Clothing History from Ancient to Present Period
Lecturer, Dept. of Fashion Design
KCC Women’s College (Affiliated by Khulna University)
THE BEGINNING OF HUMAN LIFE:
Clothing history encompasses the clothes worn in various places at various times and the methods by which those clothes were made or acquired. Early humans wrap themselves in animal hides for warmth.
c. 10,000 B.C.E.: Tattooing is practiced on the Japanese islands, in the Jomon period (c. 10,000–300 B.C.E.). Similarly scarification, the art of carving designs into the skin, has been practiced since ancient times in Oceania and Africa to make a person’s body more beautiful or signify a person’s rank in society.
c. 3100 B.C.E.: Egyptians weave a plant called flax into a light cloth called linen and made dresses and loincloths from it.
c. 3100 B.C.E.: Egyptians shave their heads to keep themselves clean and cool in the desert heat, but covered their heads with wigs of various styles.
c. 3100 B.C.E.: Egyptians perfume their bodies by coating their skin in fragrant oils and ointments.
c. 3000 B.C.E. : Men and women in the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East have wrapped turbans on their heads since ancient times, and the turban continues to be popular with both men and women in many modern cultures.
c. 2600 B.C.E. TO 900 C.E.: Ancient Mayans, whose civilization flourishes in Belize and on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, flatten the heads of the children of wealthy and powerful members of society. The children’s heads are squeezed between two boards to elongate their skulls into a shape that looks very similar to an ear of corn.
c. 2500 B.C.E.: Indians wear a wrapped style of trousers called a dhoti and a skirt-like lower body covering called a lungi.
c. 2500 B.C.E.: Indian women begin to adorn themselves in the wrapped dress style called a sari.
c. 1500 B.C.E.: Egyptian men adopt the tunic as an upper body covering when Egypt conquers Syria.
c. 27 B.C.E.–476 C.E.: Roman soldiers, especially horsemen, adopt the trousers, or feminalia, of the nomadic tribes they encounter on the outskirts of the Roman Empire.
SIXTH AND FIFTH CENTURIES B.C.E.:
The doric chiton becomes one of the most popular garments for both men and women in ancient Greece.
FIFTH CENTURY B.C.E.:
The toga, a wrapped garment, is favored by Romans.
c. 476: Upper-class men, and sometimes women, in the Byzantine Empire (476–1453 C.E.) wear a long, flowing robe-like overgarment called a dalmatica developed from the tunic.
c. 900: Young Chinese girls tightly bind their feet to keep them small, a sign of beauty for a time in Chinese culture. The practice was outlawed in 1911.
c. 1100–1500: The cote, a long robe worn by both men and women, and its descendant, the cotehardie, are among the most common garments of the late Middle Ages.
1392: Kimonos are first worn in China as an undergarment. The word “kimono” later came to be used to describe the native dress of Japan in the nineteenth century.
Hose and breeches, which cover the legs individually, become more common garments for men.
FOURTEENTH CENTURY TO SIXTEENTH CENTURY:
Cuts and openings in garments made from slashing and dagging decorate garments from upper body coverings to shoes.
1470: The first farthingales, or hoops worn under a skirt to hold it out away from the body, are worn in Spain and are called vertugados. These farthingales become popular in France and England and are later known as the Spanish farthingale.
FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND SIXTEENTH CENTURY:
The doublet—a slightly padded short over shirt, usually buttoned down the front, with or without sleeves—becomes an essential men’s garment.
LATE FIFTEENTH THROUGH THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY:
The ruff, a wide pleated collar, often stiffened with starch or wire, is worn by wealthy men and women of the time.
Worn underneath clothing, corsets squeeze and mold women’s bodies into the correct shape to fit changing fashions of dress.
People carry or wear small pieces of animal fur in hopes that biting fleas will be more attracted to the animal’s skin than to their own.
LATE MIDDLE AGES:
The beret, a soft, brimless wool hat, is the most popular men’s hat during the late Middle Ages and into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, especially in France, Italy, and Spain.
1595: Europeans land on the Marquesas Islands in Oceania and discover native inhabitants covered in tattoos.
The Kuba people, living in the present-day nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, weave a decorative cloth called Kuba cloth. An entire social group of men and women is involved in the production of the cloth, from gathering the fibers, weaving the cloth, and dyeing the decorative strands, to applying the embroidery, appliqué, or patchwork.
Canes become carefully crafted items and are carried by most well-dressed gentleman.
1643: French courtiers begin wearing wigs to copy the long curly-hair of the sixteen-year-old king, Louis XIV. The fashion for long wigs continues later when, at the age of thirty-five, Louis begins to cover his thinning hair with wigs to maintain his beloved style.
French men tuck flowers in the buttonholes of their waistcoats and introduce boutonières as fashionable nosegays for men.
The French Revolution (1789–99) destroys the French monarchy and makes ankle-length trousers fashionable attire for all men. Trousers come to symbolize the ideas of the Revolution, an effort to make French people more equal, and soon men of all classes are wearing long trousers.
1778: À la Belle Poule, a huge hairstyle commemorating the victory of a French ship over an English ship in 1778, features an enormous pile of curled and powdered hair stretched over a frame affixed to the top of a woman’s head. The hair is decorated with a model of the ship in full sail.
1849: Dark blue, heavy-duty cotton pants—known as blue jeans— are created as work pants for the gold miners of the 1849 California gold rush.
1868: A sturdy canvas and rubber shoe called a croquet sandal is introduced and sells for six dollars a pair, making it too expensive for all but the very wealthy. The shoe later became known as the tennis shoe.
1870: A French hairstylist named Marcel Grateau invents the first long-lasting hair waving technique using a heated iron to give hair curls that lasts for days.
LATE 1800s TO EARLY 1900s: The feathered war bonnet, traditional to only a small number of Native American tribes, becomes known as a typical Native American headdress with the help of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, which features theatrical representations of the Indians and cowboys of the American West and travels throughout America and parts of Europe.
1900s: Loose, floppy, two-legged undergarments for women, bloomers start a trend toward less restrictive clothing for women, including clothing that allows them to ride bicycles, play tennis, and to take part in other sport activities.
1915: American inventor T.L. Williams develops a cake of mascara and a brush to darken the lashes and sells them through the mail under the name Maybelline.
1920s: Advances in paint technology allow the creation of a hard durable paint and fuel an increase in the popularity of colored polish for fingernails and toenails.
1920s: The navy blue blazer, a jacket with brass buttons, becomes popular for men to wear at sporting events.
1920s: A fad among women for wearing short, bobbed hairstyles sweeps America and Europe.
1930s: Popular as a shirt for tennis, golf, and other sport activities for decades, the polo shirt becomes the most popular leisure shirt for men.
1939: For the first time, Vogue, the respected fashion magazine, pictures women in trousers.
1945: Servicemen returning home from World War II (1939–45)continue to wear the T-shirts they had been issued as undershirts during the war and soon the T-shirt becomes an acceptable casual outer shirt.
1946: The bikini, a two-piece bathing suit, is developed and named after a group of coral islands in the Pacific Ocean.
1950s: The gray flannel suit becomes the most common outfit worn by men working at desk jobs in office buildings.
1957: Liquid mascara is sold at retail stores in tubes with a brush inside.
1960s AND 1970s: The afro, featuring a person’s naturally curly hair trimmed in a full, evenly round shape around the head, is the most popular hairstyle among African Americans.
1965s: Women begin wearing miniskirts with hemlines hitting at mid-thigh or above.
1980s: Power dressing becomes a trend toward wearing expensive, designer clothing for work.
1990s: Casual Fridays becomes the name given to the practice of allowing employees to dress informally on the last day of the work week.
1990s: Grunge, a trend for wearing old, sometimes stained or ripped clothing, becomes a fashion sensation and prompts designers to sell simple flannel shirts for prices in excess of one thousand dollars.
2000s: Versions of clothing available during the 1960s and 1970s, such as bell-bottom jeans and the peasant look, return to fashion as “retro fashions.”