All posts tagged: terminology

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 …

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 …