Fashion Through the Ages

Fashion is a universal phenomenon and a major manifestation in all cultures. Every area and civilization on the planet and every age throughout history has or has had its own fashion. It is constantly changing, and as the years, decades and centuries go by, one sees a fascinating parade of different fashion ideas, beliefs, materials, colors, styles and conventions. Both men and women have always had their own ideas and conventions as to what they should wear.

Over the years, all the great variety of dress and attire, has relentlessly evolved and has been molded by such things as relative wealth, economics and politics, the type of climate and the natural resources available and of course the machinery and technology extant at the time. New inventions in technology and the ability to create so many new materials, has meant that throughout the twentieth century, fashion has boomed into an explosive, ever-present concept and industry!We have come a long, long way from “Stone-age” to “Valentino” or “Classical Greek” to “Dolce and Gabbana!” Nowadays, cardigans, skinny jeans, bright colors and even cardigans are deemed to be the “in” thing and acceptable.

Even going back as little as 10 or 20 years ago though and you find that the “looks” that were in fashion then are, by the standards of today, considered “old-fashioned” and not really acceptable to wear anymore. The whole forward motion and pace of “Fashion” has just speeded up over the last 100 or so years. If you look into this a bit more you’ll find that most commentators and authors on the subject, only really look at fashion as a modern concept, from about the 19th Century on. What people wore before then gets consigned to the hazy blur of the distant past! When did underwear first come into fashion, for instance? Try that one out as your ownlittle research project. I will refrain from answering and you will have the pleasure of coming across all sorts of strange and interesting facts (and fictions!).

In Ancient Greek times, loosely draped material was the staple in Greek fashion, along with Jewellery as an added major accent to Greek attire, from large necklaces to bangle bracelets, which were worn by both men and women. Roman dress of course had the famous toga as well as the pallium cloak, but was also rich in hairstyles, jewellery and cosmetics. In the Middle Ages, clothing, was still very regimented as to class, and this was very evident in the vast difference between the quality and the colors of the materials used, between rich and poor, noble and peasant.

During the Renaissance, from the 15th Century on, one finds an explosion of beautiful clothing in this period, with rich and voluptuous velvets and silks, and all sorts of luxurious fabrics that were finding there way then into Europe from such exotic and distant places as India and China. This was copied and used in all the great courts of Europe, including Elizabethan England. This continued, and the pace quickened, going through the flamboyance of the Cavaliers, and the slight detour into the colourless, sobriety of the Puritans. Then things really came to a head after that with the extreme and outrageous Georgian era, in the wig department particularly! You had the finery and frippery of Beau Brummel and such, and for a while there, it were the men who were giving the women a real run for their money! Now, it is “our” modern times, and all ages and “fashions” are raided and plundered for use for our fashion – for both men and women. It’s fair to say though that in these modern days it is definitely the women who have the edge on adventure and creativity in what they wear.

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