Purses

O ne of the most used fashion accessories in history traces its beginnings to the Middle Ages (c. 500 c. 1500). It was sometime during this period that men began to wear small leather bags with their garments. These bags either fastened directly to the belts that were worn with most medieval garments, or they were tied to the belt with a loop of string or a leather strap that was fastened to the purse. What is known about purses is depicted on the tapestries and statues from the period as there...

Gloves

Gloves as a fashion accessory, rather than as a necessity to keep the hands warm, date to about the twelfth or thirteenth century, late in the Middle Ages (c. 500-c. 1500). For years people had worn crude mittens, perhaps lined with fur, when working outdoors, but sewing techniques were not developed enough to allow for the delicate stitches that were needed between fingers. In fact, most people kept the hands warm by wrapping them in the excess fabric of their baggy sleeves. Beginning in the...

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages (c. 500 c. 1500) were a time when people in Europe did less to adorn themselves than at any period in history. The civilizations that developed in Europe following the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E. inherited their decorative traditions not from the Romans, who had loved jewelry and decoration, but from the crude barbarian groups, or tribes, that had helped bring about the downfall of Rome. The Catholic religion that developed in Europe also frowned on excessive...

Tonsure

O ne of the most mysterious and striking of medieval hairstyles was the tonsure (TON-shur). Beginning in the seventh and eighth centuries, members of Christian religious orders began to shave the top of their head in order to show their purity and chastity. The size and shape of the tonsure could vary. Some wore a semicircle tonsure, others a full circle. Some shaved just above the ears and left a full head of hair below. In some Catholic orders monks shaved all but a narrow piece of hair,...

Beret

A soft, brimless cap, round in shape, the useful beret (from the Latin birretum, meaning cap) has been worn by many different peoples from ancient times into the twenty-first century. Usually made from sturdy wool felt, a strong fabric that prevents the passage of wind and water, the beret is designed with a tight-fitting crown that helps hold the hat on the head without the use of elastic. Simple in design, yet offering excellent protection from cold, wind, and rain, the beret has been traced...

Costume of the early fifteenth century

The clothing of the early fifteenth century continued the traditions from the late Middle Ages. Both men and women continued to wear the houppelande, a long gown that covered the body from the neck to the floor. Houppelandes were made in a variety of fabrics, from simple wool to rich silk and velvet. Women's houppelandes were increasingly tailored so that the gown fit closely across the upper body, while the skirt billowed outward. Women also wore the bliaut, another long gown. Increasingly men...

Renaissance of learning and culture

Beginning in the late fourteenth century and escalating in the fifteenth century, two regions began to lead a rebirth, called the Renaissance, of learning, culture, and commerce. This Renaissance began in Italy, especially around the city of Florence, and in a region known as Burgundy, which included parts of modern-day France and Holland. The Italian states developed banking and trading systems that helped stabilize the economy throughout Europe. The duchy of Burgundy also grew very wealthy....

Beards

When it came to the wearing of facial hair, Roman men went through several shifts in style over the long history of their civilization. From the founding of Rome in 753 B.C.E. until about 300 B.C.E., all men wore long beards and long hair. In a way, they had no choice, for razors hadn't been invented. Then, in about 300 B.C.E., a barber from the island of Sicily introduced the razor and everything changed. For the next several hundred years Roman men followed a simple rule about facial hair...

O

Ancient Statues Braids

Carving of a Roman man with long braids. Both men and women wore braids and curls in their hair. Reproduced by permission of Araldo de Luca CORBIS. Carving of a Roman man with long braids. Both men and women wore braids and curls in their hair. Reproduced by permission of Araldo de Luca CORBIS. ne thing is made very clear by the statues, coins, and paintings that provide our evidence about the hairstyles worn in ancient Rome women changed their hairstyles very often. Though there is no one...

The power of the pharaohs

River Nile Costumes

The first Egyptian cultures formed along the banks of the Nile River in northern Africa sometime before 4000 B.C.E. Ever since that time, the Nile has been at the center of Egyptian culture. One of earth's great rivers, the Nile's waters allowed for the development of agriculture in a dry land, and communities formed along its banks. The Nile flows north from Lake Victoria in present-day Uganda through Sudan and into Egypt and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. In ancient times Egypt had been...

Jewelry

River Nile Costumes

O ne of the most important ways that people in ancient Egypt showed their wealth and status was through the display of jewelry. In the early stages of Egyptian civilization known as the 40 fashion, costume, and culture i Old Kingdom (c. 2700-c. 2000 B.C.E.), jewelry was quite simple, consisting primarily of beaded collars worn by the very wealthy. By the time of the New Kingdom (c. 1500-c. 750 B.C.E.), however, as conquering Egyptian armies came into contact with surrounding areas of the Middle...

Steeple Headdress

Steeple Headdress

The steeple headdress, which became popular among women in France and then throughout Europe in the fourteenth century, was one of the most distinctive forms of headwear worn in human Mary of Burgundy, standing center, wears a tall steeple headdress draped in a long veil. Reproduced by permission of Bettmann CORBIS. Mary of Burgundy, standing center, wears a tall steeple headdress draped in a long veil. Reproduced by permission of Bettmann CORBIS. history. The steeple headdress began simply as...

For More Information

Broad Shoulders 80s

Japanese Costume History and Tradition. New York Rizzoli, 1990. Shaver, Ruth M. Kabuki Costume. Rutland, VT Charles E. Tuttle, 1966. Yamanobe, Tomoyuki. Textiles. Translated by Lynn Katoh. Rutland, VT Charles E. Tuttle, 1957. Two Kabuki actors. The man on the left wears a kataginu, a vest with broad shoulders designed for maximum mobility in swordplay or the martial arts. Reproduced by permission of Michael Maslan Historic Photographs CORBIS. ICataginu are men's vests with broad,...

Footwear of Nomads and Barbarians

Costume History

s with their clothing, the footwear of nomads and barbarians was made out of the skins of the animals that they hunted and, in some cases, herded. Though we have very little physical evidence about the footwear worn by such peoples as the Gauls, Celts, Huns, and Goths, we do know that their animal hide footwear came in two basic styles. The first style, which was similar to primitive footwear worn by prehistoric humans, consisted of a single piece of animal hide wrapped up over the top of the...

Footwear of the Middle Ages

The footwear worn in the Middle Ages (c. 500-c. 1500) follows the trend of fashion in general over this period, moving from very crude in the early years to highly refined and even frivolous by the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In fact, the evolution of footwear tracks very nicely the larger social changes that marked this fascinating period in European history. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E., Europe was without any form of unifying order. Isolated communities of...

Indian Body Decorations

ecorating and accessorizing the body plays an important part in ceremonial as well as everyday life in India, today as well as in the past. Sculptures trace the history of body decoration to the earliest civilizations in the Indus Valley, which flourished along the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan. Literature and paintings also document Indian body adornment traditions, many of which have been practiced in some form since 2500 B.C.E. Indians use colors and patterns of makeup for various...

Muffs

Marybelle Bigelow

H eating the castles and great halls of wealthy people in the seventeenth century was not easy, especially in the cooler countries in the north, such as England and Scotland. Stone walls and fireplaces in nearly every room could not keep rooms warm enough when the days grew cold. Though people had many layers of clothing to keep their bodies warm, their hands remained exposed and cold. The solution to the problem of cold hands, which seems to have gotten worse during the seventeenth century,...

High Heeled Shoes

Men Braies Italian Renaissance

Height was a central feature of seventeenth-century fashion. People accentuated their height with tall hairstyles, long flowing gowns, long straight jackets, and high-heeled shoes. Introduced in the late sixteenth century as a wedged cork heel and adopted from the very high chopine, high-heeled shoes became the dominant style of footwear for both men and women during the seventeenth century. The heel of seventeenth-century shoes developed into an arched sole with a large square-based heel. At...

Leggings

In cool weather or rough terrain men and women of nearly every Native American tribe wore leggings to protect their legs. Leggings were snug or loose-fitting tubes of animal hide that covered each leg individually. Men's leggings covered the leg from waist or thigh to ankle. The top of the leggings was tied to a string, belt, or sash wrapped around the waist, and sometimes the leggings were gartered, or tied, at the knee. The leggings resembled crotchless pants and men wore them with...

Indian Footwear

I n the chilly Himalayan mountain northern regions of India, a variety of boots and shoes have been made over the centuries to protect the feet from cold and rainy weather. These boots and shoes are made of leather, wool, and plant fibers. But since the weather in most of India is warm, shoes were not necessary, and for much of history, Indians went barefoot. Without the need for footwear, Indian culture developed a unique history of praising the feet. Mothers massage the feet of their babies....

Paste Jewelry

Jewelry encrusted with diamonds was worn extensively by the wealthy and coveted by the middle classes throughout the eighteenth century. The expense of real diamonds and other gemstones created a demand for fake jewels. By the end of the seventeenth century lead glass could be faceted and colored to look like cut gemstones and colored foil was placed beneath glass to create the look of sparkling opals. These fake jewels were known as paste. Paste jewelry was much cheaper than real gemstones but...

Clothing of Native American Cultures

The clothing of Native Americans was closely related to the environment in which they lived and their religious beliefs. Ranging from tropical and desert regions, to woodlands and mountains, to Arctic tundra, Native Americans developed diverse styles of clothing. In the warmest regions, little clothing was worn. Among the peoples of California, for example, men were normally naked, but women wore simple knee-length skirts. In the cooler regions, more clothing styles developed. Among the tribes...

India

Costumes India Indian History

I ndia is a vast subcontinent, or landmass that is part of a continent but is considered an independent entity, that contains many varied geographical regions. The Himalayan mountain range, which includes the highest mountains in the world, stretches across the north of the country along its border with Tibet. Three of India's largest rivers originate in the Himalayas the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra. These rivers feed a vast flat plain at the foothills of the Himalayas called the...

Chinese customs

Conical Hat History

As best is known, men in early Chinese societies wore their hair long but tied it up in a knot that they wore close to the top of their head. This custom changed dramatically in 1644 C.E. when the Manchu people took control of the throne, founding the Qing dynasty 1644-1911 . The Manchus were of a different ethnic group than the majority of the Chinese people, who were known as Han Chinese. Upon taking power the Manchus established a law that required that all Han Chinese men shave the front of...

Dalmatica

The dalmatica became increasingly long and flowing, and it was often worn over a tunica, for men, or in place of the stola, or dress, for women. In this longer form it was adapted as one of the many ecclesiastical or church-related garments worn by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church. The dalmatica also became one of the most common garments of the Byzantine Empire 476 1453 C.E. , which emerged after the collapse of the Roman Empire as the dominant society in the Mediterranean region.

Breechclout

Buffalo Deer Rabit

A breechclout was a garment designed to cover the genitals. Although breechclouts were worn by some women in the Southeast and by young girls before puberty in many tribes, they were an important male garment that symbolized male sexuality and power in many tribes. Breechclouts were worn by men in every Native American tribe, with the exception of those living in climates warm enough to wear nothing at all. Breechclouts could be made out of bark fiber, grasses, feathers, tanned beaver, rabbit,...

Foot Binding and Lotus Shoes

For over a thousand years, tiny feet were symbols of feminine beauty, elegance, and sexuality in China. In order to achieve the goal of tiny three-inch lotus feet the lotus was a kind of flower , most young Chinese girls had their feet bound tightly with strips of cloth to prevent growth. Once the process was completed, the deformed feet were placed into beautiful, embroidered lotus shoes, tiny pointed slippers that were made especially for bound feet. Though no one knows exactly when foot...

Seventeenth Century Body Decorations

What People Wore The 17th Century

Hile the sixteenth century was an age of excess in ornamentation, the seventeenth century is often thought of as an age of elegance, with greater care for the manner of display than for its abundance. Nowhere is this contrast more evident than in the use of jewelry. While people displayed their wealth in the sixteenth century by sprinkling jewels across their garments, hair, and bodies, people in the seventeenth century were more likely to wear just a few well-chosen jewels to demonstrate their...

Fifteenth Century Clothing

History Costume Middle Ages

I he fifteenth century saw transformations in the nature of costume and culture that are key to our understanding of Western fashion. Up until the fifteenth century, the clothing customs of most cultures had been determined by tradition, the availability of certain kinds of fabric, and the skill of the tailor. Ancient Egyptians wore similar clothing for nearly thirty centuries, for example, and the long wool garments worn by Europeans in the sixth century were not that different from those worn...

Distinctive Egyptian culture

Egyptian Hieroglyphics Thoth

Though ancient Egyptian culture existed for nearly thirty centuries, many elements of the culture stayed quite similar over this vast span of time. Religion remained very important to the Egyptians. Religious rituals accompanied every part of Egyptian daily life. One key belief held by Egyptians was that of eternal life. They believed that life would go on after death, so they preserved UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF HIEROGLYPHS Ever since the final decline of the ancient Egyptian Empire people have...

Cro Magnon man

Overlapping somewhat with Neanderthal man was the subspecies from which modern man is directly descended, Homo sapiens sapiens, better known as Cro-Magnon man. Cro-Magnon man first began to appear around forty thousand years ago in various parts of the world, as far apart as Borneo, in Malaysia, and Europe. At first Cro-Magnon man was much like Neanderthal man in his use of tools, his methods of hunting and gathering food, and his creation of rough forms of clothing. But there were important...

The Protestant Reformation

One of the forces that had united Europe throughout the Middle Ages was the religious unity provided by the Roman Catholic Church. That unity crumbled in the fifteenth and especially the sixteenth century, and this collapse actually contributed to the strength of the monarchies. The most powerful force behind the decline of the Catholic Church was a historical event called the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation began in 1517 when German priest Martin Luther 1483-1546 posted a series of...

And Incas

Montezuma Headdress

B arly Central and South Americans cared for their hair by washing, combing, and styling it. Atop their carefully styled hair, Mayan, Aztec, and Inca men and women wore hats and headdresses of many different styles. Elite Mayan men and women styled their hair to show off their pointed heads, crafted through the careful head flattening they experienced as children. Women gathered their long hair on top of their heads in flowing ponytails. For special occasions they braided their ponytails and...

Snuff Boxes

Pics Snuff Boxes

Europeans first began snorting snuff, the pulverized form of tobacco, in the early seventeenth century, and within one hun- EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY BODY DECORATIONS 591 Snuff boxes came in a variety of sizes and shapes. Often the box was accompanied by a quill or a spoon used to stir the snuff or raise it to the nostrils. Reproduced by permission of Massimo Listri CORBIS. dred years it was widely used by men and women alike. Snuff boxes, tiny decorative containers for the powdered herb, became a...

Clothing of the Middle Ages

Middle Ages Clothing

The Middle Ages c. 500 c. 1500 was, as its name implies, a great age of transition. The Roman Empire 27 B.C.E.-476 C.E. , which had provided the structures of civilization across Europe for nearly five hundred years, collapsed in 476, and bands of nomadic people who the Romans had called barbarians Goths, Huns, Vandals, Franks, and others took control of much of western Europe. Roman trading networks, civil administration, and learning disappeared, to be replaced by the cruder social...

Headdresses

Tutankhamen Body

Egyptian aristocrats and pharaohs, or emperors, wore a wide variety of headdresses. Egyptians often wore wigs to protect themselves from the heat of the climate, and they likely wore headdresses for the same reason. Many of the headdresses depicted in the hieroglyphics, or picture drawings, found in Egyptian tombs indicate that headdresses also had a ceremonial purpose. The pschent, worn by the pharaoh to symbolize his or her power over all of Egypt, was the most famous headdress, but there...

Turbans

Religions Wearing Turbans

From ancient times until the present day, the most common headwear for Indian men has been a turban. A turban is a length of cloth wrapped in a specific way around the top of the head. Most commonly worn outdoors, turbans can also be worn indoors. Woven of cotton, silk, or wool, turbans can be simple or very ornate. The type of fabric, patterns or colors on the fabric, length of fabric, and wrapping technique used for the turban indicate the wearer's social status, religion, ethnicity, and, in...

Siyala

Body Templates For Costume Design

The scars indicated a person's rank and age in society and were essential for attracting those of the opposite sex. permission of Bojan The Berbers living in northern Africa used body decoration not only as a way to beautify themselves but also as potent protection against illness and evil spirits. One of their most unique forms of decoration was known as siyala. Siyala was a type of body decorating that could be applied as tattoos or as body paint, and it was made of...

Tabard

Western Fashionable Garments Backgrounds

The tabard, a decorated, open-sided smock, had its origins in the Holy Wars known as the Crusades. Beginning in the late eleventh century, knights from western Europe began to journey to the Middle East to try to reclaim the Christian Holy Lands from the Muslims who lived in present-day Israel. Dressed in heavy chain mail flexible armor made of intertwining metal chains , and metal armor, the knights found themselves roasting under the Middle Eastern sun. Seeking to keep the sun from heating...

Head Flattening

Head flattening is the practice of permanently elongating the skull by wrapping young children's heads while their skulls are BODY DECORATIONS OF AFRICAN CULTURES 437 still forming. African cultures reshaped the skulls of their members to increase an individual's beauty and to improve social status. Among the people who practiced head flattening, an elongated head indicated a person's intelligence and spirituality. The Mangbetu people of the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo wrapped...

Ice Skates

17th Century Shoe Last

During the seventeenth century, ice skating became a popular winter activity. The idea of gliding across ice had intrigued people for thousands of years, and ice skates had evolved from extremely primitive foot coverings into sleekly designed footwear. Early skaters tied animal carcasses on their feet to chase oxen and horses across the ice. The oldest surviving ice skates, made of the leg bones of large animals and leather straps, were found in Switzerland and are believed to date from 3000...

On

Chibis Bear Costume

Ne of the more common hats worn by men during the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth century was the copotain. Generally black in color and made of a thick felt, the copotain had a medium size brim, ranging between one and three inches, and a tall rounded crown. It was sometimes worn with a hatband, a band made of leather or fabric that ran around the crown just above the brim. Popular throughout Europe from about the 1550s onward, the hat became particularly associated with...

Roman Clothing

Roman Woman Coloring Page

The ancient Romans took the clothing traditions of the past and adapted them into one of the most distinctive costume traditions in all of history. The greatest influences on Roman fashion came from the Etruscans, who developed an advanced society in Italy hundreds of years before the Romans became powerful, and from the Greeks. It was from these two cultures that Romans inherited their love of draped garments. Yet Romans were also influenced greatly by the surrounding peoples they conquered...

Dressing for a warm climate

Images Modesty Pouches For Breast

Egypt's climate was very warm, as it is today, and Egyptian dress provided the perfect complement to this warm weather. Both men and women tended to dress very lightly. For nearly 1,500 years it was very rare for men to wear anything on their torso, or upper body. For the upper class and the pharaohs, the main form of dress was the schenti, a simple kilt that tied around the waist and hung about to the knees. Working men wore first a loincloth, a very small garment that covered just the private...

Usuta Designers

Footwear Worn Incas

Usuta, the unique footwear of the Incas, were a type of sandal worn by both men and women. The soles of usuta covered the bottom of the foot but ended at the balls of the foot. This left the toes exposed to help grip the ground of the mountainous terrain where the Incas lived. The soles of usuta were made from the un-tanned, or untreated, skin from the necks of sheep. Because the un-tanned usuta soles became soft in water, Incas removed their usuta in wet weather. Usuta were attached to the...

Footwear of the Byzantine Empire

Ancient Mesopotamia Clothing

W ainting, sculptures, jewelry, and ornaments from the Byzantine Empire, which stretched across much of present-day Greece and Turkey from 476 to 1453 C.E., leave us with a rich record of the clothing and decorative traditions of this powerful empire. Very little is known about Byzantine footwear since the long draped clothing of the Byzantines, which reached to the floor, tended to hide the feet. The sculptures and paintings that have survived offer us just fleeting glimpses of Byzantine...

Body Decorations of the Byzantine Empire

Names Famous Fashion Designers

Byzantine emperor Justinian I, with crown, displays the intricately jeweled clasp that fastens his cloak. Reproduced by permission of the Granger Collection. Lt the beginning of the Byzantine Empire 4761453 C.E. , Byzantine customs surrounding body decoration and accessories closely resembled those of their fellow Roman countrymen. Byzantines in the capital city of Constantinople developed public baths similar to those found in Rome, and public bathing was a daily ritual for many. Byzantines...

Between East and West

The influence of Roman customs was very great in the early years of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine people called themselves Romans, they spoke Latin like Romans, and they dressed in Roman clothes. They inherited the Greek and Roman love of learning and preserved many documents from these civilizations in their libraries. Much of what we know about ancient Greece and Rome comes from Byzantine libraries, which were not destroyed by barbarian invaders. Yet the influence of Rome slowly faded. In...

Barbe Renaissance Headwear

During the late Middle Ages c. 500-c. 1500 and early Renaissance, a married woman was generally not considered properly dressed without a head covering of some sort. There were many types of head coverings and other accessories that covered not only a woman's head and hair, but also modestly draped her ears and neck so that only her face was visible. One of these accessories, which was popular during the 1300s and early 1400s, was the barbe, a more formal version of the wimple, another form of...

Eighteenth Century Body Decorations

Eighteenthcentury Costume

Lany of the body decorations and accessories of the seventeenth century continued into the eighteenth century. Women and some men made their faces pale with white makeup made from lead powder, a corrosive substance that led to health problems for many and death for some. Red cheeks were also quite fashionable. Wealthy people used rouge made of crushed red beetles, called cochineals, on their cheeks. Others dabbed berry juice on their cheeks. In addition, women and some men continued to paste...

Cloaks

Native Woven Designer Capes Ponchos

A cloak, or outer draped garment that looks like a cape, was used by almost every Native American tribe since the beginning of their civilizations. Made of a square, circular, or rectangular piece of cloth, a cloak was most often pinned at the neck and draped over the shoulders and hung down the back to the ankles. Another style of cloak was made out of a piece of cloth with a hole cut in the center for the head and looked like a modern poncho. Cloaks could be made of antelope, buffalo,...

Roman Body Decorations

Rome Necklace

L oman attitudes toward the grooming and decoration of their bodies changed dramatically over the course of the long history of their civilization. From the serious and simple habits of the eighth-century-B.C.E. founders of the city of Rome, Romans became increasingly concerned with bathing, jewelry, and makeup. By the time of the Roman Empire 27 B.C.E.-476 C.E. , bathing had become an elaborate public ritual, wealthy Romans imported precious jewels from throughout their vast empire, and women...

Prehistoric Life

Egyptian Loin Skirt

'cientists believe that the earliest stages of human evolution began in Africa about seven million years ago as a population of African apes evolved into three different species gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. Some three million years later early humans stood nearly upright and had developed larger brains, about half the size of the modern brain. By 2.5 million years ago it appears that these protohumans, as early humans are known, began to use crude tools such as chipped stones. Beginning...

Eighteenth Century Footwear

Ancient Egypt Shoes

The display of wealth through fashionable clothes was also seen on the feet in the eighteenth century. Both men and women of wealth wore fancy shoes that signaled their status, a trend that died out by the end of the century. Women wore high-heeled shoes made of colorful silk or delicate leather, sometimes decorated with gold and silver lace and braid. Although women wore heavily decorated silk dresses, their shoes were rarely made from matching material to do so would be much too expensive....

Clothing of African Cultures

Nigerians Traditional Dress Men

The evolution of African clothing is difficult to trace because of the lack of historical evidence. Although artifacts from Egyptian culture date back to before 3000 B.C.E., no similar evidence is available for the majority of the African continent until the mid-twentieth century. Sources from Arab culture refer to the people of northern Africa by the eighth century C.E., but much of early African clothing history has been pieced together from art, oral histories, and traditions that are...

History Of The Plainwood Geta

Japanese Modern Boy Costume

Geta GAY-tah are the traditional footwear of all kimono-wearers in modern and traditional Japan. They are raised clogs shoes with a heavy, often wooden sole and are closely related to the low, wedge-shaped sandals called zori. Geta are usually made of plain wood with a V-shaped padded fabric thong into which the wearer slips his or her foot, inserting the point of the V between the big toe and the next toe. They are raised off the ground by two wooden pieces under the sole, their height...

The Sixteenth Century

Early 16th Century Clothing

He sixteenth century is widely considered to be one of the pivotal centuries in human history, a time when the overall organization and structure of human society went through a fundamental change. It was the high point of a larger historical period known as the Renaissance, which lasted from the late fourteenth through the sixteenth century. It was called the Renaissance because Europe saw a rebirth of learning, arts, and culture that had not been seen since the splendor of the Greek and Roman...

Cotton

People Wearing Kente Cloth

Otton was woven in West Africa as early as the thirteenth century. Unlike the earlier handwoven cloths, cotton was woven on looms, frames used to interlace individual threads into fabric. These looms produced narrow strips of cloth that would be stitched together to form larger pieces of cloth. Typically, six to eight strips would be sewn together to form a dress or other garment. Like other cloths used by Africans, cotton was wrapped around the body to create many different styles of clothing,...

Fifteenth Century Footwear

Female Models Loincloths

Europeans wore a wide variety of footwear during the fifteenth century, from simple pull-on leather moccasins to highly decorated poulaines, extremely long, pointed shoes. Shoes were generally made of leather, with either wood or leather for soles. They might be held to the foot with laces or with buckles. Working people generally wore heavier leather shoes and boots, but the upper classes, who provide most of the information about clothing styles since they were the ones who often left the...

Military Dress

Greek Leg Guards

arriors in ancient Greece developed many methods of protecting themselves in battle. Mycenaeans, who ruled Greece as early as 1600 B.C.E., crafted armor out of bronze plates. Soldiers wore suits made of bronze plates held together with leather straps. This armor protected the body from the neck to the upper thighs. Soldiers strapped additional bronze plates over their shins for leg protection and wore helmets made of boar's tusks. Mycenaean soldiers also carried a variety of different wooden...

Eighteenth Century Clothing

Historical Clothing Layers

Men and women wore very different clothes at the beginning of the eighteenth century than they did at the end. The skill of tailors and dressmakers had developed to such an extent that clothing styles were lavished with attention to detail and ornament by midcentury. However, despite the growing skills of tailors, dress became simpler by the end of the century. The dramatic changes reflected the political and cultural changes during the century, including the American 1775-83 and French...

Sixteenth Century Footwear

16th Century Men Costume

Y the sixteenth century footwear construction methods had grown quite advanced. The shoes of common people were generally made of leather, and while they were fairly simple in construction they were also very durable. Soles were made of wood, cork, or extra layers of leather, and uppers, or the tops of shoes, were either tied or buckled in place. Shoemakers, called cobblers, also developed the ability to make very tall boots for riding or fieldwork. These boots came up to the thigh and had a...

Map Of Mesoamerican Civilizations

Maps Mesoamerica Civilizations

The jewelry worn by the Mayan, Aztec, and Inca people was rich in variety and quite beautiful. Without metalworking skills, Mayans made jewelry from many other materials. Mayan men wore nose ornaments, earplugs, and lip plugs made of bone, wood, shells, and stones, including jade, topaz, and obsidian. Necklaces, bracelets, BODY DECORATIONS OF MAYANS, AZTECS, AND INCAS Map of the Americas showing the Mesoamerican civilizations of the Middle Ages Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas. Reproduced by...

Egyptian Body Decorations

Egyptian Centerpiece

ncient Egyptians took great care with their bodies, from the way they dressed to the ornaments that they wore. The many ways that Egyptians decorated their bodies reveal their fascination with appearances. Caring for the skin was very important, especially to wealthy people. Egyptians washed their bodies often using fairly harsh soaps that stripped oils from the skin. To soften their skin they used a variety of ointments and creams. These might contain scents to perfume their bodies. The...

How To Fold A Cravat

Steinkirk Cravat

The cane emerged as an important fashion accessory for men during the seventeenth century and was every bit as important in a carefully dressed man's wardrobe as gloves and a hat. Although people had carried rough walking sticks or simple canes for centuries, it was during this period that these sticks became carefully crafted items carried by every gentleman. While the most common material for the body of the cane was a wooden shaft, the tops and bottoms of the cane were where a man could...

Sixteenth Century Body Decorations

16th Century Clothing For Poor People

The personal grooming habits of people in the sixteenth century seem strange to us today. On the one hand, wealthy people took great care with their hairstyles and, in the case of women, with their makeup. On the other hand, the practice of bathing was infrequent among even the wealthiest people and quite rare among the poorer classes. Europeans in the sixteenth century simply misunderstood the nature of disease and believed that they could get sick if they used water to clean themselves....

Footwear of Early Asian Cultures

Binding Feet China

I he Chinese were one of the first ancient peoples to develop a wide range of footwear. Shoes made from woven and stitched straw have been dated to about 5000 B.C.E. and tanned leather footwear with stitching has been dated to about 2000 B.C.E. Given the wide ranges of climate found in China, the types of shoes worn varied considerably by region. People in the warmer coastal areas wore straw sandals, while those in the colder mountainous regions wore thick leather shoes and knee-length boots....

Masai Hairstyles

Masai Hair Styles History

The fez cap is popular among northern Africans, especially men, of various nationalities, religions, and tribal affiliations. The cap is a small, brimless, flat-topped cap that fits above the ears on the top of the head. The cap was named for the city of Fez, Morocco, and a red fez, or tarbouch, has become a national symbol of that country. By the early nineteenth century, A soldier in the Ghanaian presidential guard wearing a red fez cap. Reproduced by permission the fez cap was also an...

Africa From the Birth of Civilization

Footwear Worn Incas

He earliest stages of human evolution are believed to have begun in Africa about seven million years ago as a population of African apes evolved into three different species gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. Protohumans, as early humans are known, evolved about 2.5 million years ago and had larger brains and stood nearly upright. From prehistoric Africa, humans spread to populate much of the world by 10,000 B.C.E. Some of the world's first great empires originated in northern Africa around...

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Sir Francis Bacon Costume

s in the preceding several centuries, the hairstyles worn during the sixteenth century were driven by the tastes of kings, queens, and their courts. During the early part of the century, for example, French king Francis I 1494 1547 wore his hair in a long bob and many in France followed his example. In 1521 an accident led to a portion of Francis's hair catching fire, and the king was forced to cut his hair short. Again, his court and many other Frenchmen followed suit. Henry VIII 1491-1547 ,...

Early Chinese societies

Www Corbis Com Michael Yamashita

Evidence of human settlement in China dates back nearly 600,000 years. As in the rest of the world, these early humans were hunters and gatherers, hunting animals for food and clothing and gathering fruits and plants for food and materials. Between 5000 and 4000 B.C.E., however, people began to develop agricultural Japanese women march in a parade, wearing blue kimonos and holding traditional Asian fans. Reproduced by permission of Michael S. Yamashita CORBIS. Japanese women march in a parade,...

Costume History Of Hoods

O ne of the most distinctive forms of headwear worn in the Middle Ages c. 500-c. 1500 C.E. was the hood. Ever since the time of the Roman Empire 27 B.C.E.-476 C.E. , Europeans had pulled a section of their outer cloaks up over the head to form a hood. In the Middle Ages, however, the hood was detached from the cloak and became a separate form of headwear. By the end of the twelfth century, the hood was the most common form of head-wear in all of Europe. The medieval hood came in many forms. At...

Wigs

Historical Wigs Seventeenth Century

Wigs became a necessity for French courtiers officers and advisers in 1643 when sixteen-year-old Louis XIV ascended the throne sporting long curly hair. For all who could not grow their own, long flowing locks were created with wigs. The fashion persisted when, at the age of thirty-five, the king began to lose so much of his own hair that he needed to add false hair to maintain his beloved style. He eventually shaved off all his thinning hair and wore full wigs. Wigs came in several different...

Reticule

Mesopotamian Clothing And Jewelry

By the last decade of the eighteenth century, women's dresses had changed from heavy, multilayered gowns made of thick fabric to flimsy, lightweight dresses too delicate to hold pockets. At this time reticules, or handbags, became essential for carrying necessities. The first bags were made of lightweight fabric or net and closed with a drawstring. By the nineteenth century reticules had become a source of ridicule, for woman had begun to carry rather full bags, stuffed with all sorts of...

Batik Cloth

African Batik Fabric Dyeing

Batik cloth has been important in Africa for nearly two thousand years. Batik is a method of applying pattern to fabric. A resist-dyeing technique, batik involves coating fabric with a dye-resistant substance and submerging the fabric in colored dye. Typically the dye-resistant substance is made of the cassava root or rice flour and the chemicals alum, a type of salt found in the earth, or copper sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral. The substance is boiled with water to make a thick paste....

Robe la Franaise

Robe Panniers

The gown that is most associated with the eighteenth century Rococo style, or a decorative style of architecture, fashion, and interior design that featured purely ornamental designs and ornament with intricate floral patterns, popular between 1715 and 1775, is the robe la fran aise. Made of rich fabrics and loaded with frilly decoration, the robe la fran aise was worn by only the most wealthy women. It featured a tight-fitting bodice with a square neckline that revealed a great deal of a...

The rise and opening of Japan

Heian Costume

Japan is an island nation that lies to the northeast of China. Though there is evidence of human habitation in Japan dating back thousands of years, it was not until settlers from China and Korea traveled to Japan in the sixth century C.E. that a definable society have been well represented in Japanese theater, such as No plays and Kabuki, and in film, particularly the historical films of director Akira Kurosawa 1910-1998 . A No, or Noh, play is a classic Japanese dance-drama having a heroic...

Paludamentum

Ancient Roman Paludamentum

Paludamentum was a broad term referring to several varieties of cloaks that were worn during the time of the Byzantine Empire 476 1453 C.E. . Worn by both men and women, these cloaks were worn over the standard garments of the day the tunic and dalmatica worn by men, and the stola, or long dress, and palla worn by women. There were actually several different kinds of palu-damentum. The most common was a large semicircle of fabric, pinned at the right shoulder and reaching to about the hips....

Dagging and Slashing

Slashing Garment

Dogging, seen here on this man's sleeves, is a decorative edge that was commonly used to distinguish and beautify the clothing of fifteenth-century Europeans. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Seen between the late fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, dagging and slashing were decorative techniques that were used to distinguish and beautify garments. Both techniques were used on the common garments of the day to add decoration in accordance with fashion trends. In this way they were related...

Bowl Haircut

The bowl haircut, especially popular among European men from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries, is one of the simplest of styles to create. It is a plain short haircut, with straight bangs on the forehead, and the rest of the hair left the same length all the way around. The cut got its name because it was originally done by actually placing a bowl on the head as a cutting guide. Most medieval men who wore the bowl haircut style also shaved the backs of their heads and shaved their...

Clothing of Early Asian Cultures

UU p until very recently, people in the Western world had a very limited understanding of the kinds of clothing worn in Asia. Our pictures of Asian clothing relied on stereotypes of Japanese people wearing kimono, or long robes with wide sleeves, and Chinese people wearing Mao suits, the simply cut, dull-colored outfits favored by the Communist Party. In fact, the peoples of Asia have a clothing tradition every bit as rich and varied as that of the cultures of the West. Understanding of Asian...

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I uropean history in the seventeenth century was dominated on the one hand by the rise of France as the greatest power in the region, and on the other hand by the great fight for political power that occurred between the monarch and the governing body of Parliament in England. These were the great social issues of the age, and they had a great influence on the way people lived and dressed. More subtle historical changes, such as the growth of the middle class and the growing differences between...

Fifteenth Century Headwear

Bourrelet Headdress

ike many of the fashion trends of the fifteenth century, the headwear worn during the fifteenth century underwent a shift after about the 1470s. In the first part of the century, headwear and hairstyles generally followed the conventions of the late Middle Ages c. 500-c. 1500 . Men tended to wear their hair in a bowl cut, although Italian men tended to prefer longer, curlier hair. Men were generally clean shaven. In fact, an English law from 1447 made it a crime for a man to grow a mustache....

Headwear of the Middle Ages

Medieval Hats

I eople living in Europe during the long period of history known as the Middle Ages c. 500-c. 1500 wore a variety of different hairstyles and headwear. As with other elements of medieval costume, these styles were fairly simple up until about the twelfth century, when increasing wealth and changes in social life brought an upsurge in decoration, especially in headwear. Less is known about hairstyles in the Middle Ages than in many other eras, in part because of people's fondness for headwear....

Robe en Chemise

By the end of the eighteenth century, heavy, thickly decorated gowns dropped out of fashion as lighter styles, such as the robe en chemise, became popular. In the 1780s English and French women began to wear sheer white cotton dresses with high waists wrapped with satin sashes. These dresses had simple straight silhouettes inspired by ancient Greek and Roman styles. Although the first of these dresses had elbow-length sleeves, many ruffles, and were worn with petticoats, the relative visibility...

Indian Clothing

Evolution Indian Clothing

L historical record of Indian clothing is difficult to trace. While there is an abundance of sculpture and literature dating from the earliest periods of civilization in the Indus Valley which flourished along the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan around 2500 B.C.E., scholars have had difficulty dating the changes in clothing styles and naming the variations on certain styles over time. Another problem in identifying trends in Indian clothing is the abundance of different ethnic and cultural...

Lip Plugs

Makololo Pelele

Lip plugs, also known as labrets, have been worn for thousands of years by the women of several different African social groups. Lip plugs are considered essential to the beauty of some African women and are viewed as having protective value to others. To prepare for marriage, young women in Ethiopia insert a flat, circular plug or disk into a slit in their lower lip. The women make their lip plugs out of clay and color it with charcoal or red ocher, a reddish type of clay. Clay lip plugs are...

Wealth and the monarchies of Europe

1760fashion

Perhaps the single biggest factor influencing fashion in the sixteenth century was the wealth of European kingdoms and powerful city-states in Italy. Trade and exploration had led to a boom in the economies of Europe, and the textile, or fabric, industries were at the center of that boom. Wool production in England and silk production in Italy were especially important. These industries allowed for the creation of rich fabrics. At the same time tailors guilds, or associations of craftsmen,...

Loincloths

Mayan Loincloth

Aztec emissaries delivering offerings to Spanish conquistador Hern n Cort s. The Aztecs are wearing traditional Indian cloaks and loincloths. Reproduced by permission of Bettmann M en in the Mayan, Aztec, and Inca empires all wore loincloths, the most basic form of male clothing in many ancient cultures. Loincloths were made out of strips of fabric wound around the waist and between the legs, leaving flaps hanging in the front and back. The climate of Central and South America was so warm that...

Turbans In History

Persian Turban

Ottoman Turk Osman I wearing a turban. The turban was worn by both Byzantine men and women, and when the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Turks too began wearing the turban. Ottoman Turk Osman I wearing a turban. The turban was worn by both Byzantine men and women, and when the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Turks too began wearing the turban. A headdress with ancient roots, the turban is made from a long strip of cloth, most often cotton or...

Forehead Markings

Indian Forehead Designs

Many people of India, especially those who follow the Hindu religion, wear colored markings on their foreheads and other parts of their bodies. In general, forehead markings identify a person's third eye, or what Hindus believe is the center of a person's nervous system, the area in which a person can see spiritual truths. These markings usually take the form of red, white, and black dots or lines, or combinations of dots and lines, which have either social or religious meanings. The practice...

Polonaise Style

Polonaise Inspired Designer Dresses

Polonaise style referred to the arrangement of the overskirt of a dress into three bunched swags to give the hips the impression of width and to display the petticoat underneath. Polonaise style featured ankle-length petticoats that revealed high-heeled walking Woman wearing a polonaise style dress, which featured an overskirt with three bunched swags that gave the hips the impression of width and displayed the petticoat underneath. Reproduced by permission of Historical Picture Archive CORBIS....

Native American diversity

Native American Arctic Costume

All parts of Native American life were affected by the climate and geography in which the Native Americans lived. The weather, the fertility of the soil, access to water, and the height of mountains all contributed to how a particular Indian tribe organized its social and political systems. Each was unique. Tribes lived by farming, fishing, hunting, gathering, and later, trading, depending on their particular region and amount of contact with others. The Arapaho of the Plains, for example, were...

Mantle

Overgarment Mantle

The mantle was an all-purpose overgarment that was worn consistently throughout the Middle Ages c. 500-c. 1500 . Mantles were extremely simple they consisted of a large piece of cloth, rectangular, semicircular, or circular, that was wrapped across the shoulders and fastened. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the mantle was typically fastened at the right shoulder with a small metal clasp or brooch. By the late twelfth century, however, people began to drape the man- The mantle, worn by the...

Tunic

Tunics were sometimes worn by the men of Mayan, Aztec, and Inca cultures. Made of a woven rectangle of cotton, wool, or plant fiber fabric with a hole in the center for the head, tunics resembled loose, sleeveless pullover shirts that hung from the shoulders to within a few inches above or below the knee. Tunics were either left open at the sides or sewn leaving holes near the top fold for the arms to slip through. Tunics could hang freely or be wrapped at the waist with a sash. Most often worn...

Sari

Sari Costume For Women

The sari, sometimes spelled saree, is a draped dress, created from a single piece of fabric five to nine yards long, which is wrapped around a woman's body in a variety of ways. The resulting garment can be practical working attire or an elegant ceremonial gown, depending on the type of fabric used and the style of draping. While women wear the sari, men wear a version of the wrapped garment called a dhoti. A daily garment worn by approximately 75 percent of the female population of India...

From the ashes of the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire had been founded in 27 B.C.E. following the fall of the Roman Republic 509-27 B.C.E. . By the fourth century C.E. the Roman Empire had grown very large, extending east into Asia Minor which included modern-day Turkey and northern Africa, including Egypt. In 395 C.E., following the death of the Roman emperor Theodosius 347-395 C.E. , the vast empire was divided into two halves, with the Eastern Roman Empire having the city of Constantinople, once known as Byzantium, as its...

Kimonos in contemporary Japan

Though Western dress is now the norm in contemporary Japan, the kimono is still worn on special occasions. There are schools in modern Japanese cities that train native Japanese on the finer points of wearing the kimono. They instruct in the complicated ways to tie the obi, as well as the subtle ways of draping the kimono, walking in it, and selecting and combining the colors and patterns. The kimono still expresses the wearer's good taste as well as sense of propriety or social understanding....

History Of Haori

The outer garment worn over the kosode a sort of robe by both men and women, the haori is cut like a kimono but is shorter, varying in length from mid thigh to mid calf. The haori has one layer of silk, like a kimono, and is lined with another layer of silk or cotton. It is loose-fitting and T-shaped. Unlike the kimono, the haori front does not overlap and is not secured by an obi, a type of sash. It is fastened at the center front by means of braided silk cords. Geisha, professional hostesses...

Paduka

Paduka Gold Covering

The paduka also known as the khadaun, kharawan, and karom is the simplest type of Indian foot protection. At its most basic, a paduka is a wooden sole with a knob that fits between the big toe and the second toe. The wearer grips the knob between his toes to keep the sole on the foot. First worn by mendicants, or religious men, padukas have been part of Indian costume since at least the seventh century C.E. In modern times padukas are rarely worn, yet they are still valued as symbols of...