Dressed to the nines
Marsha
This is not a new topic, just an explanation.
When a lady is formally dressed she wears gloves that have nine buttons. Therefore, "dressed to the nines",
AdSumADS
See the Word for Word archives.
Lewis Joplin II
And here are more theories:

DRESSED TO THE NINES -- "Nattily turned out. 'Nines?' What can they be? Well, no one is sure, Nine is the highest number before the numerals start recycling, and maybe that's it Another possibility is that 'eyne' is an old plural for 'eye,' and the phrase 'to the eyne' meant to the eyes. Anyway, 'nines'... (or nine) has turned up as a superlative in more than dress. In 1793, 'Thou paints old nature to the nines.' In 1836, 'Praisin' a man's farm to the nines.' In 1863, 'Being clad in snowy cotton and japanned to the nine.'" From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

Return to the archive