pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

Don’t Ignore These Tips About Color-To Be Attractive To The Opposite sex

Tips on The Psychology of Color and Clothing 

 

No matter where you fall on the fashion spectrum, you might be surprised at just how big of a role color plays in your wardrobe. Because of this, don’t ignore these tips about color if you want to be attractive to the opposite sex.

What’s in your closet right now? Do you find yourself gravitating to a lot of blacks because it’s slimming? Maybe you’re like Andy Sachs from “The Devil Wears Prada,” wearing primary blue with deliberate indifference and a little bit of insecurity. You could even have a rainbow of clothing in your closet but feel you have nothing to really wear.

Why Do We Choose the Colors We Do?

Traditionally, we associate specific colors with certain traits. We see dark colors as formal and authoritative and lighter shades as more casual and relaxed. Brighter colors tend to be associated with energy, while subdued colors have a more conservative feel to them. These energies are then linked to both seasons and genders: Men are often drawn to darker and bolder colors while women seek softer, lighter shades.

It has often been heard by some men that they are “color blind.” Thus they may have their spouse or some female friend help them to choose coordinating colors to wear. The National Eye Institute reports, “Color vision depends on our eyes and brain working together to perceive different properties of light. Men are much more likely to be colorblind than women because the genes responsible for the most common, inherited color blindness are on the X chromosome. Males only have one X chromosome, while females have two X chromosomes.”

Men VS Women

 

With that point in mind, the question can be asked, are men more attracted to women that wear the darker colors that appeal to them? And furthermore, do men find certain fabrics such as leather more engaging when worn by women?


While we have ideas about the messages colors send, we don’t have a lot of actual data about why.

Hues and Moods

The world around us is a veritable rainbow of brilliant shades, tints, and tones, and for reasons that we might not even fully understand, we are almost irresistibly drawn to specific colors. It’s safe to say that our feelings and ideas about colors are heavily influenced by not just our personalities and personal preferences but also our upbringings and cultures. For example, in China, wedding gowns are traditionally red while in the U.S., they are white or ivory. In India, yellow has a sacred meaning to Hindus, whereas, in western countries, blue might be considered religious due to its association with the Madonna.

Some shades affect us on a deep and almost primal level. When a juvenile center painted its rooms a bright, cheerful pink, the children who were manic or psychotic were able to calm down more quickly and with fewer staff interventions. More than 1,500 hospitals and other facilities followed their example and created “passive pink rooms” to help calm patients and inmates.

 

Although closely related, red appears to have the opposite effect. Red has been used effectively by restaurants desiring to stimulate the appetites of their diners. The color red has also been associated with passion since the beginning of time. Ladies lingerie in red sells abundantly for Valentines Day pairing it with love and excitement. Similarly, the color black can be associated with sinister or even daring. Motorcycle riders often wear black to display a badass attitude.

Many Shades of Gray

Our relationship with various colors may ultimately be as simple as the light spectrum’s effects on us.  However, keep in mind that the psychology of your wardrobe choices could be revealing more than your decolletage and exposing some of your deepest secrets. Is there a color you don’t particularly like?

Colors and Their Meanings

 

Red is traditionally associated with sensuality and a deep need for physical contact and stimulation. Orange, which is closely related to red, is also related to physicality as well as a need for social acceptance. Bright and sunny yellow reveals a need for novelty and a strong sense of logic. The color green is known as the color of life. Those drawn to it are all about giving and receiving love and acceptance. Blue is the color of a peaceful sky, and those who wear it are drawn to truth. Those wearing blue are thought to have a commitment to their beliefs and ideals. Lush, velvety purple is associated with emotional security, and those who thirst for purple tend to be perfectionists. Bright bubblegum pink is the tint of love, and those who wear it tend to yearn for acceptance.

Dressing To Impress

Remember the old saying, “Dress for the job you want not the job you have”? That’s based on the psychology of colors and how others perceive you. If you want to feel good, you need to dress well. Take things to the next level, even if you have reservations.  Accessories or a scarf of a contrasting color can keep things interesting.

If you want to dress to impress for a first date, consider the colors that may be attractive to the opposite sex. These will be different for men than they are for women. Wearing colors that are surprising or shocking may unknowingly give off a false impression. In the same vein, wearing a color to bring out the intensity of your eyes will draw them to look at you more closely.

 

How to Determine The Colors To Wear

 

Start by identifying your undertones. While there are just about as many skin tones as there are people, there are only two undertones: cool and warm. Cool skin tones have blue or pale pink undertones while warm skin tones have yellow or orange tints. People with warm skin tones tend to have veins that look slightly green, while people with cool skin tones have purple or blue veins. Warmer skin tones look best in warm colors, and cool skin tones look best in cool colors.

Next, figure out your skin’s shade. The best colors for you will be those that contrast in brightness with your skin. Lighter skin shades look best in rich, bold jewel tones. Likewise, darker skin shades look great in saturated or bright shades. To bring out your eyes or make them pop, look for a shade that is close to them or one that contrasts sharply with them. For example, match a blue bustier with blue eyes or contrast a purple scarf with green eyes.

Personalizing Your Look

To create your own personal style palette, start with the two or three colors that speak to you. Use these for the foundation pieces of your wardrobe. Add four coordinating or complementary colors in essential pieces, such as button-downs, cardigans, or tees. Use one or two neutrals, such as a gray, dove or basic black, for foundation pieces, to balance out your look. You can add a few bright accents through accessories, and use jewelry for a finishing touch. Remember that silver and platinum are cool metals while bronze, gold and rose gold are warm metals.

Above all else, have fun with your looks. The red sneakers effect is a real thing: Making a bold fashion choice can help you stand out from the crowd and make a strong impression on others. Step away from dull and boring and step into something that makes you feel a little more like you.

So the bottom line is, don’t ignore these tips about color if you want to be attractive to the opposite sex.

 

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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

 

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

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]

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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?

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

“What Shall I Wear”?

clubbing tonight

“What shall I wear”? , you ask as you look through your closet full of clothes. Have you ever wondered why we humans are so concerned about our appearance? Why do we have different kinds of clothes for different kinds of places? We wore makeup today but not yesterday? Do we need to make an impression or statement with our fashion? Why do we stress over how we look when we’re meeting up with Bob and Cindy, but just leave the house looking like ‘whatever’ when it’s Katie and John?

Caveman DNA?

Seriously, although fashion rules are often mocked today as being superficial and silly, the fact that we care about how we look is very deeply rooted in our ancient ancestry. Fitting-in was a life-or-death proposition back in the day. Our DNA is our driving force, no matter how modern and sophisticated we think we are.

I have one more question for you: Did you know you can have a test done to find out how much Neanderthal DNA you have?

I always find it fascinating to see my inner cavewoman bleeding through into my 21st-century life.  So come with me on this brief sojourn into the past and perhaps you will see your own gazing back at you from the mirror. Give her a wink and a smile; she is serving you well!

Caveman Dynamics

If you could be transported back to the early days of humanity, you would find yourself living in a small family group or small tribe. Because everyone in the group is related to you, they have your back. They share their food with you, they teach you how to get along in the world. The whole tribe is there to get mean and stabby when you’re attacked by a cave bear.

On the other hand, if you displease your group, the consequences are horrible. They shun you, exile you, then drive you away. Wandering alone is no way to live – literally. You can’t make it on your own. Even if you do encounter another group of people they will probably kill you instead of saving you. All this because you wore a red feather in your hair when only the tribe leader’s daughter is allowed to wear red feathers. Do you see where I am going with this? Following the rules of how to dress, how to speak and how to behave keep you in the tribe and keep you alive.

Social Dynamics Today

Now flash back to the present. Whew! That was getting intense. Your life no longer depends on fitting in with a group or making a statement. But you also have not lost the need to feel that you belong. You have not lost the fear of being shunned socially and cast out of the group. Fortunately, today we have access to so many groups from which to choose that even the quirkiest among us can find her “tribe.”

You are most comfortable when you are with your peeps. You all dress in a similar way, talk the same way and enjoy doing the same things. However, when you are going into a situation where you will encounter different people or even the same people in a different environment, you start to wonder about how you should present yourself.

Making A Statement

How do I make that statement? Most of us want to be accepted, so we style our clothing, hair, and makeup in a way that we hope this new group will approve of. Some of us are more contrary and prefer to make no adjustments. This sends the message: “This is who I am, take it or leave it.” Either way, consciously or subconsciously, we are arranging our appearance to have an effect. We will have to face the consequences of our choice.

Why Do We Care?

So, to go back to the original questions: Why do we care what other people think about our appearance, and why do we stress over how we look? “What shall I wear?” you repeatedly ask yourself. The answer: Because the fear of being exiled from the group is buried in our DNA. Even in the modern world, there can be negative consequences for looking the wrong way in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may lose a job or negatively affect a date that you really liked. You may turn a jury against you or be shrieked at by a sobbing bride that you ruined her wedding. Yikes!

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Is there a positive side to all this? Of course, there is! Ralph Waldo Emerson once quoted one of his friends as saying, “Being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow.”

There is nothing like walking into a room and knowing that you nailed it. Knowing that not only have you been accepted by the tribe, but that you are their queen!

The next time you reach the peak of this particular mountain, remember to listen for that quiet whisper from your ancient cousin in the cave saying, “Glad I could help.”

pirate costume sash 1-Sultry Lady Corsets

Corsets and Bustiers in History

From the beginning of time, Corsets and Bustiers in History and today have been a form of outward expression. As with other clothing, it is an outward display of an individual’s personality. By the same token fashion reflects the society of which it is a part.

Fashion has always had a great influence on society. Corsets and Bustiers in History is no exception.

Corsets have long been a symbol of feminine power and beauty, dating as far back as 2000 BC.

corset-17

Although corsets have gone through many transformations over the centuries, their general appearance has remained constant. Their main purpose and appeal were to shape and flatter the female form in accordance with current fashion trends.

Corsets Throughout the Ages

Perhaps no other garment in history has caused as much controversy. Certainly, none have spawned so many fetishes or stood the test of time as corsets have.

Tight lacing was blamed on health issues. In reality, tight-lacing likely only caused constipation and indigestion.

Traditionally, the corset was actually a part of a dress. The corset as an undergarment has its origins in Italy. Catherine de Medici brought it to France in the 1500’s. Women of the French court not only embraced the corset but considered it an indispensable beauty tool commonly worn by women throughout Europe.

 

The Skilled Seamstress:

This brought about the highly skilled seamstresses that could fit the human body with a ‘second skin of sorts. They became known as the first corsetieres. From this came the literal translation of the French word ‘corset’ which came from the expression, “pair of bodies”.

From the men there came the “bespoke” tailoring. This comes from the French term, the literal translation being: “men’s clothing made to a high degree of customization”.

Leaders and Their Impact on Dress:

Napoleon hated them. His intense dislike of them influenced the Regency style, or Empire dress, at that time. This started just below the breasts and flowed loosely to the floor, eliminating the need for a corset.

Fashion then shifted from loose, flowing dresses to a more slender silhouette. This was achieved using lacing to create a tighter fitting bodice. The corset as an undergarment was not seen in Europe until the 1500’s.

 

And the Queens:

It is believed that Catherine de Medici first introduced Italian style corsets to France. However, the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, Egypt, Assyria, and Crete depicted women wearing Corsets and Bustiers in History for hundreds of years already before her time.

The proclamation of 1597 by Queen Elizabeth went into minute detail about the type of dress allowed for a person per position and social rank. There was strict control of everyday dress. It was essential that the Queen’s subjects know their place. This included the type of fabric, garment embellishments, the color worn, hosiery and even furs.

Corset TimelineREV.indd

 

Corset Materials Used:

The first corsets of the 16th century did not aim to accentuate the waist but rather had a more cylindrical shape. They flattened everything from waist to bust, forcing the breasts up into an alluring curve which just peeked out at the top.

Corset styles and the materials used to make them would change many times over the next centuries. Wood, whalebone and eventually steel replaced the iron cages to make them much more comfortable. Lacing moved from the front to the back.

 

The Busk:

And busks, which provided the stiffening with knife-shaped pieces of whalebone or wood, moved from the back to the front and eventually the sides. This whalebone was the predecessor to today’s boning.

Fabrics changed too, from linen to cotton, wool, leather, silk, and lace. However, this was largely a matter of personal preference and rank.

Virtually all women wore corsets, but not all could afford to commission a tailor to make them. Many corsets made at home used cheaper and more readily available materials. Sackcloth stiffened with readily available reeds was common. Whereas the nobility who could afford the services of a tailor and proper fit had elaborate corsets made of leather, damask, silk, and velvet.

Elizabethan Wardrobe:

“European aristocrats [13] were inclined to regard the body as a work of art. Their prominent reason being their display at court and physical self-control. Court society imposed its aesthetic erectness which was also a way of mastering the passions.”

“The Elizabethan wardrobe was quite complex. Sleeves, bodice, underskirt, corset, and ruff (neck collar), all came as separate pieces, held in place by pins. The Queen loved to receive gifts of valuable garments. A pair of sleeves embroidered with pearls were among these gifts.”

 

Elizabethan Corset:

“In the Elizabethan era, whalebone (baleen) was frequently used in corsets so bodices could maintain their stiff appearance. A front stiffener, called a busk, was typically made of wood, horn, ivory, metal, or whalebone. This busk was carved into a thin knife shape and then inserted into the front bodice”.

n England stays were a part of a basic wardrobe of even working women. ‘The wives of journeymen tradesmen and shopkeepers, either wore leather stays or ‘full-boned’ stays. Worn every day for years and never washed; half laced and black as the post.”[14]

Corsets and the French Empire:

Skipping forward a bit to the 1500’s, after Catherine de Medici introduced corsets to France, the women of the French court wore them as undergarments.

Unlike bustiers, corsets come in two different styles: The under-bust corset ends beneath the breasts and requires a separate bra, while the over-bust corset covers at least part of the breasts. The word in French remained as ‘body’, but in the 17th century the term in England was “stays”.

Corsets-went-out-fashion-during-popularity-high-waisted

The French Empire in the 1700’s:

“By the 1770’s, fashionable French women began to wear a corset made of quilted linen and without bones. They were fastened in front with strings or ribbons.”[15] 

The French, ‘Ladies Magazine’ wrote an article in 1785. In this, it informed the English women that “the French ladies never wear more than a quilted waistcoat”. “The custom of imprisoning children in heavily boned stays was also disappearing”.

The Enlightenment Campaigns of Napoleonic France proclaimed “liberty and equality”. This played a role in loosening the stays. Thus high-waist neoclassical gowns came into fashion. Obviously, women still had waistlines but they no longer emphasized that part of the body. They focused on the bosom instead!

 

Victorian Corsets:

Yet, after a brief period of freedom at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, fashion for high-waist empire gowns was declining. The boned corset reappeared around 1800 and spread throughout society. The French term “corset” was first used in England about 1820. Until then, English speakers called a corset a “pair of bodies” or a “pair of French bodies”; somewhat like a ‘second skin’.

Long, heavily boned corsets continued to be worn by English women. Modesty and corsets were closely associated with sexual morality by the English.

child-corset

Corsets were also considered a medical necessity in the early 19th century. It was thought that women were too fragile to stand without support. Little girls as young as 3 or 4 years old were laced into tiny corsets. After years of being continuously laced up, however, their backs were weakened. By the time they reached their teens, they were unable to sit or stand without the support of a corset.

 

 

 

Victorian Corsets and Tight-lacing:

It really wasn’t until the 1830’s that the hourglass shape came into fashion. This gave Victorian corsets the dual purpose of cinching the waist and supporting the bust. In the mid-1800’s, the fashionable shape was an exaggeratedly curvaceous hourglass with a tiny waist.

This is when real tight-lacing became popular. These tightly laced corsets deformed the internal organs and forced shallow breathing. The results were a lot of fainting; thus the need for smelling salts to revive the fainting ladies in repose.

Tightly laced corsets and the problems that came with them were an affliction unique to the rich. Only the ladies who were higher in class and did not have to work could wear such restrictive clothing. Working class women wore looser corsets and lighter clothing that allowed for more movement.

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Edwardian Corsets:

The early 20th century brought a change in corset shape in response to concerns about pressure on the stomach area. The new straight-front corset, also known as the S-bend corset, the swan-bill corset, or the health corset.

It featured a rigid busk that ran the entire length of the front of the corset. This gave the effect of a very flat front, forcing the hips to jut out in back.

However, the unnatural posture it forced upon the wearer resulted in many back problems. It actually caused more injury than its waist-cinching predecessor. Thus the style only lasted about ten years, from 1900 to 1910.

Around 1908 fashion changed to favor a more natural waistline and narrower hips. This, along with the advent of rubber and elastic fabrics, made way for girdles and brassieres.

 

Corsets in the 21st Century:

At one point the United States government asked women to refrain from buying corsets.

It’s true… it was just after entering World War I, and this single move freed up 28,000 tons of steel for use in war production. It also gave rise to the popularity of brassieres and girdles. Women’s roles in society changed as well in this time period. More women delayed marriage to seek an education, leaving corsets to overweight and pregnant women.

Garconne fashion and the prized boyish body shape of the 1920’s saw little call for corsets, as women used girdles to minimize the hips, and bras to minimize the breasts.

Soon came the fifties and a new appreciation of all things feminine. Dior’s “New Style” celebrated womanly curves, favoring a tiny waist and wide hips. This sparked a return in popularity of the corset which lasted until the rise of flower power and hippie bra-burning sentiments of the 1960’s and 70’s.

 

Corsets and Bustiers:

What is the difference between corsets and bustiers? It’s a question we often get at Sultry Lady Corsets, where we specialize in custom made, beautifully embellished, one of a kind corsets and bustiers. The answer to the question is that while corsets and bustiers look similar, in construction and function they differ.

Corsets have more structured than the bustier. The bustier lifts your breasts to accentuate cleavage, but don’t do much, if anything, to hold in your stomach. The corset doesn’t just enhance cleavage, it also cinches you in so that your waist and torso look slimmer.

The contemporary corset is closer in style to the corsets and bustiers that were popular in the Victorian era. This is when the hourglass figure became a measure of feminine desirability. These shape-shifting corsets used back-lacing to pull the waist into some improbably small sizes. They included boning to keep the garments stiff and supportive.

 

Celebrities and Corsets:

The current popularity of corsets and bustiers in history began in 1983 after Madonna appeared in concert wearing a silk corset. The demand for corsets and bustiers took off like wildfire. The underwear-as-outerwear trend has not stopped since. Her famous corset designed by Jean Paul Gaultier for her Blond Ambition tour, later sold at auction in London for more than £30,000–about $52,000– in 2012.

Modern corsets are mostly, though not completely, a fashion statement. The shape is complementing and showcasing the natural feminine form rather than trying to manipulate or transform it. To all corset-wearing women, it is a symbol of beauty and femininity.

Corsets are a favorite way to do this. Some celebrities spotted donning corsets include Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, BeonceKeira Knightley, Kylie Minogue, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Victoria Beckham, to name just a few.

gal-sweetheart-beyonce-jpg
sweetheart corset-Beyonce

 

Corsets as a Fashion Statement Today:

Contemporary corsets and bustiers have come a long way from the extremely constrictive Victorian style. The garments are now seductive and comfortable. The desire is to showcase the assets, not change them.

Bustiers worn as lingerie are a much more recent design than corsets.  Made of flexible fabric with stretch panels, they are much less restrictive.

Bustiers often have bras built into them – with or without underwires. They are usually shorter than corsets, ending at the waist or just above it. You will often see the term long-line bra used interchangeably with a bustier.

With so many choices and so much freedom in fashion today, the corset remains a fashion mainstay. It is a fail-proof way to make a statement and honor the feminine form.

 

Informational Resources:

The Corset, A Cultural History:  by Valerie Steele

Clothing in Elizabethan England:   Liza Picard