All posts tagged: terminology

Terminology: the Olivia cap / Olivia bonnet

The silver screen has been launching fashions for almost as long as it has been around.  50,000 copies of Adrian’s ruffled-sleeved Letty Lynton dress were sold in 1932, and in 1939 Gone with the Wind launched innumerable green-sashed dress replicas.  Annie Hall made oversized androgyny tres chic.  Closer to the present, yellow is predicted to be the frock colour du jour of 2017, thanks to La La Land and Beauty & the Beast. Before the screen launched fashions, the stage did the same job.  While not as many people could see a stage performance as a film, the costumes in notable London & New York productions were described in great detail in newspaper articles around the world, and images of the actors in their roles were widely disseminated as collectable trading cards.  The costume enthusiasts amongst you are probably familiar with Merry Widow hats and Dolly Varden frocks. Less famous today is the Olivia cap, or Olivia bonnet, popularised by Ellen Terry’s turn as Olivia in 1878’s Olivia at the Court Theatre, a play based on The Vicar of Wakefield. Like Dolly Varden, Olivia was …

Terminology: Sequins vs. Spangles (& their history in fashion)

When I first became really interested in fashion history in my early teens, and poured over historical costuming books and museum catalogues and saw mentions of sequins and spangles I assumed they were the same thing, and that ‘spangle’ was just a posh term for a sequin.  As I studied textiles in university, and began working for museums, I realised that museums generally use very precise, specific terms (hmmmm…I wonder where my love of terminology comes from!), and that a spangle and a sequin might be different things. As I’ve researched sequins and spangles I’ve realised that the use in terminology is sometimes very specific and precise, and that sometimes the terms are used interchangeably (see: how to make a fashion historian grumpy). Many costume books use the terms to mean exactly the same thing, as do some museums.  Some sources that make a distinction describe a spangle as a sequin with the hole at the top edge, rather than in the centre.  Other sources describe a sequin as any decorative disk, while spangles must be metal – so …

Can you complete the fashion history quiz from 1916?

One of the (many) highlights of my trip to the US was visiting Lauren of Wearing History: we shared patternmaking tips, played ‘date the vintage garment’, geeked out over fashion history, and generally had a fabulous time.  She let me go through her vintage magazines, and we laughed over the advice columns and sighed over the fashion plates. In her McCall’s Magazine from March 1916 I found something of particular interest: a fashion history terminology quiz! Lauren kindly offered to let me share it with you, so you can see the fun: Lauren & I collaborated to finish the quiz, and then, when we were pretty sure we had it right, flipped to page 115 for the answers…. ….only to find a message advising us to write to the editor for them! Oh wailey wailey! Still, we think we got them.  Do you think you can? Leave your answers in the comments (no peeking!).   Don’t be afraid to be honest and fess up if you collaborated or had to use google – it took …