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10 Best Reasons To Join The Cosplay Culture

The cosplay culture is a hot topic. More and more people are discovering the fun of dressing up in cosplay costumes as their favorite characters. Their fantastic creations can be shown off at conventions and festivals.

Marvel comic characters

First they start with ideas that are gleaned from graphic novels, movies, comics, books and TV shows. Moreover, those who are into cosplay craft costumes range from simple to complex. The actor will often spend hundreds of dollars and even more hours creating just the right look.

“I have one power. I never give up”. Batman

What’s the attraction?

The History of Cosplay

People have loved dressing up for centuries. Fancy dress and masquerade balls were once the primary outlets for people who wanted to be someone else for the evening.

In fact, the first known cosplay occurred at a masquerade ball. That was when Ohio couple Mr. and Mrs. William Fell dressed up as newspaper comic characters. The trend didn’t take off right away, but it did spark an interest. 

In the 1970s, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” brought cosplay to theaters around the country. At showings of the film, moviegoers would arrive dressed up as various characters. Their style would range from fishnet stockings and a cosplay costume corset worn by Dr. Frank N. Furter, to Magenta’s flirty French maid costume. After that the film quickly became a cult classic. Likewise, part of its popularity has its standing in cosplay culture.

Cosplay Extravaganza

More than four decades later, cosplay continues to attract corseted and be-glittered guests to midnight screenings across the country.

Around the same time in history, steampunk fashion started picking up steam. This Victorian/cyberpunk trend was a blending of history, technology and sci-fi. Because of this, one big costuming extravaganza was created.

custom cosplay costume


Still, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the role-playing trend finally got its name. Japanese producer Nobuyuki Takahashi observed sci-fi convention attendees in their array of costumes and coined the term “cosplay”. To clarify, this combined the words “costume” and “play.”

As it turned out, Japanese anime fans had been dressing up as their favorite characters since the ‘70s, too. Now they had a name for the phenomenon. As a result, it exploded in popularity both in Japan and the U.S. and eventually, around the world.

Cosplay Today

Today, people from all walks of life get into cosplay. The reasons can be as varied as the people involved. Cosplay gives us an opportunity to channel creative interests into intricately detailed costumes, to interact with other members of fandoms, and to express ourselves in new ways.

Even better, it’s a hobby anyone can get into, from your next door neighbor to such well-known celebrities as Tom Hiddleston and Matt Smith.

So what are the Top 10 Reasons to Get Involved in Cosplay?

10. Cosplay is inclusive.

Anyone can dress up as anyone they want. When it comes to cosplay, the limits are your own imagination. Age, ability, size, sex, and other personal characteristics fade into the background as you transform into your character.

Wonder Woman cosplay outfit


9. Cosplay is freeing. 

Cosplay can be a fantastic way to really let your hair down. It can be especially liberating for people who just don’t feel like they fit in. When you cosplay, you can to shed all those worries and use your character to connect with people.

8. Cosplay can boost your confidence.

First of all, step into the shoes of someone else for a few moments or days. After that, forget the worries of your day-to-day life. You can tap into the strength of your character and experiment with new ways of looking at things. Consequently, this can translate into real-life confidence.

Maleficent


7. Cosplay is versatile.

Cosplay ideas range from the classic steampunk costume to fanciful anime costumes, to colorful superhero costumes. Because of this, you can be as simple or as sexy as you want. For instance, try dressing up your look Cith handcrafted details or adding a cosplay costume corset for an alluring boost.

6. Cosplay is creative.

Whether you’re planning, creating or purchasing your costume, you’re getting ample opportunities to be creative. Showcase your imagination as you pull together disparate elements to create a whole new version of your favorite characters.

Avengers



5. Cosplay builds community. 

Although you can certainly roleplay on your own, it’s even more fun to do it as a group. You can go with a partner, a friend or a lot of friends using themed costumes, or you can go to your favorite con convention or party alone. Make new friends for future dress-up adventures.

cosplay Disney princesses characters



4. Cosplay can be a way of life. 

Socializing, expressing yourself and enjoying the process can all be great benefits of cosplay. Some people however, take it a step further and make cosplay their livelihood. In addition to their own costumes, they create cosplay costumes for others. This is one hobby that can be quite profitable if you have the passion and talent.

Wonder Woman

3. Cosplay is an art form.

The design, detail, and creativity that go into the average costume make it more art than game. However, unlike costume designers, you’re usually working with a limited budget and without a team of professional when you start creating your costume. That’s pretty impressive!

Many cosplay designers share their ideas online. You can follow step by step instructions on ways to make an incredible costume on Youtube. https://youtu.be/VZ5hnFF6EdE

Moreover, you can buy a book from Amazon to learn how to make your cosplay costume.



2. Cosplay is an escape. 

You can be anything you want to be when you role play: cartoon princesses, sexy siren, frightening sci-fi character, video game persona and more. You can be the hero or villain of your own dreams!

1. Cosplay is fun. 

Of all the reasons people cosplay, this might just be the biggest. Cosplay gives you an opportunity to relive your favorite childhood comic characters. You can get involved in your fandom in new and exciting ways, creating colorful works of art that you can wear.

Get Inventive With Cosplay


For some, cosplay is a fun weekend hobby. For others, it’s a way of life. Many spend thousands creating just the right costume, but you can just as easily use items you already have. Much like dressing up for Halloween, cosplaying gives you an outlet for playful creativity.

If you’re ready to jump onto the cosplay train, there’s no better time to get started. Planning and making your own cosplay costume is just a fraction of the fun.

cosplay helmets made of Worbla

https://www.worbla.com/

Don’t limit your role play to conventions, movies or festivals. Try hosting a steampunk costume party or sci-fi theme night with your friends. In short, wear a cosplay Halloween costume to take the holiday to the next level. There are simply no limits when it comes to cosplay costume play.

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Why Corsets Are So Expensive

We are a society that thrives on merchandise. Every day we are confronted with new things to buy. If you have the extravagant taste of a connoisseur you may ask yourself why some corsets are so expensive? In contrast, if there is a comparable item, what makes one cost more?

Some of the items we buy in life are produced to make our life easier, while some of them are just for show. There are things to make you feel good and others to make you look better, younger, and feel happier.

Ferrari

While most of these things may start out as a new idea that someone has come up with, be it a design for a new purse or a tailgate on a new truck, they all have a beginning. From there the item gets refined, improved upon, copied and enhanced. The price may start out as minimal or exorbitant, depending on how much it initially cost to produce it.

But how do we get to the decision making step in the first place?

It Finally Happened

It finally happened, your favorite shoes have taken their last breath. No more coaxing can revive them. The heels are worn and the leather is tired, therefore no amount of sprucing will improve them. You’ve been dreading this time for decision making. Your old shoes are now considered vintage. You had a bond with them like an old pair of slippers. They have carried you through many good times and you will mourn their passing.

The company no longer produces the style or color you have. Now you will have to choose another pair that you are not familiar with. And most importantly, because you may have the new ones for a long time, you are careful about your decision-making process. You do thorough research and weigh your options.

Christian Louboutin shoes

The models you have been looking at are unsimilar. They are a different style with a different look, a higher heel and peculiar material. Decisions galore overwhelm you.

The new shoes can make or break an outfit! It becomes overwhelming you begin to wonder if you should just look for something else entirely. You really just want a good looking pair of shoes. A pair of shoes that are comfortable and don’t leave you wondering if it will match this outfit or that one. You want shoes that you don’t have to think about first thing in the morning with a foggy head.

Daily Decisions

In conclusion, while I am hopefully amusing you with my story of the search for a new pair of shoes, I have made you aware of some of the choices we make on a daily basis.

While not all of these choices are of utmost importance, some are. Some of them are simple choices that won’t alter your lifestyle. Some of them may send a significant jolt to your bank account.

Cost Relevance to Quality

Let’s take the example of the new shoes. While researching information about shoes online we can see that there are literally thousands to choose from. They range from very simple to the exclusive. Furthermore, the price range is adjusted accordingly.

Some people believe that the cost of an item is relevant to the quality. Whereas this may not always be the case, the final decision is based on their opinion.

Why Quality is Expensive

Some people just want to pay more. Some want the unique and rare that is seldom seen. They also may want to have something that others cannot afford. Or perhaps something that no one else has. Because of this, there is always the market for the expensive.

Opus One Wine

The exclusive comes at a high price, however. Be it perfume, shoes, a fine wine, jewelry, or cars, everything has a value attached to it. The value of the exclusive is usually based more on desire than need, because it makes you feel good about yourself.

The Reason for the Decision

How do we come to the final decision? First, you must decide the reason for wanting the item in the first place.

Sometimes you want to spend the extra money to have something entirely exclusive, and other times you want to just fill out your wardrobe.

Some days you dress to impress, and other times you stay in and wear sweatpants.

What About Corsets

Ditta Von Teese

Now let’s relate this to corsets as this is my specialty. Corsets are an exclusive and unique fashion item. Because they are a fashion item that is not worn every day. They can, however, be an awe-inspiring fashion statement. Perhaps you want an addition to your wardrobe that will make others stand up and notice. Corsets can show off curves that you didn’t think you had, with an instant waist reduction.

A striking corset can instantly stop conversations and have everyone reaching for their cell phones. Speechless, stunning, and impressive, are the words on the lips of the onlookers. Cameras are recording and the envy is significant.

Let’s Make a Comparison

In short, I have been asked why corsets are so expensive. “Why should I pay upwards of a thousand dollars for something that I can get for two-hundred dollars somewhere else?” you ask.

Well first you must do your homework. Most importantly, are the two items that are so far apart in price really comparable in quality?

Do you get the same customer service, amenities, and quality when you purchase Honda as you do a Mercedes? I should say not. That is not to say that one is completely inferior to the other. They are simply different purchases for different reasons.

If you are purchasing a pecocky corset to wear to a costume party, then you may not want to fork over a lot of money. However, if you desire a corset that you will wear many times, you will want one that fits correctly and is well made.

Custom Corsets

First, let’s understand the word ‘custom’. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, custom, is defined as “something made or performed according to personal order”.

So what does a ‘custom-made corset’ actually mean?

A custom corset is a corset made to your measurements and design specifications. This involves a process that will require you to have some involvement. The design can be as outlandish and inspiring as your imagination.

Many hours are required to produce a custom corset before the final model is finished. But as with any custom item, the cost is equal to the amount of customization you desire.

In this article we are going to outline the basic process of making a custom corset. Hopefully then you will understand why corsets are so expensive.

Basic Steps of a Custom Corset

To begin a custom corset there are four basic steps:

1 .   You provide your measurements to the corset maker using the outline and charts they provide. This is usually a simple and straightforward process but takes a little time, and requires the assistance of a friend.

2.   Together with the designer, you will come to a conclusion about what design you would like. The type of fit you want to have is usually based on the reason for your purchase. Is it for a special occasion, for whittling down your waistline, or just to have a one-of-a-kind outfit? The helps to determine a cost estimate for you. This process can be done by email or by phone.

3.   A mockup is constructed for your fitting once the measurements have been determined. This is not as complicated as it sounds. The mockup can then can be mailed out, with photos sent back to the designer. Or you may be able to have an in-person fitting. Some corsetieres charge for this while some do not. 

4. The actual construction of the corset begins when the correct fit has been achieved.
Most corset makers pay particular attention to the branding of their company name and incorporate labeling into the construction of their corsets. This is their reputation at stake after all.

Initial Mockup

The Corset Construction

Now that you have started the process of the corset with the measurements and fit required, the construction process begins.

First of all, a corset is unlike most garments as the fully lined corset is like putting together a down jacket but with a precise fit. Each garment has two layers identical to each other that are sewn together back to back. That is where the similarities between the corset and the down jacket ends however. With the down jacket, each section is then stuffed with the soft down material and the finishing touches are completed. With a corset however, there are many steps to be completed before the final project is done.

Before the Start

Because a corset is a garment that requires a considerable amount of time to construct a good corset maker takes his or her time. To rush the process could mean skipping a necessary step completely. To do so could mean wasting the entire project to start over again.

The fabric needs to be prepared by finishing the edges or pressing the material in advance. All materials are usually gathered in advance to make sure the proper items are on hand.

The items used in the construction of a corset are not common items that can be found in a local sewing store. The correct size of busk needs to be purchased, as well as specific grommets and often special lacing. These specialty items can only be purchased through a place that supplies corset items. Stiffener and interfacing are specific items that make a well made corset stand out from the others.

The Busk Insertion

There is a variety of terminology used when referring to a corset today. Many people mistakenly refer to a corset-top as a corset when the two are worlds apart. For a garment to be correctly known as a corset it must encompass a busk in the front and also have lacing at the back.

The busk consists of the metal pieces in the front that close the finished corset. It has hooks shaped like loops on one side and small buttons or pins on the other.

It takes time and precise measuring to get the busk installed correctly as it is sewn inside the center front sections. Once it is installed it cannot be moved or changed without damaging the garment.

The Inner Layers

The interfacing and inner layers are added to the corset next. Sometimes multiple layers of stiffening and structure are added to make a fully bespoke item.

Depending on the corset being constructed, the interfacing may be attached or sewn onto the lining or outside layers of fabric at this point as well.

As with everything else in a corset, so many different types of interfacing can be used. Heavy interfacing made with goat hair, which is used in men’s suits, can be found inside the quality made corsets.

Fusible interfacing may be used on outside fabrics that may need extra structure. Another time extensive item is the hand stitching that may be needed to hold the various layers in place correctly.

Inside of southwestern corset-Sedona
Sultry Lady Corsets

Finishing the Waist

Before the boning is added many seamstresses add a cloth tape or ribbon at the waistline. This is sewn onto the inside at the waistline for additional support. This is done to keep the corset from pulling apart when the tight lacing is done for waist restriction. Because of this, your corset will last longer.

Sometimes the waistline tape is added later, depending on the preference of the seamstress or designer.

The Boning

The boning channels are stitched in next or boning tape is added. Every piece of boning requires its own space to sit correctly because e ach seam needs to be precise to have a beautiful finish. It will be quite obvious the more precise and exacting the seamstress is. 

With corsets that have a bra cup design at the bust there may be a special underwire for the bust section. This requires not only a separate boning channel for the underwire but often there is additional padding under the bust section as well.

Setting the Boning

Once the outside and inside sections are sewn together and the boning channels are sewn in, the boning needs to be inserted. Each and every individual piece of boning needs to be cut to the exact size for the corset to be exceptional.

The ends of the boning need to be finished or protected so that they do not cut the corset fabric during wear. This is done with a variety of methods, dependent on the type of boning used. Sometimes this is done with special stitching that is sewn on the outside by hand to hold the boning in place.

Many modern corset makers use a variety of boning types in one individual corset. This requires different techniques in finishing each piece of boning.

The Back

Now that the front busk is in, the interfacing added, sections are sewn together, and the boning is inserted, it is time to complete the back.

The back will typically have many grommets attached to each side for the lacing to go through. As with the front, precise measuring must be done to ensure correct placement of the grommets.

A machine is used to attach the grommets securely in place. If they are not attached correctly, the grommets will come out during wear or the lacing or unlacing of the corset.

After the grommets have been placed, lacing is added to the back for proper closure. Similarly, a variety of lacing types can be used from satin ribbon to nylon cord. Some corsetieres use various ways that they lace the corset together at the back. Moreover, this is done for uniqueness and design.

The Finished Edges

At this point the top and bottom edges are finished with an edging fabric. If there is fabric that goes up to or wraps around the neck, this needs to be added before the finishing edges now.

Finishing Touches

Now we are close to the final completion.

If there is a modesty panel in back this will be added at this point or sooner if the designer deems it necessary.

Any additional embellishments are added at this point for the final look.

Any necessary hand stitching may be done for support or design. Hand beadwork is applied as desired. The most noteworthy labels can be sewn on by hand or by sewing machine during the process.

In conclusion, many labor-intensive hours and attention to detail have gone into the corset. It is an exclusive garment that cannot be changed, and the size cannot be altered.

So Why So Expensive?

Below is an outline of the cost of a simple overbust corset with no embellishments as provided on the website of
Electradesigns: https://corsetmakers.livejournal.com/288314.html?replyto=2812730

How Much It Costs To Make Your Corset

(based on over-bust corset with no embellishment)

Price of over-bust corset with no embellishment $275

Corset Materials

1 yd fashion fabric $15

1.5 yd twill $11

.5 yd binding fabric $4

Grommets $5

10 yd Boning $15

Boning tips $2

Busk (regular) $15

8 yd Ribbon laces $10

12 yd Twill tape $5

3 yd fusible webbing $6

1 roll fusible webbing $2

2 spool heavy duty thread $5

Drafting paper $1

___________________

Basic materials $96

Mockup Materials

1 yd cotton duck $7

Thread $1

Boning $1

laces $3______________________

Basic materials $12

Total materials Costs: Approx $108

Labor for each corset:

pattern draft 5 hours

sourcing materials 5 hours

making mockup 5 hours

altering pattern 2 hours

make corset 40 hours+

email correspondence 5 hours+

Post office 1 hour

_______________________________

hours on each corset 63+ hours

$275 Corset price

-$108 Materials Costs

_____

$167 for labor

Divide $167 by 63 hours of labor = $2.65 hour for skilled labor

Now let’s say you didn’t count the time spent responding to client email, sourcing materials, trips to the post office, etc. That’s about 50 hours spent on each corset., which comes to $3.34 an hour. That’s half the minimum wage in America.

Equipment:

sewing machine

sewing machine attachments

pattern drafting tools

sewing tools

steel bone cutting tools

industrial grommet setter

iron/ ironing board

electricity

workspace

storage space

file cabinet

washing machine/ dryer

drafting table

books

Education/ Experience

Two years of FIDM fashion design major ($60,000)

15 years corset making

18 years sewing

pattern drafting

fashion illustration

technical flats

custom tailoring

artist

Additional Expenses:

PayPal fees

Ebay fees

Web site fees

Internet 

Model/ Photographer

Web hosting fees

Computer software

Shipping for materials

Advertising

Sample corsets

Custom Corsets Made by Corsetieres


Whereas some of the items that were used in the making of their corsets are a different quality from other corset makers, the basic cost is comparable. Because each corset is somewhat or sometimes completely different, the cost of time and materials vary considerably.

Most corset makers use certain items in each and every corset they make. As a result, they have reliable quality in their products. Outer materials vary considerably, while interfacing, lining materials, boning, and finishing touches are consistent.

Some corsetieres send their designs off to a manufacturer to be produced on an assembly line. Other custom corset makers do each and every item by hand themselves.

The Cost of a Well Made Corset

Hopefully, this has given you a peek into the process of a well-made corset. The next time you ask “why corsets are so expensive”, perhaps you will have a better understanding.

As with that pair of shoes that you are hoping to buy, you get what you pay for. Quality does not come cheap. Much more goes into the production of a well made item.

Finally, it is up to you to decide if you want the item that is better made, more exclusive, yet more costly. Only you can decide if that Yeti cooler is worth the money or the Rolex watch is within your budget.

actor Billy Porter at the Oscars

The Realized Dream

The news reporter Robin Abcarian writes in her article on actor Billy Porter and ‘His fashion statement’, “Just like the fashion runways of the world, the Oscars red carpet is a fashion fantasy land. For the fantasy to work, everyone must buy in”.

Billy Porter is best known for his performance as Lola in the musical production of “Kinky Boots”. In addition, his attention-grabbing works from television to the theater have taken him to the red carpet many times.

For Billy Porter it was a realized dream of wearing a voluminous ball gown on the red carpet at the Oscars. “I’ve always wanted to wear a ball gown” he says, “I just didn’t know when“.

Share the Elation

In the article written by Robin Abcarian he continues, expressing his elation at having the gown custom made for him by designer Christian Siriano. The first time he tried it on he says “I felt alive. I felt free. And open, and radiant. And Beautiful! Which has not always been the case for me. I haven’t always felt so good about myself. It really is astonishing how much of an effect clothes can have on your spirit.In conclusion, he finished with the emotions he felt on Oscar night by relating, “I felt like I can float on air. I can conquer the world.”

We all have that opportunity. So what’s in your closet?

Dark Corset Collection

The Progress of Fashion-Part 4

The Progress of Fashion-Part 4

A Hot Date for Saturday Night

You have a hot date lined up for Saturday night. It’s opening night for the Broadway production of Kinky Boots. You’re full of excitement with the anticipation of the upcoming evening. Subsequently, what is one of the first things that you will think of in preparation for this date?

Micah Gianelli

“What will I wear?”

What we will be wearing is always first and foremost in the front of our mind. Whether we are trying to make an impression or we are dressing for the weather, what we have on our body is of importance.

Thus we follow the progress of fashion.

Fashion and Style of Dress

Has it always been like this for people? How did all this worry and concern about the progess of fashion and our style of dress come about anyway?

While this is a vast and complicated subject that could take hours to discuss, I am going to briefly go through the timeline of the ever changing world of fashion.

This is the last of a four-part series discussing styles throughout history and the progress of fashion.   

Part 1: Earliest Known Evidence of Clothing

In the first of my four-part blog, I raised a few questions about the progress of fashion. Why have people always been so concerned about the type of clothes they wear? I portrayed the earliest known evidence of clothing. 

In the beginning, we know that the first coverings were made from primitive elements that could be found in the environment where a person lived. As a result, this meant that plants and animals were used extensively.

Created out of necessity, the garments functioned purely to cover the body for modesty, protection and warmth.

Animal furs and the various plants at hand were put to good use. Later, fabrics made of shorn animal fur or plant fibers were woven into yards of materials. These were usually draped loosely over the body and fastened with crude but functional elements.

The Changing of the Wardrobe

So why did they continue to change their wardrobe when it was perfectly functional as it was? Maybe it was the desire to spice things up, or maybe they just had time on their hands, we’ll never really know.

What we do know is that various fibers from both plants and animals were further enhanced to create beautiful fabrics. From this fabric clothing could then be designed and constructed into delightful and often elaborate outfits.

Fibers and the Fabrics Made From Them

Wool made from the furs of sheep, alpaca, goats, rabbits and camels has always been a good stand by for fabrics and the garments made from them. Wool accepts colored dyes well and has proven to be an excellent insulator. It’s proven to be durable and stand the test of time.

Cotton fabric is made from fibers pulled from the cotton plant. “Cotton fabric is soft, breathable and absorbs and releases moisture quickly”. [1]  Therefore cotton is a user-friendly fabric that is used extensively.

silk worm

“Silk fabric is made by collecting filaments from a mulberry silk moth’s cocoon, combining the output from four to eight cocoons into a single strand of raw silk”.  “Fabrics made from silk was first produced in China around 3000 B.C. Silk textiles have been found in ancient Chinese and Egyptian tombs”. [2]

“Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world: their history goes back many thousands of years”. Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Consequently, linen is a very durable fabric which has many uses.

linen harvest

Linen fabric is laborious to manufacture, but is very strong, absorbent and dries faster than cotton. Garments made of linen are valued for their exceptional coolness and freshness in hot and humid weather”. [3] 

Fabrics in Color

Once it was discovered that these fabrics could be dyed using plants, roots and berries, a whole new world opened up to the budding fashionistas.

dyed yard

After learning the types of fabrics that people are using we are left with a question. Does the clothing a person wears display intelligence or moral character?

Part 2: Clothing Worn Around the World

In Part Two of this blog I went over the different types of clothing worn around the world. This often varied greatly with the climate, the objects that they had on hand to embellish their garments, and religious differences.

Doris Imalenowa in traditional African dress.

Some of the clothing designs displayed brightly colored and heavily embellished garments. Perhaps it can be said that the people of this type of clothing were happy and upbeat in personality.

Happy Victorian girls
somber Victorian ladies

Meanwhile, others had very plain and simple frocks showing a more somber, and serious disposition. Consequently, from this, we could get a peek into their possible personality types. 

Part 3: Uniforms and Clothing Worn to Work

Part Three discussed the value of making a lasting impression while following the progress of fashion. While the clothing you wear in your own home may not be that important, don’t discount the encouragement you can feel with your clothing choice. Above all, a better clothing choice can make you feel like a happier person.  

I made note that uniforms in many businesses have been created for work environments. This is to set individuals apart from everyday people.

We often have a different opinion of a person in uniform than we do of someone in casual clothing.

Most noteworthy however, I have shown that conformity and unification are a part of the human desire to bond together. Nurturing the social connection is paramount to the survival of our civilization.

 Part 4: The Progress of Fashion

In conclusion, as we wrap things up with our modern day perspective, have we changed our opinions along with our fashions?

The love-and-adornment-of-self did not begin with our modern day social media. We have had thousands of generations to fine tune the art of narcissism.

Thus began the origin of fashion design. Not to be outdone, the competition commenced. Not only did the types of fabrics used play a big role, but the colors and various embellishments were of utmost importance.

Does this make us vain and self centered? Well, yes and no. It is certainly not self centered to want to dress comfortably for the weather. Nor is it out of line to dress appropriately for the occasion or dress to be noticed once in awhile. Dressing sharp makes a person feel good about themselves and self confidence is important to well being.

Being consumed about dressing to be noticed each and every time you go out in public may become a problem however. The problem with your bank account could be number one. And then there is the deflated ego when you are not noticed in the way you anticipated.

With research in published studies by Forbes Magazine, it was found that “What we wear speaks volumes in just a few seconds. Dressing to impress really is worthwhile and could even be the key to success.”

So how did simple dressing become so complicated? 

Let’s start with Fashion as far back as the 14th century when things really started to get interesting.

The Renaissance: 14th -17th Centuries

The Renaissance began in FlorenceItaly, in the 14th century.[4]  This Renaissance — or rebirth — also hailed the beginning of a new era in clothing, when one’s station in life was often determined almost exclusively by apparel. Sumptuary laws prohibited who could wear what, making it easy to judge people simply by what they wore.

However, “Sumptuary laws were rarely enforced. The poverty endured by the lower classes was enough to prevent them from attempting to imitate their betters. Finer fabrics and embellishments increased with the wealth of the wearer.” [8] 

In this we notice that clothing makes a large distinction between the haves and the have-nots. Most noteworthy is that a distinction was always made between the rich and the poor.

 “Italy, Germany, England and France each had their own distinctive looks during the Renaissance” writes Scott Robinson of Central Washington University.

So while the class distinction continued, it varied from one country to the next.

Corsets Worn During Medieval 14th to 15th Centuries

Iron Corset

Catherine de’ Medici certainly had an incredible influence over the clothing worn at the time. Considered to be the originator of the steel cage corset, “On top of it all this formidable woman influenced fashion for the next 350 years by banning thick waists at court” “Since then waists were diminished by whale bones and steel cages”. [6]

Elizabethan Era 1558-1603

During the Elizabethan Era, between 1558-1603, sumptuary laws restricted commoners to garments of only one color and of mostly rough unrefined linen. The wealthy upper class could wear multiple colors, fabrics and jewels however, putting their wealth on display.   

On an interesting note, yellow was a popular color in 1510. That is until prostitutes began to wear the color hence it soon fell out of desire with the wealthy.

Enter the 1700’s

Hoop skirt and corsets remained the mainstay for women to display the female form. “The French aristocracy clung to the lavish displays of court fashion just as they held on to their luxurious lifestyles, despite changes in the economy. They ended up racking up debt as high as their hairdos”. [7]

Court etiquette demanded rigid, formal attire. Women wore corsets that accentuated an extremely stiff posture. Called stays, corsets were made of stiffened fabric with boning in front and back. They laced in back, in front, or at the sides. Court costume was made of high quality, expensive materials including silks, satins, and taffeta”. [7]

French fashion in 1700

As we have learned, America leaned heavily on the styles of European fashion as a representation of haute couture.

“By the mid-1760s, women’s magazines (in America) offered even rural women glimpses of current styles”. Because of this, it “gave women the ability to become fashion consumers” while remaining countrified.

1800’s -1900’s Fashion  

“1880  was the decade of severely tight and restrictive corsetry that was worn under dressed (sic) with long bodices, tight sleeves and high necks”.[9] Pleating was evident in most dresses and skirts and a dress could easily weigh from 15 to 20 pounds.

 “During the 19th-century men retained the white waistcoat and black tail-coat and trousers of the early 19th century for evening wear”. [9]

So as we can see from this, there was a standard of dress for both men and women that was adhered to on a daily basis. What was worn in the home also differed from what was worn in public. There was also  a change in clothing from day to evening.

Our Fashion Standard for Today

From here on out we will talk of the American ideals and our form of dress in the progress of fashion.

By far the majority of our fashion ideas and icons here in America have stemmed from European beginnings. Therefore, we have followed the hierarchy of European court dress throughout our history to a degree.

Standard of Dress

Up until after World War Two there was a certain form or style that was typically followed by most people as a standard of dress. Women wore skirts and dresses, men wore pants and jackets or suits.

garment factory circa 1950

This changed with varying degrees as the age of industrialization came into play. Clothing began to be mass produced in factories. As a result, this made it possible for more variety in the wardrobe.

World War Distinction 1914-1946

The war times produced a military look to clothing with an emphasis on suits for both men and women. Pride in our nation was paramount hence this was displayed in both clothing and patriotic attitude.

1940’s fashion

Corsets were set aside to assist in war efforts. Elastic garments called girdles then came into play to enhance the female figure. “Shortly after the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917, the U.S. War Industries Board asked women to stop buying corsets to free up metal for war production. This step liberated some 28,000 tons of metal, enough to build two battleships”. [11]

In the 1940’s “Men were still pretty dressed up. Suits, ties and hats were commonplace in public. Women wore dresses and skirts — they still didn’t wear slacks yet”.[12]

circa 940

“Another thing women ALWAYS wore: gloves. Preferably a pair that matches your outfit. Fur was very popular, as were animal skins. Crocodile purses, wombat collars, lambskin lining, and leather sleeves — no animal was off limits.”[12]

In short, after the end of World War 2, fashion trends took a distinct change.

The Years of 1950’s-1970’s

The website fondly named Retrowaste.com informs us of the vintage years of 1950’s-1970’s stating, “The important thing is that people were beginning to feel a little more freedom when it came to their fashion choices. No longer did people feel like they had to conform to a certain look for certain situations.” [13]

1950- After WW2-The First Decade

Marilyn Monroe

It was after the great economic depression and the first decade after World War 2. America was once again feeling prosperous and rejuvenated.

1950’s fashion

Clothing was still conservative for the most part, although a lot of satin and silk could be found on women along with polka dots, plaids, and floral prints. The daytime dresses were hemmed to the knees, but by evening they were usually long and flowing to the floor. Trim waistlines were shown off due to full circle skirts.

1960-The Decade of a Nation in Turmoil

The early sixties were more reminiscent of the 1950s — conservative and restrained; certainly more classic in style and design.” [14] The pressure and turmoil of a nation under stress had its effect however, and by the end of the decade a distinct change had taken place.

 “It’s almost like the 1950s bottled everyone up so much that the late 1960s exploded like an old pressure cooker. Women were showing more skin than ever before.” [14]

Fashion in 1960

First of all the assassinations of JFK and MLK shocked the nation. While civil rights movements were in full swing, we merged into the Vietnam War.

Experimentation with psychedelic drugs was rampant among the protesting youth, and the effects were heard in music as well as fashion styles.

Music Impact on Fashion

Music from the Beatles transformed our country. Because of this, any fashion styles that looked ‘straight out of London’ were in vogue. We were still in love with European fashion and “Groovy” became the word of the day.

By the mid to late 60’s “Bright, swirling colors, psychedelic, tie-dye shirts, long hair and beards were commonplace. Woman wore unbelievably short skirts and men wore tunics and capes.” [14] It seems our country had become bi-polar!

Also, men’s pants became flared at the bottom almost like women’s pants. It’s quite clear that at that time, women’s clothes were becoming more masculine while men’s clothes were becoming more effeminate.”[14]

1970- Over Population of Polyester

As 1970 entered the scene bright colors and polyester could be found everywhere. “Men and women alike were wearing very tight fitting pants and platform shoes. By 1973, most women were wearing high cut boots and low cut pants.” [15]

Donny & Marie Osmond

Almost every mans closet had a leisure suit and a few velour ones could be found as well. “And it is probably the first full decade in which women could be seen wearing pants in every walk of life.” [15]

1980-The Decade of Fashion Meltdown

By 1980 our country was exhibiting signs of a fashion meltdown. Designers lost all convention. Because of this, the outcome was interesting if not gaudy. Above all, it was a decade of ‘anything goes’.

Velour was hot and velvet was even hotter. For both men and women, the waistline was a little high.”[16] “It was an exceptionally flexible time when a woman could wear skin-tight cotton stirrup pants with leggings and a giant turtleneck sweater one day — and parachute pants with a small v-neck top and a high-waist belt the next.” [16]

1980’s era

Neon colors, as well as a lot of brown and tan, were worn on a daily basis. Block-shaped clothing, parachute pants, velour, and dressing like a tennis player, were all standard forms of dress. Thankfully denim continued to be a teenage mainstay. 

1990-The Time of Intensity

As we waved good bye to our troops heading off to the war in Iraq (AKA: Desert Storm) beginning in 1991, the military clothing styles slowly crept back into fashion. Hence camouflage material became the ‘in-look’ for civilians as well as the military.

Kim Kardashian leaves her home in SoHo, New York on February 9, 2015.

Clothing of this decade was loose and oversized on top with pant legs tapered in at the bottom. Women were thrilled that the old bell bottom pants from the last decade could be re-fashioned quite easily.

Teenagers pulled from Mom & Dad’s closet re-inventing the 1970’s look which was really hot again.

Rap music burst onto the scene with a younger turnout of musicians appearing. Generation X, hip hop and grunge attire made their first appearance. Flannel shirts and torn jeans re-emerged from hiding to the dismay of many parents. But the teenagers held fast to the look which still can be seen today.   

Dipset Boys

As the decade progressed, name brand designers re-emerged to the scene bringing sexy and glamorous styles back for the more discriminating fashion follower.

Fashion Today

So where does that leave us with fashion in our present day?

Well, after hundreds of years of fashion consciousness it seems we have finally reached a time period in history where “anything- goes”.

Chanel Fashion Line

Today, more than any other time in history we are witnessing a fashion acceptance of every style ever created. Gone are the standards that a person is expected to recognize in order to be considered in-fashion.  

Alstair Tombs of the University of Queensland, writes in his conference paper for a Global Fashion Management Conference, ‘Fashion is “me too”, style is “only me” Consumer preferences toward fast fashion and luxury fashion’: “The fashion industry has been dramatically transformed in the last 20 years with the introduction of fast fashion: a style of instant cutting edge fashion at affordable prices. Collectively the findings present strong supporting evidence that the differences in consumers’ need for uniqueness are likely to affect some fashion style preferences and not others”. “Fashion consumers are uniqueness seekers and have their own ways of portraying their individuality to society. (Workman & Caldwell, 2007) “.

“With the invention of cell phones along with social media, we have the evolution of a society that spans generations, in expressing their individuality.  They endeavor to interpret fashion trends and adopt the clothing style that suits their value and traits” writes Nithyapraksh Venkatasamy of the Bannari Amman Institute of Technology. [17]

Firstly, for the people in this era, it’s not just about throwing on some clothing to protect and cover themselves up. It is about self-expression and individuality. It’s about making a statement, sometimes even a political one.

We have certain fashion designers making bold political statements with their designs, and others boasting sustainability by using recycled and renewable materials.

And we have sports athletes that make protests using their work attire.

The tennis pro, Serena Williams, wore a green leotard on the court after having her previous ‘black catsuit’ banned from the game.

She then wore a black tutu to further her resistance to authority.  President Bernard Giudicelli said in the 500th issue of Tennis Magazine that stricter rules will be in place as ‘sometimes we go too far.’ 

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 29: Serena Williams of USA during Day Three of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Serena Williams green leotard
Serena Williams in a Tutu on the court

People are using clothing as a means of expression more than ever before. But it’s not just about expressing your beliefs and emotions; it’s a cultural movement that is in full swing.

It’s a movement that says “look at me!” Are people feeling left out, or are they just wanting to be noticed more?

While viewing the everyday current headlines and social media strings we will see a little of both. It seems like everyone wants to make a statement one way or another.

But in all honesty, there are worse things than having our visual senses jolted by a person’s fashion statement.

I believe the fashion designer Ralph Lauren said it best. “Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something that comes from within you”.

Victoria Beckham attends her Flagship London Store in Mayfair.


References

[1] https://www.reference.com/beauty-fashion/cotton-made-fabric-36d339098e037173 How Is Cotton Made Into Fabric?

[2] https://www.reference.com/hobbies-games/silk-fabric-made-fb7b95352e47bc83 How Is Silk Fabric Made?

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linen Linen from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4]  Burke, P., The European Renaissance: Centre and Peripheries1998

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Medici Wikipedia, House of Medici

[6] https://corsethistory.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/its-all-catherine-de-medicis-fault/   History of Corsets

[7] https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/Womens-Fashions-of-the-1700s by Dolores Monet

[8] https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/Fashion-History-Clothinig-of-the-Early-Middle-Ages-Dark-Ages-400-900-CE by Dolores Monet

[9] https://prezi.com/px9toowamfqr/fashion-from-the-late-1800s-to-the-early-1900s  by Savannah Pesch

[10] https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/Renaissance-Fashion-Womens-Clothing-in-Elizabethan-England by Dolores Monet

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_corsets Wikipedia

[12] https://www.retrowaste.com/1940s-fashion     1940s Fashion: Clothing Styles & Trends

[13] https://www.retrowaste.com/1950s/fashion-in-the-1950s  

[14] https://www.retrowaste.com/1960s/fashion-in-the-1960s

[15] https://www.retrowaste.com/1970s/fashion-in-the-1970s

[16] https://www.retrowaste.com/1980s/fashion-in-the-1980s

[17] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282571020_Fashion_trends_and_their_impact_on_the_society

[18] https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/Serena-Williams-Green-Bodysuit-Australian-Open-2019-45678912 Serena Williams’s Outfit Isn’t a Leotard — It’s a Badass “Serena-tard,” Thank You Very Much , 1-19-2019 by Victoria Messina

 

Dark Corset Collection

The Value of Making a Good Impression-Part 3

The Value of Making a Good First Impression

Do you realize the value of making a good first impression?  As human thinking has shown, “It’s in our nature to form hasty opinions and make quick generalizations”. [1] People notice what we wear, and they form opinions of us based on that first instantaneous glimpse.  th

This is the third part of my four-part blog on The Clothing We Wear. Stay with me as we further explore the type of clothing people wear and the reasoning behind it.

Next, read through the story I am about to tell and contemplate your own daily fashion statement.

Pajamas in the Park

Sitting in the park in the early morning with the warm breeze blowing through my hair, I close my eyes, roll my head back, and lift my face to the sun. The warmth of the sun is comforting as I lean back on my arms and swing my legs which dangle from the picnic table top that I chose to sit on. Somehow dangling my legs makes me feel free and child-like, without responsibilities. It feels good to be alive at this moment in time. I inhale a deep breath and lower my face to look out over the park, observing the people that are passing through.

Something catches my attention at the corner of my vision. Is that man walking a dog actually wearing his pajamas? My eyes cannot look away and my mind is stunned. The reality hits home that indeed he is. To amuse the onlooker, even more, his comical reddish-brown hair is sticking out in every direction. Apparently, his appearance is not a major concern of his daily presentation. The faraway look in his eyes depicts a man lost in thought. The dog is oblivious to the man’s exhibition however and happily trots along in front leading him on a routine daily walk, unimpressed by the leash to which he is tethered.

The pajamas are loose and baggy, navy blue in color with small defined designs on them. As he comes closer into my field of vision the designs appear to be mini Scottish Terriers, a fitting replica of his own little pooch. The tortoiseshell framed glasses perched on his nose and the dark-colored jogging shoes complete his attire.

I would think he simply rolled out of bed and hooked up the dog before heading absentmindedly out the door except for the jogging shoes and glasses. I wonder if he is even aware that he is out in public, traipsing through a city park.

Dressing the Way You Feel

Have you witnessed this scene before? Are you someone that can be seen walking your dog or going out to the mailbox in your pajamas or bathrobe? Or even more entertaining, do you run to the grocery store dressed in clothes that would be better off worn at a burlesque costume party?

Maybe you are not feeling well or perhaps you’ve had an argument with your best friend. Need the comfort of Mom and home cooked food? Out come the sweatpants and chicken soup.

If you’re like most people, your emotions can be identified by your facial expressions. But your clothing can be extremely revealing as well.

As human beings, we are subject to daily mood changes according to our body chemistry. On some days we are concerned with how we appear to others. Other times, we experience indifference worthy of a sloth. dv1554007_XS

Your personal style is a form of nonverbal communication, just like your facial expressions and your body language. If someone were to smile while giving you some really bad news, you would feel especially uncomfortable. If an acquaintance invited you to her house for a friendly lunch and then sat with her arms folded and legs crossed, you would think something was amiss. Similarly, when your clothes do not match who you are as a person, you and others around you experience a lack of harmony, a dissonance.”

“It’s hard to convince others — but more importantly yourself — that you are a vibrant human being when you look like you can barely convince yourself to roll out of bed in the morning.” (Chivers, 2010-18)

Is it really that important to be concerned about what we wear at all times? Maybe not while you’re in the comfort of your own home. Don’t discount the encouragement you can feel with your clothing choice, however. A better clothing choice can make you feel like a happier person.  “Often we can change the entire day simply by changing our perspective, and choosing to have a good day.”[4]

“The clothes you wear and the way you groom yourself will change the way other people hear what you say. It will subconsciously tell them if you’re like them or if you’re different. It will determine whether they listen or ignore. Trust or distrust. How you dress yourself changes who you are. It changes the value of what you have to say. At least to the people who are looking and listening.”[5]

The Clothing We Wear to Work

Now that we have briefly touched on what you wear at home let’s look at the clothes you wear to work.

Dressing for the Job Interview

You’re concerned about the effect you will have on a potential new boss at a job interview, so you dress in a new suit you have recently purchased for this occasion. You want to exhibit your best side so your hair is gelled to perfection and your shoes are polished. You hold your head high with your shoulders back displaying good posture. This makes you feel good about yourself. Why, because you are dressed to impressed. You know that you are looking your best and you feel proud of yourself. Take note here that you have taken the time to project a good image.

The Business Suit

Think of a debonair man in a business suit and tie jumping out of airplanes and taking on the evil masterminds of the foreign world. Yes, the infamous James Bond comes to mind. He is suave and sophisticated. Women drool over his vision and men want to emulate him. sean-connery-james-bond-three-piece-suit

The modern-day suit is the image of a polished, well put together man, of the business world. It demonstrates someone in charge of the situation that people look up to with respect.

But where does the suit have its beginnings? And why has it retained the appeal and status for so long?

In fact, the suit’s prehistory begins in the evolution of court dress in Britain. After a nasty outbreak of plague in 1665, the lacy and elaborate court outfits suddenly seemed like a political liability to Charles II, who ordered his nobles to begin dressing — for a while — in modest tunics and breeches in your usual office-drab colors (navy, grays, shudder-inducing taupes).” [12]

“ We do not know exactly who had the idea for the first lounge suit (as our modern suit is properly called), or what he designed it for. But the first one did appear in the mid-19th century, and quickly became both a casual garment for the elite and a dress-up item for the working class.” [12]

“Eventually, we Americans figured out how to dress ourselves. This newfangled vestment was so darn easy to wear! It appeared on everyone from cab drivers to business executives and made all appear polished and professional. Hollywood picked the look up and ran with it.” sic [12]

An interesting bit of trivia about the suit is also revealed. “And, though you may find it hard to believe, at one point Americans associated the suit with rebellion in the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.” [12] The riots were called such because “zoot suits” with broad, padded shoulders, double-breasted coats, plus ultra-baggy-legged trousers that tapered at the ankle were worn to intimidate. It must have worked as roving bands of teenagers crowded the street corners looking for a fight.

The business suit has since become the chosen attire of every well-dressed man in the business world who wants to be taken seriously. Even women have taken up the look in the boardroom, with the freedom to pair it with pants or a skirt. It commands respect.

Uniforms in the Workplace

There are certain professions that have an established uniform for their work attire. Have you ever wondered why that is? Let’s take a look at the various professions and the uniforms that they wear to set themselves apart from everyday people.

Uniforms of Police, Military, Fire, EMS, Security, and Tactical

When any type of clothing can be worn with the same results of covering the naked body, then why is a uniform necessary?

“If the dress of the members of an organization remains the same then there is a sense on commonality which develops amongst them. Uniforms also depict solidarity, and this has been this way throughout, right from the days of the Roman Empire to the modern day manufacturing houses.”[7]

When everyone has a uniform appearance they feel like they belong to a group.”[9] “Research has also suggested that even slight alterations to the style of the uniform will change how citizens will perceive the officer.” [7]

“These days wearing a uniform is common with the paramilitary organizations like police etc and the armed forces. These help them, stand out of the crowd so that they can be easily recognizable and also distinguish them for the service they do. (sic) These uniforms not only make them feel proud but also have an imposing effect on others and with the presence of a person in uniform, can change the mood of people around.”[8]

Police and Security

Police officers need to be easily identified for a variety of reasons. “The crisp uniform of the police officer conveys power and authority. When a police officer puts on his or her uniform the officer is perceived in a very different way by the public. He or she is viewed as embodying each person’s stereotypes about all police officers.”[7]

c3e1aaf30bb7c585e88595a6a3aa2bcb “Research has suggested that clothing has a powerful impact on how people are perceived, and this goes for the police officer as well. The uniform of a police officer has been found to have a profound psychological impact on those who view it.” [7]

When uniforms are worn by the police force it makes them appear to be more united and approachable, making the role of the uniform more important. But why the color blue? According to “The Psychological Influence of the Police Uniform“, the colour blue has several functions in relation to a police uniform, one of the main ones being that it is much easier to clean and maintain than a lighter/brighter colour and that it shows stains and marks less easily”. [6]

Another reason listed by the boys in blue today is that the dark shade of navy blue makes an officer harder to see at night, making it easier for them to sneak up on bad guys. “The officers feel safer with the dark shirts on at night. It’s the perception, and the perception is as important as reality.” [6] The dark colors are also worn by security officers for the same reason.

Military

the-armys-new-camouflage-uniform-looks-nearly-identical-to-the-previous-oneMilitary uniforms have gone through significant changes over time. The solid colors of the military in the past have been changed to camouflage for protection and identification. Camouflage is used to blend into the surrounding area to disguise a person from the terrain and hide from the opposing enemy.

Firefighter and EMS

Firefighters wear a uniform not only for identification but also for protection. While “fighting actual fires, firefighters must contend with smoke, water, hot embers, falling objects, and collapsing floors.” [20] Their uniforms are made of two-layer heat resistant material that wicks away moisture that gets trapped inside. The reflective stripes make them easy to identify through a haze of smoke.image006

EMS or Emergency Medical Services is a specialized team of people responding to medical emergency situations. Their uniforms are designed to distinguish them from the surrounding situation and easily identify them at a moment’s notice. While they are primarily associated with ambulances they can also be found in helicopters and other various types of th (1)transport vehicles.

 The Medical Field: Doctors and Nurses

The main reason nurses wear uniforms is to display a unified, professional look to patients so that patients or other interested parties can easily recognize a nurse when they need one.  Most hospitals and other health care facilities require their nurses to wear uniforms of some kind while on duty, as part of an effort to maintain a professional image. Ideally, uniforms always stand for consistency and uniformity.

A nurse is seen as a representative of a very noble profession and therefore the clothes she wears at work are expected to represent the seriousness of her call. When people think of nurses, they envision well-mannered, compassionate people in white respectable in appearance, caring for patients tenderly. This image has survived for centuries and even today, this is the standard image for a nurse. As such, the strong public opinion is that nurses have an ethical obligation to wear proper attire that befits their vocation. If not white uniforms, then they should follow a strict dress code that stands for the utmost professionalism and cleanliness.” [11]

Doctors and pharmacists are well known for the white lab coats they wear. This is not only for identification but for protection of their clothing. It also promotes a respectable appearance that people look to as an authority figure.

Uniforms in Other Fields

While uniforms are certainly understandable in the medical, police and military fields, there are other establishments that take advantage of uniforms as well.

Construction workers can be identified with neon orange or yellow vests with reflective tape and hard hats. This serves to make them easily identifiable and visible on the dangerous highways and construction sites.

Sports Activities

Uniforms for sports activities are for identification as well. However, the colored uniforms in this instance are known to establish unity and team spirit. It would be difficult to tell one team from the other if they were to wear street clothes.1200px-Ben_hands_off_to_Willie

Private Schools

Private schools have also used uniforms for the purpose of unification and recognition for many years. This not only creates an environment where competition is kept to a minimum, but students will clearly stand out from the faculty. A dignified reputation is of utmost importance here. The Citadel, a 175-year-old public military college in South Carolina provided a statement from the college president, Lt. Gen. John Rosa. He explained that “the uniform is central to the leadership training at the college, as cadets give up their individuality to learn teamwork and allegiance to the corps.”

There are also many other industries that use uniforms to designate authority or association with a particular field. Airline pilots, delivery and postal workers, auto mechanics and service technicians, are just to name a few.

Religious Leaders and Their Followers

In reference to religious leaders and the type of clothing or uniforms that they wear, a variety of reasons are to be found. “A simple robe can make a Buddhist monk feel closer to Buddha, while a modest sweater can help a Mormon missionary project a professional image as she proselytizes.” [13]

“Some religious communities may require that religious personages (e.g., priests, monks, nuns, shamans, priestesses, and others) garb themselves with appropriate types of religious dress at all times, whereas other religious communities may only request that religious dress be worn during rituals.”[15]

Buddhist

SONY DSCThe garments or robes, of a Buddhist Monk “create a “uniformity of intention” visible at first glance”.[13] The robes themselves represent the simple life that the monks have vowed to live. The colors of the robes can vary by region. The yellow color of robes is probably obtained through dyes made with saffron and turmeric.

Catholics

According to the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests, the “clergy must dress in a way that distinguishes them from the laity. “It is particularly important that the community be able to recognize the priest, man of God and dispenser of his mysteries, by his attire,” the document states.”[13] anglicanarchbishop-catholicpope

In relation to the order of the nuns or sisters, on the other hand, each order displays different habits. Their garments often use different colors with their own symbolic meanings. These serve to highlight the characteristics of each order. “At its core, the habit is a visible sign of the nun’s complete consecration to God and unity with other nuns in a religious community.” [14]

Orthodox Jews

The Orthodox Jews have their own standard of dress for daily living. “Orthodox men typically wear long black garments to indicate a “lack of concern for color and other dictates of fashion and thus helps keep priorities straight,” according to Chabad guidelines. Orthodox Jewish women on the other hand “are encouraged to cover their hair and wear skirts below their knees as a sign of modesty.” [13]56489244baa9ef3f356907a5f2a78500--professional-swimming-les-magiciens

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or Mormons

Those of the faith of the Mormon religion are required to “wear modest clothing and plain hairstyles. Women must wear either blouse with skirts or dresses that cover to the knee. Men must wear business suits. The clothing guidelines are meant to ensure that missionaries look “professional” and “attractive,” according to the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” [13]

Muslim

To some people, many forms of the Muslim dress may seem odd or excessive. “The shari’ah, however, assigns it moral, social, and legal dimensions.”[17] ”The dress should not be such that it attracts men’s attention to the woman’s beauty.”[17]

The manner of dress of Muslims has drawn great attention in recent years, with some groups suggesting that restrictions on the dress are demeaning or controlling, especially to women.” [18] “In reality, the way in which Muslims dress is really driven out of simple modesty and a desire to not draw individual attention in any way. Although Islam has no fixed standard as to the style of dress or type of clothing that Muslims must wear, there are some minimum requirements that must be met.” [18] Thickness, looseness, & overall appearance are always considered.YEMEN-CONFLICT-DEMONSTRATION

Quran Laws for Men and Women

For Women: “The Quran has no requirement that women cover their faces with a veil, or cover their bodies with the full-body burqua or chador, as in Iran and Afghanistan. But the Quran does address the matter of veiling in such a way that it has been interpreted historically, if not necessarily correctly, by Muslim clerics as applying to women.” [19] The veiling of women was not an Islamic innovation but a Persian and Byzantine-Christian custom that Islam adopted.

For Men: “The minimum amount to be covered on the body is between the navel and the knee. It should be noted, though, that a bare chest would be frowned upon in situations where it draws attention.” [18] “Neither excessively fancy nor ragged. One should not dress in a manner intended to gain the admiration or sympathy of others.” [18]

Summary

While this blog by no means covers the entirety of the subject of making a good first impression, it has at least scratched the surface. Hopefully, it has piqued your interest and you will investigate further with the references listed below.

Uniforms are a part of our life, whether a business suit or a sacred religious robe. Conformity and unification are a part of the human desire to bond together. Nurturing the social connection is paramount to the survival of our civilization.

Just remember, “Whatever message you’re trying to send to the world, never forget the clothes you put that message in will determine the way it’s received. So, dress it carefully.”(sic) [5]

caminar3

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.slidegenius.com/blog/presentation-what-to-wear/

[2] https://myyearwithoutclothesshopping.com/fashion-style-shopping/i-dont-care-what-you-wear/

[3] https://www.reference.com/business-finance/nurses-wear-uniforms-ad9603defb55153d    Why do Nurses Wear Uniforms?

[4] https://myhometableau.com/dress-the-way-you-want-to-feel/    Dress the way you want to feel December 3, 2012 · by Johanna

[5] https://www.riskology.co/dress-well/  The Psychology of Dressing Well (And Why You Must To Get Anywhere In Life) by tyler tervooren | 4 minute read

[6] http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/09/police-wear-blue-2/  Why Do The Police Wear Blue? September 5, 2014 Karl Smallwood

[7] https://www.policeone.com/police-products/apparel/undergear/articles/99417-The-psychological-influence-of-the-police-uniform/  The psychological influence of the police uniform, Article updated on August 11, 2017. By Richard R. Johnson, MS

[8] http://www.impact.ms/5-reasons-why-wearing-a-proper-uniform-is-important/  Impact Marketing and Design By Dione|September 18th, 2015

[9] https://www.quora.com/Why-do-the-military-wear-uniforms Justin Boyle Answered Jun 8, 2018 ·

[10] https://work.chron.com/kind-gear-firefighters-wear-9547.html  What Kind of Gear Do Firefighters Wear? by Clayton Browne; Updated March 30, 2018

[11] http://www.nursinguniforms.net/blog/importance-of-dress-code-for-nurses-in-hospitals  A Nurse’s World – Blog By NursingUniforms.Net

[12] https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/07/where-did-business-suits-come-from/260182/  Where Did Business Suits Come From? EMILY CHERTOFF JUL 23, 2012

[13] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-these-six-religious-groups-wear-what-they-wear_us_55ce7bcae4b055a6dab07ad0  Why These 6 Religious Groups Wear What They Wear By Antonia Blumberg

[14] https://www.reference.com/world-view/nuns-wear-religious-habits-62b3a8c393f3b71f  Why Do Nuns Wear Religious Habits?

[15] https://www.britannica.com/topic/religious-dress  Religious dress written by: E. Michael Pye and James Dickie

[16] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/05/10/the-citadel-will-not-allow-an-exception-to-the-uniform-to-let-a-muslim-student-wear-her-hijab/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2fd911a8e4ba  The Citadel will not allow an exception to the uniform to let a Muslim student wear her hijab By Susan Svrluga May 10, 2016

[17] https://www.islamawareness.net/Dressing/dressing_article0001.html  Muslim Clothing Requirements According to the Qur’an & Sunnah, From a paper compiled by Jamal A. Badawi

[18] https://www.thoughtco.com/islamic-clothing-requirements-2004252  Thoughtco. Islamic Clothing Requirements

[19] https://www.thoughtco.com/quran-require-women-to-wear-veil-2353510   Thoughtco. Does the Quran Require Women to Wear the Veil?

Dark Corset Collection

Why Do We Wear Clothing- Part 2

Why Do We Wear Clothing?

Aside from the reasons of modesty, and inclimate weather, why do we wear clothing at all? It has been shown that clothing is not considered necessary in all parts of the world. So why have people been infatuated and even controlled by fashion since the beginning of time?

The Beginning of Fashion

From the first article, we determined that the earliest known evidence of clothing is thought to be around 170,000 years ago, give or take a millennium. This clothing was made from the skins of animals, the wool of animal fur, and later, materials made from plant fibers.

Wool is typically made from sheep fur but can be harvested from goats, muskoxen, rabbits, alpacas, and Llamas. Using all sources of materials at hand was not only enterprising but crucial.

Looking back into time, the first depictions of actual clothing was from Biblical times. This included ancient Hebrews, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Israelite nations.

Following basic garments, clothing with religious significance came next.[12] “The Bible has a surprising amount to say about clothing”. [22]

“Our clothing makes a statement about us, and, in the case of many people, that statement is all about dignity, a sense of self-worth, and, yes, respect for all those with whom we come into contact”. [23]

The everyday fashion in Biblical times included many items. Head coverings, shoes, wigs, jewelry, and other accessories were often significant as well as plentiful.

For the purpose of keeping the article to a minimum, however, I will briefly cover the topic of basic clothing. Much more information on the topic can be found and certainly in more detail in the references from which the information was taken at the end of the article.

Israel

The first basic garments, of course, were skins wrapped around the hips as an apron. When held together by a cloth or sash this garment was known as an ‘ezor.[3]

clothing of ancient Hebrews
clothing of ancient Hebrews

This graduated to garments made of fabric covering the body to the knees or ankles. Their heavy materials were crudely sewn together with openings for the arms.[1] [3] This sleeveless type of tunic often left the shoulders uncovered.

In later times, anyone dressed with only this type of garment (kethōneth)[4] was considered naked. Interesting to note, however, they did wear underwear.

Jacob_and_Rebekah
dress of Biblical times

Much of the way they dressed, and the various layers they used, had spiritual or religious significance. Their dress had a purpose. Some of the items used were only allowed to be worn by men of rank or of the priestly order.

There were vestments that were common to all priests and those worn by high priests alone. The Torah provided specific vestments to be worn by the priests when ministering the temple.[2]

The Torah says little about clothing. It does forbid men from wearing women’s clothing, however. And without explanation, it prohibits blending wool and linen in a garment. [9]

The Torah also commanded the Israelites wear tassels or fringe attached to the corners of their garments to remind them to keep the Lord’s commandments. [10] Accessories of head coverings, breastplates, shoes, and undergarments were all specifically outlined for them. This showed that their fashion choices were heavily impacted by their religious beliefs.

The Israelite women wore clothing similar to the men though were longer in length. [1] [3] The women did not wear veils.

Modern Day Islam

In reference to the code of dress as embraced by Islam and those of the Muslim belief, we address appearance from an Islamic perspective.

I cover it only because of the significant difference in the dress worn by Muslim women in comparison to other geographical locations and beliefs.

The custom in the Middle East of the veil to the face originated with Islam. According to ancient law, it reached from the forehead, over the back of the head to the hips or lower.[3]

“Muslims are required to pay attention to their appearance, making sure that their clothing is beautiful and clean, especially when dealing with others and when performing the prayers, as the Qur’an states”. [24]

YEMEN-CONFLICT-DEMONSTRATION
Yemeni women dressed in the niqab

“The general rule in the Sharee‛ah is that all types of clothing and adornment are allowed. “Islam has fixed the standards of modesty for both men and women. For men, the minimum amount to be covered is between the navel and the knee.

For women who are in the presence of men not related to them, they must cover their bodies except for their face and hands.  Muslims are required to cover their private parts with appropriate clothing, as the Qur’an states. Skin-tight and see-through clothes are not allowed in Islam.

muslim dress
muslim dress

Clothing that involves dressing like or imitating the opposite sex: This type of clothing is strictly forbidden in Islam and wearing it is considered one of the major sins.” [24]

Egypt

In ancient Egypt, linen was the textile that was used almost exclusively. To the Egyptians, the wool from animals was considered impure and animal fibers were considered taboo. [2] Wool could only be used for warmth in coats.

ancient egyptian clothing
ancient Egyptian tunics

Egyptian fashion was created to keep cool in the hot desert environment.[5] People of the lower class wore only a loincloth covering their vital reproductive parts.

The-Loincloth-was-the-first-style-of-underwear-worn-by-man-900x720
Egyptian loincloth

Although depicted in most murals as dressed, slaves often worked completely naked. [5]

The tunic and the robe were common amongst both genders. This remained unchanged over several millennia. [6]

Greece

Despite the depictions by the media, of all white tunics, clothing in ancient Greece was quite colorful. These garments were called peplos or chiton. [7]

ancient greece
Greek tunics

Their clothes were made of a linen or wool fabric, secured with a pin or a sash at the waist. Men’s chiton hung to the knees whereas women wore the garment to the ankles.

Rome

The ancient Roman wardrobe was a toga. This was usually a one-piece garment wrapped around the shoulders and down the body. Togas could be wrapped in different ways and became larger as time went on.[8]

The transition of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire in 44 BC changed fashion for the Romans. Following this time period, only men who were citizens of Rome were allowed to wear the toga.

ancient-roman-man-and-woman
Roman toga

All others were forbidden unless they were conducting official business.  By the second century BC, the toga was worn over a tunic. [8] The tunic was then the basic item of clothing. [2][11]

“In Ancient Rome, both men and women originally wore the toga made of plain white wool.

Over time matrons adopted the stola as the preferred form of dress, while prostitutes retained the toga. The stola was a long loose tunic or robe without sleeves.

Later, under the ancient Roman law, Lex Julia, women convicted of prostitution were forced to wear a toga muliebris, as the prostitute’s badge of shame. [20]

Moving on to other parts of the world, we continue our journey as we travel to China.

China

In ancient times the clothing of China defined status, profession, and wealth. The many rules about what could and could not be worn were strict.

ancient china
Chinese dynasty clothing

The styles were mostly unisex and uncomplicated in design, with box-shaped tunics ties with a sash, over skirts and trousers. The color of clothing and the materials they were made from held great definition.[13] [14]

chinese-costume-clothing-002
Chinese dress

“The higher the rank the better the clothes they wore were. This included the length of a skirt, the wideness of a sleeve and the amount of ornamentation.

As the dynasties changed, gender specifically came into the Shenyi. During the winter months, people wore padded jackets over their tunics.” [13]

 

Japan

“From the Jomon period, from 14000 BC BC at 300 BC, Japan had a hunter-gatherer lifestyle; houses on stilts of wood, dwelling in pit and agriculture. The weaving was still unknown and the old Japanese clothes were fur.” [25]

japanese-costume-clothing
Japanese dress

The fashion statements of ancient Japan were very blended with Chinese culture and its practices. For this reason it very difficult to see an obvious distinction. Their original garments were one piece coverings.

japanese obi sash
Kimono with Obi Sash

Over time, however, the Japanese developed a kimono tied with an Obi or sash. The female version of the Obi would be more elaborate than that of the male version.

“The most interesting piece of clothing is the ju-ni-hitoe or ‘twelve layers’. It is multi-layered, very heavy, and worn on a daily basis for centuries”. [15]

Southeastern Islands-Pacific and Asia:

 

Hawaiian Islands

Prior to this Western contact, clothing in the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific was minimal due in part to the tropical conditions.

5952c7a2f8a0d7ab1b527348ce26e9c1--kim-taylor-reece-island-clothing
native Tahitian-Hawaiian dress

During the early 1800s, the paradise islands of Hawaii were discovered by the missionaries. [16] The native people who populated the islands at that time wore little to no clothing due to the temperate climate. The basic garments worn were a loincloth (malo) for men.

For the women, it was a skirt, and if they wore anything at all to cover their breasts, it was a rectangular cloth (Kihei). “For the missionaries, covering the breasts was required for the sake of Christian notions of modesty.” [18]

kapa-lole.hawaiian bark cloth jpg
barkcloth clothing

The original garments were made from a fabric which was made from the bark fibers of a mulberry tree. This barkcloth or “kappa”” as it is known, was felted into a paper-like material that was used for anything from clothing to bedding material.

The Hawaiians used designs, dyes made from vegetables, and floral fragrance to adorn their fabrics. Sometimes feathers were used for garments of high rank and status. [17]  “Although kapa was the traditional fabric, it could not be cleaned, did not wear well, and even one layer was stiff”. [18]

The missionary women brought the Victorian style of clothing to the islands with their high-necked, empire-waist, long sleeve dresses.

Apparently, some of the Hawaiian queens of the 1820’s favored the European styles and wanted those dresses too.

The missionary women were small and petite while the Polynesian-Hawaiian women were not. They decided that a long loose dress with a high neckline and long sleeves were better suited for the queens.

hawaiian muumu
Hawaiian muu muu

The missionaries then decided that this holoku or mu’umu’u was to be required to show their ethnic difference. This was eagerly embraced by the Islanders among the upper class as a sign of high status.

“As missionaries left Hawaii to convert other islanders, they took the mu’umu’u with them and introduced it to women on other islands.” [18]

Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines

e342d89a8ff64347feda773b03ec5b88

The traditional textiles and style of dress of Malaysia and Indonesia are somewhat similar. Malaysia is a country whose belief is that of the Muslim faith.

“In Malaysia, traditional clothing includes a lower body covering (sarong) worn by both sexes. Men’s sarong is plaid, women’s are designed with floral patterns.

The upper body covering for men is a shirt referred to as a baju. For women, a sheer blouse referred to as a kebaya is worn in Malaysia.

0064e2634535a3412e25a8f3a1e124e8.jpgPhillipine sarong
Philippine sarong

Indonesian national dress derives from the Muslim inhabitants of Indonesia’s main island, Java. The dress is an indicator of cultural change in Indonesia where history can be divided into three eras categorized by dress terms: sarong (local dress), jubbah (Islamic influences) and trousers (Western influences). [18]

The island nations of Malaysia and Indonesia have developed highly complex textiles. The designs and colors of these fabrics have symbolic meaning as to an individual’s social status. [18]

The people of Indonesia and Malaysia settled in the Philippines prior to the Spanish colonization of the sixteenth century.

The Spanish Catholic priests were scandalized by the relative nudity of the Filipinos. Wearing only minimal lower body coverings the priests were in a hurry to educate the natives about decency. [18]

Spanish colonists brought Western notions of modesty and opulence in the dress that influenced the styles of Filipino national dress thereafter.

For an everyday dress, however, they still retained the light, loose garments made of pineapple fiber due to the tropical environment. The Filipinas soon learned elaborate embroidery from the Spaniards which they then applied to their formal dress. [18]

India

“The culture, religions, and languages that are spoken in India are as diverse as the landscape in this vast country”, and change according to the region they inhabit. [30] In the northern part of India the Muslim beliefs impact the style of dress.

Aside from the loose trousers and divided skirts is the Sari. It is a six to nine-yard piece of cloth which “gives grace and elegance to the woman wearing it”. [30]

Styles_of_Sari
styles of Sari

The style of wearing a Sari reflects the age, region, religion, status, and occupation of the woman to some extent.

 

Native American Indian

76bef0a917312dc6b5e6a7048b3ee3e2--native-american-indians-native-americans
native Plains American Indian dress

“Using animal hides that they had to hunt down, skin, and prepare to the proper softness, Native American Indians took the task of making clothing very seriously. It was a time-intensive chore that required many hours to make one simple garment.” [19]

A woman could wear the same dress for many years so they were designed to be not only pleasing to the eye but they also conveyed specific information about the wearer.

Symbols on a dress could provide information about the tribe they were attached to, her marital status, or even the skill of her husband or father as a hunter or trader.” [19

“Many of the hides were from elk, deer and bighorn sheep. They were warm, tough, and relatively weatherproof.

Inuit-Indians-Eskimo women-dress-Native American-Alaska
Inuit Eskimo dress

The Inuit Indian tribes of Alaska however, used caribou and seal skin hides for their clothing, whereas the Plains Indians wore buffalo skins. Other tribes such as the Apache and Navajo made clothing from woven threads and plant fibers.”[21]

Although they were mostly utilitarian, there were highly desirable embellishments added to adorn the garments. Initially, leaving the tail of the animal at the top of the dress seemed pleasing to the eye. This was later replaced by intricate beadwork.” [19].

native American Indian breechcloth
American Indian breechcloth

Common clothing worn by men was a breechcloth. This was a rectangular piece of cloth or hide tucked over a belt in front and back to cover the genitalia.

Native American leather dress
Native American Indian leather beaded dress

In cold climates, leather leggings, fur trousers or short skirts (kilts) were worn.” [21] Not all tribes wore shirts.

“The women often used porcupine quills, bits of tin, carved bone, animal sinew, coins, animal teeth, fossilized shells, and the brightly colored glass beads that traders brought from the glass factories of Venice or what is now the Czech Republic. Thousands of hours went into the embellishment on many of these garments.” [19]

  Africa

African clothing is the traditional clothing worn by the people of Africa. In all instances except rural areas these traditional garments have been replaced by Western clothing introduced by European colonialists.”[26] The many varied countries in Africa have a distinct regional dress.

Doris Imalenowa in traditional African dress.
Cameroon dress of Africa

It is interesting to note that the sale of used clothing from western societies is quite prevalent in many African nations. “Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are one of the top destinations for the import of used clothing.

Secondhand clothing is found in everyday apparel for many people, regardless of their class difference. This is because there was always a variety of clothing and it was a good price.”[26]

“These foreign clothes often are drastically different than what people are used to in more rural parts of Africa. People may believe that they are being insulted by being given something that they believe to be old, tattered and dirty.

Generally, it seems that most countries have adapted to the use of secondhand clothing and have used it to their advantage.” [26]

africa_end-pc_tanz_namb-060
typical modern African dress

“However, typically in Muslim regions, such as North Africa, do not partake in this trade due to religious reasons. Instead, Islamic African men wear a long flowing robe and women wear hijab along with a dress covering all skin.” [26]

In the region of South Africa, we find that age and social standing has great bearing on what is worn.

south african women
south African tribal dress

The various clothing and accessories can depict the different stages of life and marital status. The parts of the body that are covered, the fabric colors and design, and the embellishments used are all significant to the wearer.

 

South America

The South American continent covers a vast extreme in both climate and dress. From the worlds largest tropical rainforest to the driest areas in the world, we find the clothing styles that are equally as varied. [31]

Having the influence from the early European Spanish conquistadores’ travelers, to the African nations we can see extensive diversity in dress.

Incan civilization
children of the Incas

In the high Andean mountains, the clothing required was heavier incorporating animal furs and heavy handwoven garments.

ancient indian cultures
A portrayal of ancient Indian cultures

On the coastal front, minimal clothing was worn, displaying more body adornment with tattoos and jewelry at the time than anything. The customs of minimal clothing changed with the western influence of Christianity over time.

Russia

During the study of the history of Russian clothing in 1832, it was discovered that actual specimens of early Russian dress have not been preserved.

“The most reliable information that we have concerning Russians dress of the pre-Christian period comes from our knowledge of the materials common to that period: hides and leather, bast (a plant fiber), wool, flax, and hemp.

The style of dress did not differ from that of the other Slavonic nations.” [27]

Russian peasants
Russian peasants

Climate conditions had a distinct effect on the materials used in their clothing. Clothing was worn to the ankles and often bound at the wrists for warmth.

“The short-flap male dress virtually disappeared from the Russian court under the Byzantine influence, although peasants continued to wear it for two more centuries.

There was a prohibition against taking many types of fabrics out of Constantinople, and for this reason, the garments were, for the most part, rougher and less colorful.” [27]

Russian_Skolt_Sami_after_Photo_1871.jpg Skandanavian dress
Russian-Scandinavian dress

“The Tatar-Mongol invasion led to a break in the contacts with Western Europe, and the immediate proximity with Turkic-speaking peoples led to a change in the form of Russian dress.

A good example of this is the caftan, a type of wide-opening garment with a deep wrap-over, worn by both men and women.” [27]

“The need to protect their national sovereignty compelled Russians to preserve their national dress by modifying imported types of dress. ” [27]

russian-embroidery-1-650x709
Russian embroidery

Folk art embroidery was seen on most of the dress garments, with the exception of the work clothing and those found on peasants.

“Starting with the fourteenth century, trade between Muscovite Russia and Europe expanded. Brocade, velvet, and various kinds of silk and wool were brought to Moscow from England, Italy, and France.

royal russian court dress 1800
Royal Russian court dress over a corset

“The formative element of the European female dress that had been brought to Russia in the eighteenth century was the corset, and it contradicted the Russian ideal of beauty.” [27]

Nordic

Knowledge of clothing from the Nordic countries and the Viking era are sparse indeed. Warmth and comfort were the key factors in their fashion styles and design.

Finland Saami family
family from Finland

“Viking clothing was designed to keep the wearer warm and normally made from many materials found locally like wool, linen, and animal skins.

Most commonly, wool and linen were used to create most items like trousers, tunics, and dresses. Wool was used for the winter clothing, which in Scandinavia could last up to six months.

And linen was used for summer clothing, providing a much lighter weight and less dense item of clothing.” [29]

“Dresses (on the women) were common and in winter they would wear a close-fitting, long woolen gown that would hang to the ankles without a belt. In the summer they would wear a much lighter linen dress.” [29]

In Conclusion

So, in conclusion, we see a vast difference in clothing style throughout history. Some of it was due in part to the climate and geographical locale. The other matter was the natural resources at hand.

As time continued on, however, religious beliefs and traditions became the backbone to the change and style of dress, regardless of the nationality.

Status and financial wealth also played a significant role in the style of clothing a person was allowed to wear. The colors worn and the degree of embellishments also played a major part in all cultures.

There has always seemed to be the need to establish rank and class among people to determine the hierarchy of things. Not only was a division created with the financial standing of a person, but the style of dress made that distinction obvious upon first glance.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I realize that I lightly touched on much of the information. I could have easily written a blog about each country or geographical location. For the purpose of keeping it “brief, however, I wrote as little as possible while still trying to keep it interesting and informative.

So now that we have covered the very basics of the type of clothing worn in various cultures, where do we go from here?

What about the clothing that is worn today? How has time and opinions changed our style of dress? Do we still adhere to our time-honored beliefs and traditions?

Next Up: Part 3

In part 3 of my blog, I will cover the type of clothing which is worn for work.

What type of clothing is worn for a job interview, and how this makes a difference in a person’s career? What about the dress code that is imposed in certain offices?  Do dress uniforms make a difference in how we are perceived by others?

References

[1]  “Costume: In Biblical Times”Jewish EncyclopediaFunk & Wagnalls. 1901 (permanent dead link) Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_clothing

[2]  Biblical Clothing. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_clothing

[3]  “Dress and Ornament, Hebrew”Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious KnowledgeBaker Book House. 1907. Archived from the original on 2014-12-13. Retrieved 2012-11-21

[4] “Coat”Jewish EncyclopediaFunk & Wagnalls. (permanent dead link) Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_clothing

[5]  Ancient Egypt Fashion. Ancient-egypt-online.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-05.[6]

[6] Thompson, James. C. “women’s clothing and Fashions in Ancient Egypt”.

[7]  Art, Author: Department of Greek and Roman. “Ancient Greek Dress – Essay – Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History – The Metropolitan Museum of Art”. The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

[8] Steele, Philip. “Clothes and Crafts in Roman Times”. Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2000, p. 20

[9] MJL-www.myjewishlearning.com -2018

[10]  Biblestudytools.com Hebrew lexicon: ẓiẓit; The Hebrew lexicon is Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon[permanent dead link]

[11] https://www.quora.com/How-were-people-dressed-in-ancient-times

[12] http://www.thefinertimes.com/Ancient-History/social-status-and-clothing-in-medieval-times.html

[13] https://ancientchinafashion.weebly.com/

[14] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_clothing

[15] http://ezinearticles.com/?History-and-Clothing-in-Ancient-Japan&id=1459760

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_missionaries_to_Hawaii

[17] http://www.hawaiihistory.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ig.page&CategoryID=302

[18] https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/clothing-around-world/southeastern-islands-pacific-asia-history-dress

[19] http://www.nativeamerican-art.com/native-American-clothing.html

[20]  McGinn, Thomas A. (1998). Prostitution, sexuality, and the law in ancient Rome. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 340. ISBN 0-19-508785-2.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badge_of_shame

[21] http://www.intothewildwest.com/native-american-clothing-what-native-americans-wore/

[22] https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/july-august/biblical-meaning-of-clothing.html The Biblical Meaning of Clothing ROBERT COVOLO AUGUST 28, 2015

[23] http://jhvonline.com/the-spiritual-significance-of-clothing-p14627-220.htm The Spiritual Significance Of Clothing

[24] http://newmuslimguide.com/en/your-dress-code/108 Clothing From An Islamic Perspective

[25]  http://www.cooltecnology.com/2018/05/07/history-and-clothing-in-ancient-japan/

[26] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothing_in_Africa

[27] https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/clothing-around-world/russia-history-dress

[28] http://www.russianfashionblog.com/index.php/2013/07/history-sarafan/#axzz5YeyTyYFM Russian Fashion Blog; Brief History of the Serafan

[29] http://www.legendsandchronicles.com/ancient-civilizations/the-vikings/viking-clothing/

[30] https://www.mapsofindia.com/india-dress.html

[31] https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/clothing-around-world/south-america-history-dress

Dark Corset Collection

Why Are These The Top 5 Celebrity Cosplay Actors?

Kim Kardashian and Kayne West

Comic-Con International is right around the corner, and with it comes the promise of lots of shows, exhibition and most of all, lots of cosplay actors. So why are these the top 5 celebrity cosplay actors, when there are so many to choose from? Let’s explore the realm of dressing for fun and imagination.

Where Costume Play Comes From

Costume play is the opportunity to role play your favorite characters from science fiction. You can become a part of the story through anime. Wikipedia explains, “The word anime is the Japanese term for animation, which means all forms of animated media”.

Or perhaps you wish to be a part of the fandom, as one of the many the followers.

As Wikipedia states; “A fandom is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest .”

As you become adept at cosplay you will certainly become familiar with Manga. Wikipedia notes that the art of comics and cartooning in Japan known as Manga, has a long history. Dating as far back as the 1600’s, “The word itself first came into common usage in 1798”.(Wikipedia)

Japanese Games for the Inspired

People from all walks of life, and every age group read manga in Japan. Likewise, the content covers everything from action and adventure to mystery and romance. Subsequently this relates to a multi-billion dollar market.

Acting Out Through Cosplay

With cosplay, you can connect with other fans and step out of the everyday and into something extraordinary. Just about anything can be used for the materials to make your costume.

The outfit can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Above all, take inspiration from your favorite program, comic book, or one of these top cosplay actors.

Top 5 American Celebrity Cosplay Actors:

5. Xavier Woods 

Xavier Woods


He’s not exactly a Hollywood celebrity, but this WWE superstar has made a name for himself as a proud comic-player who’s combined his love for anime with his love for wrestling. It’s not a bad combo, really.

First of all, the world of pro wrestling has always been a little outlandish and theatrical. Also, the personalities tend to be a bit larger-than-life. 

During his time outside the ring, Woods enjoys hitting up the DragonCon and Comic-Con circuits in full cosplay costume. After all, he’s an avid anime fan.

Still, Woods hasn’t limited his antics to his downtime. In fact, he recently showed up to the wrestling ring dressed up as his favorite character from Dragon Ball Z, wowing his fans. Is there any better way to combine your passion with your job?

Wrestling and Acting

John Cena

John Cena

As it turns out, wrestling and anime have a pretty long history together. Several other wrestlers share Wood’s love for anime and cosplay. The well known John Cena, former football player, body builder, professional wrestler, actor and rapper, is a lover of costume play. Moreover, he is a big fan of “Fist of the North Star” and Sasha Banks, who loves “Sailor Moon.” 


4. Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham-Carter



We might say that Helena Bonham Carter is not a fixture at Comic Cons. However, no list of celebrity cosplay could really be complete without the queen of steampunk costume. HBC’s steampunk costume skills are legendary, with her fusion fashion elements as edgy as they are sexy.

HBC began her film career in 1986 and has played diverse roles in both small indy films and major blockbusters. She’s been recognized in numerous awards and received many nominations. She may be most recognizable in the U.S. for her recent roles in the “Alice in Wonderland” films and “Harry Potter” series. 

Helena Bonham Carter in Alice in Wonderland

Her iconic style could best be defined as fusion fashion. She is known to add steampunk elements to her everyday wardrobe, using velvet and lace abundantly. In addition to her wardrobe are a cosplay costume corset and burlesque costumes.

3. Adam Savage

Adam Savage-Hellboy

You might be more familiar with Adam Savage as the former co-host of Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters,” but he’s worked in the TV and movie industry for years. As a special effects designer and fabricator, his work can be seen in such major films as “The Matrix Reloaded and Star Wars Attack of the Clones.”

Savage’s love for cosplay started in childhood. When “Jaws” was released, his mom got him his own “Jaws” costume. Later, he and his father used aluminum flashing and rivets to craft a suit of armor, which he wore to school.

Since then, he has created cosplay costumes from various movies, including Chewbacca, Jack Sparrow, Admiral Ackbar and the Ringwraith. He’s earned himself some serious nerd cred and connected on a whole new level with his fandom.

Subsequently, Adam’s love for cosplay has even led to him doing a TED talk called “My Love Letter to Cosplay.” It’s more than a hobby for him: It’s his passion.

2. John Barrowman 

John Barrowman

You might be familiar with John Barrowman from the long-running sci-fi classic “Doctor Who.” Certainly, you’re aware that he’s a bit of a character. He’s perfectly happy walking through Comic-Con either as himself or dressed up in full gender-bending regalia, complete with a costume corset. 

Born in Scotland and raised in Illinois, he’s got a cosmopolitan outlook on life. He’s been in theatre and had a variety of roles in TV before really hitting his stride in sci-fi, most noteworthy in the Whovian spin-off “Torchwood.” Today, he’s a fan favorite at Comic-Con, not just for his sunny attitude but also his crowd-pleasing cosplays. 

John Barrowman-Squirrel Girl



John has shown up as Squirrel Girl, Zapp Brannigan, Harley Quinn and even a super-sparkly burlesque costumes of Captain America. When it comes to roleplay, John Barrowman has definitely stolen our collective hearts.

1. Jamie Lee Curtis 

Jamie Lee Curtis



Making her 1978 debut in the classic “Halloween,” Jamie became established as a talented horror actor in her own right. The daughter of two stars, she’s not only a Hollywood royalty but has written children’s books as well. Furthermore, her work has spanned decades and genres. Jamie has earned numerous awards and nominations as a Hollywood Star as well.

However, her credentials don’t stop there. She’s also got some serious cosplay costume chops. Jamie proves that acting has no boundaries. She has been working the fandoms for decades, embracing not just her fans but the Comic-Con world.

At nearly 60, she’s rocked the black carpet with her son dressed as orcs from the World of Warcraft. Furthermore, she and her entire family hit up BlizzCon as Street Fighter Characters. 

For Curtis and her family, cosplay is above all a family affair, with her kids and husband often getting in on the fun. Still, she’s enjoyed plenty of her own roleplay events, dressing up as the Pink Lightspeed Ranger, a cheerleader and Little Red Riding Hood, among others.

While Jamie has definitely earned the title of Scream Queen as well as Cosplay Queen, maybe-just-maybe she is Queen of Our Hearts.

Celebrities Having Fun

In conclusion, what sets these celebs apart isn’t the cost of their cosplay materials or their access to stylists. It’s their passion for the art itself.

They engage completely with the fandom. Whether they’re attending a convention or just enjoying some fun in their downtime, these celebrities are engaged.

How have they inspired you to up your own cosplay game?

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Breasts Revealed: The History of Breasts in Fashion

Female breasts are often seen as highly taboo. Even innocuous activities such as public breastfeeding can garner controversy and public disapproval. Society hasn’t always had such a prudish take on this natural, necessary body part. In fact, delving into history, they were used as a sexy fashion accessory or political statement.

The Cultural Significance of Cupid’s Kettledrums

Breasts have been turning heads just about as long as women have had them. The practical function of breasts, feeding babies, is often ignored due to the weighty cultural significance they hold.

Mary breastfeeding Jesus

Breasts signify the onset of sexual maturity, symbolize motherhood and embody the beauty of the female form. In religious art, they play a prominent role. There are numerous paintings of Madonna nursing the Christ child. And more of nude statues of ancient goddesses concealing their genitals but displaying their breasts proudly. Even legends offered a nod towards the incredible natural power of a woman’s breasts. Such as the legend of Pero keeping her own father alive when he was sentenced to starvation.


Thanks for the Mammaries!

Breasts have often been associated with motherhood and religion. But they have also been a flirty fashion statement for centuries. Ancient Egyptian women, for example, wore elaborate jeweled dresses designed specifically to show off their breasts. As time passed, social and cultural norms changed, especially in the Western world.

By the 15th century, fashionistas were increasingly showing off “nature’s fonts”. In fact, some of those most stylish ladies, especially at court, became quite well known for their fashion derring-dos.

Madonna


While Western women didn’t necessarily have a “let it all hang out” attitude, breasts were definitely on display more.

Early modern Europeans and Americans had a bit of a Madonna-Whore complex when it came to breasts. Mothers and queens could bare their bosoms without fear of social judgment. For them, breasts signified purity and the nurturing relationships between mothers with their babies and queens with their countries. Mistresses and prostitutes were also known to share their “three-penny bits”. These women however, had somewhat fewer notions of purity and a lot more implications of fun.


Courtly Cleavage


Whether a woman was a queen, mistress or courtier, court fashions tended to expose a considerable amount of cleavage. Possibly far more than we’re used to seeing even today. Agnes Sorel, the darling of King Charles VII’s court and the first officially titled mistress, made many bold statements. She made cleavage a hot commodity in the rarified style world of the 15th-century court.

Agnes Sorel

Royal mistresses weren’t just “the other woman” in those days. The mistresses often played important political and personal roles at court and were considered trendsetters. As the maitresse-en-titre, Sorel was no exception. She’d deliberately wear her bodice open with glittering jewels to better frame her shapely breasts. Her daring couture coups set tongues wagging and shocked the more buttoned-up courtiers. It also ignited a trend however. One that continues today with models on the runway and celebs at awards shows.

Renaissance fashion

By the 16th century, women were wearing low-cut dresses as a rule rather than a flirty exception. An extra dose of titillation was added with specially made cosmetics that would deepen the color of their areolae. This could heighten their sex appeal. Stays, later known as corsets, were used to flatten and support the torso during this time period. Later on they had the added benefit of creating an alluring swell of breasts above the stays.

While French and Venetian courts were more open-minded regarding partial nudity, English courtiers were a little more reticent. Women who wanted to get in on the risque look could soften the dramatic effect. A peek a boo of their exposed bosoms could be displayed by adding a gauzy scarf. Over time, even these modest adjustments were left by the wayside as women embraced the trend.

Busts and Bustiers 

A simple “nip slip” or flashing carried with it a certain daring but was still considered socially acceptable. This was particularly seen in the elite and aristocratic classes. The right garments made breast exposure not just possible but highly desirable. Although generally considered an undergarment, corsets were often just as decorative as the dresses worn over them. Many displayed luxe brocade, decorative embroidery and other beautiful details. Corsets can create curves which not only emphasize the breasts, but also nip in the waist and create robust hips.


Earlier corsets tended to be long with shoulder straps. This ensured a straight posture and high breasts. These corsets were prized for the contrast they created, with a flat torso and rounded breasts. The style was equally effective whether women had large or small breasts. Eventually,
near the end of the 18th century, corsets began to shrink into something resembling bustiers. This created the alluring shape so many women still crave today.

Victorian era

By the Victorian era, breasts had become a little more outré. Even the slightest hint of decolletage being considered risque in the extreme. Women covered up more with their dresses often reaching their necks. Still, that didn’t mean women were moving away from their natural shape. If anything, they had found new ways to emphasize their curves, using sleek styling, cinched waists, and voluminous bustles. 

From Bubbies to Boobs

Women’s bodies have come a long way over the years. Today’s women are just as stylish in sleek yoga pants or workout wear as they are in business suits and formal wear. Shapewear has taken the place of busks and girdles for many women. But corsets will continue to enjoy a certain amount of popularity and sex appeal.

Emma Watson

A corset can create out-of-this-world curves and offer strong support for good posture and day-to-day activities. A stunningly sexy corset can be worn on the top of your clothing or undercover. An intimate environment calls for a corset in place of your clothing.

Charliz Theron

 

Maybe it’s time to start channeling your inner Agnes Sorel with your own daring, vintage-inspired, breast-emphasizing corset!

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The Clothing We Wear-Part 1

The Clothing We Wear-Part 1

Are we emotionally affected by the clothing we wear? Does it reflect the inner workings of our mind, or is that taking things a little too far? Why does it matter what we wear? We know that people have been fashion conscious for thousands of years, so what has led us to the all-out obsession we have with fashion today?

I have always loved fashion myself. My motto is “fashion is my passion”. No matter what I work at in life I always seem to go back to fashion as my first love. It’s the inspiration that gets me excited. It is my way to feel and display my moods and emotions on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. In my lifetime I have been in awe of the intricacies of clothing, astounded by various styles, and repelled by some trends. Why do people wear what they do? My mind is full of questions! My goal in this 4 part blog is to not only pique your interest but to educate as together we take a journey through time.

Tarkhan Dress- 5,100 to 5,500 years old

Let’s start with the Earliest Known Evidence of actual clothing.

As far back as man can date the presence and existence of our species on this earth we assume that clothing was worn. “There is very little archaeological evidence (however,) to determine the date that clothing (actually) started being worn”. [1] The findings that are based on theories, calculate it to be between 40,000 to 170,000 years ago. That’s a pretty wide-spread of time.

Proof of clothing

Eyed needles and various tools have been found which lead us to believe that clothing may have been fashioned from animal hides to cover and protect the body. Why do they think these tools were used for clothing instead of shelter? Scientists observed lice! “Scientists observed that clothing lice are, well, extremely well-adapted to clothing. They hypothesized that body lice must have evolved to live in clothing, which meant that they weren’t around before humans started wearing clothes. The findings of the study are significant because they show that clothes appeared some 70,000 years before humans started to migrate north from Africa into cooler climates.”[1]. The timing here would put a man in the era of the Ice Age. Ian Gilligan, a lecturer at the Australian National University, said: “Modern humans probably started wearing clothes on a regular basis to keep warm when they were first exposed to Ice Age conditions.”[1]

Clothing as protection

Okay, so we have determined that people have worn clothing for a very long time. Artifacts were found and the type of clothing or coverings, such as they were, were simple and basic in the beginning. They were initially made from the skins of animals and held together in a primitive fashion. These animal skin coverings served as protection against cold heat and rain.

But let’s delve a little further as things are bound to get interesting.

Beauty in the garments

The scientists dug a little more and extended their search. They determined that about 25,000 years ago, give or take a millennium, the clues and artifacts they found pointed to a weaving technology. Dyed fabrics made from various plant fibers and the wool from sheep has been discovered as well. “The earliest dyed flax fibres have been found in a prehistoric cave in the Georgia and date back to 36,000”. [5]

This meant that people were concerned with what they wore and how they looked. For that reason, they wanted variety and beauty in their garments. Their coverings may have been draped over the shoulder and secured with a belt at the waist, while they made a statement with their style. We have always been concerned about the clothing we wear.

Advances in Fashion

Then around the mid-1300’s big advances in fashion were made. Fashion began to get interesting. “For instance, clothing started to be made to form fit the human body, with curved seams, laces, and buttons. Contrasting colours and fabrics also became popular in England. From this time, fashion in the West began to change at an alarming rate, largely based on aesthetics, whereas in other cultures fashion typically changed only with great political upheaval, meaning changes came more slowly in most other cultures.” [1]

Fashion is now coming to the forefront. It’s not just a cover-up anymore. Different parts of the world are beginning to make a statement about who they are. “Look at me. I am different from you”, they say as they present themselves.

So Do the Clothes We Wear Reflect What’s Inside Us?

Kat Rectenwald, an anonymous writer in Germany states her opinion on a writers’ forum named Quora. “No, Your clothes reflect how you want to see yourself and be seen by the world around you. It reflects parts of your self-image, your social identity, your class and often your education, too. But don’t confuse any of this with what may be “inside” of people. Apart from your aesthetics and the above mentioned it doesn’t say a thing about who you are. You can’t draw any conclusion on a person’s intelligence, morals or character from this.” [2]

Good point Kat! But just because we can’t actually determine a persons’ “intelligence or moral character” from the clothes they wear, does that mean that we won’t form an opinion? Absolutely not. Many studies on fashion and clothing style have shown that it is human nature to form an instantaneous opinion of someone based on the way they dress.

 

Does Our Clothing Define Us

In an article by Phil Coomes, Picture Editor September 28, 2016, titled ‘Do the clothes we wear define us?’ we are presented with various people in different clothes which “Explores the way in which our clothes shape us, that outer shell we use to accentuate or sometimes hide who we are. The aim is to see how a viewer responds to the uniform and how it shapes their perception of that person – how we prejudge based on a uniform or a certain look and style.” A few of the photos which were shown at the No Walls Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe Festival are shown here:

FirefighterSarah, Midwife

Dani - Opera SingerBarrington - Entertainer

Our Observations

We observe a firefighter, nurse, entertainer and an opera singer in uniform and casual dress. All photographs courtesy Strand Collective.

So do you have a different opinion of the people in uniform as opposed to their casual dress? I think it is safe to say we all would draw our own conclusion based on the clothing style.

THE UNIFORM

At the blog site International Branding, the whole world knows your name, we observe the comment; “The uniform, although broadly defined, is not just confined to the military. It signifies what apparel is appropriate, practical, or preferable for different occupations and social groups. For that reason, our clothes define the role we are taking at any particular time. This certainly applies to both business and pleasure.  For instance, always dressing for work, would be regarded as eccentric, to say the least. In fact, our clothes say so much about who we are. Even refusing to follow trends gives a signal indicative of a way of thinking, which wants to be free and not conventional.” [3] We can see a very important consideration here. The mere refusal to follow the current trends can also be a way to define ourselves.

Opinions and Assumptions

In an article in Psychology Today magazine by Ben C. Fletcher D. Phil Posted Apr 20, 2013 entitled: What Your Clothes Might Be Saying About You, he writes; “our clothes say a great deal about who we are and can signal a great deal of socially important things to others, even if the impression is actually unfounded.” “It is important to choose our dress style carefully because people will make all sorts of assumptions and decisions about us without proper evidence. We are unlikely to know what these assessments are too, so it is quite possible that our clothes reveal more than we thought.”

The research found in published studies clearly shows that “What we wear speaks volumes in just a few seconds. Dressing to impress really is worthwhile and could even be the key to success.” [6]

our clothing and our thinking

So we’ve determined that our knowledge of the clothing and coverings that people have been wearing since the beginning has advanced considerably. We’ve gone from the wrap-and-stick-it animal skins to form-fitting clothing produced en masse by the factories of today.

But the questions remain unanswered. Do the clothes we wear emotionally affect us? Does it reflect the inner workings of our mind and why does it matter what we wear? We have proven that a simple animal skin would cover our bodies just as well as an haute couture designer dress. It would be warm and soft although certainly a bit smelly in the rain.

Continuing Our Quest

I ask that you stay with me as I continue the quest of why people wear what they do and how it affects us. In the next blog, we will venture more into the types of clothing worn during different time periods. Finally, we will follow the journey into the varied dress of different cultures from around the world.

When was the corset introduced and why did people seek out such a restrictive garment? And most noteworthy, why has the existence of the corset continued across the span of time.

Life is an amazing journey. The more you know the more interesting it gets.

Elie Saab Designer Dress

References with links:

[1] When People Started Wearing Clothes by Emily Upton September 12, 2013,

[2] Quora Forum

[3] International Branding, the whole world knows your name

[4] Fashion History – Clothing of the Early Middle Ages – Dark Ages 400 – 900 CE by Dolores Monet, Bellatory-Fashion and History

[5] History of clothing and textiles-by Wikipedia

[6] Psychology Today magazine, What Your Clothes Might Be Saying About You, Ben C. Fletcher D.Phil Posted Apr 20, 2013

[7] Letzuploadit displayed on YouTube: Do your clothes make a difference?! (RICH vs POOR) SOCIAL EXPERIMENT 2018

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The Time of the Medieval Corset

Medieval Corsets

Many things were happening during the time of the medieval corset. “Centuries of Roman rule in Western Europe came crashing to an end in 476. The emperor was driven from his throne by barbarian invaders from the north. Soon after, hundreds of tiny kingdoms began to form in once Roman lands. Subsequent invasions by Vikings, Goths, Moors, and infighting between neighboring kingdoms began to change the nature of European life”.   From Medieval-Life.net

Clothing Worn During The Medieval Period

The medieval time period is known as the Middle Ages, and the Dark Ages. This time period lasted from approximately 500 AD to 1500 AD. By all accounts, this was a thousand years of war, famine, rigid class systems and rampant superstition mixed with religion. These were serious times, and accordingly, women of stature wore serious clothes. The fashion attire had many layers which included, a smock, hose, kirtle, petticoats, gown and surcoat, girdle, cape with hood and bonnet.

Mary Queen of Scots lived and died in the 16th century, but her wardrobe style was still medieval. (Did the Renaissance skip Scotland?). Mary was a threat to the throne and a staunch Catholic besides. Mary was beheaded on the order of  Queen Elizabeth in 1587. She was reportedly wearing only her undergarments. These were said to have been a velvet petticoat, a pair of sleeves in crimson-brown, and a black satin bodice with black trimmings.

Question: Notice anything missing from these lists?
Answer: Underpants! That’s right, medieval women actually went commando.

Considering the sheer number of layers worn at the time, going bare from the waist down beneath the medieval corset and petticoats was a practical idea. There was nothing to get in the way of a quick in and out, with the cuckolded spouse none the wiser. After all, secret trysts by their very nature have to be brief.  Just think about how long it would have taken for the eager lover to peel off all those layers!

The Medieval Corset

Medieval women sometimes wore “cotes,”. This was made of two stiffened layers of fabric and worn as an outer garment. Sometime around 1300, women’s styles began to be more revealing; the medieval corset was still in use but changing. Clothing was beginning to fit closer to the body. Fashion changed, necklines were lowered and the desired silhouette now had more curves.

In the desire to show off the waistline, steel, wood, whalebone or cane, were slipped into the seams. This part of the medieval corset was the ‘busk’. A busk is a piece of hardware placed into the center front of the corset that could be made of steel, wood, whalebone.

These busks fulfilled another function, as well: they served as love letters. The wooden or bone busks were often inscribed or carved with messages of heartfelt love. These busks were then given as gifts from the men to their lady loves. The ladies returned the favor by giving the laces from their medieval corset to their lovers. So far, we’ve got no underpants, wood stays inscribed with sexy messages and long laces to work with – hmm. . .

Factoid: a 12th-century illustration shows a demon wearing a medieval corset.

The outerwear medieval corset would end under the breasts, whether the corset was a straight, bust-to-waist design or an outerwear one that had shoulder straps and looked like a tight little vest that laced beneath the bust. Fabric choices for the medieval corset grew so that women of stature could choose ermine, taffeta or brocade and colors such as crimson and purple which denoted aristocratic lineage.

Petticoats in Medieval Times

Petticoats – the more the better – came into popularity sometime in the earlier 1500’s. These petticoats, worn under massive skirts to expand them outward,  were often attached to the medieval corset by laces. 

Around this time, too, the farthingale became a popular shaper. The farthingale was a hoop skirt made of metal banding. This metal skirt served to expand the outer skirt being worn.

“The French farthingale was introduced in England in the late 1570’s. Modern costumers conjecture that it probably consisted of one or more large hoops with horizontal stiffeners which radiated from around the waist in order to produce a flat platter-like shape when supported underneath by the “bumroll” or “French farthingale”.  these rolls were made of: they were stuffed with cotton and rags and stiffened with hoops of whalebone, wire or ropes made of bent reeds. Buckram (stiff canvas) is the most commonly mentioned material. Other references describe the rolls as being starched with a form of stiffener.” (Wikipedia Farthingale, post-2018)

Eventually, this style led right into the increasingly, impossibly tightened waist. 

Edmund-Leighton-God-Speed-medieval fashion

The Dark Ages

“Medieval times often evoke images of knights battling on muddy fields, dank and dreary castles, hunger, plagues-in general, a lot of rather depressing scenes. But these Dark Ages also witnessed the birth of a romantic movement. 13th Century conventions of chivalry directed that men should honor, serve, and do nothing to displease ladies and maidens. 

Secret rituals of Romance developed where women-long the loser in a double standard of adultery condoned among men-found champions who would fight in their honor. Courtly love became the subject of some of the most famous medieval poems, and where we get today’s word, “Courtesy.” Through these centuries, Europe was slowly waking from a harsh slumber, and begin to sow the seeds of a Renaissance”. Medieval–Life.net

Scotland Medieval Castle

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Burlesque Dance Costumes

What are burlesque dance costumes? Is it some kind of Middle Eastern dance costume you ask?

Well let me give you a little insight:

1840 London, England:

Close your eyes for a minute. Imagine yourself in the year 1840 in the city of London. It is late, and the night is dark. You find yourself walking down a small alleyway off a busy street. Finally, you spot a red door, therefore you have arrived at your destination.

You knock and the door is opened.

You are escorted by a host to a dark room inside. There is a small stage against one wall. Scattered around the room are small round tables with 2 or 3 chairs at each. You choose your seat and wait.

Now skip ahead to later on in the evening. The room is full of boisterous people, laughing, smoking and drinking alcohol. Suddenly the lights dim dramatically and conversations stop.

Lively music begins to play from the side of the room. A spotlight comes on and a lady in a brightly colored outfit moves seductively towards the stage.

She slightly drags her foot in time to the music as she begins to sway and then skip onto the stage.

Her outfit has many layers, some heavy and opaque and others transparent and flowing. Her makeup is bold and somewhat gaudy, accentuating her facial movements.

She begins to speak. Her remarks are witty and sexual, her skits entertaining. She pokes fun at Shakespeare and opera and can pull laughter from the biggest sourpuss.

Burlesque Dance:

Burlesque dance can be dated back to 17th century London. It began as a way to poke fun at “serious” theater productions. It was promoted to an art form early on and continues in that tradition today.

The working class now had a way to poke fun at the upper class through laughter and lust. Using their social habits and traditions they ‘spoofed’ in a bawdy way. The distinctive look of burlesque costumes and the sly satire of the dancers’ routines are unique.

Famously performed in Paris at the Moulin Rouge theater, the burlesque dance began. There, dancers combined elaborate costumes with detailed stage sets to establish their own unique identities.

Burlesque in the United States:

Burlesque dance evolved and migrated to New York in the late 1900’s. Singers, comics, acrobats and a motley crew of other entertainers shared the stage with the fetching and scantily clad dancers.

In the 1920’s burlesque became known as the modern-day striptease show. Some performances started with an exotic dancer and ended in a boxing match. In New York City the boxing match performance was banned for a time. As a result of the ban, it stopped completely.

Did They Get Naked:

Historically, the style of burlesque costumes and how much a dancer removed depended largely on what she could get away with. Sometimes a little stripping was involved, and sometimes the performer removed all of their clothes.

The obvious fakery was used to suggest nudity. This led to a comic effect. And sometimes the dancer really did remove much of her costume, one piece at a time.

Burlesque dance costumes are ornately designed to titillate and tease. Most of them are based on a corset.

First of all, the dancer may choose a flirty little skirt, opera gloves or mesh stockings. Many dance performances include accessories like top hats and cigarette holders. Furthermore, the dancer can then choose which items to remove in an arousing manner.

Why Corsets:

Corsets as the foundation of burlesque costume served a different purpose. They give the burlesque dancer that classic, hourglass shape.

A corset defines the ultimate femininity. They are sexy, glamorous, and cheeky without being tacky or vulgar. They have attracted the eye of the socially elite man from past centuries to modern times.

This opened the door for burlesque dancers to appear on the arms of noblemen, artists, and the aristocrats.

The Artists:

Many talented women have donned their burlesque costumes and taken to the stage. Often actresses got their start in burlesque, including Mae West and Fannie Brice. The 1930’s saw the emergence of such iconic dancers as Gypsy Rose Lee and Josephine Baker.

It often provided a path to respectability for women who were having a rough time of things. For some, it enabled them to earn their way out of harsh circumstances and hobnob with society.

 

Burlesque Timeline-1920’s-1940’s:

In the resurgence of the early 1900’s, the chorus girls of the Ziegfield Follies skirted the edges of burlesque. They performed in fabulous costumes that showed a lot of legs.

By the late 1920’s we were entering the industrial revolution. The rising popularity of movies had burlesque stage shows shut down and more women arrested for indecencies and revealing their breasts.

It took WWll in the 1940’s to bring back the burlesque shows. The servicemen needed entertainment! It faded a bit again after the 1940’s. The resulting moral arguments against it began to have a suppressing effect.

 

Burlesque Today:

At the beginning of the 1970’s, the dance began to regain its popularity. Today it is enjoying a full resurgence. Perhaps the most famous performer of the modern style is Dita Von Teese. Ms. Von Teese knows exactly how to work burlesque dance costumes and props with stunning effect. Corsets, stockings, hats, gloves, and her trademark pale skin and raven hair are instantly recognizable.

 

Play your Part:

Does the style and sass of burlesque appeals to you? Join the revelry!

You do not need to be a professional performer to join in the fun.

At Sultry Lady Corsets, we can make the perfect custom corset for you. Play out your private fantasies of flirting and teasing in the glare of the footlights.