by Ryan Wallace
From pre-biblical times to the runways of Paris, accessories have been a part of human fashion and culture for millennia. The help define an outfit, and they may be your favorite pieces, but for the most part they didn’t arise for fashion, but rather for functionality. They had a purpose that they may or may no longer serve.
There are about a handful of accessories that have lasted since the origin of modern man, but many that have been around for centuries. Jewelry, for instance, has been around since a time when man worshipped sun and moon, a pagan method of fashion if you will. Cuff links for the militants have been around for over 400 years dating back to the 1600’s, and, marvelous headpieces have been adorned by pharaohs, empresses and Grecian goddesses alike.
The handbag has been around for thousands of years, being used by both men and women, to carry seeds, coins and any other human necessities. They have been made of lace, leather, hides and even hemp. With the term “handbag” coming to existence in the 1800’s AD, it begs the question what did people do with purses until then? They were strapped to a hip, hidden in a girdle, or held as pomanders. And the rest is as they say: history. They have been seen across the globe in scripture, hieroglyphs and modern movies, but these aren’t the only accessories that have taken the world by storm.
Men’s accessories have become global too. Something as simple as a button has history in it as well. A little known fashion lesson comes all the way from Prussia, circa 1740. Ever wonder why blazers have buttons on the outside? We’ve come to love the style but before they were hidden eyesores, so why did they come out from hiding? The answer comes from a famous ruler, Frederick the Great. For those of you who dozed off in your history lessons, here’s the story: as ruler of Prussian, and therefore leader of the Prussian army, Frederick was apparently a fashionista that wanted his army in pristine fighting condition. But you know boys; they weren’t the tidiest bunch. So to discourage the soldiers from using their sleeves as napkins (covering them in blood, sweat, tears and food), Frederick has his seamstresses put the buttons on the outside. And the trend has come to stick!
Although each specific trend may have its origin in certain regions of the world, it seems that through cultural evolution humans have been able to spread the fashion and accessories all over the face of the Earth. There are slight variations in each style, as each culture puts its imprint on the fashion of the times, but the accessories stay strong as trends fade. And these accessories, aside from looking cute and fashionable, unite the world in fashion!