M978x.25 | Parasol

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1850-1870, 19th century
59 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Parasol (23)
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Keys to History

This type of parasol intended for outings by carriage was used by ladies concerned about protecting their skin from the sun. In the 19th century, fashion forbade ladies from taking the sun so they would keep their milky complexions. The middle class did not like the idea of tanning, associating it with the peasants who worked long hours in the sun in the fields.

The cloth of the parasol is made of a complex combination of fine fabrics: silk, taffeta, chiffon and Chantilly lace. The handle is carved ivory. In spite of its luxurious appearance, this parasol could have belonged to a middle-class woman. Such women invested a lot in their clothing so they could achieve the appearance of the social station to which they aspired.

  • What

    For grand occasions, there was nothing more appropriate and refined than a white or bright-coloured parasol, covered with white or black lace.

  • Where

    Good weather or bad- In the middle of the 19th century, the ladies of high society always carried a parasol to all their social outings.

  • When

    The fashion for carriage parasols appeared at the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, at the same time as open landaus were coming back into fashion.

  • Who

    In March 1862, the magazine Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine declared that the trousseau of middle-class women should include an umbrella and two parasols. One of the parasols should be elegant and decorative, while the other, used mostly for walks, could be much simpler.