Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Victorian Mourning Blouse

An antique mourning cabinet card
Happy Sunday dear friends. I hope that you're having a great weekend!

For Christmas my son and daughter-in-law sent me an Etsy gift certificate. They know me too well I think! In any case, I decided to randomly search for something that was a little special and something that I just wouldn't normally buy myself. In honor of my son, who when he last came to visit thought my art studio was a good source of "props" for photo shoots, I decided to by a Victorian mourning blouse. Why? I have no idea. I don't even know how I found it. And I can't really say that I personally like to wear black clothing. Nor am I a fan of  goth or steam-punk fashions. But when I stumbled upon this beauty for a rather-low-on-sale price, I just couldn't resist. So, I now have one more "prop" in my studio. And although I don't really have any morbid curiosities, I did become fascinated with Victorian mourning dress and customs after purchasing this item. I guess I just love all fashions from Victorian times. You know that I like to use some black in my photo collage work, so I also ended up buying some other items which I will share in future posts.

Here she is. 
She likely dates from the 1890's to 1910 or so.
I am sure that this piece,
which is totally hand sewn and
made of silk with velvet accents,
started out as black.
Over time the silk has faded to a 
gun metal-taupish color, 
but the velvet still looks black.
Considering its age,
its in perfect condition,
with only a button missing in the front.
It still even has the boning sewn inside!
Isn't it gorgeous?...

Here is the back.
I love the button detail down at the waist...

...not to mention the lace at the collar
and the velvet inset with the velvet-
covered buttons used on the entire piece...

Here are some detail shots of the
back at the waist...

And I practiced with one of my new
Canon lenses.
Not the macro lens that I told you about
the other day,
but my 50mm fixed lens,
one that has a very short fixed focal length.
"Real photographers" call it 
The Nifty Fifty!
Since you can't focus it
you must move your body to where
you need to be to get the shot.
It's great for closeups and blurring
the background, very lightweight,
and pretty cheap!...

A shot of one of the velvet cuffs...

I found myself wondering who the lady was that had worn this lovely blouse. 
Who did she mourn for, and how old was she?
The waist on this garment is tiny, about 21 to 22 inches.
Was she very young?
Did she mourn for a child? A parent? A husband?

I read that it was considered bad luck to keep morning clothes in the house after mourning ended.
Is that why you can still find these?
We can only wonder about those that have gone before us.

Though I am a little late,
I am linking to Wen's Simply Neutrals Tuesday link party,
and you can find her wonderful blog here.


  1. Hi Sue~ I was OOT and couldn't do much w/my kindle! So just now getting around to some of my friends. I think this is very cool and I would have the same Q'ns as you. I like your photo's too! I need to get better w/the camera.
    Anyhoo, this is a gorgeous representation of mourning clothes! Thanks for sharing and hope all is well~ Karen O

    1. Thanks, Karen! I'm glad that you liked my subject. I thought twice about doing this post at all, but decided to go out on a limb and post about something different. Hope all is well with you too. XO

  2. Hi sweetie, no worries about being late, I'm rather late myself as well! :) Wow you found such a treasure... Victorian mourning habits were rather interesting indeed. Like the photos they made of the death, as if they were still alive... I came across quite a few on pinterest, but never pinned them, for I do think it a bit morbid. Have you ever seen those? I do love the beautiful text on the first photo though. It's really precious. And the clothing you found with the beautiful velvet is stunning. Thank you for sharing sweetie, it is good to get mourning and death out in the open, because it is an important part of our lives here on earth. And we should be able to share the beauty around it (clothing, poems, habits, feelings of love to our missed ones, etc). Sending you big hugs and wishing you a beautiful day! xx

    1. Hi Wen. Yes, I have seen those post mortem photos on Pinterest, and elsewhere. I actually have one (it is not morbid, but, rather tasteful), though mostly they are very expensive. On some, there is even question as to whether they are post mortem photos at all, but actually something that a seller is just trying to make big money on. Actually, I plan on doing a post on these some time in the future. Considering the fact, that especially with young children, when photography was not readily available, often parents did not even have photos of their children when they were alive, so often, these were the only way they could remember what they looked like. There were actually photographers those days that specialized in that subject. But, its part of history, and I love anything historical. Wishing you a beautiful weekend! Hugs!

    2. Oh wow, that is interesting. Yes, history is interesting indeed, I love reading about historical subjects too. I'm very curious as to what you will be sharing about these in your future post! I must say that some of the post mortem photos give me the creeps. Being a parent I do understand why anyone would take a photo of their deceased child if you have none of the time when your child was still alive. But somehow, seeing a death person does freak me out, even when it's someone I love. Sending you hugs and wishing you a beautiful weekend! xx

  3. What a wonderful find, dear Sue. Sorry I'm as always late but was down with the flu.
    Have a lovely day.

    1. Hi Marie. I hope that you're much better now. We just heard on the news that our state is one of the top four in the US for flu outbreaks right now. Not good. You have a lovely day too, and a special weekend! XO

  4. Hi Sue,
    I've been away for a while with family. That's a very special gift you've chosen. Your new lens is doing a fine job :) Have fun with it!

    1. Thanks, Jesse! I hope that you had a great time while away! XO


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