Show & Blow

Beginning in the late 1800's in rural America and continuing well into the 1900's, children were required to bring a clean handkerchief to school.  Because it was no easy matter to always have a clean hanky on hand, mothers hit upon the idea of sending their children to school with two handkerchiefs; a clean one to show the teacher and a working handkerchief that could stand up to frequent washings.

These hankies became known as Blow and Show, though some folks recall them as Show and Blow.  The last words children heard as they left the house for school were, "Do you have your show and blow?"

As it happens, a similar show-and-blow practice exists in Japan.  In classical Japanese dress, a little pocket inside the left sleeve of the lady's kimono is for keeping a functional handkerchief, usually white.  The pocket in her right sleeve holds a beautiful colored handkerchief for display only.  In addition, a gorgeous color coordinated square of fabric is often tucked into the middle V opening at the neck for a color accent.  

The handkerchief has never gone out of vogue in Japan, and the displays of handkerchiefs in enourmous department stores are breathtaking walls of beauty.