Ornamentation in Clothing, Past and Present

Topics: Fashion, Trousers, Jewellery Pages: 7 (2748 words) Published: April 20, 2006
Evolution of "Bling" and Where We are Today

"Bling bling Everytime I come around yo city Bling bling, Pinky ring worth about fifty, Bling bling, Everytime I buy a new ride Bling bling, Lorenzos on Yokahama tires, Bling bling." Sounds ridiculously silly but isn't. "Bling" has been around a lot longer than the B.G. Bling dates back to prehistoric times. Websters Oxford English Dictionary defines Bling as "jewelry often gaudy or ostentatious," its etymology coming from "the sound it makes". "It is a hip-hop slang term referring to specifically very expensive jewelry and other accoutrements, and also an entire lifestyle built around excess spending and ostentation." Bling was more important for the ancient man than it is for any modern age celebrity. To say that it represented status is an understatement. For ancient man clothing was not only essential protection from the elements, it was a symbol of power. A prehistoric woman seen wearing a beaded bag was an object of envy. Not because of the beautiful colors and intricate patterns, but because it meant she wasn't hungry. If she had the time to sit around and hand bead a piece of cloth it meant that she wasn't using that time to look for food. It meant she had the luxury of a full stomach and could think about something else; that's wealth in prehistoric times. The more intricate the beading, meant the more time she had free and wasn't hunting-she had time to think and be creative. Her beaded bag simply stated without the use of words, how wealthy she was and her standing in society. Clothing and accessories, such as jewelry, has always represented a person's whole identity. Hundreds of years later, in the court of Louis the 14th, the same exact thing was going on. Civilization has created many languages, yet people still chose symbols rather than words to present their wealth and power. During the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, French fashion took over the leading role in Europe. This was caused by France having developed into the main political and cultural power, thus turning French fashion into an equally "absolutistic" regime. During the period from 1660 onwards, fashion in France, according to the absolutistic ideal, became rigid, ordered and strict in its do's and don'ts of etiquette.What a courtier wore to the ball wasn't a whim of mood: it was a carefully calculated look. This look stated exactly who he was and how wealthy he was. The man's handbook for dress code stated that a man must think about what he wears and make sure it coincides with what he wants to say about himself. "Men wore wigs, vests, breeches, and coats; women wore two dresses over a corset and a hooped or padded skirt. The extravagance of a noble man or woman's clothing was intended to show the public how much social standing that person had. In fact, during the reign of Louis XIII, a law was passed stating that only the nobility could wear precious stones and gold." One vest contained over 250 yards of ribbon and was heavily embroidered. Women wore hoop skirts which were considered symbols of wealth. A woman who did not wear a hoop was not invited to social functions. At times the hoop was as wide as three people, making it difficult for women to pass each other in doorways or to sit on sofas.That is not just throwing on whatever's clean. Clothing has a reason, nothing is accidental. Examples of symbols of things in the court. no one could wear a bigger thing than the queen or king.

What we wear represents who we are in a very specific way. And it always has. You think you are wearing a black shirt because it's slimming and because you look good in black. That isn't necessarily true. You are wearing black because decades of human history are engraved into your subconscious. Maybe you wear black because it seems sophisticated. But why? If you look at just the present there doesn't seem to be an answer. Why is black cool? One has to look throughout...
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