Widows were expected to wear special clothes to indicate that they were in mourning for at least two years after the death, although a widow could choose to wear such attire for the rest of her life. To change the costume earlier was considered disrespectful to the deceased and, if the widow was still young and attractive, suggestive of potential sexual promiscuity. Those subject to the rules were slowly allowed to re-introduce conventional clothing at specific times; such stages were known by such terms as "full mourning", "half mourning", and similar descriptions. For half mourning, muted colours such as lilac, grey and lavender could be introduced. There was also mourning jewelry, often made of jet. The wealthy would wear cameos or lockets designed to hold a lock of the deceased's hair or some similar relic.
Mourning became quite an industry, with special warehouses offering specially made mourning wear. As it was considered unlucky to have mourning clothes on hand these clothes were generally discarded after the period of mourning ended, then new clothes would have to be quickly purchased when needed again. Friends, acquaintances, and employees wore mourning to a greater or lesser degree depending on their relationship to the deceased. Mourning was worn for six months for a sibling. Parents would wear mourning for a child for "as long as they feel so disposed". No lady or gentleman in mourning was supposed to attend social events while in deep mourning. In general, men were expected to wear mourning suits of black coats with matching trousers and waistcoats.
The black dyes used for mourning clothes were often unstable and could not be worn next to the skin as perspiration and natural body oils would cause the colour to blotch and run. It was this reason white shirts were worn but trimmed with purple or black lace, ribbon, or piping.