Toes Mustn’t Show

Do not emulate the brazen lady in this image who dares to lounge without a couvre-pieds!

In 1818 the formidable French etiquette writer Madame de Genlis (1746-1830) reminded proper ladies that when lounging on a divan, chaise longue or daybed, they’d better hide their feet under a couvre-pieds. “Decency demands it because, stretched out like that, the smallest movement may uncover the feet and even the legs. Besides, a pretty couvre-pieds is a very decorative ornament; people make do without them these days but nothing looks so sloppy.” A flash of foot flesh? Scandal!

This would have been perfect to include in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite‘s entry on the Divan. Sigh. But while finding it several months after the book’s publication date is a bit annoying, it’s still great to find it.

And to be honest, it’s so cold in our house today I could use a good couvre-pieds, not for propriety’s sake, but to keep warm!