This is the introduction to a series of posts called “A Stitch in Time” that will highlight a garment or style of dress from a particular historic time period. With an undergraduate degree in Art History and a second degree in Fashion Studies, I’ve always had a fascination with costume history. The evolution of what people of all social classes wore for daily chores, town outtings, parties and events follow the course of economic, technological and social progress. Certain historic styles, fabrics and details also influence the fashion we wear today. Some high-end designers, such as Chanel shown below, display obvious historic influence while others, like Banana Republic, incorporate more subtle historic details and shapes into their modern ready-to-wear styles.
Chanel Resort 2013 (from Style.com):
As you can see, these pieces take the obvious design markers of wide hips, ruffles down the chest and elbow-length ruffled cuffs from the rococo gown. Below is an iconic 18th century gown from the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Banana Republic’s Fall 2o12 collection (from Style.com) includes women’s capelets, which look wonderfully modern when paired with this trendy ready-to-wear outfit.
When women still wore elaborate gowns with voluminous sleeves and ruffle or lace embellished necklines, a tailored jacket would be impossible to fit over this outfit. An easy and compatible outdoor accessory is the cape, which kept the wearer warm and completed the outfit. Below is a variety of Victorian-era capelets (from sewingcentral.com).