Author Topic: Alix's Engagement and Wedding  (Read 121343 times)

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NAAOTMA

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2004, 12:51:40 AM »
Cannot remember the source, but do remember an author saying that with the extended family of Alix by birth and marriage, one was very often in mourning for someone in the family circle. Considering the child mortality rate and medical care available at the time, that does not sound too far-fetched an explaination. To breach the protocols that dictated how one wore mourning and who for and for how long would have been would have been unthinkable for most Victorians. Think back on the American classic novel GONE WITH THE WIND, where the rituals of mourning during the American Civil War are described and are as ironclad as those in Great Britain and Europe during the same period.

Having just seen the exhibit "Nicholas and Alexandra: At Home With The Last Tsar And His Family" I can vouch for the fact that her two paintings from the Mauve Room, "The Annunciation" and "The Dream Of The Mother Of God" are both dreamy and the latter is very very light in color tone. The bedroom bedspread and down pillow with its pale mauve underlay beneath creamy delicate lace are etheral, not "dank and depressing"...neither are her apron, cotton robe sprinked with pink three leaf clovers or the pink & green pattern on the wall chintz of the bedroom. The environment would have been light and very very feminine. Very different from the Pottery Barn look we take as the usual now...Melissa

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2004, 12:57:32 AM »
Quote
Her Aunt Vicky seems to have had some reservations about Alix, but Aunt Vicky was a very opinionated person..


I always wonder about the relationship of Vicky and her various nieces/nephews. She could be very frank about people but it didn't mean she didn't like/love them. I was interested to read a letter which mentioned that "Aunt Vicky" was godmother to Grand Duchess Olga. Since she wasn't a reigning Empress at the time (virtually sidelined by her son), not closely related to any Romanovs and no political advantage to be seen, I can only conclude it must've been something on Alix's part to choose her. Maybe as her eldest Aunt or her mother's favorite sister?
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Offline Sarai

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2004, 09:41:56 AM »
There is a picture of one of Alexandra's dressing gowns at the Newark Museum's site for the "Nicholas and Alexandra: At Home With The Last Tsar And His Family" exhibition here:
http://www.newarkmuseum.org/NicholasandAlexandra/

It is the pink gown. To me, it has the look of a dress from the late 18th century, and it reminds me specifically of gowns I've seen in books worn by French ladies around the time of the French Revolution.

DOMOVOII, thanks so much for that valuable information about Alexandra's clothing. It has always struck me as curious how many times a day ladies of the era would change, and that they had a costume for everything. Also, that they would dress up beautifully for dinner even when it was just with their own family.

NAAOTMA

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2004, 12:16:36 PM »
As to changing numerous times a day-in her autobiography Sarah, the Duchess of York writes that one of her major adjustments to being the wife of Prince Andrew was that she was changing outfits all day long, with all that entailed, whether she was on official duty or in private with the Royal Family. She writes that Christmas Day was the most rigorous "outfit  changing" day of the private calendar. And yes, even among just the company of themselves, the Royal Family still dresses for dinner at Balmoral. Since I can barely remember how my iron works, this does not sound like too much fun, even with the help of a dresser and alot of others pitching in to help you look your best. If you are not a natural clotheshorse, or the way you grew up so it would all seem normal, it doesn't sound very great over the long haul.  Melissa

Offline DOMOVOII

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2004, 03:55:28 PM »
One wonders whether the practise of ladies having to change their outfits was no more than a plan by the gentlemen to keep their ladies occupied. With no more than good works, the rounds of visits and such, "at homes" and receptions etc,  Ladies may have found themselves with time to think for themselves. A prospect most Victorian husbands would have abhorred.! If most of the day was spent on outdoing their comtemporaries, regarding cut , colour, fit and style, then the holes in their lives, ie ambition and drive, would by neccesity be relegated to the back-burner- so to speak.

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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2004, 04:38:05 PM »
Good analysis, DOMOVIII! And I think you hit the nail on the head.

Offline anna

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2004, 05:04:55 PM »
Melissa I agree, changing more than once a day isn't my cup of tea either.
What DOMOVOII suggest sounds interesting, didn't look at it that way. So the plan was to keep woman dimwitted and they did buy that?

Only woman of Royalty and upper-class were able to buy clothes for different occasions, not the common. Wasn't it just a habit or protocol at that time?

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2004, 06:16:46 PM »
Men also had a rather strict dress code, and while some probably couldn't care less, there were always sticklers--Edward VII among them--to keep things appropriate and within custom.

Of course, the less money you had, the less "opportunity" you had to participate in this daily costume change exercise!

I do agree that much of it had to do with keeping a "lady" focused on "appropriate" issues--her appearance being one of the most important issues--rather than becoming involved in areas of (gasp!) politics and (bigger gasp) women's suffrage! So these society women, with their tightly coreseted torsos and their layers upon layers of clothing, certainly did have very just cause to "be emotional, just like a woman," and faint and have "the vapors"--who wouldn't, when cinched in and covered from head to foot!

Of course, there were women who purposely avoided as much of this frippery as they could get away with . . . and we know that Alix herself found the fashionable hobble skirts both annoying and impractical.

NAAOTMA

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2004, 10:19:17 AM »
As a "baby boomer" I remember as a child I never saw my grandmother any way except in a nice dress with her pearl earrings and necklace, with her hair in a French twist. No one would have thought of being barefoot around the house. And we always changed into our best clothes (suits with white shirts and ties for the men/boys and best dresses with stockings and court pumps for the women/girls) for special Sunday dinners, family get-togethers and holidays even if it was "just family"...that was a different world. Now people wear shorts and teeshirts with flipflops to everything. Perhaps somewhere in between those polar opposites would be nice. Certainly pleasanter to the eye than current "fashion"...  Melissa

Offline nerdycool

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2004, 02:48:43 PM »
Along with what was mentioned above, I'd like to add that by changing clothes often during any given day, it was demonstrating just how much money you had. It was a silent, boastful, and snobby act... "I can change clothes 5 times a day for 2 months and never wear the same thing twice..." that type of thing. When all of it started, I imagine it went something like this... "I have to change clothes x times a day... I should make a dress code that goes with the schedule of the day. There shall be a morning dress, an afternoon dress, a tea dress, a visiting dress, a going out dress, a riding dress, a driving dress, an evening dress, and a supper dress. Yes, now that there are codes, I have an excuse to change this often!" That's just how I see it anyway. :)

Besides, people expected to see the upper class people in something different every time they saw them... to see what they were wearing or another reason. It's the same way now. Imagine if one of our big name actresses like Halle Berry showed up at the Oscars wearing a dress she's worn before... wow, the outcry!

Offline Sarai

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2004, 03:39:41 PM »
I understand your point that we still have to change our wardrobe according to what activity we're doing, but I think the difference is that in that era ladies changed clothing even when in their own homes. Imagine changing into a dress when you get up, then again in the afternoon, then again for the mid-afternoon (tea time for them), and again for dinner. And this had to be done even though you may have been home and amongst your family all day, not doing anything special. Most people today just wear the same clothes they put on in the morning throughout the day if it's just a regular day ahead. Or at least, they may wear one outfit to work and change into casual clothes when they get home, but that's about it. I think it was quite a cumbersome custom to have to change so often for no particular reason other than, as others have pointed out here, simply to show off how many pretty clothes you had. And I agree that it seemed to have been a custom that began as based more in vanity than in practicality.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Sarai_Porretta »

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2004, 03:55:05 PM »
To reply to Helen (and Sarai makes some excellent points, too!) Yes, except 100 years ago the changes of outfit were almost always of a more formal nature, whereas today changes of outfit are for comfort.  I've seen enormous changes in what people used to wear and now wear to live theater performances (we're talking plays, not rock concerts!), church, weddings, shopping . . . even to fly. Used to be that people dressed up when taking a flight from one place to another . . . it was a special event. These days people hop on and off planes with hardly a moment's thought. Weddings also have tremendous changes--bridesmaids wearing sleek black cocktail dresses, for example, instead of the pastel frou-frou items of a couple of decades ago!

Speaking for the female side, we no longer are corseted . . . though there was a time not so long ago that, thanks to Madonna, we wore our "corsets" on the outside.  These days no underwear anywhere is often the rule, with "clothing" that graphically illustrates the point.  And rarely do we "dress" for occasions; people pretty much do their own thing.  

Of course, these are all broad generalities. Some folks are fashionistas (i.e. the "Sex and the City" cast) who make a point out of dressing (or is that undressing?!) for the occasion. But most of us wear not what is socially approved--after all, "society" approves of just about everything these days *--but what we feel like wearing.

*  Or does society simply shake its head and say "Yeah, whatever--I can't stop you!"
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Janet_W. »

rskkiya

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2004, 03:57:11 PM »
Good insite Sarai,
   In another age such behaviour expressed wealth and status-( I don't have to do anything with my time but dress up)- but  also for the Royal families it may have expressed the power of Monarchy by way of being on stage - so to speak- for the whole world to see!

Then again I am reading this cultural context thru' very 21 century eyes! ::)

rskkiya

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2004, 04:11:20 PM »
Regarding the topic of clothes...(with great fear and trepidation...)

Has anyone here found that their own fashion tastes have changed due to this site? Maybe I am just a harmless crank...but I have found myself looking for longer skirts & plain crisp blouses ala OTMA whenever I go shopping... I know that this fashion is not very  "pret a porte"  but I can't seem to help it!

medication? ::)

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Alix's Engagement and Wedding
« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2004, 04:23:05 PM »
True, Helen, and I should have qualified my answer by mentioning that I'm from Southern California!

As for rskkiya, I have to agree that as much as I enjoy wearing jeans and a blouse, I also like long skirts and so forth . . . but maybe I liked the styles first, rather than being influenced by the historical period and then dressing accordingly!  8)