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The native peoples of North America are diverse in culture, language, and ecological adaptations to varied environments. This variation is expressed in their attire. The only major constant in their clothing prior to European contact was the use of the skins of animals—most notably the tanned skins of the variety of large North American mammals—buffalo or bison, antelope, mountain sheep, caribou, and others. Owing to its wide geographic distribution, deer was the most prevalent. Smaller animals such as mink, beaver, and rabbit were also used but mainly for decorative effects. Continue reading
The vast South American continent is a study in geographic extremes, including the Amazon Basin, the world's largest tropical rain forest; the Andes, the second-highest mountain range in the world; and the coastal deserts of Peru and northern Chile, which are among the driest areas in the world. The ecology of these regions (and such areas as the hot, humid Atlantic coast and cold, wet Patagonia) naturally influenced the dress of the aboriginal South Americans. Dress includes clothing, footwear, hairstyles and headdresses, jewelry, and other bodily adornment (for example, piercing, tattooing, and painting). Continue reading
The civilization of Ancient Egypt came into being in North Africa in the lands along the Nile River when two kingdoms united during a so-called Early Dynastic Period (c. 3200–2620 B.C.E.). Historians divide the history of Egypt into three major periods: Old Kingdom (c. 2620–2260 B.C.E.), the Middle Kingdom (c. 2134–1786 B.C.E.), and the New Kingdom (c.1575–1087 B.C.E.). Throughout this entire period Egyptian dress changed very little. Continue reading
This people, named after a legendary king Minos, thrived from about 2900 to 1150 B.C.E. on the island of Crete. By 2100 B.C.E. the Minoans extended their influence to the mainland Greek city-state called Mycenae. After the Minoans went into decline in the period around 1400 B.C.E., the Mycenaeans gained control over Crete and the Minoans. Continue reading
Greek sculpture and vase paintings provide numerous illustrations of Greek costume as do some wall paintings. Some even show individuals putting on or taking off clothing; therefore, scholars believe they understand what was worn and how it was constructed. Color of clothing, however, can be problematic. When first created and displayed most sculpture had been painted with colors. Those colors have been bleached away over time. Continue reading
A number of tribes occupied the Italian peninsula. By 800 B.C.E. one of these groups had occupied a fairly large area and had developed an advanced culture and economy. Their burial practices, which included tomb paintings showing daily life, provide good evidence for how they dressed. Continue reading
Romans gradually came to dominate not only the Italian peninsula, but a vast region including present-day western Europe and large parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Because much of the Mediterranean region had been under the domination of Greece, Greek influences permeated much of Roman life. Continue reading
AO DAI Vietnam's national dress, the ao dai (literally "long shirt"; pronounced "ow zai" in the north, "ow yai" in the south) consists of two elements: a long tunic with a close-fitting bodice, mandarin collar, raglan sleeves, and side slits that create front and back panels from the waist down; and wide-legged pants, often cut on the bias. While in the past both men and women wore ao dai, in the twenty-first century it is almost exclusively a women's garment. A popular uniform for civil servants, tour guides, hotel and restaurant staff, and high school students, the ao dai is also worn for weddings, religious rituals, and special occasions. Continue reading
Art nouveau design penetrated into all types of modern, luxury European decorative arts in the period from 1895 to 1905. Its undulating vegetal curves and graceful floral swirls were also a design gift to the Parisian couturiers and until about 1908 or 1909 art nouveau style was energetically appropriated for seasonal, high-fashion use. Continue reading
Following the demise of art nouveau as fashion inspiration, the appropriation of art deco design by Paris couturiers informed the next fashion look. This had two phases. The first ran from about 1910 to 1924 and was built around neoclassical/oriental/peasant styling. The second ran from 1924 to about 1930—a more minimalist style, with modernist design touches Continue reading