Tag Archives: Godey’s Lady’s Book
Bonnets

Reminiscences of Bonnets (1857)

By Florence Fashionhunter

“In my young days bonnets were bonnets, and not little dress-caps, quivering in a very precarious situation, pinned to the twist of the hair. They are not pinned? Oh, you needn’t tell me! There is nothing but pinning that can induce them to remain in place. When I was a girl, things were different; then the bonnets rested on a secure foundation. Fashion?

Figure 1

Figure 1

Well, suppose little bonnets are the fashion; is that any reason why a large red face, round as a full moon, should be ‘set out’ by a tiny gauze bonnet about the proper size for Titania. Oh, don’t talk to me! If you really want to see what I think is a respectable proper bonnet for a lady, hand me that yellow bandbox at the end of my closet-shelf. There, that bonnet (Fig. 1) was made from the highest fashionable authority, Godey’s Lady’s Book for January, 1834! Looks faded? Of course, it does; you would, too, if you had been shut up in a bandbox for more than twenty years. What do I keep it for? Because I like to have some proof that women were not always the foo–. Well, I don’t want to be uncharitable. But, I do wonder Mr. Godey will encourage them in their nonsensical ways; of course, they’ll wear little bonnets as long as they have pages of pretty ones to choose from.

Figure 2

Figure 2

If I was his Fashion Editor, I would show the folly of their ways, and try to correct their tastes. Do I consider my bonnet tasty? Of course I do! You think the plume looks like an enraged chanticleer’s tail, and the whole bonnet has rather a fierce look? Let me tell you that plume cost $25, and is not to be laughed at. Just look on the shelf of my bookcase and bring me Godey, Vol. VIII, and I will enlighten you on the subject of fashions as they were in my day. Am I in an antiquarian mood? Never mind my mood; bring me the book. Turn to page 60, and there you will see what I call a handsome substantial bonnet (Fig. 2). You think the bows look as if they were made of a tablecloth each, and the shape looks as if the pattern was taken from the head-piece of a French bedstead!”

And finishing her long indignant speech with a sigh over my want of taste, my dear Aunt Peggy left me to look over her Godey. I did look! I have seen the Crystal Palace, and most of the things therein! I have seen Tom Thumb, the Bearded Lady, Kossuth, the Aztec Children, President Pierce, Parkinson’s Gardens, the Ravels, and various fashion -plates; but I never—never did see such a figure as the lady in a riding-habit I found in this wonderful book (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

Such a collar! I believe they called them by the very appropriate name of ‘chokers;’ such a belt, and such a perfect dinner-plate of a buckle; such sleeves, swelling out from under a minute cap, with a defiant puff, like a—Ahem! garment on a clothes-line in a high wind; or, to speak more poetically, a rose bursting from the green the bud inclosed it with; such a whip for a lady; oh, I pity her poor horse if she is as independent and high-tempered as she looks. Such a hat and veil; of what fabric can that veil be composed to float in such an eccentric sweep? Such an air and attitude; such, in short, such a tout ensemble! Don’t she look ‘peart,’ with her head thrown back, and her feet in a polka position, as if she meant to “dance up to that man with the goose’s on his buttons there,” and ask him to please to place her on her horse. To judge from appearances, Lady Gay Spanker must have been quite a mild, unassuming person compared with this fair equestrian.

“Look on this picture and on this” (Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4

From our defiant rider to this lovely ball-room belle. Mark the modest arrangement of the hair, and the bows blushingly putting forward their claims to notice. (Beaux are such modest arrangements.) Mark the necklace, composed apparently of small spikes, which can, I suppose, be converted into deadly weapons on occasions. Mark the breadth of shoulders, the cape of black lace, the full sleeves, and the bows. Did ladies widen their doorways in 1833 (I have Aunt Peggy’s Godey for 1833 now) for their guests to pass in without diminishing their “breadth of effect?” Look at the languishing air of our “’33” belle, and compare her with the “’34” equestrian.

But, how I am wandering off from my bonnets! The fact is, fashions are so entirely different from what they were some twenty or thirty years ago, that I sit with the Book before me, in blank amazement, and wonder what we shall wear next.

(To the tune of  “Little Bo-peep.)

I take the book
To have a good look,
And turn the pages in haste, oh!
And try to think,
As I scan each one,
That they were in very good taste, oh!

If it e’er befall
That, at Fashion’ s call,
We wear the same again, oh!
We shall probably think,
As we tie the string,
That they are just the thing, oh!

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

Source: Godey’s Lady’s Book – August 1857


Germany countryside, rural marriage, XIX century engraving

Newlywed Advice: A Whisper to the Husband on Expenditure

This advice to newly married men on the management of household expenses appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book in the December 1860 issue.

In pecuniary matters, do not be penurious, or too particular. Your wife has an equal right with yourself to all your worldly possessions. “With all my worldly goods I thee endow,” was one of the most solemn vows that ever escaped your lips; and if she be a woman of prudence, she will in all her expenses be reasonable and economical; what more can you desire? Besides, really, a woman has innumerable trifling demands on her purse, innumerable little wants, which it is not necessary for a man to be informed of, and which, if he even went to the trouble of investigating, he would hardly understand.

You give your wife a certain sum of money. If she be a woman of prudence, if your table be comfortably kept, and your household managed with economy and regularity, I really cannot see the necessity of obliging her to account to you for the exact manner in which she has laid it out. Pray, do allow her the power of buying a yard of muslin, or a few pennyworth of pins, without consulting the august tribunal of your judgment whether they shall be quaker-pins or minikins.

I have often with wonder remarked the indifference with which some men regard the amiable and superior qualities of their wives! I by no means intend to say that every wife possesses those qualities; I only speak of a description of females who are, in truth, an ornament to their sex— women who would go the world over with the husband they love, and endure, without shrinking, every hardship that world could inflict.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

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Jaquarina_ The Senorita of the Sword

Jaquarina: The Senorita* of the Sword

(Godey’s Lady’s Book, March 1896 ) If the art of fencing ever becomes general in America as an addition to the various muscle-producing pasties, its champion may properly be found, mirabile dictu, in a woman. From the far Southwest, the odor of the raven-flower still clinging to her brown tresses, comes Jaquarina, a true type of Spanish-American beauty. To be accurate, she is the champion mounted broadsword fencer of America, and the champion woman fencer of the world; distinctions which she has gained after contests with trained soldiers, men who have fought Apaches, Zulus, and Boers. She has been selected by some wealthy Californians as the sole representative of the sword for America in the Olympic games at Athens, Greece, this spring.

Most of Jaquarina’s life* has been spent on the family ranch in Ensenada, sixty-five miles from Coronado Beach, in Lower California, where she is known as “The Spanish woman Soldier;” for her chief delight has been to ride with the cavalry in their sham battles.

At an early age she showed a frail constitution, and her mother—a native of Madrid, who, like most well-trained Spanish women, was adept with the foil—taught her to fence. The exercise restored her to health, and so interested had she become the pastime that she was put in training at a private military academy.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

(more…)


The Importance of Female Education

The Importance of Female Education [1840]

The superiority of one man over another depends entirely upon education. His colleague may possess wealth in a greater degree, and his name stands higher in society; but education counterbalances all these. The education of females is generally thought to be only of secondary importance. If there must be a difference, that of females ought to be superior; for the future usefulness and happiness of her children depend mostly upon the training of the infant mind. The father, necessarily engaged in business the greater part of the day, cannot exert the same influence over his children as the mother, who has had the sole care of tutoring their youthful minds and is constantly with them. There are very few learned or good men, that cannot trace back the early impressions imprinted on their hearts while susceptible, by the voice of a kind and affectionate mother.

Within the last century, great changes have occurred, particularly as regards the education of females. Then an intellectual woman was considered incompatible with the social affections and virtues, which give a charm to society. Frequently persons who possessed intellectual greatness concealed it, to escape from the prejudices of the age. The fair sex was considered as a submissive, timid, amiable, and gentle race, guilty of a dreadful crime if they attempted to cultivate their minds, and were taught that ignorance was the only proof of purity. But these absurdities have in a great measure abated. An intellectual woman, now, is considered an ornament, rather than a disgrace to society.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

(more…)


Spring Cleaning with Godey's Lady's Book

Spring Cleaning with Godey’s Lady’s Book

Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine was intended to entertain, inform and educate the women of America. In addition to extensive fashion descriptions and plates, the early issues included biographical sketches, articles about mineralogy, handcrafts, female costume, the dance, equestrienne procedures, health and hygiene, recipes and remedies and the like.

Miscellaneous Tips

These tips on the cleaning and maintenance of the home appeared in an 1855 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

  • TO CLEAN FURNITURE— An excellent method of cleaning mahogany furniture, which is not French polished, is this: Put into half a pint of linseed oil, a small quantity of alkanet-root, and a little rose-pink. Let this mixture stand for three days in a vessel that will allow stirring it, and stir it three or four times each day, and then put it into a bottle for use. If the furniture is very dirty, wash it with soap and warm water, and then rub with vinegar, and before the vinegar is thoroughly dried off, lay on, with a bit of old flannel or rag a covering of the mixture, and continue rubbing until the oil is well soaked in. Then rub with a clean soft cloth until it is quite dry and bright. If the furniture is not very dirty, the vinegar may be used without the soap and water.
  • TO CLEAN FEATHERS — Take for every gallon of clear water one pound of fresh-made quicklime; mix them well together, and let it stand twenty-four hours, then pour off the clear liquid. Put the feathers into a tub, and pour over them enough lime-water to thoroughly cover them. Stir them round and round, briskly and rapidly, for a few minutes, and leave them to soak for three days. Then remove them from the lime-water, and thoroughly rinse in clean water, and spread them to dry. They will dry better where a drought of air can reach them; and should be spread very thinly, and frequently moved, until they are quite dry. This plan may be used, either for new feathers or for such as have become heavy or impure by age or use.
  • TO CLEAN DECANTERS — Cut some raw potatoes in pieces, put them in the bottle with a little cold water, rinse them, and they will look very clean.
  • TO RENOVATE BLACK SILK — Slice some uncooked potatoes, pour boiling water on them; when cold, sponge the right side of the silk with it, and iron on the wrong.
  • TO CLEAN CARPETS — After all the dust is taken out, tack your carpets down to the floor. Then mix half a pint of bullock’s gall with two gallons of soft water; scrub it well with soap and this gall-mixture; let it remain till dry, it will then look like new. Be careful your brush be not too hard.
  • STRAW MATTING — Straw matting should be cleaned with a large coarse cloth dipped in salt and water, and carefully wiped dry. The salt prevents the matting from turning yellow.
Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.