Turtlenecks Steeped in Fashion History

Turtleneck Origins and Acceptance

The popular turtleneck of today came about as a necessity rather than a fashion option. During the turn of the century, seamen and deckhands were in need of a clothing accessory that could protect their neck from the bitterly cold winds. A scarf was impractically dangerous, exhibiting the potential for snagging on deck hardware or being caught up the rigging. This prompted the invention of the first polo-neck sweater, which was a collar extension for the neck. The first material was comprised of heavy worsted wool. The first collars were fitted with buttons, and then later replaced with zippers. Zippers and buttons were excluded some time later with the invention of more lasting and stretchable fabrics that allowed a permanent attachment. The general public began to take notice and accept the turtleneck as popular wearing apparel, taking advantage of the many colors and styles

The 1940s saw the turtleneck sweater adopted by the female audience, who found favor with some of the more elegant materials like cashmere and silk. The ’60s brought about a more frenzied interest in the turtleneck when many of the rock musicians began wearing them. Noel Coward, respected for his artistry and station, began wearing turtlenecks for all occasions and the public took immediate attention. He was, after all, known as a walking fashion statement, regarded for his flamboyance, pose, poise, chic and cheek. A groundswell followed, cementing the turtleneck in the concrete foundation of fashion and style.

It seemed every clothing manufacturer wanted a piece of the pie. Some of the old stylistic trends came back into vogue-zipper or no zipper, with or without buttons and the inclusion of pleated designs. Some turtlenecks were loose fitting, having shallow or large fold-down collars. Business men began to wear them under suit jackets and sports coats, and they were popularized by such luminaries as Ted Kennedy and Steve Jobs of Apple Inc.

Today, the turtleneck has shown resurgence, reminding us of an era that spawned bold, new looks. It’s as practical and classy as ever, harkening to a time of fond memories. It’s here to stay, fondly engrained in our consciousness.

Love them or hate, turtlenecks are here to stay and are recapturing popularity in the fashion trends of today. They appeal to men and women of all ages, whether they’re used for formal or leisure attire. They are applicable to a wide range of outfits, styles and themes. Smart and classy looking, turtlenecks also serve the practical function of keeping the neck area warm and cozy, negating the need for a scarf. They blend well with sports activities like golf or venues that require just a little bit more warmth for the occasion. The short sleeve turtleneck allows easy summertime wearing, but still retains that classic look. The history and application of the turtleneck is short, but interesting.

Fashion History – How Historical Events Influenced Fashion in the 1930’s and 1940’s

History and world events often create fashion trends. We can not always see it in the lives that we are leading now, in the present; but it is sometimes easier when we look into the past.

The 1930’s was a time of frugality known as the Great Depression, a world wide economic downturn that put people out of work and effected every part of their lives. In the United States, nearly one quarter of the population was unemployed. Bank failures caused people to lose their life savings.The new austerity must have been a heavy blow for the people who had just lived through the Roaring Twenties, a time of heady spending and extravagance.

Women’s fashions made a big change when the economy went south. The exotic frippery of the Jazz Age soon disappeared to be replaced by more simple styles of dress. Waistlines rose and hems fell, as they often do in bad economic times. While a sleek elegance gained popularity, it was a much more subdued look, classic and understated after the exaggerated styles of the 1920’s.

Hollywood offered women a glimpse of glamor, but even the luxurious Hollywood styles had a quieter tone. Gone were the short skirts, long necklaces, and feathers of the 20’s. Evening gowns of the Great Depression hugged the hips and widened at the hem, creating an elegant and graceful silhouette.

By the end of the 1930’s, Adolph Hitler had risen to power in Germany. This worldwide threat, along with the ensuing war had an effect on fashion trends of the 1940’s. As nations were invaded, or went off to war, supplies and materials that went into the creation of clothing fell short. When Germany invaded France, Paris lost its influence over the world of fashion. People in the Allied countries saw the fashion designers of Paris as working in cooperation with the Nazis.

The governments of both Britain and the United States placed restrictions on the production of clothing as cloth and other items needed for garment manufacture were needed by the military. Due to fabric rationing, dress and skirt hemlines rose. Buttons were used for functional purposes only, and lapels narrowed. Women who had lived through the austerity of the Great Depression made jackets and coats out of old blankets, remade dresses, and generally ‘made do’ with ‘war wise’ clothing styles.

It was not until after World War II ended that clothing styles became more extravagant. When Christian Dior unveiled his ‘New Look’ in 1947, people were shocked at the amount of fabric used to create the long, antebellum style skirts and wide brimmed hats.

Fashion History – The 1920’s in Today’s Trends

It’s Halloween and you are all ready to roll. This year you have decided to go as a flapper. You’ve set your hair in tight, neat finger waves, and pulled your garter up your leg, which is still exposed under the extremely short hemline of your boxy, shimmy dress. You take a look at yourself in the full-length mirror and stop to think for a moment. Just a decade before the flapper Charlestoned the night away on the dance floor, women had their knees hidden under layers of material. Arms covered in yards of fabric were certainly not bare and free to move to the jazzy beats to come in the age of the Speakeasy. So how did this most sexy of Halloween costumes come to be? What is behind the shapeless, short, shift dress you see reflected in the mirror before you?

Accessibility. The information age had officially begun. Vogue and Vanity Fair were in circulation picturing the latest fashion trends. Women found themselves fantasizing about wearing clothes just like they had seen in the magazine. Most wonderful of all was that this clothes was actually accessible. It was the Roaring 20’s. Times were good and fabrics were available. Most convenient of all was that this clothes was extremely easy to make – boxy shapes with very little tailoring. Women found themselves with the necessary skills, funds, and know-how to create a sexy flapper dress in their own home.

Rebellion. Literally yards upon yards of fabric went into women’s clothing before the turn of the century. On top of all that material, or rather underneath, was a garter, a bust-enhancing device designed to restrict a woman’s breathing to a shallow whisper. But the 1920’s saw important changes that included the woman’s right to vote. That made the ladies stop and breathe… or at least they tried to… and then they untied their garters and took the deepest most freeing breath to date. Dresses lost almost all structure. Gone were cinched waists and in were flat chests. The fellas still got an eyeful with a whole lot of rarely-before-seen skin.

Sports. You may wonder what sports have to do with the flapper dress. They have everything to do with its freedom of movement. Tennis, golf, swimming… women of the 20’s were expressing their athleticism and needed more comfortable clothing in which to do so. The trends of the decade reflected this trend in women’s sport. You can’t hit a backhand down the line with a garter that physically splits your upper and lower body into two. Those restrictions had to go; and as a result, women became fitter and healthier. An athletic body was in, and the flapper dress was the perfect way to display it.

So on this Halloween, wear that sexy flapper costume proudly. It’s far more than a little dress. It is a socio-economic fashion statement that inspired women to burn their bras and train to become world-class athletes in the decades to follow.