember that the garments of mourning are after all only a symbol of grief and she should hesitate a long time before assuming them. Her mourning outfit is like that of a widow and she wears it for the same length of time.

Children should never wear black. Upon the death of a parent they may wear white perhaps relieved by lavender for six months or so. They do not use mourning stationery and they do not carry black bordered handkerchiefs. A girl fifteen or sixteen may wear delicate grays, lavenders, and mixed goods as well as white, but she should not wear black.

There is no iron-clad rule concerning mourning, and one may or may not wear it. Even a widow, a daughter, or a mother is under no compulsion to do so, though to appear in bright colors shortly after the death of a beloved one is certainly an evidence of bad taste.

Mourning Dress For Men

The mourning outfit for men is not so pronounced as that for women. A black suit with dull black shoes, black gloves and white linen constitutes first mourning. Many men use only the black band around the coat sleeve. The custom grew out of the English practice of having the servants wear the black band in households that could not afford a complete mourning outfit, and for this reason has met with disfavor among the fastidious in this country. It has this much in its favor: it accomplishes the purpose of full mourning with the added virtue of economy, and when one's life has to be conducted on a frugal scale it is better to wear the simple black band than to spend one's substance foolishly for mourning.

A widower wears mourning for a year or a year and a half while a man grieving for some other relative than his wife may wear mourning a year or six months as he prefers. First mourning consists of a suit of black with white linen, and dull black accessories such as shoes, gloves, cuff links, etc. The hat may have a crepe border but it should not be a very wide one. For second mourning his suit is of gray or black, with gray gloves, white linen, etc. Men should never carry black bordered handkerchiefs. A man wears mourning for a wife, a child, a parent, or a brother or sister the length of time depending upon the strength of the bond which held them together.

Mourning Stationery

White stationery of a good quality is correct for all occasions and mourning is no exception. That which has a narrow black border is good but a border nearly an inch wide is in bad taste. After three months have passed gray stationery is permissible.

Since there are no formal invitations issued during the period of mourning there are no special forms for them.

There are, however, in addition to the regular mourning stationery cards acknowledging expressions of sympathy. These may be had from any up-to-date stationer's. They may or may not have the black border. The following is an example of such a card:

 Mr. and Mrs. N.C. Graham
thank you for your kind expression of sympathy
during their recent bereavement.

The visiting card may have an unobtrusive border of black. The border on this and on the stationery may be lessened from time to time during the period of mourning or it may remain the same until it is discarded altogether.

The  End


Website: The History
Article Name: Funeral Etiquette Part V
Researcher/Transcriber: Miriam Medina


 BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books " Book of Etiquette" by Lillian Eichler Volume I, Nelson Doubleday, Inc. 1921
Time & Date Stamp:  


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