Courtship and the Corsage Courtship and the Corsage

Courtship and the Corsage

Is romance dead? 

It's an exciting time of year for teenagers who’ve been eagerly awaiting their much-anticipated proms. I remember the excitement of finding an outfit, learning about what was planned for the event, planning with friends to get ready together before hand, and of course, hearing rumours of ‘who asked who’ to prom. It saddens me now to think that a lot of those arrangements were made with a text or a quick uncomfortable interaction in the hallway before shuffling off to class. Was it always this way, or are our young adults missing something that was once quite special? 

Courting with a Corsage 

Photo Credit: Northbridge Alumni Bear Facts

Wearing flowers has been dated back as far as Ancient Greece. It is understood that flowers were once thought to be capable of warding off evil spirits and even disease. Naturally, people took to wearing a corsage, or boutonniere of flowers or herbs to keep them safe. But as society developed this practice was mellowed out less for superstitious reasons, and instead for use at events and celebrations. The term corsage spans from the French term ‘bouquet de corsage’ - corsage meaning girdle or bodice in French. Women would typically wear their flowers attached to their body, in line with the term itself. Over time, the way flowers were used developed from practicalities to far more romantic purposes. There used to be an unwritten rule whereby men were expected to provide gifts including flowers for a woman they wished to court. These rules had to be adhered to, and men would send this token of a corsage to a woman for her to wear to an event. Sometimes, the man would turn up to the event wearing a matching boutonniere to ward off other potential suitors of their love interest. But why are flowers deemed to be the romantic gesture we know them to be? 

Why are flowers Romanticised  

Aside from a corsage being a gesture of good faith from a gentleman admirer, flowers have become a romanticised phenomenon that seems unstoppable. We have inherently adopted the societal rules of our ancient Greek ancestors and continued to have flowers present at special occasions (I’m yet to go to a wedding without flowers). We have become obsessed with the symbolism of flowers, using them to represent beauty, adoration, purity and most of all, love. So what is it about a bouquet of flowers that has society thinking this is what will be sure to ‘woo’ someone on a first date? We’ve all seen it, an awkward first date where a bouquet’s presented, it’s an ice-breaker, but is it still considered romantic or simply outdated?  

Modern Courtship 

Once upon a time, flowers were at the very centre of courtship. Growing up I can remember watching American sitcoms and films; your typical teenage chick flick where the guy gets the girl after asking her out to prom, they have a fallout and its touch and go, but in the end, he shows up at the door in a tuxedo ready to whisk her off to prom. The final piece of the puzzle is a corsage picked out just for her, as we now know, a gesture of courtship spanning back for centuries. By the 1900’s the corsage had moved up from the bodice to the shoulder, pinned upside down with the bow at the top. Prom-goers today present their dates with a corsage and pin it to their dress, although recently with changes to fashion introducing thin dress straps, it can alternatively be worn on the wrist. The US are famous for keeping up this tradition, something that the UK is less known for that I think younger generations will someday have no idea this tradition existed at all. So, if you’re a hopeless romantic like me, why not take back a lost tradition with a modern twist. Do it for yourself! Teens nowadays should enjoy having fun and going to prom for a good boogie with friends. Why not encourage them to forget the romantic gestures and wear a corsage just because they can!  

Let’s get Crafty 

Fancy sparking up a bit of old school romance with your partner? Why not make them a corsage for your next night out! We’ve put together a simple ‘how to’ guide for you to make your own. It’s fun, super easy, and you get to pick what flowers you choose. Remember it’s not just for the day, it can be kept for a lifetime if you dry the flowers! 

1. Think about your colour scheme, perhaps you’d like to match your corsage to your outfit and choose some stems you love. Try to choose between a mix of greenery and flower heads so that you have some leaves to work with and give it some layers. 

2. Choose which flower bud is going to be the centre piece to highlight and cut this stem down to no longer than 3 inches. Pair this with your chosen piece of foliage placing the bud against the leaves to create the required height, and width. Trim off any leaves that are stealing the attention if necessary. 

3. Attach these together with floral tape, wrapping round the stems from the base of the bud down. Once secure, you can begin to add stems, arranging at different heights and angles to give the piece depth and volume. Remember to build up on one side of the design, as the back of the corsage needs to stay flat against the body. 

4. Once you’ve taped your stems, you can proceed to add any additional decorations, such as ribbon, bows, or even glitter (make it fabulous). 

5. Once you’re happy with your design, cut the stems to make sure they’re just the right size to sit in your buttonhole. Attach to the buttonhole or bodice with a pin, with the aim to pin the flower head upwards.