Blogging A-Z N Is For Neckcloth

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I adore Victorian fashion and etiquette. Men wore more colorful garb than a person might imagine. I think the Netflix show Ripper Street does a very good job on costuming. Etiquette rules were very well defined. A lady never lifted her skirt high enough to show more than one ankle while stepping up. A gentleman did not adjust his collar, neckcloth or tie, or cuffs in company. So, when the man who has been trying very hard to court Lorena starts fiddling with all three at the dinner table in polite company, everyone perks up like meerkats because they know something is up.

And, oh, those neckcloths and ties. They could be absolutely lovely. Sometimes they wore two silk cloths tied intricately together.

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Above Is E.A. Poe in a natty cravat and the gentleman next to him in a patricide collar. I’m not sure of the knot.

A patricide collar is a very stiffly starched winged collar that got its name from a fictional story where a son wearing one hugged his father and it was so sharp it cut the father’s throat.

I very much apologize for the length. You can stop reading here. The other post I had planned was too similar to a previous one and I am brain dead today.

Budge dabbed at his mouth for the seventh time since finishing his cake and readjusted his cuffs, then his very properly starched patricide collar. His plump fingers eeled through the folds in the intricately tied silk neckcloth until I wondered if her were contemplating strangling himself with it. He looked around the room, tugged at his sleeves again and took out his handkerchief. General Beauregard, who had settled back in his chair with a cup of strong coffee, was now interested in Budge also and watched him with those hooded eyes as a cat might a nervous mouse.

“Pudge, what’s wrong with you?” asked Captain Collins.

“That’s Budge. Budgeon Theodore Catton III, if you will,” corrected Mrs. Catton.

I ducked my head and patted my mouth with my napkin. When I raised it again, I noticed Miss Priscilla Catton approaching across the room with a wide smile on her slight face and her eyes locked on mine. Oh, dear Lord in heaven. Budge didn’t have the box, Priscilla did.

General Beauregard leaned forward, as did the rest of the officers, now fully engaged in the unfolding scene. I had the impression, they might surround me and whisk me away to safety at any moment. Pray God they would.

Priscilla was as thin as her mother, sisters, and cousins were. The flock of cousins and sisters had all swiveled their long, thin necks to better watch the coming show. It was like watching a group of frilled flamingoes. “Miss McKenzie,” Priscilla said. “We all, some of us especially, are very fond of you.”

Is he going to have her propose to me?

It was Beauregard’s turn to cock an eyebrow at me. Captain Collins coughed nervously. I felt sure if I aimed just right I could faint into his side. I scooted my chair back a bit more lest I faint into the remnants of the cake’s lemon sauce. He matched my action and leaned back in his chair, giving me a straight shot to his chest or possibly blocking my escape if I decided to run. You never know how a disaster will unfold.

Without warning, she opened her mouth as if to scream and out came something I believe akin to a banshee’s wail. “The years creep slowly by, Lorena. Snow is on the grass again.”

Behind me, a servant dropped a dish he’d been clearing. I stared at Priscilla who waved her arms dramatically as she sang. Mrs. Catton clapped wildly, nearly overcome by emotion. Budge was in danger of slicing his sagging bullfrog throat on the razor-sharp collar points from jerking his head to look at my reaction and back to his sister and then back to me. I can only imagine I looked horrified, because I truly was. How could this get any worse? I reminded myself too late never to ask that question of the universe because it will answer. And it did. The flock stood up to join Priscilla in serenading the last two lines of the first verse. The first verse? Dear Lord. There were five more to go.

The flock sat down, atwitter with delight at their performance, while Priscilla launched into the second verse. Captain Collins nudged me with his elbow and glanced down. I, being a coward to my marrow about some things and at this point quite sure the performance was going to be concluded with a proposal, accepted the offer to retreat. I sighed and dropped away so quickly he had to scramble to catch me.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Me

    It’s amazing how fashion has changed in the past century (and over ;). The etiquette was so important then!

  2. Julie Weathers

    Me, I know and I confess I miss the old fashioned manners. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Julie

  3. John Davis Frain

    I miss the old-fashioned manners until I’m expected to adhere to them. Then… I’m okay with modern times. But I’d enjoy Edgar Allan Poe no matter what he was wearing.

  4. Julie Weathers

    Heh, like I said before. I think I was born out of my time. Agreed on Poe. I would have loved to have known him. I adore his writing, always have.

  5. Colin

    The old neckcloths seem a lot easier to deal with than ties, but I’m just going by the pictures. Ahh… etiquette, manners, and such. Something that people today appreciate, but don’t care to practice (for the most part). Okay, that’s enough social commentary! 🙂

  6. Julie Weathers

    Colin, I absolutely agree about the etiquette and manners. I’m not sure people today appreciate manners. I’ve had more than one person object to me calling them ma’am or sir insisting it has something to do with age and they despise it.

    Regarding the neckcloths, they could get pretty fancy about tying those also, but boy howdy, some of those tie knots.

  7. Ceridwyn

    Oh Julie, that is such absolutely BEAUTIFUL writing! Just delightful!!!
    I particularly loved the ‘atwitter with delight at their performance” – but there was SO much else to luxuriate in 😀
    And Hubby and I enjoy Ripper Street too. Although this last season’s dialogue has seen me laughing ridiculously sometimes!

  8. Julie Weathers

    Hello, Kae. Thank you so much. I can truthfully say I am really enjoying this story even though it drives me crazy at times.

    I think I must have watched Ripper Street to the finale and I will miss it. It was truly a good show.

    Once again, thank you for coming by and commenting.

    1. Ceridwyn

      As always, you’re most welcome! It’s – again, always – a pleasure 😀

  9. alberta ross

    when I was a teenager I knew a retired gentleman who would regale my friend and i with tales of his time in the first world war and his boyhood before. It was just the begining of the min skirts for me and he was telling us about the 20s fashions and how shocked/titilated/convinced he would go to hell, he was when he first saw ladies legs!!

    My great uncle Bertie would wear very dashing neckwear right up to the day he died and another uncle of mine wore cravats

    good post:)

  10. E.M. Goldsmith

    I fell behind on reading so sorry this is late. I love this information. I wish history was taught this way by interweaving this kind of information with great storytelling.

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