soprano-christine said: in the Victorian Era how long did you mourn for a child if you were a parent who lost said child. and correct me if I'm wrong did mourning dresses go from black to a purple color to white???
Well, by Victorian I’m here talking about British tradition in the mid and late 19th century. There were different rules and customs in different parts of the world, with Great Britain being one of the most strict and set ones, with very specific rules on how to mourn.
Women were expected to mourn for their diseased husbands for two-three years, while a child was usually one year (but this was up to the parents to decide). Mourning clothes were black for the first six months. There were specific rules as to which fabric were allowed (not too shiny or rich looking), and what jewels/ornaments to wear (if you HAD to wear any, you could use black jet stones, a fossilized form of coal). Women were expected to veil up completely for the first three months, and then appear partly veiled up for the next nine months. The veils were preferably black crêpe, a thick and hardly transparent sort of fabric.
The next step was half mourning - usually after six months time. Shades of grey were introduced, and shades of lavender and dark purple. The main outfit was usually still black, as the person was still in mourning, but the mentioned colours for trims was a sign to the world that the loss was not a recent one. More elaborate fabrics was also allowed at this stage. Here’s an example of a half mourning dress, from The Met:
I don’t think the last stage of mourning would have been to wear white. But visible white fabrics, along with gold or coloured buttons, and fancy fabrics for accessories were allowed for the last stage. Also, children of people in mourning was often dressed in all white, even at the first stage of mourning.
These rules were fairly new in Britain, they appeared sometime around 1815. But they were honoured like were they words from the Bible itself, and many noble families outside the UK also adapted them. Queen Victorian extended these rules when her husband Albert died, and it has become the ultimate expression of Victorian customs.