Monday, September 5, 2016

Before Labor Day, of course - Women in White - John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mathilde Townsend



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Gladys Vanderbilt



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Daisy Leiter



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Lady Speyer (Leonora vone Stosch)



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Edward Deshon Brandegee



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Archibald Douglas Dick (Isabelle Parrott) 1863



 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Asher Wertheimer (Flora Joseph)



 1883 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd White (Mrs. Henry White)


 1884 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs. Wilton Phipps



 1885 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925)  Madame Paul Poirson



 1885 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Frederick Barnard



 1885-86 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925)  Mrs Frank Millet (-Lily Elizabeth Merrill)



 1889 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs. Edmond Kelly



 1889 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs. Joshua Montgomery Sears



 1893 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925)  Miss Elsie Wagg



 1896 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Countess Clary Aldringen


 1897 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs. George Swinton (Elizabeth Ebsworth)



 1898 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Ralph Curtis


 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Cora Countess of Strafford -


 John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs. Cecil Wade

The American dictum that women shouldn't wear white clothing before Memorial Day & after Labor Day has been around at least since the Civil War. The wives of the super-rich dominated high society after the Civil War. As more & more people became financially successful, though, it was difficult to tell the difference between "old money" in elite families & those who only had "new money." By the 1880s, in order to tell who was "acceptable" & who wasn’t, some elite women felt it necessary to create fashion "rules," that everyone "in the know" knew to follow. Not wearing white outside the summer months was one of these rules. In the non-air-conditioned early 20C, the summer "season" was defined by Memorial Day & Labor Day, when those-who-could flocked from town house to seaside "cottage" or mountain "cabin" to escape the oppressive summer heat. City clothes were left behind in exchange for lighter, whiter, summer costumes. Come fall, as well-to-do families returned to the city, more formal, darker city clothes were donned once more. And many in the large cities heated their environs with coal. The soot from the coal spread through the heated indoor spaces & coal dust quickly would stain light garbs. So folks changed to a darker wardrobe around Labor Day. This coincided with the growth of fashion magazines available to all levels of society. The magazines reflected the no white after Labor Day rule in the glossy, seductive pages of Harper's Bazaar & Vogue, which set the fashion tone for the country. This practice progressed from tradition, into rule, & finally into an identifiable cultural faux pas for decades into the 20C. 


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