Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Tuesday 16th December - Winter

Honestly, I'm rather tired today.  I was woken up at midnight by an errant alarm clock and so today is brought to you on two hours sleep.  Marvellous.  Let's find a nice jolly picture to be getting along with...

Winter (1882) Francesc Masriera
Gosh, well I have to admit I admire a woman with a fluffy muff. I am somewhat known for my love of a good muff and yes, I will try and do an entire month of them next December.  Despite my love of retro clothing I have never experimented with a muff because I always thought it would be in the way, but maybe I haven't thought it through...

It is a quintessentially Victorian item of clothing which seemingly cannot be worn in any modern sense without looking vintage and quirky, not that there is anything wrong with that.  This young woman is wearing a lovely muff which she seems to have a hand stuck in.  Mind you, looking at the width of her waist, I suspect that the hand in the muff is massive.  If you heave it in from one place, it has to pop out somewhere else.  Either that or her arms are filling up her puff sleeves.

Winter Cecil Quinnell Watson
It is such a romantic accessory that makes me think of swirling snow, ice-skating and frosty breezes.  There is a hint of female freedom about it, a protection against the world to enable game young women to lead an active life in the coldest of weather.  Often, women with muffs are seen gambling about outside, skating and adventuring out in the cold.  They are attractive, fit, active, not the passive indoor creature that we associate with the Victorian woman.  Maybe there is a liberation behind the muff...

Obviously if you are venturing out in the cold, it would be wise to do so with a toasty muff.  The delightfully named 'Dainty Muff Warmer' is a ceramic bottle that you slipped in your muff before you ventured out.  I'm not sure of scale, but I'm guessing as it was ceramic and filled with water, you wouldn't want to keep it in your muff once you went outside, no matter how dainty it was.  Being warm wasn't the half of it...

This is a lovely percussion muff pistol, also dainty in size, to slip in your muff to ward off footpads and scoundrels. You could be almost constantly packing heat inside your toasty warm muff, ready to fight off anyone who deserved it.  You don't need a man!  You can skate about, and then if you get trouble you can deal with it.  That is proper liberation.  Also it strikes me that you don't need to take both hands out of the muff in order to fire the pistol, just one.  If I am going to shoot a cad, I want to keep my hand warm.

Behold the Muff of Astrakhan! No more magical words have ever been uttered. I'm sure it would be possible to buy a muff today, possibly even Primark have them as a novelty winter accessory, but you'd be hard pressed to see many women wearing them on the high street this morning.  Mind you, the range of muffs that were available in Victorian times is very impressive.  Surely, there is a muff for all!

Yikes!  Okay, maybe not for all.  I'm not sure I want to stick my hand into anything that stares at me. Really, that's just wrong.

That's better, that's a proper luxury muff, a muff of aesthetic delight. I think I would feel like the swankiest girl in town with the mad peacock muff, the muff of decadence! Maybe I should just opt for something in velvet, I do like a bit of velvet and it always looks classy.  When you google 'Victorian muff' (with the safe search on, trust me on that) you seem to be able to buy 'muff chains' (easy now) for the suspension of your muff.  I may have a go at making my own, although I'm not sure I can get hold of enough peacock feathers...

Anyway, my pressie suggestion today is this book...

Muffs and Morals by Pearl Binder, a brilliant book with an unforgettable title.  It is the history of costume and written in an informative and jolly manner, as the title would suggest.  Well out of print now, second hand copies can be bought from Amazon or Abebooks.  There is also a marvellous section on the history of beards.  What more do you require for your bed-time reading?

Talking of bed-time, I may just go and have a little snooze.

See you tomorrow...


  1. Dear Kirsty
    Hoorah - Christmas muff-a-licious! I do think the Victorians and Edwardians knew how to look elegant (and to be safe - the pistol is an excellent idea in case of hedge-lurkers and others of that dangerous ilk). Somehow, it would be difficult to be elegant these days with a muff while wearing jeans, padded jacket and wellies though...
    Hope you got a suitable amount of sleep!
    Best wishes

  2. Ha ha ha... this is turning into Carry on Christmas. Made my morning. Cheered me up no end, love it.

  3. Ellie, I am committed to saving you from hedge-lurkers. Perish the thought! Arm your muff, that's what I say!

    Horus, my work here is done.

    Thanks for your comments, chaps!

  4. I was given a muff when a little girl and when I discovered the fur was only on the outside, I had no use for it. If only I had known about the muff pistol!

  5. Ah, a muff should be as furry on the inside as the Cat Bus in My Neighbour Totoro. Muff pistols are definitely the way forward.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx