All along time women’s clothing has been influenced by many factors. The obvious and basic factors are the protection of the body and to provide warmth to the wearer. Apart from these, a woman’s clothing helps her to express her personality. In the first part of this article, we attempt to list some of the reasons why women pick the clothing that they wear and what fashion means to them.
Modesty is a concept that is different for sections of people across the world. Nevertheless, modesty plays a very important role in deciding women’ fashion. In the olden times, it was not favoured for women to show off their legs, cleavage, back or shoulders. However, nowadays all that is gone and it is almost completely a woman’s choice about what she wants to wear. Some older cultures still enforce strict rules when it comes to women’s clothing. As an example, women belonging to the Muslim cultures are expected to cover their bodies from head to toes using the hijab scarves, hand-gloves, abayas, and jilbabs (the outer long cloaks).
The reason why a woman chooses to wear a pant-suits that match her eyes or wear a black gown to a party is to make herself more seductive and attractive. The perception of beauty depends on the beholder. The women wear their dresses in a manner that suits them and makes them feel attractive. The effect is enhanced when the women adorn extra accessories like attractive stoles, shoes and jewellery.
Many a time, a woman chooses her clothing depending on her status in a specific social group. Sometimes, any affiliation to a special group (say a sports group) may require the members to wear special kind of clothing. Professionals such as lawyers, executives, etc., in the United States are identified by the clothes that are worn by them. African tribal women wear flowing robes indicating they belong to the royal families there.
In the case of women, many ceremonies are held at specific times in their lives. Women are adorned with different dresses for their quincereana ceremonies, debutante balls, school prom dances or weddings. These kinds of clothes are glamorous and elaborately decorated as they signify special moments of their lives.
Trends keep changing and today’ fashion may suddenly disappear. However, it may also happen that fashions of the olden days may make a comeback. Let us look at some fashion pieces that have faded out but actually deserve a comeback.
Surcoat is perfect for a layered look. It is an outer garment that was used in the 13th century by both men and women. It was worn with or without sleeves. The men usually wore it over their armours. The women wore it like a large cloak. After about a century later, this cloak was worn with large sleeves. The sleeves were later cut and the cut ran up to the hips showing off the garment beneath. This garment would add to a lot of style if worn today.
The corset is a piece of clothing that helps to shape the hips and the waist. It also lifts the breasts. It is bound tightly to the body. The best fact about this piece of clothing is that it is still in vogue in these modern times. It is used many a time along with the wedding gowns. First worn during the Bronze Age, it became the top fashion in the 15th century. The corsets have since undergone different modifications.
The commode was a piece of dress that was worn during the 15th and 16th centuries. This is a hairdressing accessory made of wire framework. The frame was covered with linen, ribbon or lace. This was also called a ‘frontange’ in France which meant tower. This would probably come back in lieu of the hair extension style.
This piece of women’s dress was in fashion during the 14th century. Tippet also refers to the long black scarf that is sometimes worn by clergymen. The woman’s tippet was the name given to the streaming piece of narrow cloth worn above the elbow. The piece of cloth hung down to the knees and sometimes to the ground. It is an item of clothing that could dress up any woman.
The cockade was actually a big bow made of taffeta ribbons and as pinned to hats. These items were much in fashion in the 18th century. Initially, the cockade was used only to decorate the hats. Later, they went on to signify the association of the wearer to different groups. During the French Revolution, the different ‘ribboned’ hats showed affiliation to various political parties and military hats.
The ruff was the ruffled collar that was popular in Europe during the 16th century. The ruffs were pulled together using a small string. Ruffled collars later grew in size and became a symbol of wealth. The bigger ruffs were covered with lace and shaped using wire frames.
Crinoline referred to the petticoats and referred to the stiff skirts that were in fashion in the 19th century. Crinoline actually is the French equivalent for horsehair. The skirts were stiff and added volume to the dresses and skirts that were worn on the outside. Crinolines are still popular in the bridal outfit ensemble. These may come of use when you do not want anyone else to invade your private space.
Bustle added volume to the posterior of women’s bodies. This came intofashion in the late 19th century and was worn over the hips at the back. This piece of clothing was made using different methods. Sometimes they were made of cloth and stuffed with straw or horsehair. Others were shaped with metal or mesh. Nowadays, this piece of dressing is still found to adorn brides. Nevertheless, bustles of today are made of just layers of cloth one over the other. This dress when worn could work as a wonderful piece for lumbar support all day long.
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