Took Black Velvet Up to Town

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

Monday, September 28, 1914: One week and some days later. Looks as if my pen had been on a vacation. To tell the truth I am getting tired on writing in this. Nothing nice and sentimental to jot down. Took my black velvet up town to have the trimmings re-arranged.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

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


We’re glad your pen is back from its vacation. But do tell, why does your black velvet (dress?) need the trimmings rearranged? Is there a special event coming up? . . . Is there a special guy?

38 thoughts on “Took Black Velvet Up to Town

  1. I love hearing about the fashions in those days compared to today! It’s sad to read that she is getting tired of writing in her diary and has no sentiments to write down!! I hope your Sunday is wonderful! Hugz Lisa and Bear

    1. Yes, I agree. It’s difficult to read that Grandma was getting tired of writing. I had a wonderful week-end. I hope that you also had an awesome week-end.

  2. I had a black velvet dress. It had a black grograin ribbon around the waist, and my mother let me wear one of her prettiest, sparkly rhinestone pins with it. I always liked that dress. I don’t have a clue whatever happened to it.

    1. One of the most challenging (and sometimes frustrating) things about working with diaries is that the authors write them primarily for themselves, so sometimes there are gaps or incomplete stories.

  3. Guess writing a diary 100 years ago was like blogging today. Sometime you have other things to do or not muse giving inspiration for a while. Regarding the trimmings being rearranged, today we just go out and buy a new outfit, rather than wear the same one to more than one event. One hundred years ago, I suspect that adding some lace, or other detail (aka bling) would make a previously wore outfit fresh. Got to keep the tailors employed.

    1. I think that you’re absolutely right–keeping a diary back then was probably a lot like doing a blog today.

      I’ve had similar thoughts about how clothes were remodeled back then so that they would remain stylish and could be worn for several years–now we often just wear an outfit a few times and then donate it to a charity. Sometimes I think it was better back then,

  4. If Grandma only knew all the folks who would be excited about her diary entries….. “nothing sentimental?” Her black velvet sounds beautiful even without rearranged trimmings. But I remember adding buckles to my shoes for a new look, or a collar to a little black dress. And no, that was not 100 years ago! 🙂 Well, almost……

    1. I’m younger than you–and I can also remember adding buckles to my shoes (and dying outfits to make them a new color that I thought was more stylish). Clothes have become so much more disposable in recent years.

  5. Are we certain the “black velvet” refers to a dress? I think it could be a reference to a hat–they were constantly being refurbished for another season of wear. Just a thought.

    1. I hadn’t thought about velvet hats–but now that you say it, I think that you may be right. The phrase “trimmings re-arranged” does seem like it could refer to a hat.

  6. I agree with Debbie that it could have been a hat. Perhaps she only had the one black velvet hat/dress and needed to make it look new. she was creative in saying her pen was on vacation. Lovely illustration!

    1. I never thought of a hat when I read the diary entry–but now that you and others have suggested it, I’m starting to think that it could have been a hat.

  7. I remember writing in a diary when I was younger and often got frustrated with nothing important to write, now as I write my thoughts in a journal I find I have more to say even if my life is really nothing to write about. It is funny how when we view our lives we say there is nothing exciting to write about or we have such boring lives, yet here we are 100 yrs later finding Helena’s life very interesting indeed and want to learn more.

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