The Language of Flowers

“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” [Mr. Knightley] soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Emma, Jane Austen

Undoubtedly countless gentlemen found themselves identical to Mr. Knightley’s distress. What Victorians held in their hearts was not always so easily expressed. Even so, sweet sentiments were not to be neglected.

Etiquette hardly made allowances for improper introductions—let alone grand gestures.

That is how the language of of flowers (floriography) came into being. Feelings that could not be spoken or proclaimed publicly could instead be expressed through blooms.

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Paper Hearts: Victorian Courtship Correspondence

Victorians engaged in long distance relationships—especially when both parties were present in the same room. The hustle and bustle of courtship etiquette was truly more hampering than a crinoline!

With such limitations, it comes as no surprise that couples resorted to delivering flirtations by postage stamps, fans, and flowers.

Thankfully, love letters preserved a myriad romances like Mark Twain’s. . .

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Victorian Exercise

Tighter. . .  Tighter.  . .  Tighter still. 

Maidservants secured Empress Sisi (Elisabeth of Austria) into her corset. Often the hour stretched long before they’d constricted the royal’s waist to a mere 16 inches. Once cesarzowa_elzbieta_1890cinched, she’d then take to her private gym, one of the first. She practiced her disciplines there on the balance beam and mats. Thus, her day continued.

Sisi’s health fixation expanded to mastering activities such as fencing and horsemanship. During intermissions when her body could not permit such extreme regiments, she abided in walks, sometimes all day and in spite of weather.

An icon in part to her her station and illustrious beauty, the empress postured a fever of exercise amongst Victorians—especially court ladies. Be it any wonder when imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

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In Fine Fashion: Symbolism of Victorian Jewelry

Do you know of the hidden gems embedded in Victorian jewelry? Once upon a time, pendants were much more than mere ornaments. They were insignia. Each design carried motifs and qualities with precious meaning, supposedly describing its owner.

Victorian ladies were what they wore, so to speak.

For example, a necklace with a holly design signified truth and instinct. An eye: protection. And so on and so forth. In order to fully appreciate the finery we wear, we’ve compiled a list of each emblem with its significance.

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