How to Build a Trousseau

Antique shams for testing tactile personality
Embroidered trousseau shams from Pandora de Balthazar
Embroidered trousseau pieces are some of our most exquisite offerings. Image by Bruce Barone.

In the not too distant past, brides-to-be eagerly curating household linens for their soon-to-be homes went through a process that brought extreme excitement to a young woman about to become a newly-minted wife. Though the custom is still being followed during our contemporary times, the percentage of future brides giving it as serious a focus as it was given “once upon a time” is much smaller. And most future wives now seem to concentrate on household items like dishware and silverware, often leaving the bedroom out of the mix when curating their trousseau.


Antique shams are collectors items at Pandora de Balthazar
Every person will respond differently to an antique textile like this lovely sham. Image by Bruce Barone.


Why Add Linens to Your Trousseau?


We will admit the thought of touring the bedding sections of most major chain stores is a bit of a bore after the excitement of dreaming into being a table set with beautiful fine china and crystal, and gleaming silverware. But we want to offer you this caveat: not all bedding is created equal! If you beheld some of our antique trousseau pieces, you’d be just as starry-eyed about dressing the bed as you would be about beautifying the table.


Trousseau pieces express remarkable personality.
Trousseau pieces express remarkable personality.


There is one huge benefit to paying attention to your bed over the table, as we spend one-third of our lives sleeping. Why not make the place we do so a luxurious, aesthetically complex and layered sleep environment? The table is experienced for only brief periods and delivers no comfort other than to the eye. With luxuriant linens, properly prepared, absolutely anyone feels the difference and we’ve turned novices into connoisseurs.


Antique shams for testing tactile personality
Many of our antique shams are excellent pieces for testing tactile personality. Image by Bruce Barone.


How to Build a Trousseau


So, how do you build a trousseau, you ask? Well, you’ve landed in the perfect spot to understand how to collect valuable linens in a meaningful way. Though they are most highly valued by collectors, any person with exquisite taste will realize the benefits of putting their money into specimens of the utmost quality. We’re talking about the finest heirlooms, which have been passed down through families for generations. Our leading lady, Pandora de Balthazár has been collecting them for decades and has amassed one of the most notable reserves of them in the world.


Trousseau Blue bedding Pandora de Balthazar
Trousseau Blue specimens are particularly sought after by collectors.


“In most European countries, and with a few American families, the preparation for a young bride’s trousseau once began at birth and often before,” she says, explaining the history of the trousseau concept. “Years before her betrothal, the future bride amassed enough linens for her bedding and tables to sustain her family throughout their lives.” Trousseau Blue linens are particularly sought-after among all of the antiques, as they are most often found in the best condition—ready to use and enjoy as well as to cherish for years to come. The name comes from a blue tint given to embroidered linens made in preparation for a lady’s trousseau. The bluing is often in the thread and rarely fades. Trousseau Blue was most often made for the bridal bed because only exceptional beauty would do for the place where the bride and groom would consummate their relationship.


Trousseau linens are works of art
The artistry of trousseau pieces is evident.


Shopping for Trousseau Linens
at High Point


We’re going to have a number of our trousseau pieces on view during High Point Market beginning next week and we would be more than happy to show designers and brides alike some of our exquisite pieces. Our stand number in the Salon at The Suites at Market Square is M-8037. We’ll be there every day from October 22 through 26. We are adept at working with designers whose newly-engaged clients are undertaking the process of designing a new home. We’ve been told time and again that we are an excellent resource for those special one-of-a-kind pieces that will make the bed as lovely as any piece of furniture in the home.


Pandora’s Primer on Collecting Trousseau Linens


Determine a budget, which should include cleaning unless you will do that lovingly on your own. If you are at a loss as to where to begin your research, lean on us: we know the market inside and out, and we offer expert cleaning services. You don’t want just anyone handling these valuable works of art-cum-emotional investments.


Trousseau linens for the bed
What’s more rewarding than having a unique bed decorated with trousseau linens.


Determine your style and look for linens that fit. There are many eras so choose the aesthetic that speaks to you whether it be Victorian, Edwardian, Early American or Asian—to name but a few. Remember, all sets are one of a kind so they will vary, and the era will often determine which pieces were made and how many are available.

Develop an overall plan. How will you use the linens? Measure sizes and make a list of the furnishings on which you will place them. Carry these figures with you when you are shopping, and be sure to list them along with the other items you’ve set your heart on acquiring in your wedding planner.


Pandora de Balthazar trousseau linens
Trousseau pieces are so well preserved because they are special and were cared for lovingly.


Make a wish list even if you feel they are not your earliest purchases. This will help you decide whether the one or two special items you’re seeing are worthy of a shift in the priority because these unique pieces may pass in front of you only once. Why would you want to miss such a remarkable opportunity?

Remember to think creatively about using linens: because sizes are so varied, the pieces that were once tablecloths may make perfect bedcovers now and vice versa; or towels may morph easily into pillow covers.

Be sure to explore them—touch the embroidery, the lace, the textures to understand your tactile personality. Although all trousseaus are made of high-quality linen or cotton, you’ll soon discover the warp and weft you love best. It isn’t about how it looks; it’s about how it feels, and how it makes you feel.


Pandora de Balthazar collects trousseau bedding
Lace and ornamental detailing are trousseau hallmarks.


If you are simply not finding beautiful antique linens of the highest quality, give us a call or send us an email. We not only have the collection we’ve amassed housed in our Pensacola atelier, we manufacture down duvets and European-sized pillows that serve as the infrastructure for these works of art, which will come together to dress a bed in a trousseau glow of magic.

If you have a trousseau set that has been handed down to you but certain pieces are worse for the wear, we restore and repair when the damage is not too extreme. If it simply can’t be brought back to life, we can advise you as to whether it can be rescued. A sheet with a substantial tear too significant to repair, for example, could make a beautiful pillow sham.


Detailing in antique trousseau linens
The detailing in trousseau linens like this is exquisite.


What makes consulting with brides and or their designers to help them begin to build a trousseau so exciting for us? We are furthering a treasured tradition that we have seen transform a way a young woman or man looks at the bedroom. We’ve also seen the mental calculations being tabulated when a couple understands the investment they are about to make—assets they will be able to keep for life and pass on to their children as heirloom treasures.

The Pandora de Balthazár Experience and this post, How to Build a Trousseau, © Pandora de Balthazár, all rights reserved. Products mentioned in this and all posts can be purchased through our atelier and an array of our products are available on Pandora de Balthazár Lifestyle.