Fashion History – Clothing of the Middle Ages in Western Europe

The Middle Ages encompasses the time from the Fall of the Roman Empire in 400 CE until the beginning of the Renaissance, around 1500 CE.

Clothing of the Early Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, was basically a tunic and under tunic, both sewn from a cross shaped piece of fabric that was folded and hand stitched. Later, the tunic was cut in two pieces, then four piece for a better fit.

Peasants and serfs made their clothes at home of wool and hemp. The shearing, and cleaning of the wool; the spinning, and weaving was a long drawn out chore before the invention of the spinning wheel and the horizontal loom. But the garment were durable and long lasting. One garment could last a life time.

While the upper classes and aristocracy wore basically the same type of clothing, their under tunics were made of linen which was made for them by workers. Upper class women sewed tunics at home and some were made by professional tailors.

Due to the loss of trade that followed the end of the Roman Empire, trade was minimal, so the importation of fine fabrics was expensive and rare. But finer weaves, borders, and embellishments made for better clothing for the elite.

After the invention of the horizontal loom and spinning wheel, the manufacture of clothing became easier. These technological improvements made finer clothing more available and affordable. The Crusades introduced silk, damask, and other luxurious fabrics and designs into Europe. And when Marco Polo's adventures heralded a new interest in the Far East, trade increased, creating greater availability of textiles, design ideas, and new patterned fabric to Europe.

Clothing worn by the nobility and merchants began to change, introducing the concept of fashion. While the Church dictated certain aspects of dress for modesty, such as veils for women, alterations in the in the types of fabrics used varied the styles that became popular. Women wore veils made of sheer muslin, interwoven with golden threads. Gowns became more ornate with variations in the neckline, sleeves, and hem lengths.

The establishment of guilds and improvements in the manufacture of clothing created an upwardly mobile middle class able to emulate the clothing styles of the upper class. New styles emerged including the elaborate head dresses of the later Middle Ages. The head dresses that looked like horns were wildly popular for a generation, as was the classic fairy tale princess style of hat called a hennin. A hennin was a tall, conical hat worn with a veil, a style much identified with the Middle Ages.

The later Middle Ages saw women's gowns grow trains, and sleeves elongated so that long flaps reached the ground.

The changing of style and middle class interest in emulating the clothing styles of the elite created what we think of today as fashion.

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The History of Women's Swimwear

As the term suggests, "women's swimsuits" are garments worn by women for any water-sports activity such as swimming, beach or sun bathing, water skiing and diving. Beautiful models showing off their well-toned bodies that cling so very deliciously to designer swimsuits; they added glamor and oomph to any fashion magazine and therefore adding popularity to women's swimwear. Swimwear parades become one of the main events in all the beauty pageants around the world including Miss World and Miss Universe contests.

In Roman times swimming happened in the nude and historical evidence points to the fact that people swam naked. While there are murals that prove bikini-like garments which covered women's breasts and hip areas existed, it is clearly evident from some famous paintings that water-based activities occurred with naked swimmers. Today there is a law in the United Kingdom and most other countries banning entry of both men and women into any form of public water bath or swimming pool without decent bathing suits that cover the pertinent areas.

In the 18th century, bathing suits for women consisted of petticoats and jackets and they made with brown linen or flannel. These costumes were uncomfortable beside unflattering in appearance. In an effort to help the woman's dignity, a culture reflecting the times, there were weights stitched to the hems to prevent the rising of the gowns when in water. By the 19th century, two-piece women's swimwear and bathing suits became common.

In the US, women's swimwear round as part of the beauty contests began by the 1880s. However people treated it with disdain and disrespect till 1921 when beauty contests themselves took on a hue of respectability. In Australia underwater ballerinas performing synchronized swimming were not allowed to join unless they wear clothes in a respectable manner. Glamor photography from 1940s included women wearing figure-hugging bathing suits and swimwear.

Bikinis initially came on to the scene after World War II and they named after Bikini Toll, the test site for nuclear weapons because people compare them as explosive in water as was the effect of nuclear explosions !! Till the 1950s, the bikini bottom was high up to the belly button and this style was popular back in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1960 bikinis shrank from all directions to reach their modern-day state until 2012, when the high-waist cut in women's swimwear came back. The key to this design is in its ability to flatter most female figures including plus size and this fact makes every woman happy.

Another women's swimwear called monokini which was originally a topless swimming costume that exposed a female breast; in modern designs, the garment has large cut-outs at both side front and back. This new design has become popular among young girls.

The tankini is a two-piece swimsuit which includes a tank top or halter top and a bikini or swim shorts bottom. The design started in late 1990s. This type of swimwear is modest and it is an alternative to a one-piece suit …

History of Rubber Bracelets – From Fashion To Fundraising

Rubber Bracelets, began as a punk rock anti-fashion, anti-establishment statement in the late 1970’s – early 1980’s. Originally, black, rubber 0-rings were worn as bracelets. These bracelets depicted the anti-jewelry sentiment, as rubber has no value whatsoever or status compared to precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum.

They became highly popular in the 1980’s when they were worn by celebrities during their concerts and videos, but these bracelets weren’t really rubber, they were actually silicone bracelets; today they are still made from silicone. Around the same time, jelly bracelets became a hot item; thin rubber bands that came in many opaque and translucent colors. The translucent ones could even be found with glitter embedded in them. These exciting new novelties could be bought anywhere; drug stores, bubble gum machines, mail order, or off other people. The object was to wear as many as one possibly could, sometimes in the hundreds. It was very common to swap and share among friends.

In the late 1990’s, Rubber Band Bracelets became popular. In this case, thick rubber bands were obtained from around banded vegetables in the food store and worn around the wrist. This trend, however, did not last long as real rubber is very uncomfortable; it snaps and sticks to the skin and hair, and it breaks down quickly from sweat and body oils and disintegrates.

Once again, this fad had its flaws, and faded into history. The next popular bracelet fad was that of the Jelly Bracelets that came in different colors and became known as Sex Bracelets. The different colors, as you may have guessed, depicted a certain sex act that the wearer was willing to perform. An interested party would just have to approach the wearer, snap the band of his/her choosing, and he/she would become the recipient of that particular act.

The sex bracelet code breakdown was known among the teens, listed on websites, and posted anywhere teens seem to research. The meanings varied, some made up their own, but it was widely known among this age group what one was saying when wearing the bracelets. As one would expect, it wasn’t long before Sex Bracelets were banned from the schools. If interested, anyone can still go online and find the different sex colors listed!

If one didn’t feel like purchasing jelly bands, there were instructions to be found on how to make one. One set of instructions required cutting thin strands of rubber from an old tire with a very sharp knife. Once done, the strands could be braided or woven into the desired style.

Another intriguing way to make a bracelet is to unroll 3 prophylactics, using as many color combinations as desired, and braid them together; the more color and texture, the better. Once done, thread a metal clasp onto each end to keep it secure and, voila! You are now the proud owner of your own exclusively unique Jelly Bracelet.

Like all fads, these bracelets seem to come and go with different …

History of Combat Boots And Their Role In Fashion

Combat boots have become much of a common place amongst the military organizations around the world. The first soldiers that were issued them were the foot soldiers of the Assyrians, they wore hobnail boots called caligae.

Soldiers in the English Civil war were issued 3 sets of these special footwear and would change them after every march to be sure that each was worn in evenly. Instead of laces these had buckles that were used by most armies during that period in time.

The Napoleonic wars saw the first set of lace up combat boots and were issued to replace the older buckle shoes. The first issued by the Americans were lace up ankle boots. These however had no left or right shoe. They were instead intended to shape themselves around the soldier’s feet. These boots were both uncomfortable and cause a lot of blisters.

The next official set of US boots came during WWII. They were part of the M-1943 uniform ensemble. With this issue the Americans were back to the double buckled which they would keep until 1948. During the Vietnam War the US was back to lace ups made specifically for jungle warfare.

Current United States combat boots are available in two differing styles. The first is a 2.5 lb temperate weather boot and the second is a 2 lb hot weather. Current manufacturers of United States combat boots include Altama, Bates, Belleville Shoe, McRae, Rocky, Warson, Converse and Wellco. All branches of the military use a tan rough out except the Air Force who uses a foliage green suede.

In recent history combat boots have found a new genre of people looking to buy them outside of the military. With the invasion of the goth, punk, and industrial, kids ones have become much more of a mainstream accessory. They have become a fashion statement for a large portion of the population of American youth.

Many people who choose combat boots for fashion want the real thing which creates an authentic and vintage look and feel. As a result you can buy them at pretty much any military surplus store or online at several different retailers.

Beyond fashion, some people also wear them simply because they are so durable and long lasting. They can be worn for long periods of time in any conditions which makes them ideal for many industries even outside of the military.

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History of Fashion – The Origin of the Beanie Hat

The beanie hat, a smaller close fitting hat, that originated in the United States in the early 1900’s. The word “bean”, back in the early 1900’s, was slang for head. In the early 1900’s the hats were worn by mostly college students, and in the 1950’s they were worn by college freshmen as a form of hazing. The beanie hat also became very popular with blue collar workers who wore them not only to keep their head warm, but to keep their hair out of the way, and the hat had no brim to obstruct their work. You can get them either with or without brims. The hats with brims normally have a lot smaller brim than your normal baseball cap. Actually, the baseball cap evolved from the beanie with the brim.

At the time, the beanie hat was not traditionally know to be a fashionable accessory, they were worn more so for necessity. But, with the fashion trends of the 1990’s, the beanie seem to gain more and more popularity. Normally worn by boys, more girls were seen wearing them. Sports figures started wearing them more as well. The college kids were adding their school emblems, colors and, favorite sports teams and logos, making them become part of the norm. In the beginning, the hats were mainly made from wool. Now, you find that they are made not only from wool, but synthetic materials, and fleece. The fleece material keeps away the moisture that the skiers and snowboarders have to deal with, not to mention keeping the head warm.

One style of beanie that was adopted by an artist/fiction writer, Ray Nelson, was the propeller beanie, also known if you wore one as a propeller-head. Shortly after that, the propeller hat was used by a lot of the cartoon characters, and used in comic books. The hat had an actual propeller on the top of it. The propeller beanie fell by the wayside, and in the mid 1970’s the interstellar propeller hat appeared on the scene. This was a multi-colored baseball cap with a propeller on it’s top. Another style that appeared after the propeller hat was the skullcap, which had four to six colored panels sewn together to form the hat. Eventually they started adding short brims and ear flaps to keep the ears warm.

Today it seems that there are numerous styles and colors to choose from. Not only are boys, girls, men and women wearing beanies, but, small children are wearing them as well. You can find just about any color or style you are looking for.

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The History and Lore of Catholic Jewelry

Catholic jewelry has a long and rich history. It has taken on many forms and many meanings over the millennia. From the hidden meanings of anchors and Ichthys, to the development of the crucifix in the 5th century A.D., Catholic jewelry has played a large part in the faith of millions.

Early Catholic jewelry:

While the cross has always been the most important Christian symbol, it was not openly used as such until the 4th century A.D. Early Christians feared persecution for their faith, and so developed several symbols that were not easily recognized as Catholic jewelry in order to recognize each other. The two most prevalent of these symbols were the anchor and the Ichthys. The Ichthys, two intersecting arcs resembling the profile of a fish, was probably used in Catholic jewelry as a reference to Christ as “the fisher of men”. The anchor, or mariners cross, was used in Catholic jewelry as a symbol of hope based in the faith in Christ. By using these forms of Catholic jewelry early Christians were able to avoid persecution.

The cross and the crucifix

It was not until the Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in the 4th century A.D. that the cross became openly and widely used in Catholic jewelry. More than fifty variants of the cross would later develop, but the four most important were: the Latin cross, a cross with a horizontal bar intersecting a longer vertical bar near the top; the Greek cross, a cross with equilateral arms; the Tau cross, a cross in the shape of the letter T; and the Saint Andrews cross, a cross shaped like the letter X. The crucifix, a Latin cross with the body of Christ (corpus) and the inscription INRI or “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” upon it, did not become prevalent in Catholic jewelry until the 5th century A.D. Whereas the Protestant churches use a Latin cross left blank to symbolize the Resurrection, the Catholic Church uses the crucifix to symbolize the sacrifice of Jesus.

Saint medallions:

The tradition of wearing Saint medallions is derived from the pagan practice of wearing talismans depicting their gods as a form of protection. The Catholic Church, instead of banning it, embraced this practice, substituting the pagan gods with Catholic saints. Saint medallions are now one of the most popular forms of catholic jewelry. They are worn as a way to invoke the protection of a patron saint. Patron Saints include: St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, ecology, and peace; St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and excluded people; St. Helena, patron saint of archeologists and converts; St. John Bosco, patron saint of students and laborers. Here is a good page to view all styles of Catholic jewelry.

Where is the best place to purchase Catholic jewelry:

To get an idea of the different styles and prices that are available in Catholic jewelry it is more convenient to view them online before shopping around at local jewelry stores.

Retail …

Italian Designer Jewelry History

The history of jewelry design in Italy is rich, diverse and passionate. Modern Italian designer jewelry draws from traditions in fine craftsmanship that dates back centuries. Almost every culture indulges in some form of body adornment, much of this is done in relation to a ceremonial purpose; religious affiliation, social status or family. This was no less true in Italy; however, there are some unique differences in the approach of the Italian designer to jewelry that is linked to the great role of Rome in world history. The campaigns that extended the power of the Roman empire to far corners of the world, resulted in different influences coming to bear on the Italian artistic design of jewelry.

In many of the works by classical Italian jewelry designers, you see traces of Egyptian, Greek and Asian culture. How the combination of these cultures impacted the development of designs, is easy to see from the discoveries of jewelry made during the ancient Etruscan period in southern Italy. From the 9th to 4th centuries B.C., these early Italian jewelry designers, whose gold jewelry designs have never been equaled in beauty, perfected the techniques that are still in use in making Italian designer jewelry today. A prime example of the value jewelers place on their craft is seen in the life of one of the best known 19th century Italian jewelry designers, Pio Fortuna Castellani, who studied and revived the Etruscan “granulation” technique for crafting gold jewelry. Castellani, among others throughout the history of Italian jewelry design, have infused passion into this craft of beauty, that in many regions of the country is almost an obsession. This is the main factor which has set their production apart from the rest of the world.

Gold has always been the most highly used metal in Italian designer jewelry; respecting the fact that the human body, mind and spirit has a strong, innate connection to gold, more than any other metal. Prized for its affinity to the color to the sun, our powerful lifegiver on earth, the attraction of gold is magnetic and was revered in ancient times. The demand for gold Italian designer jewelry of today has not lessened, but the wonderful Italian sterling silver jewelry cannot be ignored either. Now there are Italian jewelry designers that have chosen to work exclusively in the highest quality sterling silver, creating beautiful ornaments for every part of the body. The demand for Italian designer jewelry is the result of high production standards along with the originality, quality and diversity. The history of craftsmanship of Italian designer jewelry has always been highly valued, whether it was for gold, sterling silver or gemstone pieces.

Italian designer jewelry today continues to make fashion history with designs in bold and delicate gold, oversized and trendy sterling silver with diamonds or semi-precious gemstones. When you are ready to adorn your body with something beautiful, take advantage of the rich history of Italian designer jewelry to satisfy your every desire.

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Why We Wear New Clothes on Easter – A History of the Tradition From a Fashion School Perspective

Many of us can remember our parents dressing us up in new clothes every Easter so we could parade around the neighborhood in our finest. It was a fun tradition to look forward to (or avoid, as some fashion-phobic children were known to do), whether we went to church or not. But where did this tradition come from? A look through history shows that its origins are not what we might expect. And examining the custom from a fashion school point of view, we see how changing retailing patterns have altered its significance.

Origins in other cultures. Although we associate wearing new clothes in spring with the Easter holiday, the tradition dates back to ancient times. Pagan worshipers celebrated the vernal equinox with a festival in honor of Ostera, the Germanic Goddess of Spring, and believed that wearing new clothes brought good luck. The Iranian new year, celebrated on the first day of Spring, has traditions rooted in the ancient pre-Islamic past. These traditions include spring cleaning and wearing new clothes to signify renewal and optimism. Similarly, the Chinese have celebrated its spring festival, also known as Lunar New Year, by wearing new clothes. It symbolized not only new beginnings, but the idea that people have more than they possibly need.

Christian beginnings. In the early days of Christianity, newly baptized Christians wore white linen robes at Easter to symbolize rebirth and new life. But it was not until 300 A.D. that wearing new clothes became an official decree, as the Roman emperor Constantine declared that his court must wear the finest new clothing on Easter. Eventually, the tradition came to mark the end of Lent, when after wearing weeks of the same clothes, worshipers discarded the old frocks for new ones.

Superstitions. A 15th-century proverb from Poor Robin’s Almanack stated that if one’s clothes on Easter were not new, one would have bad luck: “At Easter let your clothes be new; Or else for sure you will it rue.” In the 16th Century during the Tudor reign, it was believed that unless a person wore new garments at Easter, moths would eat the old ones, and evil crows would nest around their homes.

Post Civil War. Easter traditions as we know it were not celebrated in America until after the Civil War. Before that time, Puritans and the Protestant churches saw no good purpose in religious celebrations. After the devastation of the war, however, the churches saw Easter as a source of hope for Americans. Easter was called “The Sunday of Joy,” and women traded the dark colors of mourning for the happier colors of spring.

The Easter Parade. In the 1870s, the tradition of the New York Easter Parade began, in which women decked out in their newest and most fashionable clothing walked between the beautiful gothic churches on Fifth Avenue. The parade became one of the premier events of fashion design, a precursor to New York Fashion Week, if you will. It …

Interesting Facts About the History of Arabic Bedouin Jewelry

Their lives pass in barren, difficult means; it takes them to move of the oases in summer, towards the zones of green grass in the winter. Their savings are reversed mainly in livestock and silver jewellry. The jewels usually are used in commercial interchanges, but the most important use is as dowry (Al Mahr) in Arab language. The woman obtains the greater amount of jewelry in the occasion of her marriage, from the family of the fiance.That leaves her with silver of her own, that can use at any time if she needs money or wants to contribute with something for her house.

Traditionally the Bedouin jewelry is done of silver and shows a great preference for coral, amber,garnet and stones of red color. Also it is characterized by the use of bells, balls, chains, coins; as well as beads colorful and pendants. Many of these pieces are used like symbol of protection as well as talismans to drive away bad spirits. The tradition dictates that the jewels must be destroyed when the owner dies. A jeweler is in charge to produce new pieces, always respecting the traditional style. The Bedouin jewelry is sold frequently by gram and the prices always are raising. The goldsmiths produce traditional Bedouin jewelry in all the Arabic Peninsula, but the young generations are retired little by little. The Bedouin women have been influenced partly by the urban taste by gold. If we think, owning gold is a way to save and if the woman sees itself in a while of necessity it has a way to take control of faster money. The Bedouin jewelry shop in silver is made slowly rarer and difficult to find, reason why it is acquiring value for collectors and all people interested in the bedouin jewellery of the Middle East.

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Byzantine Jewelry History

What a lot of people are not aware of is the fact that Ancient as well as Byzantine Jewelry has been a tradition even during the Roman times; this is because of the fact that themes relating to Christianity were not too common until the 6th and 5th century. In addition to this, a lot of people are also not aware of is that the grading system used for gold actually came from Byzantium because their coin known as ‘solidus’ is divided into 24 keratia. During this time, Alexandria and Antioch were the most popular among all those who produce gold until the 6th century; the two were stopped by Constantinople when people become more fond of putting various gems into their gold jewelry. In addition to this, Byzantine Jewelry is also known by a lot of people to be very good in enamel works as well because this is a particular time when Byzantine is very wealthy due to gold. As a matter of fact, they were able to obtain 320,000 lbs of gold from treasury right after Emperor Anastasius passed away.

During the end of the 11th century, only few people are aware that the greed for gold and religion is balancing each other out. The reason for this specific greed for gold is the fact that gold is not as abundant during this time; furthermore, goldsmiths were only relying on traded and captured gold. Post AD 700 was a significant time for Byzantine because they were using their exonomic resources to be able to get more gold from Europe. This occurrence is made possible by trading various necessary goods like linen, cotton and even silk; because of this, European jewelry started to transform into using silver as their primary metal choice. In addition to this, the jewelries found from Europe were obviously greatly influenced by the styles from Byzantium. During the time of the 15th and 14th centuries, the water wheel invention paved the way for people to discover various sites for mining; thus, this allowed Europe to produce more gold that they will be able to use for jewelries. This established the authority that Europe has over all the jewelries all over the world that even made them the standard when it comes to identifying the quality of golf in a particular jewelry. As a matter of fact, the year 1478 became the turning point when all of the silver and gold were required to be brought to London just so they will be checked, stamped and tested. There were even various checkers present all over the world just to make sure that all the distributors of golf products are complying to this rule to get their gold and silver checked in London; the tests were usually done by commonly testing the scales that are being used.

It’s just amazing to know that all the jewelry that we are wearing on our bodies right now have gone through a lot of things over the years. These …