All posts tagged: terminology

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 …

Terminology: What are Bizarre silks?

Bizarre silks are silk fabrics (obviously) that were fashionable in Europe from the mid 1690s to the 1720s.  They featured large, asymmetrical designs, vivid colours, fantastical floral designs which were Oriental in inspiration, and an emphasis on the diagonal ‘serpentine line’ which would later come to characterise the Rococo style.  The first bizarre silks were woven in Lyons, France, but by the early 1700s they were also being made in Spitalfelds, England, and to a lesser extent in Italy. The name ‘Bizarre Silks’ is not period – it wasn’t used until 1957 when art historian Dr. Vilhelm Sloman coined the term to describe the style.  Dr Sloman believed that bizarre silks were made in India and imported into Europe, but subsequent scholarship has made it clear that they were exclusively produced in Europe. According to my research, there is no particular set of term that was used in the late 17th & 18th centuries for the fabric design – they might be described as Oriental, but generally they were just the popular style, and no particular distinction …