Since we are coming into the holiday season, it is high time that we discuss the little pieces that give our outfits their finishing touch: accessories. There are hundreds of things classified as accessories, so we will only touch on a few.
Many of the accessories seen today have roots in the past. One of these accessories, the bowtie, can be seen often during Christmas time at choir concerts, church events, or during other occasions just to give an outfit a holiday flair. Bowties were first bits of fabric knotted at the collar to keep your shirt from slipping off your shoulders. The first documented people who utilized the style were the Croatian soldiers of the Thirty Years’ War. After the war, the style spread and became a part of upper class dressing. This style of the necktie became the rage in the 19th century, and by 1880, it was a common clothing accessory for men.
A new type of formal dress was created by Pierre Lorillard: the tuxedo. The look soon became termed “black tie” because of the black bowtie that adorned the collar of the outfit. Although women are known to wear this accessory as well, the bowtie has a wider-known history in male fashion trends from the past.
Another type of accessory commonly seen today, not just during the holidays, is the bracelet or bangle. Ancient bangles were mostly made of wood and shells. The Chinese incorporated jade and gold into their wooden bracelets to make them moreornate. In Biblical times, bracelets were worn by both men and women; these were usually made from metals: gold and bronze. Interestingly, in Celtic culture, men wore serpent shaped arm bands that protected them from being injured in battle. And, not surprisingly, during the Victorian era, bracelets gained little lockets and charms.
Speaking of charms, pendants for necklaces also become popular during the Victorian era. But necklaces were originally made of bone, wood, animal teeth, and other natural objects. In Celtic culture, a metal ring called a lunula was the typical type of necklace. Lunulas were found mostly in the British Isles and dated to have been made between 1800 and 1500 BC. Egyptian necklaces, worn by men and women inthe wealthy class, were designed with intricate beading patterns with metalwork. But by the Middle Ages, the necklace had been replaced mostly by the brooch.
Brooches have a wide range variety in type and style. Here are a handful of the main brooches seen today and a little about them. The Celtic brooch is an old traditional piece of jewelry. They were mainly used to as cloak fasteners and are seen in both the culture of the Celts and the Nordic Vikings. These look like a long pin that sticks through a hole in the cloth, holding the heavy wool from falling from its wearers’ shoulders. This was typical for both men and women.
En tremblant brooches have an interesting meaning. The term is French for “tremble.” Usually, these brooches have a small floral pattern and are made mostly of diamonds. These were worn during 18th and 19th centuries, and the brooches created a sparkly affect in candlelight when the diamonds moved. This is the picture to the right.
Cameo brooches date back to Queen Victoria who loved these brooches. The broches often depicted a scene from mythology or have a face carved in them. Around the outside is a decorative rim of beads, pearls, diamonds, or other such materials.
To get into the Christmas spirit, I made a simple version of a cameo brooch. To make one, you will need a pencil, scissors, glue, a picture, a large button, a safety pin, hot glue, and decorations such as beads.
Take your button and glue the picture on to it. You will likely have to shrink the picture you choose to make it fit your button size. I found contact sheet size worked well for me. I chose a picture of my sister and I; however, you could also use a photo of another family member, friend, or even a pet. Remember, cameo brooches highlight a specific person.
Next, you will need to hot glue your safety pin to the back of the button. Position the safety pin so that the needle can open and close normally. This will act as the pin on the back of your brooch.
And now that your basic brooch is finished, decorate it with beads, jewels, ribbon, and whatever else you want.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone!
Other images by Bronwyn Dix.