Queries and Replies: Definition of “toilets” in Custom of the Country

May I inquire about the meaning of ‘toilets’ used several times in the Custom of the Country? It seems to suggest as some sort of accessories ladies wore on their person that can be seen and admired.
Thank you. — Joy Cutler

Reply: The meaning in Custom of the Country and other older novels is often “to make one’s toilet or toilette,” meaning to prepare one’s hair to go out or be in company. The Oxford English Dictionary has this to say: “Frequently in form toilette. The action or process of washing, dressing, or arranging the hair. Frequently in to make one’s toilet.” Here’s the OED example from Washington Irving’s Bracebridge Hall: ” She actually spent an hour longer at her toilette, and made her appearance with her hair uncommonly frizzed and powdered.”

Another common reference is “toilet water  n.  [after French eau de toilette (see eau de toilette n. at eau n. f)] a dilute form of perfume, esp. one largely alcoholic in content used as a skin freshener; eau de toilette.” — Donna Campbell

For more queries, go to https://edithwhartonsociety.wordpress.com/category/queries/