Category Archives: costume

The Fashion Olympics

It’s Winter Olympics time, and countries are racking up their metal count.  A great introduction to the participating countries’ flair and drive was the opening ceremony where hopeful athletes paraded into stadium in a variety of colorful, multi-textured, and definitive team uniforms.  Some dazzled with vibrant hues and reverberating prints, while others underwhelmed with plain, solemn neutrals.  Here are some highlights (and a few disappointments) from the athlete introductions.

Bermuda:  These athletes appear to have donned their sons’ private school uniforms, but kudos on incorporating the iconic “bermuda shorts.”


Canada: One of my personal favorites, the Canadians went for a red toggled, hooded felt coat, a la Padding Bear embarking on a journey.  It’s very wearable yet sporty when paired with the hat and gloves embellished with the bold “Canada.”


Germany: Another favorite with a sea of summery bright hues in a warm wintery toggled puffer.  Such a mash of colors and the red patterned pants could have been a tacky blemish in the ceremony, but the effervescence of the excited athletes made this a cheerful moment amongst some other more somber options.


Spain:  Here is another uniform inspired by the “boy’s private school” look, but the pop of gold of the women’s blazers adds a nice contrast to the otherwise bland band of black and maroon conservative outfits.


USA:  This conglomeration of red, white and blue stars and stripes is unmistakably “American!”  It is also obviously ugly.  That’s all.


Please note the above photos come from

Britain:  England’s outfits where sadly incredibly boring and somewhat militant-looking with conservative styling and solid navy and black.  I expected more from them.


France:  France, like Britain, used neutral colors on simple silhouettes but in a much classier, pleasing manner.  The men’s blazer cut and women’s wrap style of the thin puffer coats in a charcoal grey make them look tailored and sophisticated, and adding khakis and a flag-striped scarf, give an air of national pride and class.



Russia:  I’ve seen some posts bashing the Russian opening ceremony outfits, but I find them fun and upbeat.  The use of fur trim, tightly patterned trim, wide men’s lapels cross-over lapels, and of course the hats bring a proud, whimsical close to the host country’s opening ceremony.

Olympics: Opening Ceremony


The above photos from from

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A Stitch in Time: The Baroque Bodice

Think that the bare shoulder top is a modern concept from our society’s increasingly casual style of dress?  Maybe it really took off during the 80’s following that Flashdance over-sized sweatshirt look with the neck cut so wide it barely stays on as a shirt?  Well, travel back in fashion history to the 1600s when the Baroque woman bared all sorts of décolletage in daily dress.


This portrait entitled “Woman Playing a Viola de Gamba” from wikipaintings done by Gabriel Metsu in 1663 shows a young lady in a standard Baroque gown showing full shoulders, flat front, deep pointed bodice, gathers around side and back skirt and low, full sleeves.

In addition to the allure of exposed skin the off-the-shoulder bodice provided male counterparts, it restricted the woman’s movements.  A stiff corset of the same silhouette was worn under the bodice, and the band that wrapped around the shoulder at the neckline meant the wearer could not lift her arms much above waist-level.  In addition, the sleeves were set far back to it was also virtually impossible to bring the arms forward.  So in all the loveliness of an off-the-shoulder presentation, the female was bound in her natural mannerisms leaving her feeble and restricted in activity.  Even the simple task of eating meant leaning forward with a small, dainty movement of the wrist to carefully place delicate morsels of food into the mouth.

The image below is a replica of a corset popular in the 1600s, crafted by myself, although this uncomfortable device is wider in the waist than it would have been back in the day.  Imagine the bands above the armhole wrapping around your upper arms, the long front rendering a bend at the waist a certain challenge, and note that an authentic copy would take about 6″ off the wearer’s waistline.

Baroque Corset

And with the gown on top…

Baroque dress


Baroque dress back


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A stitch in time

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



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 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


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