The Fedora: Feeling Fine

While more commonly worn by men today, the fedora was initially worn by a woman.

History of the Fedora

The first use of the fedora (a wide, soft-brimmed hat) dates back to the late 1800s.  In the play Fédora, Sarah Bernhardt played a Russian princess named Fédora Romanoff, who wore a soft-brimmed hat with a center crease. Since Bernhardt was influential in the women’s movement, the hat was eventually adopted as a symbol of female resistance and a rejection of stereotypical gender roles.

The hat later became popular with men after it was spotted on Edward, Prince of Wales, in the 1920s. Its popularity continued and soon, the British and Americans created different versions of the hat. While the Americans favored a wider brim, the British kept to a smaller brim size.

What Defines a Fedora?

The fedora has a very distinctive look, with a soft brim and creased center. The brim is normally as wide as 2.5 inches and the edge can be machine-hemmed or left as is. Generally, the hat is made of wool, cashmere, rabbit, or beaver felt.  It is also not uncommon to see hats fashioned from straw, cotton, hemp, linen, or leather.

The traditional colors of the fedora are earth tones, like black, brown, or gray.  After World War II, the palette grew to include khaki, blue, and green. 

A number of famous hat manufacturers still produce fedoras today, including Bailey, Borsalino, and Stetson.

Fedora in Pop Culture

The fedora has been associated with different groups throughout the 20th and 21st centuries:

  • The Early 1900s — The fedora was strongly associated with gangsters and Prohibition.
  • Late 1900s — Indiana Jones re-popularized the fedora by sharing a notable back story on how he received his iconic hat.
  • The Early 2000s — The fedora became affiliated with hipster culture.

Regardless of the era, the fedora is sure to add a touch of style to any outfit.

Motorbike Wear: From Fashion to Safety

Motorcycle fashion wasn’t always inspired by James Dean or Marlon Brando. However, their iconic looks come to mind when people think of motorbike wear. So, does every motorbike rider own a black leather jacket or Harley Davidson gloves? Regardless, motorbike fashion has certainly evolved over the years.

Early Motorbike Fashion

When motorcycles first became popular in the early 1900s, men were still socially required to look presentable, even while riding a motorbike. This meant that the tweed suit was the go-to outfit of choice. Men accessorized with a flat cap to keep their hair neat and wore full-length riding boots. 

A Time of Transition

As motorcycles became faster and more advanced, motorbike wear became more sophisticated in nature. Soon, gear with new protective attributes was created, such as equestrian-inspired gauntlet gloves that helped protect the skin. Motorcycle police and military personnel commonly wore these. 

After Harley Davidson was founded in 1903, tight-fitted competition sweaters made of bright wool and embroidered with the Harley brand name came onto the scene. By 1910, riding trousers, leather skull caps, and aircraft-spec goggles were added to keep riders further protected. The WWI era premiered the popularity of thick horsehide overcoats. However, in 1928, the first leather jacket was designed by Irving Schott of New York City, which he named Perfecto after his favorite cigar. 

Time to Take Safety Seriously

The year 1935 brought about some serious changes to motorbike gear. After Lawrence of Arabia (T.E. Lawrence) died in a motorcycle accident, the question of head protection arose. At the time, British WW2 dispatch riders were required to wear cork or tin crash helmets.

The debate about head protection led to the first full-face, cork-lined helmets in the 1960s. These eventually morphed into the advanced helmets you see today.

Motorbike Fashion Then and Now

The nostalgic ‘Moto’ jacket will always be part and parcel of motorcycle fashion. In fact, jeans, boots, and the black leather jacket will always be classic motorbike wear. That said, modern riders also don face masks, high-tech uniforms, and fluorescent-colored clothing today. In fact, savvy riders focus not only on looking stylish but also on staying safe on the road.

Meet The Beret: Versatile and Revolutionary

The beret may have a reputation for being the favorite headgear of French mimes and Cuban revolutionaries. However, this versatile hat has a more colorful history than you may realize. Made of felt fabric produced from shrinking wool fibers, the beret has been the common hat of choice for social revolutionaries for thousands of years.

The Humble Origins of the Beret

The oldest predecessors of today’s beret were discovered in Bronze Age tombs in Denmark and Italy. Archaeological records, sculptures, and paintings show that variations of the floppy wool hat were commonly worn across Western Europe through the Middle Ages. Because wool was in steady supply and felt was easy to produce, the beret was a wardrobe staple among the common populace.

Artists like Johannes Vermeer depicted peasant life on canvas during the Renaissance. Unsurprisingly, the beret figured largely in many of his works. The beret’s disc shape and waterproof nature made it attractive as both warm and cool weather headgear. In fact, the hat was favored among the peasantry for working outside in all weather conditions. 

Wartime Gear and French Fashion

Berets of particular colors began to carry political and militaristic significance during the 1880s, with red berets appearing in Spain and blue berets sported by France’s elite Chasseurs Alpins. During WWI, British forces donned black berets, and in the 1950s, the famous Green Berets emerged as part of the American Special Forces.

While the beret became part of the uniform for militaries across the globe, others viewed the hat as a highly fashionable accessory. The chic French beret was adopted by men and women alike in North America and Europe beginning in the 1920s. Some of the most famous beret-wearers of this period included Ernest Hemingway, Edith Piaf, and Jean Harlow.  

A Revolutionary Staple of the Modern Era

When the cultural and political upheaval of the 1960s emerged, the beret was there to make a bold statement. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro both sported black berets during the Cuban Revolution. In the 1970s, the Black Panthers and other groups adopted the beret to enhance their tough, militaristic social reputations.

Today’s beret wearers often view the cap as a throwback to the revolutionaries of yesteryear. Some sport the beret in reference to artists like Pablo Picasso or starlets like Marlene Dietrich. Meanwhile, Beyoncé wore the beret as a homage to the Black Panthers at the 2016 Super Bowl 50 halftime show.

Flatter than a cloche and more weather-ready than a straw fedora, the humble beret has proved one thing in its storied history: it is as rugged as it is resilient. In short, the beret is here to stay!

The Kurta: Classic Style for Every Occasion

Man wearing kurta drinking coffee

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

woman wearing sports wear

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.

Back to Uptown Funk and Bruno singing the chorus, “If you’re sexy then flaunt it.” Celebs and fans today are not only wearing leggings when going to the gym, but for taking their kids to the park, running errands, and beyond. 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

couple wearing jackets

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

Mini Skirt

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! 

Armor: A Heroic History

Ancient Greek armor

Between Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones, America and the rest of the world seems to have a continued love affair with the Middle Ages. King Arthur, his court, and that time in history have long been an allure in literature, movies, and television. It’s something fans never seem to tire of. Such is the intrigue that we flock to Renaissance Faires every year, and not only do we dress the part when we go, but we add it to our fashion in daily wear.

Armor in History

History reveals armor dating back to the Celtic period, before Christ, as well as ancient Rome during the same time. Armor and the maille, or mail, that went with it was a necessity of the 12th century. Knights went to battle for their kings with swords, and other pointed and shear-edged weapons. To protect their vital organs, the armor was worn surrounding the torso. Mesh textiles, or mail, was worn as a shirt and covering other places which armored metal didn’t cover.

By the 13th century different individual armor designers were required to create each mail, plates (or armored suits) and textiles such as leggings, although armor was beginning to extend down to cover the legs, as well. More fashionable armor was also designed for knights and their horses involved in jousting tournaments.

Ladies and dames wore little armor although chastity belts were something being dictated by noble-class fathers to protect their young daughters, and husbands to limit their sexual activity. Women had no say in the matter and the keys were managed by their men.

Of course, it wasn’t just European soldiers who were protected in armor. The men of the Rashidun army in the Middle East of the 7th century wore their own style of armor, mostly made of mail mesh. Chinese soldiers from the late BC era wore lamellar armor, made of iron, leather, and bronze squares laced together.

Armor was cumbersome, not to mention heavy. Full armored suits weighed up to 110 pounds, just the body plate weighed between 33 – 55 pounds. A modern-day study of men posing as knights in full garb used 2.1 to 2.3 more energy walking around than without the protection.

Armor was also expensive. Leaders began increasing the numbers in their armies, and decreasing their protection in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. For many, only helmets and, perhaps, some mail, remained.

Armor as Fashion Rather Than a Wartime Necessity

“Armor was a development of dress,” wrote Stephen V. Granscay, former curator of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Armor and costume were always worn together, and it was inevitable that their forms and ornamentation should influence each other.”

And certainly, men higher in the ranks had more style to their armor, than the rank-and-file soldier.

Granscay further pointed out that it was men during these early times who were the fashion trendsetters, not women.

The cuirass bodice worn by women in the late 19th century had a look of armor. The definition of cuirass is a piece of armor made up of one or multiple pieces to cover the torso. Rather than for protection from weapons, the look as a bodice was to show off a woman’s figure as dictated by a corset.

As written in Nineteenth-Century Fashion by Penelope Byrde, “Its tight fit was achieved by cutting it with five seams at the back, from the top of the shoulder and slanting towards the waist, while the darts in front were short and close together.”

Today’s Armor Fashion

Heavy Metal bands and Harley Davidson riders in the ’60s and ’70s are partly responsible for modern-day armor popularity. At the least, they reintroduced leather and metal into fashion. And while the leather jacket wasn’t particularly reminiscent of armor, the thick leather, silver-studded bracelets and chokers, certainly were.

Today, armor is a fashion statement mostly worn by women. In the simplest of terms, the choker, which makes a resurgence every few decades, is back, including the human-dog collar, which leans toward dark Gothic and Punk. And, that cuirass bodice has returned, too.

In Donna Dickens Buzzfeed article, she shares what she feels are 12 “compelling reasons” for the comeback of armor fashion. Number 4 reads, “Because we are queens and should dress accordingly.” And Number 12, “Basically, faux armor can be used to accessorize anything and needs to become a staple much like black slacks and a white button-down shirt.”

Celebs in Armor and Armor-Fashion Designers

Okay, we know that J-Lo looks magnificent in anything she wears. So, when she and five other female celebs took to this year’s Red Carpet at the Academy Awards in armor-inspired gowns, we took notice. Lisa Bonnet, Brie Larson, Molly Sims, Amy Adams, and Emma Stone each nailed it in their own unique dress. J-Lo’s mirrored gown was designed by Tom Ford. It took Louis Viton 712 hours to make Stone’s burgundy gown layered with pearls, sequins, and beads. Brie Larson’s high neck, silver mesh halter gown was created by the designers at Céline Vipiana.

But, perhaps the most recent warrior-like look prize winner is Zendaya, who last year appeared on the Met Gala Red Carpet, “wearing a suit of armor and literally dripping in silver chains.” The American model and actress, now 22, dabbles in fashion design herself. But, her show-stopping silver armor gown was designed by Law Roach to channel the “bad-ass” Joan-of-Arch.

And while Gareth Pugh takes it a bit further on the runway than translates to ordinary people fashion, some armor-look designers and stores are more in step with the affordability needed by the everyday women for any day and special occasions. Look for Lorica, Tory Burch, the Shield Maiden collection by Armstreet, and Dark Knight Armoury to name a few.

While fashion armor will likely continue to come in and go out of style, it is sure to remain, at least on the fringe, for decades if not centuries to come. As long as Medieval Times remains popular, and the film industry continues to portray the fantasy works of JRR Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Pat Rothfuss, and JK Rowling, as well as forward thinkers such as George Lucas and Eugene Roddenberry, the public will demand their costume designers’ work to translate into everyday fashion.