Never Bored

by Erin on January 18, 2008

Victorian Godey 1861 image

I don't know how anyone over the age of 8 is bored any longer. Hasn't the internet killed boredom? I haven't been bored since about 1993, possibly earlier. All you have to do is enter some random search string, like "most beautiful dress", and you get a treasure like this:

The most beautiful dress in the ball-room that season was worn by Miss D. It was a very handsome India muslin. She was not called the belle of the evening, but belle of the season. She was not only beautiful and graceful, but so winning and attractive in her manners, so amiable and lovely, that the belle-pickers, who picked all to pieces, could not find anything to say about her.

The ladies were all elegantly dressed, a few of which I will describe. One lady was dressed in white silk, with upper skirt of silk, with white illusion puffings, which swept the floor for half a yard. One well-known East Fourth- street belle wore a double-skirt of illusion, small puffs about half a yard up each side; berthe to match, trimmed with little forget-me-nots, which could not be distinguished from natural flowers; her hair was trimmed with the same shade of blue flowers, drooping down on her snowy neck, which made her look more like wax-work than a human being. She had not too much religion to go to either the East or West-end, whenever she thought it proper to go. There were many others there—but I will only say they were all beautiful.

from A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life, by Eliza Potter, 1859.

C'mon — who DOESN'T want to read the memoirs of an abolitionist hairdresser of Cincinnati? Especially when it's full of stories about gossips and beautiful dresses and scandal? It's like Little Women crossed with People.

[image from]

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg January 18, 2008 at 8:33 am

Amazing. And you are too funny. I’m going to do some random searches now……


Latter-Day Flapper January 18, 2008 at 8:47 am

Puts me in mind of the Jane Austen quote about, “Mrs. Powlett was at once expensively and nakedly dress’d . . .”, referring to the comparatively skimpy Regency styles.


Toby Wollin January 18, 2008 at 8:55 am

Ah, Erin, I read the hairdresser’s account of Saratoga Springs, NY. I have gone to several dance festivals in Saratoga and I can tell you that even now, it is a place of amazing beauty – I can’t imagine a place with as many buildings in one spot with ballrooms still in use. The Casino in the park is one with gorgeous stained glass windows in the roof.


Julie January 18, 2008 at 9:22 am

For some reason, I heard “East 4th Street” and wondered if it was my hometown– and it is! This is fascinating stuff!


Nora January 18, 2008 at 10:13 am

I like how the belle had “not too much religion” to go party on the other side of the tracks. And “belle-pickers” – what a great phrase! Nice alias for the “go fug yourself” gals.”Abolitionist hairdresser” is one juicy phrase, too – should be the name of a blog, or a band. (So many good potential band names, so little musical talent…*sigh*)


Lat January 18, 2008 at 10:42 am

What a lovely posting for a Friday afternoon. Exquisite dresses!


Miss Elisabeth January 18, 2008 at 10:51 am

That book is a gem . . . I read about half of it a while back and if you think the 1850s were any sort of innocent time, especially in high society . . . wrong, wrong wrong. It’s almost as bad as it is today! Some rather blush worthy chapters and stories, too.


NonchalantMod January 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm



Cel Petro January 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Your Friday posts are especially delightful. I haven’t been bored for at least that long either!


SomeNoise January 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm

amazing! hahaha really!do you know any blog with vintage stuff, but for mans? I’m trying to find one, but it’s hard. Well, at least I enjoyed this one :)Cheers from BrazilThks!


ConeyBean January 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Little Women meets People? This sounds like my kind of book…


bani January 19, 2008 at 9:37 am

Oh I love this!


Chelsea January 19, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Hi, fellow dress lovers! I found this notecard on etsy, and I thought I’d share it with you. cute and pretty!


Shannie January 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

I must get that book. Thanks!


purpleshoes January 20, 2008 at 12:27 pm

This book is amazing (I was going to put it on my Zune as jpgtext to read during my commute but got sucked into reading it right here, right nowThanks for recommending!


Fari Bradley January 21, 2008 at 4:27 am

A very niche interest you tender! Possibly you could cater that for audio and apply to Resonance104.4fm. Fashion is the one art we have not yet investigated.


Melissa Walker January 21, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Sounds like the original of “The Luxe”–fabulous!


Aurora Borealis January 22, 2008 at 7:32 pm

I was just reading today about housework during the 1800s– apparently, even luxe homes were completely filthy with a thick coating of coal dust– but as a curator pointed out, after dark, everything was lit by the flickering equivalent of a 10Watt bulb, and the gilding and varnished wallpaper lent everything a sweet gentle glow.Maybe it’s a tad easier to look like waxwork under a gaslight than under a bank of flourescent lights, lol. (and no, you cannot be bored in the internet age. Unfortunately. Even at 2AM, there is still something fascinating left to read.)


ambika January 24, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Adding to my wishlist now.


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