Lederhosen: An Oktoberfest Staple

You can’t have Oktoberfest without beer, bratwurst, and lederhosen. Besides being one of the official uniforms of Munich’s annual fall festival, lederhosen is also an integral part of Northern Europe’s working-class history.

The Full Outfit

Lederhosen, which is German for “leather pants,” is exactly that: knee-length breeches made from leather. When they’re part of an Oktoberfest costume, they’re usually worn with suspenders that create an “H” or “V” shape across the torso. The straps of these suspenders often feature intricate embroidery. A light-colored shirt, long socks, and black or brown shoes designed for Alpine terrain complete the outfit. The colors and styles of lederhosen vary by region, but the overall look remains the same.

The Alpine Origins of Lederhosen

Lederhosen first appeared among German and Austrian laborers in the 1700s. The knee-length breeches mimicked the silk and satin culottes that originated in France in the 1500s. Rather than adopting the softer fabrics used by the rest of Europe, the Alpine workers opted to make their pants from durable leather.

After lederhosen was adopted by the region’s peasant class, aristocrats began wearing the breeches themselves. The trend didn’t last, however, and lederhosen once again reverted to being the uniform of countryside laborers. When the denim jeans created by Bavarian expat Levi Strauss replaced lederhosen in the 1800s, it seemed that the leather garments had fallen out of favor. 

Official Oktoberfest Attire

Munich’s Oktoberfest was started in 1810 as a wedding celebration designed to unite 40,000 Bavarian civilians following a quelled rebellion the year before. The occasion eventually became an annual event and featured horse races, carnival attractions, and beer tents. To promote and preserve Bavarian culture, Munich made lederhosen and the dirndl Oktoberfest’s official uniforms in 1887. These traditional costumes have been emblems of southeastern Germany ever since.

Similar to how the kilt is associated with Scotland and the kimono with Japan, lederhosen will forever be a symbol of Alpine culture. Combined with the dirndl to create the trachten. lederhosen will always be the attire of rural communities in Bavaria and its surrounding regions.

Driving Gloves: The Perfect Mix of Protection And Control

Have you ever wondered why Ryan Gosling’s character in the movie Drive wore gloves while driving? Was The Driver (Gosling’s unnamed character) making a fashion statement? Let’s find out!

Driving Gloves Protect Your Hands From Wear and Tear

Driving gloves became popular because drivers needed to protect their hands. Handling the wooden steering wheels of older cars often led to blisters, especially in the days before power-steering. The advent of driving gloves also saw the invention of the glove box.

Protecting Your Car With Driving Gloves

Cars have come a long way since the turn of the century. They’re sleeker and their interiors are fashioned from softer materials. Power-steering also makes driving a more pleasant experience. However, many people still opt for driving gloves when they get behind the wheel. Specifically, gloves protect leather-clad steering wheels from damage in classic and high-end vehicles.

Control Above All Else

Another reason people wear driving gloves is to have greater control of the powerful machine in their hands. Modern gloves are usually made of leather and have a porous, grainy palm. This design allows drivers a better grip when they are moving the steering wheel or gear shift.

Many race car drivers and sports enthusiasts wear driving gloves. You’ll also see Ryan Gosling’s character wear them during his races in Drive. Driving gloves provide absolute control and make the steering process easier.

Selecting the Right Pair

Driving gloves can be purchased at auto stores, sports stores, or other specialty stores. There are many different brands and styles available that will work for a variety of situations and preferences. All gloves serve two primary purposes: protecting your hands and helping you have better control over your vehicle. 

Cummerbund: The Often Overlooked Formal Accessory

No, the cummerbund isn’t as popular as its cousin, the vest. That said, cummerbunds have their place as fashion accessories in formal wear. Today, they’re often mistakenly referred to as cumberbunds — and even Webster’s dictionary lists the spelling as an alternative option. Whichever name you use, the cummerbund is all about class and sophistication.

The British Roots of Cummerbunds

The cummerbund was born out of necessity around 1850. In the heat of India, British soldiers stationed there needed something cooler to wear when they dined. The soldiers usually wore vests under their military jackets. This made for a very uncomfortable experience during meal times.

At the time, British personnel noticed that the native peoples of India wore sashes around their waists. So, the military decided to adapt the sashes to fit their needs. This gave birth to the western cummerbund. An important benefit of the new waist sashes was that they acted as a sort of crumb catcher during meals.

Aristocrat Adaptations

When the tuxedo made its appearance in New York in 1886, it was spartan in nature and came without many accessories. Soon, however, accessories were created specifically for the tuxedo. This is about the time black bow ties became popular.

With the new black tie dress code in play, aristocrats of the day decided to borrow style ideas from the British military. This is how black cummerbunds became part of the formal wear ensemble. The men of those days also used cummerbunds to hold their event ticket stubs and other personal items.

The Modern-Day Appeal of Cummerbunds

Today, the cummerbund, bow tie, and tuxedo are part of formal wear. The purpose of the cummerbund piece is to cover the area where the shirt creases at the top of the pants. This creates a crisp and classy look for formal events.

Cummerbunds come in many color and fabric variations and can certainly be worn as statement pieces. The interesting thing about cummerbunds is that they are primarily exclusive to tuxedos, while vests and ties can be worn with both suits and tuxedos.  

Overalls: Symbols And Homage To Hard Work

Overalls have historically been associated with rural living and a strong work ethic. Today, urban dwellers wear overalls as a fashion statement. Yet, the association with the rural lifestyle remains an unmistakable part of its iconic identity.

Overalls Emerge as Practical Clothing for Tough Jobs

Overalls were first known as “slops” and emerged in the 1700s as practical clothing for tough farming and rural work. Designed to be worn over a shirt, overalls are put on by stepping into a pair of loose-fitting pants attached to a “bib.” The entire outfit is secured with straps over the shoulders. This one-piece outfit protects clothing from wear and tear. An added benefit is that it can be worn without much need for alteration.

Dungarees and Bib Overalls Merge

Today, the term “dungaree” is synonymous with “overalls.”That said “dungaree” originally referred to a specific type of tough fabric from India. This strong, inexpensive fabric was known as “Dungri,” the name of the Indian village in which it originated. “Dungaree” is the British version of the word. Later, overalls were constructed out of this tough fabric, thus merging the two terms.   

Fashion Overalls Pay Homage to Working Roots

Overalls enjoyed a short stint in high fashion, especially after high-profile celebrities were seen wearing them. Mick Jagger was famously photographed in a pair of bejeweled, velvety overalls. The 1990s saw a rise of civilians wearing overalls (often with one strap undone), a look that has been popularized by hip hop and pop artists including Justin Bieber and Lauryn Hill. 

Today, many people still consider the attire a practical choice for their working lives. To them, overalls will always exemplify a strong work ethic and America’s rural heritage. This popular garment can be seen on farms across the heartland as well as in trendy urban centers. 

Flip Flops: Footwear With A Long Past

Flip flops may seem like a modern invention, but they have actually been around for thousands of years. What’s most fascinating about them is that their basic construction has remained constant, while the materials and cultural associations have changed. 

The flip flop is a sandal with open toes and a Y-shaped strap across the front. It’s worn by slipping the foot into the strap and placing the center connector between the big and second toes. Flip flops go by many names around the world: thongs, pluggers, jandals, step-ins, etc. Whatever you call them, their enduring place in fashion remains.

Early Egyptian Flip Flops Lead the Way 

While it’s possible that flip flops have been around even longer, the earliest known versions of the flip flop came from Egypt and dated back to 4000 B.C.E. These ancient flip flops were made out of readily available materials like papyrus leaves, wood, yucca plants, and rice straw. 

Later, a Japanese version of the footwear was created for young children learning to walk. These flip flops appeared around 1000 B.C.E. and eventually made its way to America after returning World War II soldiers brought them home. 

How Flip Flops Got Their Cute Name

It wasn’t until the 1960s that flip flops started being called by that name. The alliterative title is due to the sound the shoes make when people walk in them. Since then, flip flops have been mass-produced in just about every color and pattern imaginable. They are popular as beach and shower shoes, but they are also common footwear for everyday use in warm weather. 

In 2011, Barack Obama became the first United States president to be photographed wearing flip flops; he wore his while on vacation in his native Hawaii. 

The Popularity Of Flip Flops Remains High Despite Controversy 

Whether or not flip flops count as “proper” foot attire is a point of contention. In 2005, members of the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team caused quite a stir by wearing flip flops to a White House event. Today, lower-stakes debates about the propriety of flip flops take place every summer. 

While some people still maintain that flip flops are only suitable for the beach, many people continue to wear them no matter the setting. 

From Function to Fashion: The Rise of the Brassiere

Some consider brassieres a fashion accessory, while others consider them a burden. However, most women consider them a necessary part of their daily look.  The brassiere (or “bra” for short) is a staple of most women’s wardrobes. It has been in existence in some form since the 14th century BC.  The bra was a part of most women’s closets by the early 20th century. 

From Corset To Brassiere

While garments similar to bras have been found as ancient artifacts, the modern bra didn’t truly come into vogue until the late 19th century.  From the Renaissance era and onward, the corset played a critical role in women’s dress.  There were two driving forces that caused the transition from the corset to the bra:

  • Health Concerns: Though they received significant push back from proponents of corsets, many physicians warned about their use. They maintained that corsets could be the cause of skin issues, digestive ailments, and gynecological problems.
  • Clothing Reform Movement: Given the restrictive nature of corsets, many groups began advocating for their elimination as part of the drive to increase women’s participation in society.  These groups included the Rational Dress Society, the National Dress Reform Association, and the Reform Dress Association.

As concern about the corset increased, the brassiere was developed as a viable alternative.

Who Gets Credit for the Invention of the Bra

It’s unclear who gets to take credit for inventing the modern-day bra.  A number of inventions were created and patents were issued for similar garments in the 19th century:

  • Henry S. Lesher: Henry was granted a patent in 1863 for a “corset substitute.”
  • Olivia Flynt: Olivia received four patents in 1876 for a garment called the “Flynt Waist.”
  • Hermine Cadolle: This French woman is said to have invented the first modern bra in 1889.
  • Marie Tucek: In 1893, Marie was granted a patent for a piece of clothing that closely resembled the modern bra. Her invention was the precursor of the underwire bra.
  • Sigmund Lindauer: This German developed the first bra to go to mass production in 1912.
  • Mary Phelps Jacob: Later known as Caresse Crosby, this 19-year-old socialite and her maid created a unique bra by tying silk handkerchiefs together with some ribbon and a cord.  She was granted a patent but sold her rights to it. The purchaser of the patent would go on to make millions in revenue.

By the 1930s, the word “brassiere” was shortened to “bra” and standardized sizes were created.  This item of clothing was eventually adopted into mainstream use.

Modern Day Fashion

Today, the bra continues to serve an essential function, but it is also a focal point of fashion.  The Victoria Secret fashion show is held annually and features the most fashionable bras by the brand. Each show can cost the company as much as $26 million.  The bra certainly has come a long way from its predecessors!

The Prom Dress: A Rite Of Passage Garment

Aside from the wedding dress, the dreamy prom dress is the most important garment to many teenage girls in America. The dress has evolved over the years, but the ritual of dressing up for prom has stayed constant. Prom is a teenage rite of passage that every young girl looks forward to, and picking out the perfect dress is as important as attending the dance itself.

The History of the Prom Dress

The prom dress takes its inspiration from the princess-like gowns girls once wore to debutante balls. However, the event girls wear the dress to — prom — only came about at the beginning of the 20th century. Proms first gained extensive popularity at high schools across the country in the 1930s.

Traditionally, parents dressed their debutante daughters in what they deemed tasteful clothing. Today, many schools have instituted dress codes for proms. That said, girls continue to push the envelope, where style and sex-factor are concerned.

Dance the Night Away

The 1930s saw the first variations of the original debutante ball gowns. At the time, the dress was mostly conservative in style. In the 1940s, styles became more risque with off the shoulder, tea-length a-line gowns.

The 1950s saw the influx of full skirts. Meanwhile, empire waist designs were popular in the 1960s. In the 1970s, a mix of bohemian style gowns and mini-skirted dresses came into being. Ruffles and cap sleeves were popular in the 1980s, while the 1990s saw lots of velvet and halter tops. Finally, the 2000s brought in slinky sheath-like dresses. The fashion of the times inspired each decade, and that’s still true today. However, the invention of social media lent new inspiration to the prom dress.

Inspiration for the Ideal Dress

Social media shapes the way many see the world, and it’s no different for teens searching for the perfect prom dress. It’s no surprise that this generation is more willing to push the boundaries.

Generation Z is more on-trend than ever. Gone are the days of white ball gowns. The prom dress has truly evolved to show the diversity of America today. Many teens are inspired by celebrity styles or a deep-seated desire to highlight their individuality.

Getting Pretty for Prom

Prom dresses range in price and style. They can be less than $100 or upwards of $1000. The designer determines the manufacturing of each dress, but most gowns can be found in department stores or specialty prom dress stores. Girls can often purchase their dresses directly off the rack. While the dress won’t be the only expense for prom night, it will be one of the most critical purchases any teenage girl will make.

Pajamas: An Eye-Opening Briefing

You spend one-third of your life, or approximately 25 years, wearing this outfit. Sure, the exact pieces of clothing might change throughout your life, but you know them all by the same name: your pajamas. Whether you prefer to snooze in a thick woolly nightgown, a lacy lingerie set, or a t-shirt and underwear, you may have never considered why it became so normal to slip on a whole new outfit for sleep. With one-third of your life spent asleep, it’s certainly worth finding out. 

Far-Out Origins

Before pajamas, long dresses called nightshirts were commonly worn to bed. British colonists are responsible for the introduction of pajamas to the Western world. Those who colonized the “Far East,” or places like China and India, brought home colorful, loose-fitting, comfortable shirts and pants called “pajamas.” The word “pajama” is derived from the Persian words “pay,” meaning leg, and “jama,” meaning garment. These garments were not worn in bed by the people who invented them. It was only upon the pajama’s introduction to England that British citizens began to regard them as lounge and sleepwear. 

American Introduction

It wasn’t until as recently as the 1920s that pajamas came to America. Yes, it’s possible that your grandma outdates their American debut. American men began to swap out their nightshirts for drawstring-tie pants and button-up tops. Not long after that, women traded their nightgowns for the ease and comfort of ankle-length pants and jacket tops. This was due in part to the hit Hollywood film It Happened One Night, in which female lead Claudette Colbert’s character donned a male pajama set borrowed from her male costar’s character. Silk, satin, and chiffon were popular materials for these garments. 

Soon enough, pajama fashions morphed. Between the 1940s and 1960s, women began to slip into “shorty” PJs, which were small, frilly rompers, and eventually “babydoll” PJs, which were very short dresses garnished with lace and other adornments. During the 1970s, unisex top-and-bottom combos came into fashion. 

From the Sheets to the Streets

Going out in your pajamas usually means you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Perhaps you’re running late, you’re not feeling well, or you just forgot to do your laundry. Whatever the case, it’s often a misguided decision, and you might end up getting a bit of side-eye. That said, a few notable individuals had the opposite takes on PJs in public. In the early 1900s, a designer named Paul Poiret came up with a silk pajama set that could be worn during the daytime. In the 1920s, the iconic Coco Chanel designed a pair intended for wear on the beach: a baggy, yet suggestive set that had people a bit scandalized. 

For a few decades during and after the course of World War Two, pajamas remained bedroom-bound. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that designers like Irene Galitzine and Halston re-popularized the daytime pajama trend. 

Today, unique sets of pajamas are totally acceptable public wear. It’s probably best to keep your three-week-unwashed sweatpants and Snoopy tee behind closed doors, but a fresh and stylish pair is a-OK. Take your cues from celebrities like Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, and Sarah Jessica Parker, who have all donned full pajama sets or partial pajama sets in public, on the red carpet, and on the runway. In June of 2018, Kate Moss was seen in a rose gold set paired with heels. Just a few months later, Gwendolyn Christie wore a purple, printed pair with strappy sandals. Study up and soon enough you’ll be ready for the runway without leaving your bed. 

You could also just toss on your favorite worn-out pair and sleep a little easier now that you know the history of your bedtime outfit. Sweet dreams!

Aprons: Practical, Decorative, and Everything in Between

Antique historical photographs from the US Navy and Army: Camp Blacksmith with aprons.

At its core, the apron is a garment rooted in protection. It is designed to provide a barrier between some kind of messy work and the more-valuable clothing beneath it. Today, we mostly associate the apron with cooking, and while it has certainly been used for that purpose, its versatility reaches far beyond the kitchen. 

A closer look at the apron provides a kind of historical look at human labor and its place both inside and outside the home. At each development in the apron, we see a different emphasis on what gets protected and the role of the products the labor creates—from the cobbler’s shoes to grandma’s apple pie. 

Early Aprons Protected Clothes from Tough Jobs

In their early days, aprons were nearly entirely reserved for men, and not just any men—the men who did the toughest, most demanding jobs. Aprons were donned by blacksmiths as they worked and fishmongers as they cleaned their daily catch. Other roles requiring aprons included stonemasons, barbers, tailors, gardeners, and cobblers. In these roles, aprons were designed to protect the more delicate clothing beneath them from some of the messiest work around.

These early aprons were often made out of tough material like leather or canvas. Often, aprons were tied around the waist and simply draped down over the legs, making them closely akin to a loincloth. Depending on the work, some of these aprons covered both the front and the back of the body to offer maximum protection for not only the clothing but also the person’s body. You’ll see a similarly-purposed apron every time you get x-rays. The technicians don heavy protective aprons to shield their body from frequent doses of radiation during the course of their job. 

The color of the aprons used during the Middle Ages could even demonstrate what job a man did. Barbers wore checkered aprons. Butchers wore blue stripes. Stonemasons frequently donned white aprons suitable for working around the white dust their jobs produced.  

From the Practical to the Symbolic

While the earliest aprons were typically donned by men, more delicate versions were adapted by women who were cooking in the home. They used them to protect their clothing from spills and stains. This practical use was particularly important for families without a lot of disposable income. Dresses were expensive, and laundry was time consuming. Most women in modest homes did not have the time or the money to deal with their dresses getting stained at every meal. These simple garments would often be made out of flour sacks or other common, easily-available materials. 

As the “roaring 20s” took hold, many women rejected associations with the drudgery of housework. At this point, the apron was often a symbol of status. Maids and hired help wore them while the “lady of the house” did not. This tiny piece of cloth became a symbol for who was expected to do the labor in a household. 

The Apron Has Philosophical Ups and Downs

Following the Great Depression, the 1940s and 1950s saw a rise of the apron as a desirable garment. American women embraced housework as their role and took on the image of “domestic goddess.” At this point, aprons became symbols of their duty to the home, and they give off messages of hospitality and goodwill. They became much more ornate, decorated with lace and patterns. 

The apron’s association with housekeeping and gendered labor made it a target for derision during the feminist uprising of the 1960s. This garment fell out of favor as it was associated with oppressive and limiting gender expectations. 

Once again, the negative association did not last. In today’s world, cooking at home is on the rise again. The popularity of cooking has been helped along by television shows like those featured on The Food Network, and environmental and economic concerns have many people turning to home cooking as a solution to global problems. Even those who end up ordering takeout more evenings than they’d like to admit often fill their homes with the symbols and trappings of dedicated home cooking including upright mixers, shiny pots and pans, and—yes—the ever-protective apron. 

Maxi Dresses: Timeless Versatility

Egyptian papyrus -Three Girls Holding A Lotus Flower. History of maxi dresses

From Ancient Egypt to Hollywood, the maxi dress hasn’t lost its appeal. This versatile style is suited to every situation. A version of the maxi dress can be found in virtually every part of the world. Maxi dresses can be found in a plethora of fabrics, patterns, and styles. Falling the length of the body, the maxi dress defies modesty constraints. No matter the country or religion, the maxi dress is a flexible option. The classically beautiful silhouette of the maxi dress highlights every body type. Appropriate from the office to the Met and everywhere in between. No matter the occasion, style, country, or religion, a maxi dress can be found to fit the bill.

International Heritage

The maxi dress has been all over the globe. The Theban tomb of Nakht in Egypt contains beautiful paintings. Heralding from the 18th dynasty, they depict Nakht’s lovely musicians wearing very modern-looking maxi dresses. The Egyptians wove exceedingly fine linen. The fabric of the maxi dress itself would have been almost transparent. Historical depictions of maxi dresses show them as being long and straight, with some pleating depending on the era, and with a slim, structured silhouette.

The Roman Empire put a different spin on the maxi dress. The form was more flexible. During the reign of emperor Justinian silk was made possible. The mulberry worms were smuggled into the empire and the fashion industry suddenly had a new medium to play with. Maxi dresses of silk were long, flowing affairs tied in the middle with a corded belt. Like those of Egypt, the maxi dresses in Roman history are shown constructed without sleeves. This style was likely influenced by the hot desert and Mediterranean climates common in those parts of the world.

In Ireland, a piece of clothing was uncovered in 1931 called the Moy Bog Gown. It is presumed to be a garment for a female and is fashioned in the style of a maxi dress. This style of long gown was common throughout the middle ages as well.

Flattering to All Body Types

The long line of the maxi dress has many advantages. It can hide our body type or flaunt it. Many women who dislike having shorter legs in proportion to their torso utilize the maxi dress. Its flowing line doesn’t break up the body at the hip. This line also gives the illusion of height. In addition to adding height, a maxi dress can show off your curves while elongating them to give a sleek, sexy silhouette.

Glamour on the Go, or Cozy Downtime

Today’s busy women are looking for a simple, elegant, and carefree garment. Maxi dresses eliminate the need to coordinate your outfit. Just grab the dress and go. You will look fabulously, effortlessly put together in an instant.

Maxi dresses are so versatile. The sexy backless dress of Hollywood’s red carpet is the perfect glamour dress. Curling up in woolen nightgown with a cup of cocoa and a book is perfect for a winter retreat.

Don’t forget your maxi dress when you’re heading to the beach. Maxi dresses are the perfect after swim cover-up. Beach styles are available in halter, backless, and sleeveless patterns. Naturally breathable, cool fabrics like linen, cotton, and silk allow you to look elegant and still keep your cool.

Have a hot date to the art gallery opening and can’t run home to change? No worries. Wear your sleek black maxi dress to the office. A fitted blazer covering your naked back takes this dress from sexy to smart. You’ll make the date and look great!

Maxi dresses are an essential part of a busy woman’s wardrobe. Look stylish in minutes. Travel with ease. Modern fabrics have eliminated the need for ironing. Maxi dresses will look perfect going straight from your suitcase to the invitation-only luncheon. No matter the occasion, season, or region, you can’t go wrong with a maxi dress.