The Language of Flowers for Older Women

Practical Home Millinery, 1903

Practical Home Millinery, 1903

For those of you who chafe against fashion rules and continue to wear white shoes after Labor Day, consider how lucky we are that so few rules remain.  Poking around in early twentieth century millinery books on wonderful Cornell University website Hearth, I discovered that some fashion experts had very specific ideas about the kind of hat trimmings that suited older women.

“Some flowers seem to suggest youth, while other are more suitable for the wear of older women,” wrote one commentator in 1909.  “We do not put pansies on a child’s hat, or buttercups and daisies on the hat of an elderly woman.”  (A. Ben Yusuf, The Art of Millinery, 1909).

Ladies Home Journal offered the same advice two years later.  “With the coming of summer the mature woman has the same desire for flowers as have her younger sisters, but her age necessitates a more limited selection both in regard to colors and the flower themselves.  No one can correctly picture a gray-haired woman wearing daisies, buttercups or apple blossoms.” (C. Perry, “The Mature Woman’s Hat,” June, 1911.)

So I say–put on your daisy hat to go with those white shoes!

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2 Responses to The Language of Flowers for Older Women

  1. Thank you for uncovering another extrordinary resource for research. The Hearth site at Cornell University is going to be a goldmine for scholars, especially for those trying to find out about the ordinary lives of women and housekeepers. Articles about family budgets, articles about how to do laundry (from many decades….) Searchable, printable, amazing! Had I but world enough and time….

  2. Fabrickated says:

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, how certain flowers have associations. My mother can’t bear Lilies which she feels are funereal. Or chrysanthemums, which I think she regards as rather lower class.

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