Skip to main content
Select Source:

Handkerchiefs

Handkerchiefs

One of the true fashion innovations of the sixteenth century was the introduction of the handkerchief as a fashion accessory. Handkerchiefs themselves were not new; people had been carrying a small cloth for blowing their nose for years. These soiled items, however, were kept tucked away out of sight, causing uncertainty as to when the first handkerchief was actually invented. In the sixteenth century, however, the handkerchief came out of the pocket and into public scrutiny. The same women who dressed in exquisite silk gowns with delicate lace ruffs, or collars, and cuffs had their tailors add lace or a scalloped edge to a fine linen cloth and elevated the handkerchief to the status of fashion accessory. A fine lacy handkerchief, or hanky, was not tucked away in a pocket but held in the hand or draped coyly across the arm. It might be matched with a fan or another accessory.

Handkerchiefs have remained a fashion accessory ever since. It is rumored in fashion history that Frenchwoman Marie Antoinette (17551793) was frustrated that handkerchiefs were offered in so many shapes: round, oval, rectangular, and so on. Her husband, King Louis XVI of France (17541793), made it a law that all handkerchiefs must be square, and they have remained square ever since. During the twentieth century it became fashionable for men to place a handkerchief in the left breast pocket of their suit coat with just an inch of the fabric sticking out of the pocket. Carefully folded and ironed, these breast-pocket handkerchiefs could come in a variety of colors, though white was preferred. Though people no longer dangle a handkerchief from their hand as a fashion gesture, the handkerchief has remained a common item for personal use to this day, though facial tissue is now more commonly used.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Cassin-Scott, Jack. Costume and Fashion in Colour, 15501760. Introduction by Ruth M. Green. Dorset, England: Blandford Press, 1975.

Gustafson, Helen. Hanky Panky: An Intimate History of the Handkerchief. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2002.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Handkerchiefs." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Handkerchiefs." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/handkerchiefs

"Handkerchiefs." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/handkerchiefs

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

handkerchief

handkerchief: In classical Greece pieces of fine perfumed cotton, known as mouth or perspiration cloths, were often used by the wealthy. From the 1st cent. BC, Roman men of rank used an oblong cloth of linen (the sudarium) chiefly to wipe perspiration from the face and hands. During the empire a square handkerchief of cotton or silk was carried, especially by women. The handkerchief was dropped by the praetors as a starting signal in the Roman games and was waved by spectators as a sign of approval. In the Middle Ages it was a prized possession and was conspicuously displayed by the wealthy. It was worn by knights in tournament as the symbol of a lady's favor. It came into general use in the Renaissance and was called a napkyn. Silk, cambric, and lawn, lavishly embroidered or laced, became fashionable for both men and women. Shapes were also varied. Today the handkerchief is more practical than decorative. Disposable paper handkerchiefs are used for all but very formal occasions. The handkerchief carried in the left hand of the officiating priest in the early Christian church evolved into a folded band that by the 12th cent. had become the maniple, worn on the left arm.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"handkerchief." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"handkerchief." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/handkerchief

"handkerchief." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/handkerchief

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

handkerchief

hand·ker·chief / ˈhangkərchif; -chēf/ • n. a square of cotton or other finely woven material, typically carried one's pocket and intended for blowing or wiping one's nose.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"handkerchief." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"handkerchief." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchief-0

"handkerchief." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchief-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

handkerchief

handkerchief see KERCHIEF.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"handkerchief." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"handkerchief." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchief-1

"handkerchief." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchief-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

handkerchief

handkerchiefbiff, cliff, glyph, if, kif, miff, niff, quiff, riff, skew-whiff, skiff, sniff, spliff, stiff, tiff, whiff •mischief • handkerchief •neckerchief • kerchief • Cardiff •Radcliffe •bailiff, calif, caliph •Wyclif • Northcliffe • anaglyph •hieroglyph • tariff •serif, sheriff •midriff • hippogriff • mastiff • caitiff •plaintiff • pontiff • Joseph

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"handkerchief." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"handkerchief." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchief

"handkerchief." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchief

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

handkerchiefs

handkerchiefs •handkerchiefs • fisticuffs

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"handkerchiefs." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"handkerchiefs." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchiefs

"handkerchiefs." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/handkerchiefs

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.