Tore Good White Dress

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, October 6, 1912:  Was rather woe-begone this afternoon. Guess the start of it all was that I tore my good white dress. Just sat down in a chair and there was a nail or some other rough surface.

I picture Grandma’s dress being solid white–rather than a print–and really pretty, but this is the best illustration that I could find. (Source: Ladies Home Journal, July, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What a downer! Did Grandma tear the dress at Sunday School or at home? I hope it was at home—it would be especially traumatic to tear a dress in front of others.

I’m surprised that Grandma was wearing a white dress. It seems like it would have been difficult to keep clean. And, white seems more like a summer color than a fall one.

10 thoughts on “Tore Good White Dress

  1. Young girls her age wore white dresses for good all year around. It was their party dresses. When I was researching edgings for crochet I found this out. They usually showed off their needle work skills with all the pin tucks and emboirdery. White on white. I bet she was upset that her dress was torn. You are right that colors were now dark and of heavy fabrics. Her white dress would have been a thin white cotton over a white cotton full slip. Or just a nice white cotton that you could do white on white embroidery. She would have several collars and cuff to change out around the neck and on the long sleeves. They would have been crocheted or knitted of cotton thread. This was toward the end of the period of the fashionable Irish crocheted assesories. They also had button covers and buttons that where like cuff links that could be changed out. They got alot of mileage out of a dress. Women’s clothes were a big investment.

  2. quaint little sayings your Grandma had…Woe-begon…that’s a oldie but goodie. Bummer tearing her dress, that’s something I’d do, find the one nail to catch on.

  3. Perhaps she was trying on the dress to have it altered, or checking if it still fit her. Or maybe it was an unusually warm autumn day. (Is there some way of finding out what the temperature was that day, or aren’t weather recods kept for 100 years?)

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