Feathers are not only reserved for boas – this fashion medium has a long and rich history throughout the world.
From ancient China until the present, feathers have been featured in women’s fashion items. They usually lend an air of class and sophistication to the pieces. However, you can make anything tacky if you try too hard.
While history is usually not the most beloved subject of a fashionista, it can help fashion enthusiasts better understand garments. Feather fashion is an excellent example of this.
To learn more about the history of this popular trend, check out the brief historical guide below.
They may not have been able to read or write, but apparently, Neanderthals were into fashion.
Neanderthals are not even as evolved as modern humans, yet they still have some stylish sensibility. Scientists have investigated bird bones at Neanderthal sites and found that they were harvested for more than just food – Neanderthals were using the feathers for decoration.
So Neanderthals may not have been capable of the higher cognitive thought that modern humans are capable of, but they were still able to think symbolically. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what the feathers meant, but they know they were worn.
Native American Fashion
When you think of feathers and cultural staples, how can you not picture a Native American war bonnet?
While not all Native American groups wore these bonnets, they are a popular symbol for many of the cultures. Within the groups, these headdresses were worn to commemorate special occasions, like in battles or spiritual ceremonies.
Another feathered headdress that was popularised by the media is the roach headdress. This is the one that looks like a mohawk, and you may recognise it from The Last of the Mohicans. It’s more of a punk rock feather fashion look.
Although Native American headdresses are an admired feather fashion item, traditionally, Native American women didn’t even wear them! Instead, feather headbands were the more gender neutral item. These were worn purely for fashion.
The Middle Ages
The noble class of the middle ages was always looking for the next fashion trend. Women didn’t have many rights back then, so fashion was often all they had to express themselves.
The rich folks loved a good masquerade and looked for the most haute couture masks. This helped to usher in the use of feather fashion. These balls served an important purpose in Middle Age society, and so did the masks.
Feathered masks gave their wearers the opportunity for drama and personality to show through, despite their lack of a human face.
Feather fashion persisted in the modern world.
The flappers of the 1920’s loved the way feathers could purvey a kind of provocativeness. In the 1920’s, young people were always looking for a way to challenge the previous generation, and feather boas helped them do just that.
Feather Fashion and More
If we fail to remember fashion history, we are doomed to repeat fashion faux pas. In fact, knowing a little something about fashion’s past could help you invent the next big trend.
Are you a fashion history buff? Drop us a line to tell us if we missed anything!