Best Bib and Tucker

Meaning of “Best Bib and Tucker”

The phrase “best bib and tucker” means one’s best dress or clothes. It is mostly used when a person is dressed in his best. A bib is a frill at a man’s shirt, similar to a bow tie. A tucker is a lace as sleeves or neck design, part of the dress worn by a woman.

Origin of “Best Bib and Tucker”

The phrase “best bib and tucker” is emerged during the first half of the eighteenth century. It was used in New Memoires Establishing a True Knowledge of Mankind by Marquis d’Argens, published in 1747. It goes, “The Country-woman minds nothing on Sundays so much as her best Bib and Tucker.”

Later, Charlotte Bronte also used it in her famous novel Jane Eyre published in 1847 as; “Some of the girls have two clean tuckers in the week; the rules limit them to one.” Since then, it has become a common phrase for the best clothes of women or men.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Gathering by William H. Matchett

Here, in our best bib and tucker we flock,
Drawn from all the hell over, iron filings to a magnet,
An intricate pattern, a one-time convergence
Of friends and relations, a living mandala;

The poem describes a family gathering during a Hindu wedding ceremony. The phrase has been used in the very first line of the poem in which he is of the view that the whole family is in the “best bib and tucker” to gather to enjoy mandala. The phrase has been used in the same meanings that all were wearing their best. Mandala is a Sanskrit word. It means a ritualistic geometric design, symbolic of the Universe, used as an aid to meditation. Mandala also implies a place designed for the groom and bride’s rituals during the wedding.

Example #2

Maud by Louis Auchincloss

He nodded, looking at her gravely. “Six years,” he said. “Ever since that wonderful Christmas Eve when you told the assembled Spreddon family to put on their best bib and tucker and jump in the lake.”

Maud turned pale. Even the heavy silver service on the long table seemed to be jamming back and forth. She put down her spoon. “So you know that,” she said in a low voice. “They talk about it. They tell strangers.”

In the above paragraph, someone is talking to Maud. He reminds her how she would tell her family to wear their best clothes and jump into the lake during Christmas Eve. She inquires him whether some family member has informed strangers about this mysterious act. The phrase means that the family members asked to wear their best clothes.

Example #3

Mrs. Gardener from The Stories My Mama Told by Lucy Turley Denson

Mama smiled and said she had never borrowed any money. However, she knew she had to try for her family. Therefore, she put on her best bib and tucker and off she went walking to see Mrs. Gardener. She told Daddy that she would come back dragging her feet or clicking her heels. Of course, she came back with money in her hand. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and trust. From then on; if we need anything Mama would go to Mrs. Gardener, it was as if she became my Mama’s passage to freedom from her financial worries.

The narrator states that her mother used to meet Mrs. Gardener after wearing her best clothes and returned after a while but learning excellent skills of managing money wisely. This means that Mrs. Gardener taught her this skill of dressing her best and also earning a decent income through her work.

Example #4

Comedy is a Serious Business by Harry Ruskin

There are a dozen ways to go from here. If I wrote if, for instance, I’d worry because I couldn’t decide who should give her away. Should it be the mayor or the governor in his brand new cutaway and striped trousers, standing next to his wife, all gussied up in her best bib and tucker, carrying her husband’s largest handkerchief in case she wants to cry or blow her pretty nose? And who should catch her bouquet when she throws it?

Harry Ruskin explains how he should respond when there is the question of giving a girl away for her wedding, which is usually done by the father of the bride. He wonders if the right person to give ‘the bride’ away is the mayor or the governor. Between them, the governor seems well dressed and standing with his wife.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Asian weddings are very elaborate. You will find them all in their best bib and tuckers.

Example #2: “It’s our first prom, said Fiona to Jason. You better be in your best bib and tucker, and I’ll get the designer gown from Source.

Example #3: “You don’t always have to dress up in best bib and tucker. It was just a camping trip.

Example #4: “Did you know, Sally lost her necklace in the party. She arrived in best bib and tucker and left disheveled and in tears.”

Example #5: “All the bullies from the sports team thought they had the best bib and tuckers in the class. However, the teacher later announced the musicians as winners.