Valentine’s Day, 18th Century-Style

Valentine’s Day, 18th Century-Style

Welcome to the weekend, 18th-centuryists! Do you find yourself swooning, and it’s not just from your corset? Do you feel like spending all day running through the meadows and reading love poems, just like Marianne Dashwood before a fall? Then you might be under the spell of Valentine’s Day.

Not sure who your valentine should be? Over at the John Hopkins University Press blog, Janine Barchas is celebrating with heartthrobs and pinup picks for Jane Austen’s characters.

In the 18th century, you could profess your love by pinning a slip of paper with your sweetheart’s name onto your clothes, leading to the idiom, “wear your heart on your sleeve.”

Of course, you could always get him or her a Founding Fathers valentine, from Publius Esquire:

Want to be a little more generous? Head over to Making History Now for an amazing 18th century-inspired Valentine’s gift guide. I would definitely commit improprieties if my boyfriend got me that Marquis de Lafayette necklace over shrub glass cocktails…

Regardless of how you celebrate or whom you celebrate with (or if you celebrate at all!), here are some sweet words from 1784 to wish you a happy weekend:

The rose is red, the violet’s blue
The honey’s sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

Get your flu shot, and other 18th-century tips for looking fabulous

Get your flu shot, and other 18th-century tips for looking fabulous

Maybe you’re like me, and you get the flu shot every year because you (1) have a weird sense of public duty about it and (2) can’t afford to get sick. Maybe you’re just particularly freaked out about diseases and public health these days. (Or maybe you’re wary and want to read about some flu shot myths.)

Regardless, let Marie-Antoinette’s vaccine-themed hairstyle persuade you to get your flu shot this year. Gio from History And Other Thoughts explains (excerpted from the book Rose Bertin, the Creator of Fashion at the Court of Marie-Antoinette by Emile Langlade):

The King had been vaccinated on June 18, 1774. The custom of inoculation in use for centuries among the peoples in the vicinity of the Caspian Sea had been imported into England from Constantinople in 1738, and into France in 1755. The operation on the King gave [celebrated royal dressmaker] Mlle. Bertin a new idea; the pouf a l’inoculation celebrated the occasion.

It represented a rising sun, and an olive-tree laden with fruit, round which a serpent was twisted, holding a flower-wreathed club. The classical serpent of Esculapius represented medicine, and the club was the force which could overcome disease. The rising sun was the young King himself, great-grandson of the Roi-Soleil, to whom all eyes were turned. The olive-tree was the symbol of peace, and also of the tender affection with which all were penetrated at the news of the happy success of the operation which the King and the Royal Family had undergone.

Sadly, I can’t find any pictures of this no-doubt-fabulous coiffure. However, Carlyn at The Raucous Royals has more info about these enormous hairdos, including this image of Marie-Antoinette in her coiffure a l’Independence (supporting the American Revolution):

Daaaamn, girl!

And finally, Dressed in Time points us toward some fascinating (and often gross!) tidbits about 18th century wigs. If you haven’t been eating as healthy as you should (and really, who does?), why not turn your head into an enormous salad bowl?

Marie also wore the poufalajardiniere, which included artichokes, carrots, radishes and even the head of a cabbage. This pouf may have been a poufausentiment. A hairstyle to express a feeling. One lady at court is quoted saying, “I shall never again wear anything but vegetables! It looks so simple, and is so much more natural than even flowers.”

You can laugh, but that would go GREAT with my kale sweater and potato peel jeggings.



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It’s hard out there for A. Pope.

It’s hard out there for A. Pope.

It’s easy to get frustrated with Pope, especially when he’s being a misogynistic ass. But then you remember that almost everyone was really dickish* to him–what with his being Catholic, 4’6″, and hunchbacked, at a time when none of those qualities were very popular–and you think, okay, that would put me in a bad mood, too. John Dennis, why don’t you say something dickish about Pope?:

*official literary terminology

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Every Girl’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp-Dressed Man

Every Girl’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp-Dressed Man

Addison speaking on women’s weakness for dress, in Tatler issue 151 (1710):

“Many a lady has fetched a sigh at the toss of a wig, and been ruin’d by the tapping of a snuff-box. It is impossible to describe all the execution that was done by the shoulder-knot where that fashion prevailed, or to reckon up all the virgins that have fallen a sacrifice to a pair of fringed gloves. A sincere heart has not made half so many conquests as an open wa[i]stcoat . . .”

YESSS. Also, if you don’t know, dandies and fops loved snuff-boxes and writers loved giving them shit about it. Speaking of fops, here’s fop-rocker/New-Waver Adam Ant, singing about the life of a dandy highwayman while being incredibly swoon-worthy:

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