The Handkerchief is Dead, Don’t Tell Your Grandma


How often do you think of handkerchiefs? The last time I thought of them was when I was composing this glossary. Before that? I had an embroidery kick for a few months as a kid, and that little square of cloth seemed a most appropriate medium. (No finished product to show, as I had a habit of starting these projects and quickly moving on to other awesome things like pretending to be Dominque Dawes.) So that’s twice in approximately twenty years of memory; in other words, not so often.

Why is this?

On the one hand, I love me an accessory, especially if it’s likely to have a monogram. (I’m very vain, you see.) And I love square things. So symmetrical. So foldable.

On the other hand, isn’t a handkerchief intended to be used as a Kleenex is used? So you take it out of your pocket, handbag or bra (don’t look at me like that…you know you’ve seen that in old movies), blow your nose, then return to it to its friction-prone home. Yeah, that’s gross.

Is it this seemingly unhygienic reason that they’ve fallen out of favor; or is it because, as a culture, we don’t pay mind to sartorial details like this one anymore? If the later is true, it’s a little sad. My grandmother would be even more disappointed with this Gaga-aka-pantsless-McGee-is-a-fashion-icon century than she is already. Or perhaps it’s about availability, as you can only get them now at specialty stores these days. Or can you? I wouldn’t know, as I’ve only seen/thought of them twice in a couple decades, remember.

What do you think? Have you ever used a handkerchief?


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