Accessories are usually small and can be very decorative, but they also have a practical function. These accessories work with the entire body from top to bottom. Some, like knots, have been with us unchanged for thousands of years. Others, like the phone case, appeared almost yesterday. Some must have been elite, but many were carried, seduced, impressed and delighted by the masses.
Because it’s hard to categorize accessories – is the belt that holds up your jeans an accessory? What about your glasses or jewelry? – We define clothing accessories as what a person carries or wears, which adds to his clothes.
Accessories are the Cinderella of the dress story, often forgotten when their favorite sisters go to the ball. But in their own time, these things have become influential, and they are connected to very broad ideas. Picking up accessories reveals aspects of history in exciting new ways.
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Their raw materials show us global trade and sometimes global exploitation. Some accessories bore the seal of the Empire or were used to commemorate political ideals, such as the patchwork box that featured the anti-slavery design “I am man and no brother.”
Enterprise manufacturers used the distribution of other goods as an opportunity for mass advertising. The exchange, although small in size, gave shape to gender roles and expectations, and new items – such as powder compacts – showed dynamic changes over time.
They are sometimes mysterious to modern eyes, but these once common things have amazing and important stories.
Going to the Middle Ages: How Chatelain Evoked the Past for the Victorians
Stylish and functional, the chatelaine is designed to hang from the waist of the wearer. It had a series of chains, each of which contained useful or useless objects: things like sewing tools could be interlaced with tins. A woman wearing a chatelaine feels the weight and feels it moving with her.
Although the concept is several centuries old, it gained mass popularity in the second half of the 1800s and featured objects useful in Victorian daily life: pencils, note-takers, spectacle cases or perhaps even magnifying glasses.
This new take on an old accessory is also given the historical name “chatelaine”. It celebrates the age-old practice of women’s domestic skills and management, evoking the medieval mistress who kept the keys. This accessory meets the present by seeing the past.
Dangerous Dress: Why Edwardians Feared Hat Pins
During the Edwardian era, hat pins became very tall. A high “picture” of up to 30 cm in length was required to drape over the wearer’s equally wide hair, a fashion that included hairpieces (postiches) and tiling.
The danger of a hat pin was especially obvious on public transport or on busy streets. Sometimes they cause damage by accident, but they can also be used as weapons on purpose. In 1908, Phyllis Thompson was arrested in Bootle, near Liverpool. Reprimanded by a policeman for being drunk and disorderly, she then stabs him in the thigh with a hat pin.
In the United States the danger of the hat-pin was much greater than in Britain, and attempts were made to legislate against the longest of these accessories. Also, the hat pin could be quickly removed from the hat and taken to the arm, leg or eye of an assailant, which was seen as a ready weapon for women’s self-defense.
Genital Birth: Men and women are glistening with artificial gemstones.
Flashing stones (called “paste”) jewelry is as popular today as it was in the 18th century. Then, British-made shoelaces with glass “caliber cut” were made for men as a fashionable fashion. This means that all the “stones” are shaped to fit perfectly into the normal mountains. Precious gemstones are treated in different ways, they are cut from their natural shape and pressed to reduce waste.
Alsatian jeweler Georg Friedrich Strauss pioneered diamond imitation in his Paris workshop in the 1730s. He used a variety of chemical ingredients as well as a metallic foil base to add and multiply color and sparkles.
Following his innovation, attractive accessories made of artificial gemstones became affordable for the masses. This is where bling started in the mid 18th century. And these knots show us that they are enjoyed by both men and women.
Obsessed with emotion: Victoria’s mania for buttons
Button hooks were ubiquitous in the Victorian world, helping men—and especially women—get in and out of their well-fitted, highly buttoned garments. They came in different sizes and materials: large ones of silver and ebony, for example, for boots, gaiters and spats (button guards worn by adults and children); Smaller examples – of various metals, Scottish agate, bone and guilloché enamel – were used for buttons on tight body parts or gloves.
Through these things, we can imagine the physical sensations involved in clothes that did not change the ritual of dressing and dressing before the age of velcro and zip. They come from a time when dressing properly and comfortably meant that you felt the pressure of your clothes on every part of your body – a person in Victorian Britain was comfortable wearing clothes that we today consider unacceptably restrictive. Comfort is as psychological as it is physical.
East Meets West: 20th Century Western Designers Take Inspiration From Overseas
Since the 18th century, the Western world has had a fascination with Eastern objects, and at the beginning of the 20th century, European and American designers borrowed images and techniques from Africa and Asia to create new trends in modern contemporary styles. west. The decorative arts, jewelry and fashion they created were imbued with an exotic beauty at the time.
Back then, a sense of uniqueness might help sell a mass-produced product, but cultural borrowing was often only superficial. In the year An example of a belt buckle that survived in the 1920s is an ancient script in the form of Chinese characters that is unknown to modern readers, and may have been copied or perhaps invented for their appearance alone. It may have been made in a small workshop specialized in the creation of artists in plastic: the machine and the hand-made in a world where there is no less strict distinction than today.
Facing the future: A compact on the center of socially acceptable cosmetics
The compact appeared in the early 20th century, as part of a change in women’s style where cosmetics became not only acceptable but also socially necessary. Until then, wearing makeup was seen as immoral and frowned upon.
He took what was once illegal and made it desirable. Its portable nature compliments women who are active outdoors, at leisure or at work. Essentially a small dressing table, the compact brought a further change of character, allowing women to apply their makeup not only on the move, but also in public.
Cordula van Wie is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Susan Vincent is Research Fellow at the Center for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at York University.
This article was first published in the July 2022 issue of BBC History Magazine
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