Dating vintage hankies
Handkerchiefs have been with us in the small moments – dabbing a baby’s chin, wrapping a child’s cut finger, catching a tear while watching for the umpteenth time, and the major moments – a bride’s tears of joy, a widow’s deep despair, a marine tucking his wife’s perfumed hankie over his heart.
Numerous histories of the handkerchief abound, with some facts contradicting others.
1930’s During the depression, a handkerchief was often the only new item a woman could afford enhance her wardrobe.
A woman would “change” her outfit by changing her hankie.
Several years after the war, once fashion began to revive, Balmain, Dior, Rochas and other designers utilized handkerchiefs as a final touch to their haute couture.
Hankies were tied to the wrist, threaded through the top buttonhole of a suit or popped from the side pocket of a handbag.
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In addition to eschewing silk stockings so our troops could have parachutes, women would forego the pleasure of a new hat or blouse, and instead opt for a “wardrobe” of handkerchiefs, most costing .05 – .50.
In Persia, they were considered a sign of nobility and were reserved for kings.
Aristocrats sitting for their portraits would request that a handkerchief be included in the picture, the more embellished the better, to indicate their status and position.
With the perfection of color-fast dyes, a vast array of cheerful colors allowed artists the freedom to depict everything from flowers to animals to cocktail recipes.
There were handkerchiefs to celebrate holidays, birthdays, get well greetings, Mother’s Day, and more, often sold in special gift cards.
Renaissance portraits show both men and women holding handkerchiefs embroidered and edged in lace.