pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

Wedding Fantasy is with a Sexy Corset

Many women start planning their wedding days months or years in advance. The romance and love spill over into a realm of fantasy they’ve never before imagined. This is the one time in their lives they can be big and extravagant. They can make their every fantasy a reality. One of the most effective ways to achieve your Wedding Fantasy is with a Sexy Corset.

corset style wedding gown

The History of Weddings

 

Modern weddings aren’t all that different from weddings throughout history. In fact, many traditions we incorporate in our ceremonies today are traditions that have been handed down through the generations.

The wedding party, for example, dates back to ancient Roman times when bridesmaids would wear matching dresses to confuse evil spirits.

Sri Lanka-Largest Wedding Ever

 

White For The Bride

 

As recently as the 19th century, women simply slipped into their best dresses on their wedding day.

It wasn’t until 1840 that the white wedding trend started. That’s when Queen Victoria slipped on an elaborate ivory silk gown with a Honiton lace flounce to wed Prince Albert. After that, the whole world followed suit. Perhaps we can consider Queen Victoria as one of the original wedding trendsetters.

Queen Victoria in Wedding Dress

Women still choose white wedding dresses today and with quite similar designs for their special days. We might not have to worry about evil spirits anymore, but we still have fun with our bridal parties and our big wedding dreams.  Many of these dreams incorporate a wedding fantasy with a sexy corset.

Some brides have no limits on their bridal gown fantasy.

Wedding In Torremol

Ramping Up the Romance

 

Above all, when it comes to your wedding day, it’s all about the romance. Few things are as romantic as the classic wedding dress. Wedding dresses often have details such as crystals, lace, appliques, cascading tulle ruffles, cut-outs, and pearl beads to heighten the allure. Nothing is quite as sexy, however, as your natural shape highlighted and enhanced by traditional corsetry.

Marta’s Bakery-Corset Wedding Dress with Chocolate Effect

A wedding corset highlights the waist while maintaining the curves of the breasts and hips. Corsets range from sultry and sexy to delicate and feminine in style, and they can work with just about any fantasy wedding.

Even better, corsets look great on every body type whether you choose a simple cinched bustier or a classic steel-boned lace-up corset.

 

Wedding Corsets

Corset and Undergarments for your wedding day

 

Wedding corsets also have a long history behind them. They have been worn by brides for centuries and perhaps even longer than the traditional white wedding dress itself. Differing from fashion today, corsets were originally worn as foundation garments. The corset was used to shape the figure, and smooth the lines underneath the tight fitting dress.

Although you and your dress are the stars of the show on your big day, what’s under your dress can be just as important. No, that’s not a reference to the risque!

Foundation garments keep everything exactly where it needs to be by lifting, supporting and flattening so that your gown lays properly. For this reason, some women opt for shapewear. However, corsets do the job more effectively and certainly with an added allure.

Corsets have the ability to lift the bust, trim the waist, accentuate the hips and create long, lithe lines, making you look like a queen on your wedding day.

original wedding corset with box-circa 1800

Corsets can be worn under the dress, but they can also take the place of a conventional bodice. Bridal corsets like these are designed a little differently from costume corsetry and often have eye-catching features. Many are adorned with pearl or crystal beads, Venetian lace, satin, and other embellishments.

Similarly, they can simplify the dressing process by doing two jobs at once. By eliminating the need for foundation garments they can replace the traditional bodice.  The modernized look of today has brides showing their corsets on the outside.  Most noteworthy, the corset has proudly taken on a fashion statement in its own right.

 

Finding the Fantasy

 

Women today are enjoying the freedom to choose the weddings they’ve always wanted, whether that’s a destination wedding or a themed wedding.

Destination Wedding in Hawaii

Make your fantasy a reality with the dress of your dreams. Choose from Renaissance and Medieval dresses to princess and fairytale dresses. Certainly, a gorgeous boudoir-style bustier can be the perfect touch for any of these dresses.

Choosing Your Fantasy Look

1. Finding the Right Style
Corsets are available in a wide range of styles and fits, from waspies and waist trainers to bustiers and long-line corsets. The best bodice-ripping bustier for you is the one that fits your body, your style, and your wedding theme perfectly.

2. Choosing the Right Size
Corsetry requires a number of measurements for proper sizing. Because of the exact measurements, a custom corset can have the perfect fit for both comfort and style. Every aspect of your wedding corset can be sized to your exact need. You can have a flawless look and superior comfort on your big day.

3. Designing the Right Look
While you certainly have the option of buying a bustier “off the rack,” customized corsets offer you the best options for getting exactly what you want. You can choose whatever design you want, add exactly the right details for your wedding and have your bodice made to fit with your wedding dress for a dreamy look.

From Fantasy to Fairytale

Medieval-Renaissance Corset Wedding Dress

In conclusion, a custom wedding corset is a perfect addition to any fantasy wedding. This standout silhouette works with Celtic, fairytale, Medieval, steampunk and classically romantic weddings.

Corsets can even work with sleek, modern bridal wear! With corsets, state-of-the-art construction and technology can be combined with romantic styles.  Added to that,  classic boning, and exquisite detailing,  ensure couture-quality corsets perfect for your bridal day.

 

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

Fetish Fashion For Those Inspired To Go Beyond The Ordinary

Fetish Fashion for those inspired to go beyond the ordinary is an adventurous and feisty look. It is a look that has moved beyond the bedroom and onto runways around the globe. From studded corsets and strappy leather dresses to PVC minis and plastic harnesses, there’s sure to be something for everyone. 

When you think of “fetish wear”, it might bring to mind vinyl clothing, dark dungeons and whips, and chains. However, you might be surprised to find out that many of today’s top designers are inspired by this sexy, cutting edge concept of appearance.

Opening a new door in your wardrobe can start an unexpected and exciting adventure. Moreover, expanding your viewpoint can have a dynamic impact on your life.

Taboos and More

Humans have always been a little bit on the kinky side. The erotic poetry of ancient Greeks was legendary. Likewise, the ancient Roman emperor Caligula has become synonymous with sexual excess. And subsequently, associating fetish fashion with sex is not a new concept.

Everyday Leather Fetish Fashion

From the beginning of time, there has been a draw to taboos and the forbidden. Crossing over to the dangerous side holds an unknown thrill and raises the heartbeat. The intake of breath increases and the stimulation is intoxicating.

The Inaugural Los Angeles Fetish Film Festival Awards, Red Carpet and Fashion Show held at Bar Sinister, Hollywood, CA on April 16, 2011

Therefore, it is only plausible that our clothing is involved. It is an outward expression of our inner emotions. Fetish fashion for those inspired to go beyond the ordinary, the range of expression is limitless. Our clothing choices can certainly allow us to bring our private desires into a more public realm.

With clothing, we can tap into our sexier side through the sensuality of certain fabrics. The cut and the ornamentation determine the outcome.

Fabrics such as slippery satin or rich velvet look and feel sensuous. Vinyl and leather, on the other hand, have a sexier, perhaps thrilling feel to them. Similarly, strappy, studded garb reveals a tougher, BDSM-feel.

Kinky clothiers have a history as long as the history of kink itself. The interpretation begins with the wearer. Just one simple item added to your outfit can make or break the ostentatious look.

From Underground Trend to Haute Couture

A peek into the realm of fetish-wear can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries when women wore stiff stays and tight-laced corsets.

While the corset wasn’t initially worn to be provocative, it did have a dual purpose. It controlled the figure beneath closely tailored dresses while creating an alluring silhouette. Throughout history, the mindset about corsets changed back and forth from teasing and revealing, to restrictive and repressive.

Corset Wearing In The Boudoir

By the 1800s, a corset was usually worn for proper form and decorum. To be without a corset was considered improper. However, wearing it in the boudoir was considered over-the-top sexy.

The same type of duality is what makes fetish-wear so hot today. In fetish wear, we see rebellion vs. restriction, domination modified by submission, and aggression tempered by trust.

Leaders Trending Rebellious Clothing

Post-WWII London saw a big boom in bondage wear as the underground gay community began to emerge in style. By the 60s and 70s, the punk subculture and rock stars like Alice Cooper had popularized latex and leather. Major designers hopped on the flamboyant trend. We witnessed Vivienne Westwood leading the charge with her punk-inspired lines complete with zippers, straps and safety pins.

In addition, Madonna burst onto the scene in the 1980s, voguing in her fishnets, fingerless gloves, and leather bustiers.

Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier blended the worlds of pop and kink seamlessly with his infamous cone bras, nylon tattoo tops, bodysuits, rubber, and latex. His looks often played with power, dominance, and control.

Jean Paul Gauthier Fashion week-Paris

Corsets and Fetish Fashion

A well-known corsetmaker, Mr. Pearl establishes himself into the world of fetish wear and corsets with designs that “displayed innovative expression, and encouraging one to bend the rules”.

Mr Pearl-and his couture corsets

By the 1990s, fashion designer Alexander McQueen was subverting conventional fashion with his ideas of edgy romance and “savage beauty.” Known for dressing such style icons as Kate Moss, he used fabric and exquisite tailoring to tease out flowing movements and dizzying shapes. Quite often he did this with leather embellished with metal hardware. His themes encompassed bondage, playful disguises, and exotic contortions.

Today, design brands from Helmut Lang and Prada to Louboutin and Rihanna continue to tap into the world of kink and BDSM to bring us clothing lines that speak to us.

From the Dungeon to the Street

One does not have to descend into the depths of carnality to get a kick out of kink. Instead, many are inspired by various punk, goth, and BDSM subculture’s motifs. Sexual imagery is often a large part of fet-fashion, but it doesn’t have to be the primary focus.

Using personal style, one can tame down the kink in couture. Add a touch of shiny latex or leather accessories to toughen up a look. Skip harnesses and bondage gear and take a strappy look to the beach in a cagey bathing suit and gladiator sandals. 

If you’re not quite ready to step into thigh-high leather boots or a latex harness, you can still make a bold fet-fashion statement by experimenting with pieces that speak to you. Draw inspiration from punk, goth and BDSM subcultures.

Mr Pearl Corset Attire

Adding pieces like a sexy corset or bustier can work with nearly anything in your wardrobe. These unique items can be paired with dresses, jeans and more. If you’re really feeling like a walk on the wild side, slip on something a little more daring underneath your regular work clothes for a fun surprise later.

Exploring Your Own Wild Side

In conclusion, while not all of today’s hottest sexy style trends are boardroom appropriate, they’re still making some pretty strong waves in the street. Try one or all of them on for size as you explore your own wild side.

Latex Clothing

Fetish clothing, underground kink, and provocative cosplay can free you from burdensome restrictions and let you push boundaries just a bit. Try out a teaser outfit to test the reactions. Perhaps the best surprise will be had by you.

If you liked this post and found it interesting, please leave a comment.

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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?

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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 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 personation 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. Pretending 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 subterfuge, 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. 

Acting 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 mask your appearance, you can to shed all those worries and use your character to connect with people.

8. Playing a role 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 with handcrafted details or adding a costume corset for an alluring boost.

6. Dressing up 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 masquerade. 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. Costuming 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 costume clothing 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. Role-playing 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, play acting 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 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.

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

Breasts Revealed: The History of Breasts in Fashion

Cultural taboos in society often frown on revealing the female breasts. 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.  Cultural impact has a strong influence on the way people perceive female breasts. The practical function of breasts is often ignored because of cultural influence.

Mary Magdalene 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.


Ancient Egyptian Women

 

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.

actress and singer, 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


Court fashions tended to expose a considerable amount of cleavage, whether a woman was a queen, mistress or courtier. 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-titer, 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


Renaissance Era 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. The English women tended to soften the risque look for a more dramatic effect. The exposed bosoms were often displayed with a gauzy scarf. Even these modest adjustments were left by the wayside over time. 



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 in front with shoulder straps. This ensured a straight posture and high breasts. The contrast they created, with a flat torso and rounded breasts, made the, prized possessions. 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 Women

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.

actress Emma Watson

A corset can create curves and offer strong support for good posture. 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.

actress Charlize Theron

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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.

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

The Impact of Industrialization on Fashion

garment factory workers

 

What has been The Impact of Industrialization on Fashion today? There is no historical record of the name of the first woman to drape herself alluringly in the skin of an ancient beast, but she seems to have started something. Humans have been adorning themselves with clothing, paint, jewelry, and fabric ever since. She wanted to make a statement.

It is self-evident that until modern times all clothing was made from natural products. The skins of animals, their hair and wool were used.  Plant elements like linen, cotton, and silk have also been available to humans for millennia.

The prehistoric artists pulled their materials into a corner and went to work with their pots of pigment, dye, and paint, printing early art forms. A few quills, a few feathers, and a few shells later, fashion was born. Early garments were typically made from rectangles that were draped and tied, held together with pins, or roughly sewn with needle and sinew.

The Skills needed for making and embellishing materials were several steps ahead of construction techniques. The early technicians learned to spin fiber, then weave or knit it into a fabric. It wasn’t until the 14th century that the use of curved seams finally gave clothing a more fitted look. Buttons and laces which came later provided more sophisticated closures.

Early Fashion:

Clothing and fabric cloth continued to be almost exclusively handmade by individuals for their own use until the Industrial Revolution. In the 1700s, the lower classes made durable fabric clothing out of homespun fibers. They had neither time nor money to waste. Garments were patched, resized, remade and handed down until there was nothing left to use.

The upper classes had access to luxurious imported fabric, intricate adornments and the labor of skilled artisans. Fashions became ostentatious, with hoops, wires and stays for the women and matching three-piece suits for the men.

The fabric corset was part of a woman’s wardrobe during the 1700s, but it was rather practical. It provided back support and gave the breasts a cheeky lift. It didn’t interfere with breathing or comfort of the fabric at that time.

The Industrial Revolution:

The Industrial Revolution changed everything. It ushered in the factory production of textiles and clothing. Machines could produce knitted and woven cloth that was a finer gauge than most women could produce with home methods. The invention of the sewing machine enabled the rapid, high volume manufacturing of fabric clothing.

Improved transportation meant that this clothing could be shipped cheaply and easily. Improved communication allowed women and men to see what the fashionable set was wearing in their own country and abroad. All of these factors made manufactured fabric clothing desirable and widely available at an attractive price.

A number of interesting developments occurred in the world of fashion in the late 1800s. Corsets took on their familiar tightly laced hourglass shape, and mass-produced versions began to arrive in the stores.

At the same time, though, women began to be sporty. Their newfound interest in sports did not mesh well with tight fabric undergarments. Lighter and more flexible fabrics were needed.

The Arrival of Haute Couture:

Haute couture made the biggest splash in the fashion pool of the 1800s. Introduced by Charles F. Worth, haute couture was born in Paris. Worth was the first to show a collection on live models, allowing private clients to choose a style and have it custom made to suit their bodies and their tastes.

This sort of handmade, bespoke clothing with unique adornments, custom fabric, and impeccable quality is still the standard of luxury today.

Fashion Today:

As fashion has continued to evolve into the 21st century, discussions of quality and craftsmanship have come to the fore. In the past, almost every woman owned a sewing machine and knew how to use it. They often created beautiful, one-of-a-kind, fabric garments that could last for decades.  The pendulum has now swung to a time when women embrace manufacturing. The general population now prefers to buy inexpensive, disposable clothing that allows them to follow the latest trend.

Recently, we have also seen a return of a timeless style. Women are again beginning to value quality over quantity. Some search for vintage couture in resale shops, some are learning to sew, and some are seeking out skilled tailors and seamstresses for bespoke apparel.

A few pieces, such as an embellished evening wrap, a tailored wool jacket or a perfectly fitted corset, will always have a place in any woman’s wardrobe. Classic garments are worth the investment and custom tailoring comes with high-quality fabrics and skilled construction.

Inexpensively manufactured clothing has its place.  But the firm fabric, soft linings, finished seams and exquisite fit of bespoke garments have undeniable superiority.

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

What Is The History Of Washing Clothing

What is the History of Washing Clothing?

Wash Day on the Farm

So What is the History of Washing Clothing anyway? Since people began wearing clothing, we have needed a way to wash and clean the clothes they wear; for hygienic reasons, if not to keep down the body lice and distasteful smells. The commoners throughout history were accustomed to the mutual bad smells among themselves.  The wealthy upper class however at least attempted a modicum of dignity by masking those smells through candles, rosewater, potpourri, and handkerchiefs scented with perfume. But how did we go from river banks with rocks, to an electric washing machine?

Clothing of the Early Time Periods:

From 1400 to 1500 A.D., wool was sheered from sheep to be woven into lengths of cloth. This was the most popular fabric used for clothing people at the time. It provided warmth and protection while not creating a suffocating barrier from the elements. This also meant that the fibers retained smells, and would hang on to stains.

Following this was linen, made from the fibers of flax and hemp plants. Cotton pulled from a cotton plant was also used, but the process for making fabric lengths was much more detailed and time-consuming. These natural fibers have the ability to allow air to pass through, or “breathe”. This does cause them to shrink from their original size easily, however.

Care must be taken with the washing that isn’t just simple surface cleaning.  The fibers that we have available today are numerous and varied. The original natural fiber sources still remain the favorite among fashion designers and wearers alike though.

 

Wash Day From The Past:

Before the time of washing machines, the project of wash day was often done in rivers. At that time it was considered “women’s work”.  Because it was associated with women in the home, it often became a group activity complete with children playing. Laundry could be found draped everywhere to dry. Women could be observed heading to the river bed, manned with boards to scrub on and sticks to pound the cloth with. These laborers headed to the stream to beat the offending articles into submission. If they didn’t leave with a better smell they would hopefully have less crawling pests.

Clothing was often rubbed, twisted or hit against rocks. Sometimes a wooden bat called a washing beetle, combined with a washing tub, would be used to get the dirt out.

When the washing board was invented in 1797 it became the “more sophisticated” way to clean for a time. People then began boiling water above a fire and pouring it into a tub that they would then use to wash their clothing (tub washing). This was often accompanied by soap and homemade lye to bleach the clothes white and remove the ever-present grease.

The Making Of Soap:

Before the invention of today’s laundry cleaners, soap was made from boiled animal fat and lye to clean any clothing. Salt could also be added to form rough pumice like the texture and to produce bars easier to store and handle. Not surprisingly the laundress suffered the plight of chapped itchy hands and possible blisters because of it.

In areas where wood was plentiful, lye was made from water poured through wood ashes until it became “frothy”. People would often soak their clothing in lye to clean their white or off-white clothing. The process of soaking clothing in lye to dissolve the grease and loosen the dirt was called bucking.

Starch and bluing were also available to use for nicer clothing and linens to remove the stains, bleach them white again, and give them a good stiff gloss.

A sizing solution made from plants was also used on fabrics like cotton that wrinkled perpetually. This added body to the fabric where heavy stiffness was not wanted. This was a luxury however as the process was quite time-consuming.

Washing For Sanitation:

Enter the 1800’s and the discovery of germs brought about greater awareness and concerns about diseases and sanitation. This increased the desire for clean clothes and regular bathing. Quality dressing, and thus cleanliness, was the priority. It became associated with a higher social status as well.

In the western frontier towns of America, the women available to do laundry services were few and far between. And on the eastern shores of the country crowded apartments or confined dwellings prevented easy wash days. This was a drawback in the larger cities of the eastern shores.

At this time many Chinese immigrants were fleeing the Taiping Rebellion that affected their country and coming to America. This money making the trade was available. For the first time in history, cleaning clothes became a business opportunity.

The Invention Of The Washing Machine:

By the mid-1850s, steam-driven washing machines were being sold in both the United States and England. The person washing the clothes still had to ring out clothing by hand until the ringer machine was created, however. This ringer used two rollers to squeeze as much water as possible out of clothing. They were originally operated by hand but were eventually created as a power attachment above the washer.

Later, after the development of electric motors, came machines called extractors that spun clothing to remove excess water. Eventually, this became one device, known today as a washing machine.

Gas and electric dryers that we use today were invented soon after. No more tedious trips to and from the clothesline.

Dry Cleaning:

Dry cleaning is a cleaning process that uses chemical solvents rather than water to clean the garments. This method was used as early as the 1800’s to clean clothing that would shrink dramatically from water washing. Due to the loosely woven fabrics of the time, this was often a major concern.

 

In past history, those who could afford it hired a washerwoman, servant or laundry service to do the laundry. Today most people use modern washers and dryers to clean their clothes. Some people take their clothing to a dry cleaner for more professional looking results.

Because of industrialization, clothing is more affordable and easily accessible than it was in the past. In this day and age, people are known to replace their clothing more often. The museums of today dedicated to historical clothing that has been preserved for our knowledge leave a legacy of the history of society.

Without the care and preservation of those garments, we would be at a loss for what they looked like, and how they were worn on an everyday basis to shape civilization. This can lead us to the conclusion that a better-made garment, of proper fit and appropriate care, will last for generations.