Bow Tie: Function and Style Over the Ages

Stylish dressers often rely on the iconic bow tie to complete their look.

However, did you know that the bow time actually came from humble beginnings? In fact, it was initially worn among Croatian mercenaries in the 17th century. 

From Humble Beginnings to Modern Fashion Accessory

During the Thirty Years’ War, Croatian mercenaries tied scarves around their necks to keep the opening of their shirts closed.  This purely functional habit was soon adopted by the upper classes in France, who thought it very stylish to wear scarves in such fashion.  The article of clothing was called a cravat, which literally means “Croat” in French.  The cravat later evolved into what many know as the modern bow tie. 

Formal and Fixed Versus Casual and Adjustable

A traditional bow tie is generally of a fixed nature and between 14 and 19 inches in length.  It is most appropriate for formal attire.

Adjustable bow ties are a later invention. They also cost less to produce and are suitable for everyone.  A wing-collar, however, may expose the buckle or clasp of an adjustable bow tie.  So, an adjustable bow tie is better suited to conventional collared shirts that can hide the buckle or clasp.

For complete ease of use, clip-on bow ties are also available.

Bow Ties Here and Now

Historically, bow ties were associated with stuffy professions and the political class.  There is certainly no shortage of images showing bow ties on the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. 

However, over the last several years, bow ties have gone through a makeover.  They can now be found in a variety of patterns, styles, and colors — and they are no longer limited to being part of formal attire.  Don’t be surprised if you see someone sporting a bow tie with a pair of jeans or even an untied version of a bow tie around his neck. Today, it’s not surprising to see female celebrities such as Kim Kardashian sporting a bow tie, as well.

The Poncho

The poncho has a rich and regal heritage in South American culture. It was worn in intricately decorative form by the ancient Peruvians and the Mapuche people. According to conventional belief, the poncho came to Mexico and the rest of the Western world from trade routes along the Andes mountain range.

Poncho Particulars

A poncho is a large piece of rectangular-shaped fabric with a slit in the center for the wearer’s head to fit through. The entire garment hangs loosely over the shoulders like a blanket. Ponchos don’t have sleeves or side seams, and the edges are often decorated with fringe. Generally, it is worn in the cooler seasons as a means of staying warm and dry.

Fashion and Function

Modern versions of the poncho are made from a variety of fabrics. Some are made from woven alpaca or wool fabrics, such as the classic Mexican poncho, while others are made of more waterproof material for rainy days. The American military has utilized ponchos to keep soldiers warm and dry ever since the Civil War.

The women’s fashion industry has taken advantage of the poncho’s versatility to create trendy fall and winter outfits. That said, the fashionable poncho is certainly not limited to female attire!

Clint Eastwood has rocked a poncho on several occasions in his popular westerns. George W. Bush even wore a traditional Peruvian poncho to the APEC summit in Lima. Meanwhile, many celebrities such as Jimi Hendrix and Ringo Starr have been spotted wearing the comfortable and stylish garment.

Anyone Can Wear the Poncho

You can wear the poncho, no matter your shape, height, or weight. The loose hanging fabric is flattering on nearly every type of form. For a more fitted look, be sure to wear a belt. Today, the poncho is still a choice garment guaranteed to keep you warm and stylish!

Loungewear: Love It or Leave It, This Trend Is Here to Stay

After a long workday, we appreciate changing into more comfortable clothing when we get home.

We call this type of clothing loungewear. That said, loungewear has come a long way from the usual pajama styles of yesteryear. Today, this popular item of clothing can be seen at grocery stores, school events, and even fashion shows. 

An Unexpected History

Loungewear originated from the quintessential pajamas, which has a history of its own. People have been wearing pajamas for centuries. However, the standard two-piece pajamas we know of today started as men’s attire.

Loungewear made its way into a woman’s wardrobe in the late 1920s. It was popularized by the 1934 romantic comedy It Happened One Night. In the movie, the main character wore her male counterpart’s pajamas.

Ever since then, women have been adding signature touches to masculine sleepwear. Pajamas soon featured pockets, which were used to store valuables during WW2. So, pajamas, which were once worn for comfort and warmth have evolved into something unexpected – loungewear.

Early Influences

Did you know that famous celebrities made it fashionable to sport loungewear in public places? Coco Chanel made beach pajamas famous in the early 1920s, while several actresses wore their high-end pajamas in photoshoots. Many 20th-century designers have also created fashionable evening wear pajamas.

Today’s Fashion Statement

Today, fashion legends like Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren design and market luxurious loungewear. The rise in popularity of loungewear can also be attributed to Instagram celebrities like Miley Cyrus sporting pajama-like loungewear.

Loungewear has even made its way into the boardroom. Mark Zuckerberg is famous for wearing his hoodie loungewear to work.

What Constitutes Loungewear Today

So what exactly is loungewear, aside from being a type of glorified pajamas? Simply put, loungewear is anything that’s comfy. Here are a few examples of loungewear as we know it today:

  • tracksuits
  • onesies
  • hoodies
  • oversized shirts
  • leggings
  • athletic wear
  • pajamas

The Versatility of Loungewear

The great thing about loungewear is that there aren’t any rules for how you should look. You can wear it anytime and anywhere. Loungewear has become acceptable attire at the grocery store and even at work. They are popular among anyone who works from home. There’s also an added benefit to loungewear: you can sleep in the clothes you wore during the day, saving you time and hassle (not to mention extra laundry).

The Everlasting Espadrille

Talk about a style that has withstood the test of time! Espadrille shoes have literally been worn for thousands of years and continue to be a popular choice of footwear for many.

Both high society celebrities and the average consumer appreciate the versatility of espadrilles. Below, we take a look at their fascinating history and how much they have evolved through the ages!

What Are Espadrilles?

The characteristic that sets the espadrille apart from other shoes is the plant-based braided sole that gives the shoe its classic appearance. The sole is traditionally made from esparto grass, a plant native to Spain and northern Africa.

The strands of the grass are dried, braided, and sewn in tight layers to create an attractive, lightweight, yet durable sole. A fabric upper is then attached to the sole. Individual designers may also add tying bands, buckles, and other decorative elements.

Then And Now

Espadrilles trace their origins back to France and Spain in the 13th century. Always practical, they were worn by royalty, religious leaders, soldiers, farmers, and dancers. The light materials used in their construction made them suitable for the warm climate of the Pyrenees.

Eventually, the shoes were manufactured and sold in larger French towns. From there, they spread across the globe through an intricate network of trade routes. Espadrilles became very popular in America during the 1940s. Many Hollywood celebrities and famous artists like Salvador Dali wore them with pride.

Today, the espadrille has been modernized to include an additional layer of rubber under the sole and adapted to fit various styles with higher heels. As always, they are a favorite summer choice for every branch of society, including royalty, civilians, and celebrities!

Join in the Fun of Wearing Espadrilles!

Ready to get a pair of these fascinating shoes? They come in styles to fit every budget, lifestyle, and occasion. Today, many people enjoy wearing either flat or wedge styles for both casual and formal events.

The Kurta: Classic Style for Every Occasion

A kurta is an ancient collarless shirt cut to knee length or below with straight, uncuffed sleeves and side slits at the bottom hem.

A version of the kurta/kurti, called kamiz is still extremely popular in Pakistan and India. Many modern Western clothing styles are based off this comfortable pattern such as tunics, t-shirts, and midi and maxi dresses.

Several Latin based languages carry versions of kamiz such as the French “chemise”, and Spanish “camisa”. Kurta is a word originating from the Persian language meaning “collarless shirt” and describes the male garment, with kurti describing the female equivalent. This timeless, classic style is perfect for all occasions.

A Vibrant History

Various versions of kurtas have been in fashion since ancient times. In many parts of South and Central Asia, traditional clothing was made from full lengths of woven cloth. Garments were fashioned through different draping, tying, and wrapping techniques. Cut and sewn garments came into fashion later. While in many parts of the world wrapped fashion is still preferred, the cut and sewn kurta has achieved great prominence. This versatile garment has been particularly popular in the regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal, and other countries in South and Central Asia. According to Roshen Alkazi, the author of “Ancient Indian Costume” which was published in 2003, the kurta originated from the “simple Central Asian nomadic costume” of the Kushan and Turk Mongol peoples. In the 12th century, this style of clothing (which at the time was exclusively male) came into prominence in Northern India, Pakistan and other areas of South Asia following the Muslim conquests of those regions.

Wearing the Kurta

Today both men and women enjoy wearing this comfortable garment. The kurta is part of the modern national dress of Pakistan. Northern India and Pakistan are the regions of the world in which the traditional kurta maintains the most prevalence in the 21st century, however different spins on the style can be found in every corner of the globe. In both Pakistan and India the outfit combination of Shalwar with Kamiz is so often paired together that it can be described as one entity, Shalwar kameez in Pakistan, or Salwar kameez in India. 

Traditionally the kurta is constructed without a collar, but modern styles may incorporate a collar in the mandarin style. The neck and sides of a traditional kurta are slit to provide ease of wearing. The side slits allow greater ease of movement. The v-shaped slit at the neck enlarges the garment opening for the head. This slit may simply be hemmed and closed with buttons, or the insertion of a placket may be used. Beautiful embroidery, called chikan, is popularly used to adorn the sides of the neck opening and to decorate the kurta at the shoulder seams. The sleeves of kurtas are traditionally straight. They differ in this style of sleeve from Western authentic dress, which is generally cuffed and tapered toward the wearer’s wrist.

Timeless Popularity

The kurta is a global classic. Stylish versions of the traditional kurta are found everywhere in the world and on the internet. A new trend shaping the modern kurta is that of Indo-western attire. This trend seeks to merge the traditional styles of East and West. Offering patterns in geometric, floral, and striped designs, this modern kurta is generally constructed with untraditional, cuffed sleeves. Traditionally kurtas have no class distinction. They are comfortably worn by people of all walks of life. Depending on the fabric and extent of embroidery and embellishment, kurtas seamlessly blend from the workplace to a wedding. This comfortable, versatile garment is available in fabrics ranging from beautiful, formal silk, to warm, durable wool or cotton. No matter the time, season, or region, make the kurta your go-to garment.

Sports Wear: From Functional to Fashionable

Centuries ago sportswear referred to clothing worn while playing sports.

For the men and women of yesteryear, the term referred to clothing worn while hunting fox, or for a game of tennis. Within the past half-century, it meant you were out for a run, or on the back of a surfboard.

Today, you don’t have to be on the back of a horse, on the court in Wimbledon, riding the waves, or at the gym to wear sportswear. It’s often known as America’s clothing, but it is now commonplace around the world. Also referred to as mix and match, or fashion sportswear, for men this may entail slacks and a sports jacket or cardigan, or shorts and a golf shirt. For ladies, sportswear can be of similar attire only add in skirts, yoga pants, leggings, and more.

From the Hunt to the Office

Back-in-the-day, when gentlemen and ladies went on a hunt, they wore britches, suspenders, a plaid shirt, cufflinks, a silk tie, a hunt coat or blazer, and shooting gloves. Today the British fox hunt tradition is banned, although people can and do still go out for a horseback ride in a variety of the clothing not only in the UK but in the US as well. Important to the fashion world, however, is the style of clothing that emerged from Wellington boots to waistcoats.

The boot trend for ladies really took off in the ’60s and ’70s from knee-highs to thigh-highs. It was Nancy Sinatra who first sang “These boots are made for walking,” in 1966. Loretta Lynn sang her own spin on the song the same year.

Of course, Lynn and the American cowboy before her wore a different version of the boot. The cowboy boot is still one fashion option today, and it’s not only Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, RaeLynn, or Taylor Swift who have paired their boots with skinny jeans, short frilly skirts, and short shorts.

Who Made Leisure Suits Cool?

The leisure, lounge, or tracksuit became popular in the 1970s. Tracksuits, of course, had been worn by track and field athletes while waiting for their event, warming up, or cooling down. When made of polyester or velour, wearing the leisure or tracksuit off the track and outside of the home is often credited to Bruce Lee. Lee, who was known for his martial arts in film, is also fondly remembered for wearing his yellow jumpsuit for leisure, onscreen and off.

Soon, people began taking their daily walks in leisure suits. Some boldly wore them for a trip to the market and beyond. While their styles have changed through the decades, leisure suits and sweats, have become the easy, go-to clothing to throw on for almost any casual situation.

Taken Off the Tennis Court

Obviously, you need to be able to move freely to play tennis. For ladies a century ago, the garb included loose flowing skirt bottoms and ballooned sleeves. Through the decades their dress became even more relaxed, allowing women to further develop their athleticism. Stockings were done away with, the skirts got shorter, and blouses lost their sleeves.

Dress became more playful and attractive for ladies fashion, on and off the court. For men too, wearing sharp-looking fitted shorts with polos similar, although not as loud, as worn for taking in 18 holes.

Perhaps the most trendsetting fashions from the courts and track, however, are tennis shoes which have evolved to include athletic shoes encompassing running, basketball, and other styles. It is important to remember that tennis shoes, aka sneakers, for fashion are far different than athletic shoes for sports. But, big-name brands such as Nike, Reebok, New Balance, and Vans haven’t hesitated to invest in designing their own fashion tennis shoe right alongside their various sports shoes. These fashion sneakers can be, and are, partnered with most any clothing styles, today.

Put on Your ‘Chucks’

In Uptown Funk, Bruno Mars sang, “Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent.” We agree with this fashion statement.

Chucks, aka Converse basketball-style shoes, have the look of high-top basketball shoes. The name stems from basketball player Charles “Chuck” Taylor joining the Converse All-Stars, sponsored by the Converse Rubber Shoe Company back in the 1920s.

Yves St. Laurent was one of the most famous designers in the 20th century. As a teen, he began working with Christian Dior following attending fashion design school in Paris. In the 1960s he started his own line. Runway models began showing off St. Laurent blazers, smoking jackets, and pea coats for women. Later the St. Laurent line grew to include men’s clothing, as well.

Today, one can pair St. Laurent style with Chucks for a very fashionable style. We’re glad Bruno took notice.

Other designers who contributed much to America’s sportswear look include Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene. These two took it even further by also translating mix and match pieces into attractive eveningwear.

Stretch Pants to Leggings

In the ’50s women began wearing pants a lot more often. Made from more stretchy fabric, pants became tighter fitting and with shorter legs, hitting mid-calf and worn with heels. Enter the Audrey Hepburn look, which was followed by Debbie Reynolds’ onscreen and off-screen attire in the ’60s.

As pedal pushers and capris evolved, soon came leggings developed from fashion dating back to 14th-century Scottish men. Like long socks, leggings were worn with a Cotehardie, the hip-length dress with long sleeves, during Renaissance times. At this much later time though, toward the late 20th century, leggings were no longer in separate pieces of a pair, but rather made similar to a thicker pair of tights, and were worn by women.

J-Lo, Rihanna, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Mila Kunis, Kaley Cuoco, and Alessandra Ambrosio are just a few of the celebs who have been photographed in their favorite leggings while modeling and in their daily lives.

Today’s sportswear allows for flexibility. One blouse or sweater can be paired with many different skirts, leggings, or pants. Similarly, your favorite pair of pants can be worn with a variety of different blouses, shirts, and tops. A woman, or man, therefore, is offered a lot more diversity in their wardrobe. Each article of clothing can go a lot further. You can go to work with one look, and through a simple change of blouse or shirt, be ready for an evening out on the town.

The Jacket: From Necessity To Fashion

From warmth to style, the jacket is still an important part of both women and men’s fashion.

Mainly worn with a suit, a jacket can be used to compliment many styles. In fact, many men wanting to dress fashionable, wear a jacket with or without the suit.

As a part of a suit, the jacket is very important attire. The jacket is made with several materials and has evolved into several style types. In fact, it’s one of the ubiquitous pieces of clothing in fashion. 

Eddie Bauer can be accredited with designing the first recorded jacket in 1936 which was called the Skyliner. After he nearly lost his life from hypothermia on a fishing trip mid-winter, Bauer created the puffer jacket from down feathers within quilted fabric. He considered his jacket creation a personal necessity in wake of the staggering temperatures. 

Early History Of The Jacket 

The jacket originated from the early Renaissance and Middle Ages as a “jerkin.” Worn by working-class men, it was a more fitted version of the short tunic. By the early 18th century, the jacket was commonly worn by people working in agriculture and servants in urban cultures. As an article of clothing worn mid-stomach with sleeves, it didn’t take long for it to become a staple in fashion. 

1830s to 20th Century 

During the 1830s, jackets were made with a more fitted look and more commonly single-breasted as lounge jackets. The single-breasted jacket was preferred over more loose fitting editions from previous centuries. In fact, single-breasted jackets were crafted with darts underneath the arms and small reveres. Jackets with wasted pockets were a must have for middle-class men. The “reefer” jacket made an appearance in 1862 and included a double-breasted look. For country sporting activities, the single-breasted Norfolk jacket, buttoned high to the neck, became a fashion statement. 

By the end of the 19th century, the lounge jacket was the most popular type. However, one with silk lapels in the front was popularly worn as the dinner jacket. Consequently, this became a part of the formal tuxedo jacket. 

By the 20th century, most of the styles from the 19th century were still being worn. Sports jacket were introduced and worn with flannels, the Norfolk continued to be a sporting favorite, and a popular dinner jacket. When people hear the term “black tie” a jacket still comes to mind as a go-to ensemble. 

The jacket has always been popular in England with many styles over the centuries. However, the most notable design came from John Barbour which included an English luxury brand with rubber and an impenetrable barrier making the finishing cloth 100% waterproof. In fact, they were responsible for popularizing jackets that were short in the front and long in the back during early century justice. 

How The Jacket Is Worn Today 

Today, both men and women wear jackets and it’s no longer considered just formal wear. Many women and women wear jackets and jeans as casual attire. There are many jacket styles that are popular including: 

  • sports jackets
  • Harrington’s
  • leather jackets 
  • blazers
  • Anoraks 
  • bomber jackets 
  • biker jackets
  • puffer jacket 

In fact, jackets are made from many materials in retrospect of early cotton or silk including wool, tweed, hemp, nylon, and suede. 

Many celebrities have made jackets popular including the Olsen twins and Kate Moss. The jacket continues to evolve in America and among the British culture. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see women today wearing jacket with skirts and dresses. The jacket remains a part of formal and semi-informal fashion. 

As jackets continue to be a part of fashion, it’s interesting to see how the style continues to grow. 

Mini Skirts: The Bold And Flirtatious

It’s been said that the length of the skirt correlates to the mood and spirit of its time. Since the 1960s, the mini skirt has persisted as a symbol of liveliness and flirtatiousness. It’s a bold, adventurous, and attractive garment that can contribute to a distinct fashion statement. 

Birth Of The Miniskirt

The true creator of the mini skirt is unknown and debated to this day. However, it’s widely understood that the mini skirt is a British invention. In 1960s London, a clothing designer named Mary Quant created the first miniskirts. She offered them on-demand at her own antique bazaar.

By the end of the decade, mini skirts were being mass-produced and sold around the world. As new ideas came into being and cultures evolved, the miniskirt made its way to the closets of young women across both sides of the Atlantic.

Wearing Your Miniskirt

The mini skirt is perfect for a night out with friends, a hot date, or any event that calls for something fun and seductive. Take note of the fact that you’ll be showing off quite a bit of your legs. A good pair of leggings, stockings, or tights that complement your skirt can make a huge impact on your overall appearance.

Of course, you can always opt for bare skin, if that’s your preference. The most important goal is to feel confident in your look.

Bringing An Outfit Together

Forging a new look takes time, patience, and attention to detail. However, when you finally find an outfit that comes together and increases your confidence level, you’ll remember the feeling. Miniskirts can add a flirty nature to any style. They match well with tank tops, elegant blouses, and even light spring or fall jackets. Be sure to keep an open mind and explore new possibilities with a fearless positivity!