Milliner’s Wink

The Contrast: Or Modes of Education, by Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee (Boston: 1837), especially as the milliner winks. This, combined with the previous post regarding what it takes to be a good millinery saleswoman, makes me wonder about the techniques used to sell bonnets to women, which milliners were honest all the time while others embellished here and there, as well as how often women walked out of a shop with a bonnet that would shock us.

‘You .promised,’ replied Eudora,’ you would take me this morning to get our new bonnets.’

Mrs. Stanley was too much satisfied with the past evening to refuse; and they were speedily equipped for their walk.

There seems to be no perfect happiness in this world. If a gleam comes over us, it is soon obscured; and so it proved with Eudora. They directed their steps to Madame la Boutique’s. When they entered the saloon, they saw on heads of every description, save intellectual and phrenological, the newly imported French hats. Even Eudora was excited to an unusual degree of animation, as she gazed at the splendid assortment. They walked round and round, admiring. At length, Mrs. Stanley made a full stop opposite a hat towards which Eudora was just tripping.

‘This is beautiful,’ said the mother.

‘Perfect,’ echoed the daughter.

‘Celeste,’ exclaimed Madame la Boutique, ‘regardez cette blonde, ces fleurs!’

‘They put nature to the blush,’ said Mrs. Stanley.

‘Will madarae please to try it?’

‘O,’ exclaimed Eudora, ‘it is for me we are choosing a hat.’

‘And for myself, too,’ said mamma, with dignity.

‘It is the very thing for one of you ladies,’ exclaimed madame.

‘Let me try it,’ said Eudora.

But Mrs. Stanley had taken off her bonnet, and the milliner placed the elegant French hat on her head.

‘O,’ exclaimed Eudora, ‘it is altogether too young for mamma!’

“Too young!’ repeated the milliner. ‘I will like to see a head-dress too young for madame. I have not no one in my saloon too young. Ah! what sensation madame will excite in Paris! Les Parisiennes do so love des fine womens!’

‘I think I will take it,’ said Mrs. Stanley. ‘Now, Eudora, we will choose one for you.’

‘I don’t wish for any,’ exclaimed the young lady, sullenly.

The milliner winked at her, and Eudora followed her to the other side of the saloon.

‘Let her have it,’said she, in a whisper. ‘I have the most prettiest one for you.’

There was, certainly, variety enough to have satisfied almost any lady; but no one seemed to restore serenity to the young beauty. Beauty! That word ought to be recalled. She was no longer a beauty. Her cheeks were flushed with anger, her eyes sparkled ‘with resentment, and her lips were protruded far beyond their natural limits. There was but one hat which both fancied. Mamma had decided for that, and Eudora was obliged to put up with another.

Such was the domestic education of poor Eudora. Accomplished she certainly was, in the common acceptation of the word. But she had acquired every thing just as she bought her French hat,—to set her off to advantage. She considered accomplishments as only to be brought out, like jewelry, on extra occasions.

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Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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