Debutante tradition can be traced back in history with its root in England. It was started with an idea to present a young girl, who has reached the age of marriage or simply has attained maturity. Usually, this was confined to the girls of the aristocratic society or upper class.
The idea behind debutante is that a girl should be presented to society so that a daughter of marriageable age finds a husband of suitable and similar social status. At that time, the daughters of the landed aristocracy, the lords and ladies, married within a limited circle in England.
Debutante in Victorian era
Presentation of debutantes at court during early years of the Victorian era was called “coming out”. The girls used to come to St. James palace, which was later called Buckingham palace. They were dressed in a gown much like a wedding dress and carried a bouquet. This ceremony, when the debutantes were presented at court, allowed only daughters of
They were dressed in a gown much like a wedding dress and carried a bouquet. This ceremony, when the debutantes were presented at court, allowed only daughters of clergy, of military and naval officers, of barristers and of physicians. Although other women of wealthy families attended balls and parties, they were not presented at the court.
Debutante was not just presenting young ladies who have reached the age of maturity, but the ones who had completed a level in education and was ready to be introduced to the society. This meant that the girl was marriageable and the main purpose was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families for suitability. The age of maturity was not decided by the age of the girl. The parents took the decision keeping in mind their daughter’s physical and mental development. A completed education and its quality were also very important to help the girl get a brilliant match.
The age of maturity was not decided by the age of the girl. The parents took the decision keeping in mind their daughter’s physical and mental development. A completed education and its quality were also very important to help the girl get a brilliant match.
The upper class is a term used to refer to a group of people who belonged to the top of social hierarchy. Members of upper class enjoyed special powers over the allocation of resources and policies of the government in that area.
Daughters of these families were formally introduced to the society by organizing a “debut”. Once presented, the debutante or prospective bride was allowed to attend 60 parties, 50 balls, 30 dinners and 25 breakfast in one season. If within two to three seasons she could not get married, she was considered as failure and by the age of 30, a hopeless spinster.
Presentation of the young girl to the society
Presentation of a young girl to the society was possible through various entertainments, but the favourite and most elaborate one was the ball. However, daughters belonging to parents of wide social acquaintance and considerable weather were allowed here. The second, although equal in size, but less elaborate was an afternoon tea with dance. The third was a dance, which started gaining rapid popularity where the debutante was presented to few of her mother’s most intimate friends.
The fourth one was a small tea without music. The fifth, however, was sending out visiting cards of the mothers with the name of their daughter below. This was just to show and make people in the society aware that the daughter is eligible now for invitations.
A Debutante Ball
A debutante ball is just like other balls, the only difference being the debutante “receives” stands beside the hostess and is introduced to the guests by her mother. The formal exchange of greetings was done and then the party used to begin. Initially, the debutantes were presented to the court and only after that they were allowed to attend social parties.
However, in the “coming out” parties organized by the young girl’s parents, the debutante was allowed to ask some of her young friends to come to the party.
A debutante is expected to maintain a certain level of decorum in addition to completing a quality education.
She had to speak in a pleasant tone using proper language and had to wait to speak until the person has finished speaking.
Everyday manners were also expected and used with proper care and caution. There was a list of criteria, which very few could accomplish completely.