Emily Post Wants Your Bereavement to Be Polite

From the original 1922 Etiquette:

BAD TASTE IN MOURNING

Better far not wear mourning at all, saying you do not believe in it, than allow your unseemly conduct to indicate indifference to the memory of a really beloved parent; better that a young widow should go out in scarlet and yellow on the day after her husband’s funeral than wear weeds which attract attention on account of their flaunting bad taste and flippancy. One may not, one must not, one can not wear the very last cry of exaggerated fashion in crepe, nor may one be boisterous or flippant or sloppy in manner, without giving the impression to all beholders that one’s spirit is posturing, tripping, or dancing on the grave of sacred memory.

This may seem exaggerated, but if you examine the expressions, you will find that they are essentially true.

Draw the picture for yourself: A slim figure, if you like, held in the posture of the caterpillar slouch, a long length of stocking so thin as to give the effect of shaded skin above high-heeled slippers with sparkling buckles of bright jet, a short skirt, a scrappy, thin, low-necked, short-sleeved blouse through which white underclothing shows various edgings of lace and ribbons, and on top of this, a painted face under a long crepe veil! Yet the wearer of this costume may in nothing but appearance resemble the unmentionable class of women she suggests; as a matter of fact she is very likely a perfectly decent young person and really sad at heart, and her clothes and “make up” not different from countless others who pass unnoticed because their colored clothing suggests no mockery of solemnity.

THE VERY YOUNG WIDOW

The young widow should wear deep crepe for a year and then lighter mourning for six months and second mourning for six months longer. There is nothing more utterly captivating than a sweet young face under a widow’s veil, and it is not to be wondered at that her own loneliness and need of sympathy, combined with all that is appealing to sympathy in a man, results in the healing of her heart. She should, however, never remain in mourning for her first husband after she has decided she can be consoled by a second.

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