Golf clothing

Although golf had existed in Scotland since the Middle Ages, as a popular game it dates to the end of the nineteenth century. The first North American golf club, founded by a Scot in Montreal in the 1870s, and soon followed by others in Quebec and Ontario, was the outcome of Scottish immigration. The earliest U.S. club was founded in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1882. From the beginning, the clothing for golf was practical fashion wear, based primarily on the new men’s sporting models appearing for use for bicycling or shooting at the time. It consisted of tweed suits with vests and, if knickers were chosen as trousers, knee-high stockings to complete the outfit. For women, who participated from the outset, a nod to practicality appeared in the slight shortening of skirts, some four to six inches off the ground, but dress for golf generally remained the clothing of the New Woman of the turn of the century: skirt, shirtwaist blouse, jacket, hat and gloves, and of course, a corset. The overall effect was conservative but comfortable for the time. It was clothing suitable for women to wear while interacting in public with men. This remained the model well into the 1920s, and indeed, given inevitable changes in design, the general tone for golf wear from that time on. Read the rest of this entry »

Hermès Scarves

The world’s most acclaimed maker and purveyor of status goods, Hermès has evolved from its days supplying harnesses to coach builders. The firm has been in family hands since it was begun in 1837, when Thierry Hermès (1801-1878), who had moved to France from Prussia in 1821, established his wholesale business near the old city wall on the rue Basse du Rempart in Paris. Read the rest of this entry »

Hemp clothing

Hemp is a soft bast fiber from the stem of a plant, as are flax, jute, and ramie. Hemp plant fibers are three to twelve feet long and are made up of bundled cellular fibers. The plant itself, Cannabis sativa, is hardy and can be grown in most locations and climates around the world and requires moderate water. Its recorded use for food, shelter, and fiber dates from at least to 8000 B.C.E. Although ethnobotanists and others cannot be absolutely sure, it is thought that hemp was first grown in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »

History of hemlines

The term “hemline” entered fashion-speak in the 1930s. Prior to that time, the fashion press referred to skirt lengths and, since the 1920s, when hems first became a focus of fashion, slavishly reported on how many inches above the floor the latest season’s models were hemmed. While the press and fashionable women of the twentieth century obsessed about hemlines, throughout most of Western fashion history, skirt length was not an issue. Skirts reached the floor, except in clothing worn by members of the working class whose shortened garments facilitated their work, and, for brief periods of time during the 1780s and 1830s, when ankles were revealed. The history of the hemline is then one of twentieth-century dress, when the raising and lowering of women’s skirts made headlines, occasioned protest marches, and served as a symbol of revolution. Read the rest of this entry »


A helmet—a defensive covering for the head—is made of hard materials for resisting blows so as to protect ears, neck, eyes, and face. Helmets have been worn over centuries for military combat and ceremonies, later for hazardous occupations, and recently for sports. Helmet design fluctuated with changes in warfare and technology. Read the rest of this entry »


Headdress is an elaborate, ornamental, or practical covering for the head, as differentiated from the hat, which has a crown, and includes many varieties such as the hairnet, headband, head wrap, wreath or chaplet, mantilla, turban, crown, and others. Headdresses incorporate complex meanings including religious symbolism, political power and affiliation, social status or rank, and fashion consciousness. Made of numerous materials, designs, shapes, and embellishments, headdresses can also serve practical purposes—protecting the head against natural elements, carrying objects like weapons, baskets, or water pots—and are often associated with ceremonies, particularly rites of passage. Read the rest of this entry »

Edith Head

Edith Head (1897-1981) was born in San Bernardino, California. In 1923, after a brief career as a schoolteacher, Head answered an advertisement for a sketch artist at Famous Players-Lasky (soon to be renamed Paramount Studios). Although she had very little artistic training, her versatility impressed Howard Greer, the chief costume designer, who hired her immediately. When Greer left Paramount in 1927, he was replaced by his assistant designer, Travis Banton. As chief designer, Banton costumed the stars at Paramount, while Head, who had been promoted to assistant designer, costumed the B-movie players and extras. When Banton left the studio in 1938, Paramount named Edith Head chief designer; she remained at the studio in this capacity until 1967. That same year she received a contract with Universal Studios, where she worked until her death in 1981. From the 1950s on, Head became a media personality through her regular appearances on the television show Art Linkletter’s House Party. She also published two books: The Dress Doctor (1959) and How to Dress for Success (1967). Read the rest of this entry »

Elizabeth Hawes

Elizabeth Hawes (1901-1971) belonged to the first generation of American designers who succeeded in making a name for themselves as individuals outside the sphere of the Parisian couture. In 1925 Hawes graduated from Vassar College, where she was an economics major sympathetic to socialism, but she pursued an interest in fashion by participating in school theatricals and making her own clothes. By graduation she had decided to go to Paris and learn fashion design. Hawes spent the next three years in various positions within the couture business: as a design copyist, journalist, and assistant designer. During this time she wrote a fashion column for The New Yorker, using the pen name “Parisite.” She also worked briefly for Nicole Groult, the sister of the designer Paul Poiret. Her life in Paris was divided between socializing with her wealthy Vassar friends and engaging in the bohemian life; she spent much of her time with an artistic crowd, including the sculptors Alexander Calder and Isamo Noguchi. Read the rest of this entry »

Hawaiian shirt

Hawaii’s aloha shirt has become a visible manifestation of the state’s multicultural population, and in Hawaii, wearing these shirts represents both an attitude and Hawaiian identity. The style lines and design motifs of the aloha shirt developed from the interaction of several of Hawaii’s immigrant groups. The aloha shirt took its shape from the shirts worn by the first Caucasian men to appear in the islands—British and American sailors. In addition, the looseness of the shirts worn by Filipino men, the barong tagalong, was incorporated as a key element of the aloha shirt as an adaptation to Hawaii’s tropical environment. The early aloha shirts (1920s-1930s) were made of Japanese kimono fabric by Chinese tailors, and the early customers were haole (Caucasian) residents and tourists, or hapa haole (part Caucasian) residents of Hawaii. It was not until World War II that the local population embraced the wearing of aloha shirts. Read the rest of this entry »

Haute couture

Historically, aristocratic and upper-class women’s fashionable Western dress was created by an intimate negotiation between the client and her dressmaker. The investment in the design was principally in the cost of the luxurious textile itself, not in its fabrication. The origins of the haute couture system were laid by the late seventeenth century as France became the European center for richly produced and innovative luxury silk textiles. Thus the preeminent position of France’s luxury textile industry served as basis and direct link to the development of its haute couture system. The prestigious social and economic value of an identifiable couturier, or designer’s name, is a development of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Hats, women’s

Hats are head coverings with a crown and usually a brim. They are distinguished from caps that are brimless but may have a visor. Hats are important because they adorn the head, which is the seat of human rational powers, and they also frame the face. Women’s hats have often been differentiated from men’s headwear, although in modern times, many women’s hat styles have been copied from men’s. Read the rest of this entry »

Hats, men’s

Protection, status, and vanity have always been the prime reasons for wearing hats. A hat is much more than a piece of clothing; it is a cerebral fashion accessory that can mark personality, social etiquette, and lifestyle. The twenty-first century is a relatively hat-less age, with the exception of the baseball cap and modern hoods. This might be just a passing fad, but it is socially as significant as trends of the previous era, when men wore proper hats all the time. Read the rest of this entry »

Hartnell, Norman

Norman Hartnell (1901-1979) was Britain’s most successful and distinguished mid-twentieth-century couturier. He was the first in a wave of London-based designers to emerge in the 1920s and 1930s who offered wealthy British women an alternative to patronizing a court dressmaker or purchasing a Paris-designed model. His graceful, feminine designs, which combined dreamy nostalgia with fairy-tale glamour, appealed to English sensibilities. He excelled at making dresses for grand entrances and was equally at ease designing court-presentation dresses for debutantes and stage costumes for actresses. The latter were sophisticated and sexy as well as glamorous, but Hartnell is remembered for the romantic, quintessentially English gowns that he designed for the upper classes and the royal family. His role as dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II won him international recognition and honors. He was nominated an officier d’académie by the Institut de l’éducation nationale de France in 1939 and was given a Neiman Marcus Award for contemporary influence on fashion in 1947. In 1977 he became the first fashion designer to be knighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Handwoven textiles

The category handwoven textiles encompasses a broad spectrum of woven fabrics formed by interlacing two sets of elements—warp and weft—with the aid of a loom, which is a device for maintaining tension on the warp elements. Whether the loom is primitive, mechanized, or computer-driven, it is considered a handloom if it is operated directly by the weaver. Even though various types of power looms have been developed since the industrial revolution, handweaving persists in many parts of the world as an expression of ethnic culture, as a cottage industry or small-scale artisan workshop, as an avocation, and as an art form. Read the rest of this entry »

Hand spinning

See Homespun; Spinning.

Handbags and purses

The handbag is much more than a functional alternative to the pocket. In the course of time it has become a design object in its own right, a signature mascot for the major French couture houses (surpassing the role of perfume as a brand identity) and a powerful symbol of growing female independence. Until the late 1700s, both men and women carried bags. When the directoire fashions of 1800 streamlined the female silhouette, the need for an exterior pocket created a permanent role for the woman’s handbag. Read the rest of this entry »


The designer Roy Halston Frowick (1932—1990) was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and began his career as a milliner. He subsequently rose to become one of the most important American designers of the 1970s, whose influence was still being felt into the twenty-first century. Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween costume

The wearing of Halloween costumes in America reaches back into the country’s cultural history. This shared American folk ritual is a window on the diverse ethnic and religious heritage of the people who settled the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Standards of beauty have varied enormously according to time and place. Yet as long as people have ordered their social relations, hairdressing has had a role in the struggle for status and reproduction. “Humans,” writes Robin Bryer, “are unique in two aspects of their behavior: wearing clothes and having their hair cut voluntarily” (p. 9). Hairdressing is part of the human condition. Read the rest of this entry »


Hairdressers seem to appear with civilization itself. Comparatively little is known about history’s earliest coiffeurs, those who curled the beards of Sumerian princes and built the fabulous headdresses of Egyptian princesses, except that the Egyptian deities included a barber god. The market squares of ancient Greek cities included barbershops, where people could laze and gossip. Roman towns also contained hairdressing salons, visited mostly by the middle classes, while slaves dressed the heads of upper-class women. These practices survived in the Byzantine east, long after they had been destroyed in the Latin half of the empire. Read the rest of this entry »

Hair accessories

Hair accessories are functional or ornamental objects wrapped, tied, twisted, inserted, or otherwise attached to the hair. Throughout history, types of ornamentation and the materials from which they were made indicated religious significance, social class, age group, and level of fashion awareness. Infinitely varied in shapes, sizes, and materials, examples of hair accessories include: hair rings or bands, ribbons and bows, hairpins, hair combs, barrettes, beads, thread or string, hair spikes and sticks, and other affixed miscellaneous objects (shells, jewels, coins, flowers, feathers) perceived to have aesthetic or social and cultural value. Hair accessories have been worn by people of all ages and by both genders. Read the rest of this entry »


From modest beginnings at the end of the nineteenth century, the Gucci company became one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of high-end leather goods, clothing, and other fashion products. As an immigrant in Paris and then London, working in exclusive hotels, young Guccio Gucci (1881-1953) was impressed with the luxurious luggage he saw sophisticated guests bring with them. Upon returning to his birthplace of Florence, a city distinguished for high-quality materials and skilled artisans, he established a shop in 1920 that sold fine leather goods with classic styling. Although Gucci organized his workrooms for industrial methods of production, he maintained traditional aspects of fabrication. Initially Gucci employed skilled workers in basic Florentine leather crafts, attentive to finishing. With expansion, machine stitching was a production method that supported construction. Read the rest of this entry »


The term “grunge” is used to define a specific moment in twentieth-century music and fashion. Hailing from the northwest United States in the 1980s, grunge went on to have global implications for alternative bands and do-it-yourself (DIY) dressing. While grunge music and style were absorbed by a large youth following, its status as a self-conscious subculture is debatable. People who listened to grunge music did not refer to themselves as “grungers” in the same way as “punks” or “hippies.” However, like these subcultures, grunge was co-opted by the music and fashion industries through its promotion by the media. Read the rest of this entry »

Madame Alix Grès

Madame Alix Grès is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant couturiers of the twentieth century. She employed innovative construction techniques in the service of a classical aesthetic, creating her hallmark “Grecian” gowns as well as a wide range of simple and geometrically cut designs based on ethnic costume. Her garments are noted for their three-dimensional, sculptural quality. Read the rest of this entry »


Having emerged in the wake of punk during the 1980s, the contemporary goth scene has existed for more than two decades, as a visually spectacular form of youth culture, whose members are most immediately identified by the dark forms of glamour displayed in their appearance. Read the rest of this entry »

Godey’s Lady’s Book

Godey’s Lady’s Book, first published in Philadelphia in 1830 as Godey’s Ladies’ Handbook, was the leading women’s magazine in mid-nineteenth-century America. Similar publications had been produced in Europe since the late eighteenth century and Godey’s was closely patterned after its English and French counterparts. Several variations of the periodical’s name occurred over time, including Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book, but the magazine is generally known by its most familiar title, Godey’s Lady’s Book. Read the rest of this entry »


In a certain sense, the Western economy has been “global” since the sixteenth century. After all, the African slave trade, colonialism, and the intercontinental trade in sugar and coffee made capitalism possible. But since the early 1980s, transnational corporations, cyber technology, and electronic mass media have spawned a web of tightly linked networks that cover the globe. Taken together, these forces have profoundly restructured the world economy, global culture, and individual daily lives. Nowhere are these changes more dramatic than in the ways dress and fashion are produced, marketed, sold, bought, worn, and thrown away. Read the rest of this entry »


Glazing is a textile finish that adds luster and smoothness to the surface of the fabric. Many glazed fabrics are plain-woven cotton. A specialized calender (set of metal rollers) called a friction calender, literally rubs the fabric lustrous. Glazed chintz and polished cotton are examples of glazed fabrics. Read the rest of this entry »

Hubert de Givenchy

Hubert de Givenchy was born on 21 February 1927 in Beauvais, France. The son of a prosperous family, he attended college at Beauvais and then moved to Paris. In 1944 he took a position as an apprentice designer at the couture house of Jacques Fath while studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he took a series of jobs as an assistant designer—first with Fath, then with Lucien Lelong, Robert Piguet, and Elsa Schiaparelli. Givenchy’s years as an assistant designer encompassed the period of the New Look and perhaps instilled in him a sense of romanticism that was to characterize his work for over four decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Over time, shifts in production methods and patterns of consumption in relation to gloves have been paralleled by a shift in their primary role. Today, gloves may broadly be considered as a form of protective hand covering for use in cold weather. Within the context of fashion, gloves belong to the family of small accessories that includes fans, scarves, and hats. They are closely related to the mitten and muff. For several centuries gloves were highly symbolic garments, often worn for reasons other than protection. This changing conception illustrates the varied roles gloves have played within the discourse of fashion. Read the rest of this entry »