1956: Your Lingerie Trousseau

I’m in the midst of wedding planning, which amazingly is going quite well, thanks to the fact that I am not worrying one bit about where people are going to sit, and whether the napkins will match the flower girls’ dresses. Oh, and having a wonderful sister who is an experienced event planner helps!

There is an amazing amount to get caught up in in the wedding industry mania, so to ground myself and to think about what’s truly important (like marrying the person you love), I’ve been reading some of the old wedding guides in my collection. Certain that having a “theme” (isn’t marriage the theme?) and “colors” (how about all colors? I like color!), are relatively new “traditions,” I was looking through one book from 1956 for something to back me up. However, I got a little distracted by this information, from Wedding Etiquette Complete written by Marguerite Bentley. What ever happened to the tradition of the lingerie trousseau? I think we should bring this one back.

Assembling your lingerie trousseau can be a thrilling task, because the items you will buy are so dainty and beautiful. Here is your chance to indulge in your fondest wishes, but you must use your head as well as your heart in the selection of the pretty things you like best and will need most in your new life…. In our great-grandmother’s day muslin nightgowns with dainty bits of embroidery were as useful twenty years afterwards as the day great-grandmother was married. This is not so today. Styles change, and new lingerie additions are refreshing notes to a wardrobe only too soon. You should, however, purchase enough lingerie to last for the first year or two with plenty of changes; this matter must be regulated by your future mode of life. If you intend to have a maid or maids in your household who will launder your lingerie carefully on stated days, more garments will be needed than if you intend to wash out each piece yourself in your small apartment the day after wearing it…

Three types of lingerie always seem to me to be the general basis of every trousseau. First and foremost – and here you may indulge your heart’s desire – the bridal set! This may be as fragile and unutterably lovely as you care to purchase, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime buy. On the other hand, you may prefer to be more practical. After you have selected your bridal lingerie, you begin to think of your nightgowns, slips, and step-ins that may be lace-trimmed, a sort of second-best to the bridal set, dainty and beautiful. Last, but by no means least, are those practical but beautiful tailored sets in flat crepe, often monogrammed and bound in another color. These are smart for your daily life, and you will love their sleek-fitting lines. They may be handmade if you can afford it; if not, there are many machine-made garments that will answer your purpose beautifully.

Stay tuned! Next time I’ll share the author’s framework for a lingerie trousseau.