Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Flirt Like a Victorian

Strict codes of etiquette, in the late nineteenth century, meant there were lots of ways to say I love you, without actually saying it. Because marriage was so important, saying it to the wrong person could ruin a woman’s life. The process of courting was a complex risky business and these guidebooks, from the late nineteenth century, must have only made things harder.

By nonchalantly carrying your hat in your left hand, you could accidently tell a potential suitor that you hated him. If you put your gloves away, he might think you are mad! Twirl your fan in your left hand and he’ll think you want to get rid of him. The handbook on fan flirtation was originally created by a Parisian fan shop. I suspect the others have similar origins. Here's one if you're curious!

Of course, I also have to wonder about the effectiveness of these tactics. If you are trying to send the message on purpose, wouldn’t your suitor have had to memorized the same instructions as you?

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  1. Hello! I simply LOVE your blog! I'm a huge fan of Victorian Era and you always help me with amazing posts! Thank you! By the way, I'm currently writing a book where the plot takes place during the Edwardian Era, so I would like to know if these strict codes of etiquette were still used during that time as well.

  2. Agree with Tine - don't think anyone ever behave like this. But they did follow codes of etiquette about not wearing clanking jewellery or creaking shoes, or whether an unmarried woman could have her own calling card, or what to wear in a state of half-mourning.