Couldn’t we all use a chatelaine?

I… CAN explain…

Why I hear the name of this item from fashion history and, instead, this voice / song swells in my mind palace…

Please know that I am working to keep my tendency to digress at a minimum, but also working to keep my tendency to “K.D. Lang free associate” to a minimum as well.

We’ll see how it goes.


I love a chatelaine. I love that something of beauty was created out of that which was excluded (surprise, surprise), later reluctantly and sparingly doled out, to women. I still don’t have enough of them in my life.

Chatelaine because no pockets.

Shoot. Digression affliction again. I will post on female oppression and pockets at a different time.


A chatelaine is:

Talk about brilliance!

Talk about convenience!

Talk about a KICK ASS mobile device!

Tired of needing to open doors but not wanting to fumble in a purse for keys? Need a pencil? Notebook? Whistle to call a dog or for the sadly numerous other reasons a woman might need a whistle as they are moving through their day-to-day lives?

Chatelaine.

Seamstress? Here’s your scissors and sewing kit.

Nurse? Thermometer.

Out working, getting paid and oops! Shoe’s come undone? Coin purse and button hook.

The concept of waist-hung items is almost universal across all cultures. Japanese netsuke… Chinese embroidered pouches… Chaucer’s Pardoner… but the chatelaine was a more useful addition to an outfit, facilitating the demand of plurality placed upon women.


Need a glass of vino after saving the day, all day? Corkscrew.

There were two styles of chatelaines… The majority had a medallion at the top with a metal tongue hooking over the waistband. The other style, more typically American, had a very long brooch pin at the back.

Women wore the beautiful ones in public while leaving the plainer ones at home when they went out and about.

Above is a daguerreotype of a woman being photographed with her chatelaine, and a close up.

Chatelaines could hold spectacles, perfume, handkerchiefs… even a little paint box in addition to all of the things mentioned above. Chatelaines were for holding any and all things that a woman might need handy, regardless of setting or role.

As always, women in silver situations with gold preparation… through ingenuity, foresight, and fashion.

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