Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Hello everyone and Welcome to another installment of “Collecting 1950’s” I’m Retro Dee and today we’ll be taking a look at an item that was considered essential for both women AND men in the 1950’s: the handkerchief!
The handkerchief, or “hanky”, has been around forever, far before the 1950’s. Some people still use them today, although they are for the most part considered old fashioned. However, in the 1950’s, hankies were an essential accessory, for both ladies and men!
Hankies were a polite way to have something to sneeze, cough or cry into when needed. Women in the 50’s never left the house without a hanky in their purse. Men wore them in their front suit pockets. Folks back then had class and style, something you don’t see all that often anymore.
Fortunately for those of us who collect, hankies are still abundant, many vintage ones are in good or even excellent condition and they aren’t usually expensive on the collector’s market.
Basic hankies are white, or off-white. Men’s are usually very basic while women’s can have a scalloped, frilly or floral design. Some even have crocheted boarders.
Handkerchiefs were often bought as souvenirs or given as gifts. Monograms and flowers are among the most common designs. Hand or machine embroidery ranges from very simple to more elaborate. Most hankies are embroidered, but there are also the ones made from pre-printed fabric which were popular as well.
Here are some of the hankies in my collection. Please excuse the wrinkles, I didn’t have time to press them before taking the photos:
And finally, some printed cuties I purchased from etsy:
To be honest, when I get dressed up, I’ll stash a hanky in my purse only to become annoyed by its presence. I never use hankies and they just get in the way. Yet I don’t feel fully put together unless I bring a hanky. Of course, it’s not as bad as forgetting a pair of white gloves.
Today, with health concerns on the rise, a hanky can be useful once again, and not a bad idea to carry! They can pick up things that might not be clean, and wipe down areas that need to be sterilized. Just remember to throw it in the wash when you get home.
Vintage hankies can be found in abundance on eBay and Etsy or other online stores. Happy collecting!
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post!
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