from Vogue (December 6, 1894) 

ROyalty is distinctly in favor of décolle-
tage, which is de rigueur at every 
court of Europe.  Down to three years
ago women, who for one reason or another
were unable to wear low-cut sleeveless dresses,
were ipse facto debarred from attending state
balls, state concerts and drawing-rooms.  It is
only quite recently that Queen Victoria has

relented so far as to tolerate rare exceptions to
the rule, in favor of a few ladies who would 
otherwise be kept away from court.  But in
each instance they have been obliged to obtain
through the Lord Chamberlain's department
the permission of the Queen to appear in the 
royal presence in high dresses with elbow
sleeves being careful to include in their application 
full and oft embarrassing details as to
the reason of their being unable to wear low-cut 
    Queen Victoria herself in her younger days,
and even comparatively late in life possessed a 
beautiful neck and shoulders which she made
no hesitation about displaying in the most
generous manner.  Her daughters, her sons'
wives and her granddaughters take after her in
this respect, and at the drawing-rooms at
Buckingham Palace it is often a subject of remark
that the most décolleté dresses are to be
found on the steps of the throne.
    At the court of Copenhagen the same rules
and the same disposition on the part of royalty
prevail, old Queen Louise, although the great-grandmother
of several princelets still décolletéing 
herself as extensively as if she were a 
young girl, and looking remarkably well, too,
in her low-cut gowns.
    At Berlin, too, the décolletage is excessive,
at least it appears so, perhaps on account of
the gowns being cut by German couturiers
who do not possess the difficult art of combining
daring with elegance, chic and propriety.
    The young Empress, who has a fine neck
and shoulders, is fond of making a liberal show
of them.  Empress Frederick, though similarly
disposed, is less advantaged by nature, and I 
remember seeing her at a state ball at Berlin
while Crown Princess, arrayed in a purple
velvet robe, and presenting such a spectacle
that it was difficult to see where the bodice
ended and the flesh begain.  Nor can I 
ever forget the shocking appearance of old
Empress Augusta on that occasion.  Almost
completely impotent and helpless, she was reclining
on a peculiarly constructed chair in 
one corner of the picture gallery of the royal 
castle.  Wrinkled and shrunken, endeavoring
to hide the ravages of her seventy-seven years
of age by an enormous brown wig and quantities
of badly applied paint, enamel, cream,
etc., her exceedingly décolleté pink dress
merely served to intensify the horror of the
spectacle which she presented.  
    At the court of Vienna, as at those of Madrid,
Lisbon and Rome, the décolletage is of a 
very generous character, the royal and imperial 
ladies setting the example and leading the
way.  Since the tragic death of the Austrian
Crown Prince, Rudolph, his mother, the Empress,
has, however, invariably appeared at all
State functions in a high-cut long-sleeved
black crape dress, a sombre and pathetic figure 
among all the brilliant throng of gorgeously
appareled and bare-shouldered beauties of her
    The only royal personage whom I can recall
to have objected on principle to décolletage
was the late Czarina of Russia, who, late
in life, developed bigotry and prudery to such
a remarkable extent that she for a while even 
declined to permit the physicians to examine
her chest for the purpose of endeavoring to
check the tuberculosis to which she eventually
    In conclusion, I should like to ask one
question of my fair readers.  To us men
evening dress constitutes, perhaps unconsci-
ously, a species of moral straight-jacket.  We
are far more disposed to observe the con-
ventionalities and courtesies of life when thus
arrayed than when garbed in a jacket and a
pot hat.  What is the moral effect of décolleté
evening dress upon women?  Does it fulfil
the same straight-jacket rôle for them as our
swallow tail coats do for us?  Or, does it,
on the contrary, serve to call all their perversity,
friskiness and coquetry into play, making
them all agog for manslaughter?
                                        London Clubman.