Heirloom Linen Trousseau: A Treasured Tradition
One of the reasons I love antiques is because they give a window into the soul of a country – it’s like anthropology or sociology! We can study how people lived in the past through their furniture, jewelry and textiles. Many customs have evolved over the centuries – as technology advances, we no longer need certain items which once were of great importance. However, some things in life remain constant—the need for sleep being one of them.
In the past, brides-to-be would build a linen collection for their future homes, an ongoing task that involved much care and excitement as they dreamed of the big day. Building a trousseau could be likened to registering for china and silver today. The goal was to amass a collection of bedding, table linens, and other household textiles by the wedding day to last for many years of happy marriage. Though some modern brides-to-be still practice the custom of building a trousseau, the tradition rarely involves the attention to detail it once did. Is this any wonder with the mass-produced bedding available in big box stores? While it may seem easier to simply purchase off-the-rack linens, I’ve got a special source that can change the way you think—or dream—about bedding. As Brand Ambassador for Pandora de Balthazár, I want to share some insider tips with you on the importance of building your own trousseau and just how to go about doing it – and best of all, this is something you can do for yourself. It doesn’t require a groom or bride. We spend 1/3 of our life in bed… should that time be spent with the most luxurious linens we can afford?
Collecting Beautiful Linens
Collecting beautiful linens in a meaningful way starts with knowing what your personal style is and what your needs are. Do you prefer sheets with delicate lace trim or are you a fan of a more minimal look? Are monograms your thing? While collectors can certainly value heirloom linens, anyone with a discerning eye and good taste can appreciate and use them. Many antique linens have been passed down for generations and can still be enjoyed today. Pandora de Balthazár happens to have one of the most notable collections of antique linens in the world, and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to building your own trousseau.
“In most European countries, and with a few American families, the preparation for a young bride’s trousseau once began at birth and often before,” she says. “Years before her betrothal, the future bride amassed enough linens for her bedding and tables to sustain her family throughout their lifetime.”
One thing to look for when considering longevity is a blue tint in antique linens.The bluing is usually in the thread and rarely fades, making these particular pieces highly sought after, as they are often ready to use. Trousseau Blue linens were especially a favorite for bridal bedding as only the best would do for the place where the bride and groom would consummate their marriage.
Determine A Budget
When building your own trousseau, it’s important to determine a budget first. This budget should include professional cleaning as well, since you want to maintain your antique linens. Next you want to decide what style fits your personality and home. From Victorian and Edwardian to Early American or even Asian linens, figuring out which style you love will help guide your future purchases. Speaking of future investments, it’s a good idea to come up with an initial plan for how you plan to use your trousseau. What sizes of linens do you need? How many sets of sheets would you like? Write all of this information down and keep it with you when you shop. And remember: Pandora advises you change your linens frequently – up to several times a week – not just once a week or every other week!
It’s also wise to consider repurposing linens. Since sizes of antique linens are so varied, pieces that were once tablecloths may make ideal bedcovers with a bit of alteration. The key is to choose pieces you connect to. Touch the embroidery, lace, and appliqués. This will aid you in understanding your tactile personality. Remember it’s not only about how pieces look, but also how they feel.
Regardless of the size or style of your trousseau, building it should be fun. It’s a great way to carry on a treasured tradition which will keep you in comfort for many years to come. Looking for an ideal place to start building your trousseau? Contact us at The Antiques Diva & Co and begin by perusing the inventory of Pandora de Balthazár.
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®