Back to black?

Watching the Lawson-Saatchi marital tribulations, and not envying Nigella being papped packing her stuff or having a scruffy Sunday with friends, has made me think how useful it would be if we could return to Victorian dress codes. All right, divorce and separation were not big in those days, but death certainly was, and it divided an awful lot of spouses.

We all live on into our eighties now, many of us divorcing and chopping and changing partners regularly, so an equivalent of mourning dress, for when your marital status has suddenly changed, would be so handy. People wouldn’t have to pussyfoot around, not quite knowing whether it was curtains for the relationship or, as Saatchi puts it, a ‘playful tiff.’ There would be no ambiguity about the situation. Then, surely, the paparazzi would leave poor Nigella alone. Her clothes would be making a statement for her.

The Victorians went into ‘deep mourning’, wearing nothing but black from head to toe, when their husbands or wives were no more, so we could plunge into black, too, when we’ve decided irrevocably to split up. Nigella definitely seems to have done so already. The next stage in mourning clothes was, I think, grey, after a few months. Nowadays, you could move into grey clothes when you’ve got your decree nisi, and then slip smartly into mauves and purples when you get your decree absolute, as the Victorians would as they started to emerge from a grief-stricken state.

Of course, the Victorians went the whole hog, and would wear special mourning jewellery constructed from intricately plaited locks of the dead loved one’s hair. I doubt if Nigella will be doing the same, unless hers features Saatchi’s actual scalp.

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