On Friday afternoon, Antoinette stopped by with a package for me: yet another box from my favorite modiste.
“A gift from Erik,” she explained, “which he hopes you will wear tomorrow for the performance.”
Inside was an elegant ivory moire walking suit. I was glad that I had a duster coat to wear over it; I would not want such beautiful garments to be travel-stained.
“I will see you tomorrow, my friend,” Antoinette smiled as she departed. “Sleep well.”
There was a rare joke! It was far too long since I’d last seen Erik, and all I knew was that he was giving a mysterious concert in another town. I doubted I’d sleep a wink. Nevertheless, I would try. I wanted to look my best at this performance, knowing Erik would be there somewhere — perhaps hidden, perhaps not — and would want to see me looking well in the beautiful clothes he had sent for me. — Excerpt from In The Eye of The Beholder
A walking suit was an outfit that a lady might wear for a stroll in nice weather. It usually had weights in the hem in case a breeze blew up; one would not want to show one’s ankles! The skirt was also usually a little bit shorter to keep the hem out of the dust, and there were not a lot of frills or trim.
The blog at Lily Absinthe informs us that these suits were sometimes called “tailor-mades.” (If you’re interested in historical attire, you really must be following this blog, by the way.) Many couturiers of the day did not like the more simple lines of the walking suits. They claimed that the simpler styles were for younger women only, as older ladies would look better surrounded by frills and ruffles.