Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire
Is there such a thing as funeral style?
An exhibit will be opening October 21, 2014 at the New York City's
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The fall Met Show showcases 30 mourning looks from the 19th & 20th centuries.
It will reflect on the emotional expression of the grieving process through one dress.
So how has funeral style changed? Hasn't it always been black clothing. It has for one thing become less formal.
And what did the very fashionable Scarlett O'Hara wear during her time of mourning?
Can you imagine a mourning dress so popular,
they made it into a doll?
Only someone as vain as Scarlett would be seen dancing during her time of Mourning.
Historical Mourning imagery accompanying the exhibit reveals dark colored, full length corseted garments & such
fabrics as silk crepe, mousseline & corded silks, at time including long trains that would need to be lifted as you
walk. Each look was accessorized with dramatic veils, wide brimmed adorned hats, umbrellas & scarves.
Because of the solemnity associated with death, there is still a sense of dressing for the
occasion which generally means wearing something more formal than usual to a funeral.
Some people want a traditional funeral where you usually wear dark, more somber colors, while others want a
celebration. If you've been asked to wear your favorite Hawaiian shirt or to dress in the deceased favorite color,
your clothing should not be a distraction from the service, no matter what kind of service it is.
As for the dress code of the widow, it continues to evolve beyond the introduction of color as
societal pressures of expressing grief through fashion lessen. Wearing long black gowns almost
seems easier than defining new rules in the absence of Victorian formality.
This is the dress Mary Todd Lincoln wore to President Lincoln's funeral
In modern times, black is a more popular choice in daily wear & a range of dark colors has become
acceptable to wear to funerals, making mourning almost impossible to spot through one's dress.
Even as veils & dark colors were meant to shield tear stained faces, social etiquette &
code became a stronger force in showing the loss of loved ones.
Our take on this! While veils, umbrellas & larger silhouette aren't exactly called for these days, dress is an extension of
our emotion when honoring a loved one & its ok to be subtle in color or formality as long as you reflect the seriousness
of the occasion. Trust your instincts but don't be flashy.