A great evening shoe should last until there is a babysitter to pay!
When modern My Scoop girls hear the word "trousseau" thrown around, it makes us think of the contents of a "hope chest". It conjures dusty images of fine French bed linens, lightly colored and classy lingerie and classic country club luncheon suits that aren't out-of-style, because they were never "in".
As we observe friends scheduled to marry this summer and reflect on our own periods of engagement, we discover that the traditional idea of working with family to build a proper trousseau has been replaced by the contemporary bride with a hodgepodge of items scarcely planned and patched together -- usually including: garish lingerie received from girlfriends two weeks before the wedding (while downing hurricanes at a bar in New Orleans), linens purchased by parent's friends from the couple's Bed, Bath & Beyond registry and perhaps a few designer dresses that the bride found on sale at TJ Maxx.
Because this sad transition in bridal culture happened before most of us were born, we reached out to our mothers' generation for answers. Thankfully local bridal consultant and retailer Alice Cox answered the call! As a mother of grown girls who has her feet firmly planted in the roots of world-class etiquette and the needs of today's Southern bride, we trust her answers for a point in the right direction. Below are her thoughts on the "what" and "why" of a bride's basic pre-marital shopping needs.
What is a trousseau and what should it include?
A trousseau, from the French, defines the possessions a bride assembles for her marriage. Traditionally a trousseau includes all things bridal -- jewelry, lingerie, make up, linens for her new home. The Victorian era added what continues today; lovely, new outfits for wedding parties, going away, the honeymoon and the year of being a newlywed.Officially the trousseau remains an important part of what a bride and her mother, sisters, and perhaps aunts work on putting together in recognition that the first year of marriage is an important transition from being single.Putting time and planning into its compilation ensures that the bride looks (and feels) her best.Preparing in advance with tips from family and friends and carefully investing in those key wardrobe pieces prior to the wedding is not only fun, but wise.See my checklist for today’s trousseau below.
It seems that women today don’t put as much time and thought into building their trousseau as previous generations.Why do you think it is an important practice for brides to maintain?
The generation of young ladies who have an income of their own likely put into question whether this important tradition is necessary. The significant facts here are that many people can provide guidance and direction to the bride in what she might need in her first year as a wife – especially those who have first-hand experience with all that is required to setup a household and begin to run a family.This can be a great bonding time for the bride and her family as well as a rich learning experience.
Building a solid trousseau with your family before the wedding can help prevent unnecessary stress in the first year of marriage.The trousseau is a vital part of enabling the bride to focus on the new life in which she is embarking.After the wedding, a single woman will no longer have just herself on which to focus.There is so much to take on financially when you are newly married –- things that the bride and groom may not have faced before….A home, cars, insurance, savings, travel.These investments are a challenge to the monthly budget and certainly a challenge the relationship.Wisely brought into the marriage, a solid trousseau can help relieve some stress by delaying the inevitable "discussions" regarding the clothing budget for at least a year!
Alice's Checklist for Today's Trousseau
The Cocktail Dress -- You feel like you are a party when you put it on. Really you need at least three of these. You will wear them to rehearsal dinners, weddings, various parties and to drinks while on business trips.
The Wrap -- This is the ultimate lightweight jacket, coat or sweater, which completes the flexible wardrobe when weather is unpredictable. You will also need a trench coat, something for the cold weather, and finally a lovely wool knee length coat.
Leather Gloves, Scarves and The Handbag -- You could wear these with a t-shirt and jeans and look sensational!
An Evening Shoe and Clutches -- If you choose well, you will still be wearing these when there is a babysitter to pay.
Jewelry -- This is a vital part of the trousseau. Many times the husband's gift to the bride is piece of timeless jewelry -- perhaps pearls or a timeless piece of gold jewelry. The significance of these will last a lifetime because they place value on the building of these lives together and utilizing resources wisely.
The Day Dress -- Something with a traditional feel but great fabric and pretty timeless in style.
Traveling Clothes -- White pants and jeans, jackets, silks and knits, all of which will remain in your closet for several years.
Vacation Wear -- From the tropical to the ski slopes.... Tennis rackets, golf clubs and attire for each as a beginning. Don't forget the luggage!
Lingerie -- Out with the old and in with the new. All of your bridal lingerie should be new and lovely. You need a nightie and robe, which fit your lifestyle. When making coffee, answering the door the t-shirt will not pass the test. Consider a set which would pack and travel and which flatters and is light and fun. Think pretty!
Career Clothes -- Often the most overlooked of all for the bride's new wardrobe. Work clothes can be the most fun to buy because they can be a bit more fashion forward. You'll need several skirts, pants, a few key jackets and a couple of great shoes for both seasons -- all essentials. Choose silk, gabardine, wool, linen -- you will be so grateful for them after you are married and money is tight! If it's suits that you wear, then you might need to purchase several for both seasons. Don't forget professional shoes, handbags and a few tops so that opening the closet before work always yields a smile!
The Monogram -- The bride's new initials are de riguer! Monograms with elaborate, antique fonts or contemporary lettering are a must. Linen napkins for the cookout or Christmas dinner, pillow shams, sheets and frequently the coverlet look fabulous with a triple monogram. And how fun to have your towels hanging proudly in the bath announcing your newly acquired name! White linens with an ivory monogram are timeless and the color options are endless. Robes, totes and pillows are in need of personalizing!
Monograms are customarily the initial of the bride's first name, her maiden name initial and the initial of her groom's last name, now shared! Options for fonts are endless; the new last initial is customarily larger and centered in the triple monogram. If equal size is preferred, the three letters go in order with the new last name initial last. Of great popularity today is the single fancy initial on linens as well -- perhaps in a larger font with flourishes and curls!
We love this list and can’t argue that it seems like a good idea to stock up on wardrobe necessities before saying “I DO”.What do you recommend as a baseline for including the trousseau in the wedding budget?
As we all know a cocktail dress can be acquired at any budget!The rule of thumb should come from the family's general standard of living and the lifestyle that makes sense for the bride, taking into account the things that she loves.
Because it can be hard for a financially independent woman to accept lots of new clothes from her parents, it is important to remember that it brings great joy to a mother and father to complete the parenting process that began with the birth of children – this includes everything from how to make chili and plant roses to passing down the family’s silver pitcher and assisting in the purchase of the key cocktail dress.A new marriage can benefit greatly from the investment by the family of its “how-to’s” as well as resources.