All posts tagged: terminology

Odds and ends of silk ribbon and lace were used to make this dainty little apron. Observer, 11 March 1916

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 …

Terminology: the history of the cardigan

A cardigan is a knitted sweater with a buttoned or zipped front, with a V or round neck, with or without a collar.  The cardigan takes its name from the 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell (1797-1868) whose unfortunate claim to fame (other than the garment) is that he led the 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade. The cardigan as we know it today is based on a fur or braid-trimmed waistcoat of knitted worsted wool worn by British Army Officers during the Crimean war (some sources say ‘purported to have been worn by’, or that it was only worn by Cardigan himself)). Whether or not cardigans were actually based on garments worn during the Crimean war, within a few decades of the war the garment had become decisively linked with it, so much that editorials chiding the government for their neglect of veterans (some things never change…) make black-humour jokes about how “they might, at any rate, be provided with Cardigan Jackets.” The original ‘cardigan’ was a sleeveless vest or waistcoat, but by 1864 the modern sleeved …

Courtesy of Tony McKay Photography and Glory Days Magazine

A ca. 1920 sinamay sunhat (and what is sinamay)

You may have noticed that I made a number of hats for the Mansfield Garden party, so it’s probably no surprise that some of them are showing up as entries for the Historical Sew Fortnighly ‘Protection’ challenge. Hats were essential fashion items throughout the first half of the 20th century, but they were also important for protection.  Sunglasses were extremely uncommon, and the wide brims of summer hats helped to protect the eyes from the sun’s glare, and also to protect the skin and preserve the pale, untanned complexions that were considered fashionable. They work extremely well for both functions: I get terrible headaches if I don’t wear a hat or sunglasses, but with one or the other, I’m fine.  And New Zealand’s sun is notoriously harsh, but my models and I stayed happily un-sunscreened and un-sunburnt for a whole day out in the blaze courtesy of our hats (and parasols). This particular hat represents the styles of hats worn in the very late 1910s and early 1920s.  It was also an experiment in some new …