and a silver sixpence in her shoe.
The old item provided protection for the baby to come. The item borrowed from another happy bride provided good luck. The colour blue was a sign of fidelity. The sixpence — a silver British coin — was a symbol of prosperity or acted as a ward against evil done by frustrated suitors. The superstition is known since 1883 when it was attributed to the county of Lancashire. An 1898 compilation of English folklore recounted that:
In this country an old couplet directs that the bride shall wear:— "Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue." "The something blue" takes, I am given to understand, usually the form of a garter, an article of dress which plays an important part in some wedding rites, as, for instance, in the old custom of plucking off the garter of the bride. "The something old" and "something blue" are devices to baffle the Evil Eye. The usual effect on the bride of the Evil Eye is to render her barren, and this is obviated by wearing "something borrowed", which should properly be the undergarment of some woman who has been blessed with children: the clothes communicate fertility to the bride.
Another compilation of the era frames this poem as "a Lancashire version", as contrast against a Leicestershire recitation that "a bride on her wedding day should wear—'Something new, Something blue, Something borrowed'...", and so omits the "something old". The authors note that this counters other regional folklore warning against the wearing of blue on the wedding day, but relates the use of the color to phrases like "true blue" which make positive associations with the color.
The rhyme can earlier be found in an 1876 edition of Notes and Queries, and is called an "ancient custom" in another 1876 book, Bye-gones, Relating to Wales and the Border Counties. This version is referenced as well in an 1871 short story, "Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect", in The St. James's Magazine.
At the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the bride had:
- something old – Carrickmacross lace
- something new – a pair of diamond earrings made by jewellers Robinson Pelham and given by her parents
- something borrowed – a diamond tiara made by Cartier which had been bought for The Queen Mother, and which was subsequently given to The Queen on her 18th birthday
- something blue – a small ribbon sewn into the inside of the dress
In popular culture
- In the Friends episode "The One in Vegas", Monica says to Chandler she needs 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' so they can get married. They got a new, blue sweater stolen from the shop (borrowed) and Chandler's old condom. In "The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding, Part 2", Phoebe discovers a positive pregnancy test, assumed to be Monica's, and Phoebe asks if the baby counts as Monica's something new. In "The One With Phoebe's Wedding", when Phoebe decides not to wear her coat while getting married outside in the snow, she said that "I can be my something blue", suggesting that she might go blue with coldness.
- In the Grey's Anatomy episode "White Wedding", Callie Torres asks to borrow something from Sloan Riley, saying that she already has something old, new and blue, in preparation for her wedding.
- In the "ER" seventh season episode 18 "April Showers", Isabelle Corday, Dr. Elizabeth Corday's mother, hands her daughter a pair of family heirloom earrings the morning of Elizabeth's wedding, mentioning, "Something old, something new, something borrowed...."
- The final two episodes of Season 2 of How I Met Your Mother are titled "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue" in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Marshall and Lily on the show. The final two episodes of Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother are titled "Something Old" and "Something New" in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Barney and Robin on the show.
- In the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "A Dick on One Knee" Harry is tasked with finding something old, something new; something borrowed, and something blue, his second attempt is "Blind Joe", an old man who plays the blues that he borrowed from the Tip-Top Club. When Sally asks Harry what's new about him, Harry says Joe is his new friend. 
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Big Bang", the Doctor connects the four elements to his TARDIS, which is "borrowed", and "brand new and ancient, and the bluest blue ever". In the same episode at Amy Pond's wedding, she recites this saying to help remember the Doctor (excluding the line "And a silver sixpence in her shoe"), who had previously been erased from time. As she finishes her speech, wind begins blowing in the hall and several seconds later the TARDIS starts materializing right in the middle of it, and the Doctor—not imaginary, but flesh and blood—steps outside into the hall.
- The ninth episode of series two of Torchwood is entitled "Something Borrowed" in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams on the show.
- In Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends, Season 5, Episode 19 "Happy Ever After", Percy is taking some trucks (freight cars) to Brendam Docks, when Terence, working in a field next to the line tells him Mrs. Kyndley's daughter is getting married. Further up the line, Mrs. Kyndley waves him down when Percy's driver asks her what's wrong, Mrs. Kyndley has forgotten the good luck package. The something old was Old Slow Coach, the something new was a buffer stop with shiny new buffers, the something borrowed was a flatbed truck the buffers were on, and the something blue was Thomas. The delighted bride thanks the engines and gives Percy a kiss.
- In the penultimate episode "We're Planning a June Wedding" of the popular series The Vampire Diaries, lead character Caroline Forbes receives a card reading "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue", and during the episode she receives items which signify the phrase for her wedding. Something old from Stefan, Elena's necklace (something borrowed), a floral-looking headband from her friend Bonnie (something new), and Katherine's necklace (something blue).
- On Ihsahn's album Eremita (2012) is a song entitled "Something Out There", which uses the lyrics "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue".
- Something old, something new (disambiguation)
- Something New (disambiguation)
- Something Borrowed (disambiguation)
- Something Blue (disambiguation)
- Old New Borrowed Blue
- Old New Borrowed and Blue
- Gregory B. Coe (1998), "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Recent Developments in Pretrial and Trial Procedure", The Army Lawyer
- Jacobs, Joseph; Nutt, Alfred Trübner; Wright, Arthur Robinson (1898), Folklore, Folklore Society of Great Britain, p. 128.
- Firminger, Thomas; Dyer, Thiselton (1905), Folk-lore of women as illustrated by legendary and traditionary tales, p. 45.
- White, William (1876), Notes and Queries, p. 408.
- Bye-gones, Relating to Wales and the Border Counties, 3, 1876, p. 136.
- "Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect", The St. James's Magazine, 28: 549, 1871.
- Kate Middleton's bridal dress designed by Sarah Burton, BBC, 29 April 2011
- Gripper, Ann (29 April 2011), "Kate Middleton's something old, new, borrowed and blue for royal wedding revealed", Daily Mirror