Obsolete Fashion: Would You Hop on the Chatelaine Train?

Obsolete Fashion, chatelaine, equipage, 18th century, 19th century woman

Photos: Corvus Noir (left) and Crewel Jewels

A chatelaine, also called an “equipage,” was a decorative clip of long chains used to hold important household items. Functioning like pockets or purses, chatelaines were worn by women of the 18th and 19th centuries. The word “chatelaine” derives from the term for the mistress of a castle or mansion, and literally means “keeper of the keys” in French. Chatelaines were worn by both housekeepers and ladies of the manor in the 19th century, and were made of silver, brass, steel, leather, or fabric, depending on the household’s financial status.

Obsolete fashion, chatelaine, equipage, 18th century, 19th century, mansion, castle, lady, woman,

Images: My Museum of London (left) and Corvus Noir

A chatelaine consisted of a pin that attached at the waist of a lady’s dress. This pin was equipped with several chains which, in turn, attached to an assortment of ornamental items, such as decorative plaques, lockets, and tassels, as well as utilitarian items like keys, lorgnettes, smelling salts, pocket watches, magnifying glasses, pocket knives, compasses, thimbles, scissors, bodkins, needle cases, pincushions, and other sewing supplies. I like to imagine chatelaines as a kind of functional charm bracelet or lanyard – for your skirt!

What do you think, ModLovers? Would you love to wear a chatelaine of your own, or do you think there’d be too much jangling for your taste? Cast your vote, and/or leave a comment below!

<br /> <a href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/3530502/” mce_href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/3530502/”>Let’s chatelaine.</a><br/><br /> <span style=”font:9px;” mce_style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com” mce_href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a>)</span><br />

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10 Responses to Obsolete Fashion: Would You Hop on the Chatelaine Train?

  1. Annie (ModCloth) 07/27/2010 at 11:35 am #

    Wow, Jen, this is seriously awesome!!! I can’t stop thinking about how cool of an accessory these chatelaines would be today. A friend of mine used to create necklaces using household items as the main pendant or charm (items such as oversized paper clips, miniature scales, etc) I will have to ask him if he drew inspiration from chatelaines!

  2. BlueMoonDame 07/27/2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I definitely would have a use for one of these!

  3. Keaven Willa 07/27/2010 at 3:07 pm #

    I think shorter chains would be in order, and also maybe a way to equip them to a purse/key chain, instead of just clothing.

  4. Catherine 07/27/2010 at 4:56 pm #

    These are so beautiful, better than my ucky key chain with one of those neon plastic swirly wrist bands on it.

    The Girl in the Paper Dress

  5. Crykit 07/27/2010 at 7:26 pm #

    Want one ♥

  6. Leiah 07/27/2010 at 8:13 pm #

    how interesting, i’ve never seen these before! so cool!

  7. Grace 07/28/2010 at 2:28 am #

    Sounds handy

  8. Richard (ModCloth) 07/28/2010 at 2:22 pm #

    I like wearing necklaces with pendants and lots of trinket-y things, so my vote would be to bring these things back!

  9. Natasha 07/29/2010 at 12:00 am #

    No.

    They seem cool, but I can’t stop thinking about the tangling horrors. Am I the only one who can’t remove necklaces from a jewelry box in any denomination less than ‘giant clump?’
    Not to mention the fact that I have to assume that those are the world’s tiniest scissors. Also not to mention the fact that we already have a device to hold things at your waist, and…DUN DUN DUN…it is called a ‘fanny pack.’

  10. lisa shumek 01/17/2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I would love to have one. There is something so very romantic about a Chatelaine. I love how delicate and feminine Chatelaines are.

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