IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 27 Feb 2012

Breeches and Scarlet Petticoats – Clothes for Leap Year Proposals

Leap YearI’ve always found it slightly odd that in this day and age, there is still a UK tradition where the only time that women are expected to propose to their male partners is on the 29th February during a leap year. Women being masters of their own destiny only once every 4 years doesn’t seem quite right to me! Being a shopaholic however, I have thought of some ways to exploit this peculiar day from a retail perspective…

According to Wikipedia, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland, required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. With inflation meaning that £1 doesn’t buy you as much these days, I’d take the silk gown if given the choice! This one from Retail Assist client Coast would definitely soften the blow of rejection:

Eric Felten’s 2008 article (from the last leap year) in the Wall Street Journal stated that “A play from the turn of the 17th century, ‘The Maydes Metamorphosis,’ has it that ‘this is leape year / women wear breeches.’” Of course, women wearing trousers nowadays isn’t much of a shocker. That said, these trousers available from Retail Assist client ASOS, are bold enough to make an impact whenever you wear them:

Felten also observed that in the 19th century, women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat—fair warning, if you will. Should I be planning to propose on Wednesday (and I’d like to reassure everybody that I have no intention to!) I reckon I’d go the whole hog and wear a red skirt instead. This one from Retail Assist customer Harvey Nichols would fit the bill:

In Denmark, apparently the tradition is that women may propose on the 24th February, and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves. Just 1 pair of these cute gloves from Retail Assist client Awear would do me fine:

In Finland, allegedly the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman’s proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt. Not being very good at sewing myself, I think I’d prefer a ready made skirt, like this one from Retail Assist customer Oasis:

Are you planning to propose this Wednesday, or do you just like the clothes currently on offer from some of Retail Assist’s clients! Post your comments below or email

Leave a Reply

  • « %
  • % »
site maintained by we are coda