Why Green?

This week I had the pleasure, rather joy, of truly seeing why green was used as often as it was with straw. I was applying this vintage satin back velvet ribbon in an olivey-green shade to a straw hat that is being mailed today. (I’ll share those photos once the recipient receives it.) As I stitched, I was caught by how the green brought out the golden richness of the straw. The hat was pretty before. But, the green ribbon made it almost glow.

After seeing numerous green ribbons on straw bonnets over the years, I finally saw what they saw. I saw how the green worked with the natural straw. It just works and work really well.

What does the original cast say of green for millinery?

For fair-haired women “A green bonnet is advantageous to fair or rosy complexions. It may be trimmed with white flowers, but preferably with rose. A rose-colored bonnet must not be too close to the skin; and if it is found that the hair does not produce sufficient separation, the distance from the rose-color may be increased by means of white, or green, which is preferable. A wreath of white flowers in the midst of their leaves, has a good effect.” (“Color and Ornament”, Home Circle. Nashville, Tenn, 1856)

The main relations of color to be borne in mind are these: Green is the opposite, and the complement, to red; green, therefore, reddens adjacent hues, and red adds a green tinge to them; but green and red set off each other to the best advantage when placed side by side – the green looking greener, the red redder – and this is, of course, most thoroughly the effect when the two colors are alike in depth of tone. What green is to red, yellow is to violet, and blue to orange. In the same way it may be said that the yellow tints of green suggest their compliments and opposites, the violet-reds; the yellow-oranges contrast with violet-blues, and the orange-reds with blue-greens.

Thus the pink of the complexion is brought out by a green setting in dress or bonnet; and any lady who has a fair complexion, that admits of having its rose tint a little heightened, may make effective use of the green color, but it should be a delicate green, since it is of importance to preserve harmony of tone. When there is in the face a tint of orange mixed with brown, a brick-red hue will result from the use of green; if any green at all used in such a case it should be dark.  (“Something for the Ladies About Color“, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, November, 1854)

A green bonnet is advantageous to fair or rosey complexions. It may be trimmed with white flowers, but preferably with rose….. A green bonnet is suitable to fair and light rosey complexions; rose, red, or white flowers are preferable to all others. (“How to Choose Colors in Dress“, Peterson’s Magazine, 1855)

Worded another way in the London Quarterly Review: A delicate green is favourable to all fair complexions which are deficient in rose, and which may have more imparted to them without inconvenience. But it is not favourable to complexions that are more red than rosy, nor to those that have a tint of orange mixed with brown, because the red they add to this tint will be of a brick-red hue. In the latter case a dark-green will be less objectionable than a delicate green. (1855) (you can tell there was plenty of quoting and paraphrasing going on.)

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Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. So interesting! I never knew about the huge prevalence of green in straw millinery before!


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