There has been of late years a healthy revolt against the excessive use
of crepe or the wearing of mourning for an undue period. Mourning is
first of all a protection, for in these busy days and in a large city a
death affecting our acquaintances is not always known to us. If we meet
a friend wearing black we are instantly apprised that she has suffered
the loss of a near member of her family. It is easy to say under such
circumstances, I am very sorry to see you in black, or I am afraid I
have not heard of your loss.
For a father or mother full mourning, that is, black unrelieved by any
touch of white, is worn for a year, and at the end of that period half
mourning, consisting first of white with black, and then violet and
gray, is worn for the second year. For a brother or sister or
grandparent black is worn for six months, and then half mourning for the
six months preceding the wearing of ordinary colors. What is called
complimentary mourning, put on at the death of a relative by marriage,
consists of the wearing of black for a period of from six weeks to a
year, depending on the closeness of the personal relationship. For
instance, in the case of the death of a mother-in-law residing in a
distant city, it would only be necessary for a woman to wear black for a
few weeks following the funeral. If, on the other hand, she resides in
the same place and is a great deal in the company of her husband's
family, it would show more tact and affection on her part to refrain
from wearing colors for a longer period.
Crepe is no longer obligatory in even first mourning. Many widows only
wear the crepe-bordered veil hanging from the conventional bonnet for
the funeral services and for a few weeks afterward, when it is replaced
by an ordinary hat and veil of plain black net bordered with thin black
silk. Widows wear neck and cuff bands of unstarched white book muslin,
this being the only sort of white permitted during the first period of
mourning. Young widows, especially those who must lead an active life,
often lighten their mourning during the second year and discard it at
the end of the second year. Of course the conventional period of
mourning for a widow is three years, but, if there should be any
indication that a second marriage is contemplated, black should
gradually be put aside.
However, the discarding of mourning is no indication that a woman is
about to change her name, and the wearing of black is so much a matter
of personal feeling that a woman should not be criticised for curtailing
the conventional period.
In this country it is not the custom for young children to wear
mourning, and with men the wearing of a black band about the hat or on
the left arm is all that is deemed necessary.
A woman wearing full mourning refrains from attending the theater or any
large functions. She may properly be seen at concerts, club meetings or
lectures, and she may receive and visit her friends informally.