5 Stories of Popular Accessories
People have always strived for beauty and individuality, seeking to stand out and attract attention. Accessories play a vital role in completing our looks, adding focal points, and drawing the eye. These seemingly small but essential trinkets have fascinating histories and have evolved significantly into their modern forms.

1. Earrings

Earrings can be traced back to almost all civilizations throughout history, regardless of time and place. Originally, earrings were predominantly worn by men and held sacred significance in various cultures. In ancient Egypt, for instance, an earring symbolized belonging to the highest social class. Conversely, in ancient Rome, slaves were often made to wear earrings, while in ancient Greece, they were associated with individuals involved in prostitution. Earrings in Europe transitioned from being male jewelry to primarily female adornments over time.

In many countries, including Russia, the type of earrings a person wore could signify their social status. By examining the style and material of earrings, one could easily determine a person's wealth and position in society.

2. Belt

Today, belts are accessible to everyone, but in the 3rd century BC, they were exclusively reserved for pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and their close associates. The origins of modern belts are often attributed to the Persians, a nomadic people who used belts for convenience. Belts served the practical purpose of keeping the body warm while riding horses, ensuring that clothing snugly conformed to the skin.

During the Middle Ages, belts gained widespread popularity, becoming narrower and simpler. They were worn around the hips, serving as carriers for money bags, amulets, pendants, and even weapons. However, the popularity of belts eventually waned.

Belts resurged in interest during the 20th century, primarily due to global military conflicts. After the wars concluded, the British popularized belts as essential items for elegant and business attire.

3. Clutch

It's challenging to envision a modern woman's evening ensemble without a clutch – a petite handbag. The history of this accessory dates back to the 16th century when purses, initially intended for money storage, were introduced. These purses gradually grew in size, and ladies began using them to carry not only money but also jewelry, mirrors, love letters, and even personal diaries.

By the end of the 16th century, purses were adorned with precious stones and gold embossing, and purse bags called "reticules" became fashionable. In England, these bags were known as "clutches," signifying their hand-grabbed nature. By the late 19th century, clutches had evolved into their modern form, featuring an elongated shape and a wrist strap.

At the start of the 20th century, clutches fell out of favor due to adverse global political conditions. However, the accessory regained popularity thanks to renowned designers such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. Coco Chanel, in particular, was rarely seen without a small handbag in hand, inspiring many women to emulate her style.

4. Fan

Today, fans serve as fashion accessories for photoshoots, fashion shows, or historical theatrical performances. However, in the Middle Ages, girls utilized fans during festive outings and mastered the "language of the fan."

Fans were introduced to Europe from the East through trade routes, becoming indispensable elements of women's attire in the 16th and 17th centuries. These accessories were crafted from various materials, including leather, silk, mother-of-pearl plates, sturdy paper, featuring paintings, lace, and ostrich feathers. The color of a fan conveyed meaning: black fans signified sadness, red fans conveyed joy, and brown fans represented happiness.

Fans were also used to pass secret messages among girls, intended for specific individuals. In addition, fans often incorporated small mirrors to allow discreet observation of men and attract their attention by reflecting sunlight.

By the 19th century, the "fan language" had lost relevance, but fans themselves remained in fashion for an extended period. During this era, fan designs evolved to include botanical and ornamental patterns, as well as motifs from antiquity.

In some regions of China, fans continue to be used to convey information. When two people approach each other, they hold up a fan featuring written hieroglyphs for the other person to easily read.

5. Gloves

The history of gloves predates the common era, initially serving as protective items. In ancient Rome, gloves were worn to shield hands from hot water and food.

During the Middle Ages, gloves acquired an aesthetic function and were adorned with pearls, precious stones, gold, and silver. They transformed from practical necessities into status-enhancing fashion accessories, frequently worn by monarchs. In the 14th century, gloves even extended up to the elbow, credited to the innovation of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Men's gloves, however, declined in popularity and were primarily utilized by French musketeers.

Napoleon Bonaparte played a pivotal role in reigniting men's interest in gloves, amassing a substantial collection. In the 19th century, men's gloves adopted a more austere and minimalist style, devoid of embellishments. Meanwhile, women's gloves embraced extravagance, with fingerless gloves becoming a notable trend.

Until the 1930s, women's gloves remained a staple of a lady's attire. However, in 1968, gloves were symbolically associated with affectation, hypocrisy, and insincerity. Despite this, gloves have made a comeback in modern fashion, serving functions such as protection from the elements while offering variety and decoration.
December 19, 2023