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If It Ain’t Got That Swing

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knitfitt

The Queen of Rockabilly performed at the recent Newport Folk Festival, and while Wanda Jackson sang such great songs as “Nervous Breakdown” and “Let’s Have a Party,” her red fringed top swayed and moved in time to the music. It got me thinking about the earliest recorded garments. Over 20,000 years ago someone in southern France carved a small bone sculpture of a voluptuous woman wearing long fringe suspended from a hip belt. Since that distant time, string skirts have been worn for dance and performance, and I decided to check out Etsy to see what Paleolithic vestiges I could find.

[Clockwise from top: Authentic grass skirt hula from BingoBox; Vintage sequined hula costume from Pumpkintruck; Authentic Tahitian skirt from Vairea Creations]

The “grass” skirts of Oceana are descendants of that early string garment.

 

[Left to right: Oracle belt from V and G hipwear and accessories; Iridescent fringe skirt from Here and There Vintage; Belly dance belt with sequined fringe from PoisonBabe

Belly dancers and many other performers love to wear fringed skirts to emphasize the rhythm and intensity of their movements.

 

[Clockwise from top left: Dress made from laminated photos of lipstick from belleslettres; Navy mini tunic dress from twostringjane; Red fringe belt from Norwegianwood; Merino yellow silk dress from red2white; Fringed upcycled cardigan from darrylblack

While it is sometimes possible to find fringed belts for daily wear, the fringe has generally migrated upwards.

 

[Clockwise from top: Handmade tribal necklace from adoodle; Handmade metal, mimosa and abalone chain necklace from Spoiled Cherry; Nyx goddess of night choker-style necklace from Call of Earth; Shredded scarf from Cutrag; “Sunset” necklace from Isabilles; Trail of hearts fringed collar from Snake Church

Often all that remains is no longer a garment but a necklace or collar.

 

[Clockwise from top left: Vegetable tanned leather fringed men’s vest from cexn; Purple ankle fringed wrap booties from spirocreations; Vintage red fringed cowboy boots from Retro Stock; Pink “Wild Things” slippers from Paw Felts; Delores Del Rio fringed handbag from Lynell Withers Designs

Of course, the fringe can show up anywhere, often where you least expect it.

More Shopping Posts From Cate

Cate Fitt, a.k.a. knitfitt, has been a member of Etsy since 2007 and is an experienced critic, curator and juror. She earned her MFA in fiber in 1978, later receiving an artist’s fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Through the years, she’s been a maker of one-of-a-kind hand-painted clothing, pottery, jewelry, and linocut and monotype prints. She lives in a little house close to the James River with two whippets named Moose and Peach.

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 says:

    I've always wanted an occasion to wear a fun, fringe-filled flapper dress...

    4 years ago

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField says:

    I love that dress made of laminated photos of lipsticks! So unusual.

    4 years ago

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree says:

    Interesting - always creative, each in it's own way! There is always something for someone! Love the purple wrap booties! Really cute!

    4 years ago

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar says:

    Wow that fringe purse is too much!!

    4 years ago

  • StreamsofConscious

    StreamsofConscious says:

    I think my favorite thing about fringe is that it can be as modest or revealing as you want it to be. It's a slinky nod to the skin beneath it, and can be sexy, playful, historical...the possibilities are endless. Fringe is my favorite thing to go dancing in ;)

    4 years ago

  • AurDenDesigns

    AurDenDesigns says:

    The Merino Yellow Silk Dress is stunning. Actually wonderful collection full of fun and simplicity.

    4 years ago

  • SweetMagnoliaLane

    SweetMagnoliaLane says:

    I like the fringe necklaces; I don't think I've ever seen something like that before.

    4 years ago

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush says:

    So many great items, both vintage and handmade! Great post!

    4 years ago

  • sparrowgrey

    sparrowgrey says:

    Love all the movement in these pieces. Awesome post!

    4 years ago

  • cjmantel

    cjmantel says:

    While I love many of the pieces in this post, the historical "twist" really rubbed me the wrong way. The "venus" imagery has lead to the exploitation of brown people fairly often in the history of white European/American hegemony, including the infamous case of Sarah Baartman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Baartman). The idea of theses fashions being "paleolithic" also suggests the cultures they originated with to be primitive and backward, and I find myself wishing you had been more careful in how you presented them. Why gloss a troubled history when you might, for instance, invite women to celebrate their curves with a top or skirt that will shimmy along with them?

    4 years ago

  • yukonron

    yukonron says:

    This goes to support my long-held belief that there is no such thing as too much fringe!

    4 years ago

  • knitfitt

    knitfitt says:

    For @cjmantel and others who would like more detailed information on the history of fringed & other garments, I suggest reading "Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times" by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, archaeologist, linguist and textile historian. Some of my future posts will include tributes to the Shirt, the Apron, and to Leg Coverings.

    4 years ago

  • PamelasDesertRocks

    PamelasDesertRocks says:

    Wow - I never made the connection between fringes and grass skirts - totally makes sense. Fun post - thank you.

    4 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    Love fringe, leather, beaded fringe...the "hula" skirts featured were probably made for some type of production (except the first one that is actually Tahitian), an authentic hula skirt would be made from ti-leaves or raffia created from an indigenous plant, but its all good! Being native Hawaiian, I am just proud that our culture's indigenous fashion has been an inspiration. This is a great feature...the art of fashion is always intriguing! Aloha!

    4 years ago

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns says:

    love the jewelry pieces. Great post.

    4 years ago

  • elleestpetite

    elleestpetite says:

    A little bit of fringe goes a long way. It definitely makes clothing fun and interesting.

    4 years ago

  • LivingVintage
  • NopalitoVintageMore

    NopalitoVintageMore says:

    I've always loved fringe and when I use to sew alot in the 60's and 70's , I used it alot because I always loved the feel of it swishing!

    4 years ago

  • MouseTrapVintage

    MouseTrapVintage says:

    Hooray for Fringe! This is a fascinating article. Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • mroses

    mroses says:

    Beautiful jewelry! Fantastic article; thanks for posting!

    4 years ago

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds says:

    Wow, this makes fringe look so good!!!!!!!

    4 years ago

  • greeneyezdesignz

    greeneyezdesignz says:

    Lovin all the fringe! Reminds me of my bellydance days. And who wouldn't like that Delores Del Rio handbag! WOW!

    4 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    My apologies, the skirt from http://www.etsy.com/shop/VaireaCreations Vairea Creations IS an authentic Tahitian skirt and is listed as such, I read the caption wrong...thank you so much!

    4 years ago

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink says:

    what about fringe curtians :)

    4 years ago

  • windupgirl

    windupgirl says:

    i LOVE me some fringe. gimme gimme.

    4 years ago

  • RetroStock

    RetroStock says:

    Thank you for featuring my boots!!! Love the Fringe!

    4 years ago

  • NatalieDrest

    NatalieDrest says:

    I love the extra long fringe on the man's vest. It is supposed to represent something? lol

    4 years ago

  • audreyjewelry

    audreyjewelry says:

    great items!

    4 years ago

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie says:

    Great blog. As far as I'm concerned...there is NEVER enough fringe.

    4 years ago

  • CallOfEarth

    CallOfEarth says:

    Oh Cate - you post like sing to me that it's time to back dancing Belly Dance. It's like stop to thinking and just go after your belly!!! I'm missing it..... And thanks for featuring my choker style necklace

    4 years ago

  • mudpuppy

    mudpuppy says:

    How funny I was just watching an old biker movie where they wore...well...fringe everything. and was thinking who doesn't secretly want to wear a huge fringe jacket?

    4 years ago

  • mudpuppy

    mudpuppy says:

    Just did a historical search and found this, "Named for Julius Fringe, a clothier in the 18th century. The fringe was intended to chase flies away from the body parts of the person wearing the jacket or pants." Guess it would make sense why they would wear them in the old west.

    4 years ago

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection says:

    I love fringe! I have some in my shop! Love the fringed hand bag. I got a have it! Great article Monica TheIDConnection

    4 years ago

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox says:

    What a fascinating post! ... and we're thrilled to see our grass skirt used as an example. So amazing to see how Paleothic fashion has evolved into Modern style.

    4 years ago

  • jenjenpb

    jenjenpb says:

    Fun with Fringe...awesome.

    4 years ago

  • QueenBeeVintiques

    QueenBeeVintiques says:

    To wear fringe or not to wear fringe...that is the question...the options are practically limitless...on Etsy anyway...thanks for the swinging article!

    4 years ago

  • 2k2l2e2v2e2n

    2k2l2e2v2e2n says:

    Yes. Yes. YES.

    4 years ago

  • thebeadgirl

    thebeadgirl says:

    love me some fringe! i just pulled out my old cowboy jacket with lots o fringe. very 1980 but i think i can carry it off!

    4 years ago

  • LiddoKiddo

    LiddoKiddo says:

    Lovely Fringe creations... great post!!

    4 years ago

  • susanosof

    susanosof says:

    I could definitely wear those red fringed boots and the purple ankle fringed wrap booties. Great post Cate, as usual.

    4 years ago

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 says:

    I have a fringe suede jacket my mother bought in Mexico in the early 50's. Great piece. Wish it still fit.

    4 years ago

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana says:

    Love the Navy mini tunic dress from twostringjane

    4 years ago

  • PaintedHorse

    PaintedHorse says:

    Delightful, simply delightful! Thank you.

    4 years ago

  • DarwinsDress

    DarwinsDress says:

    that is a Fascinating Observation about the ancient fringe!!! very astute! love the men's vest and pink fringe booties! sweet and brilliant

    4 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:

    Nice picked. Love them.

    4 years ago

  • AliceCloset

    AliceCloset says:

    So funny! I am a fringe lover too :D Thank you!! http://www.etsy.com/shop/AliceCloset

    4 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    Great article, interesting to think about how adornments have changed over the generations. I love that fringed blue and black top its gorgeous!

    4 years ago

  • thriftage

    thriftage says:

    Who doesn't like a little fringe :)

    4 years ago

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy says:

    i love the fringe and a little afraid of entanglements.

    4 years ago

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas says:

    I love fringe. I had a black leather fringe jacket back in the 80's. I wish I never got rid of it.

    4 years ago

  • AutumnLeavesJewelry

    AutumnLeavesJewelry says:

    Fun and inspiring, I have my eyes on those felted slippers

    4 years ago

  • Trenza

    Trenza says:

    I love Wanda Jackson. Tunnel of Love! :) Wonderful post.

    4 years ago

  • charlenesbags

    charlenesbags says:

    Skirts, dresses, necklaces, boots, slippers. I had no idea fringe had such a long history. Thank you knitfitt for suggesting the book, Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times" by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. I added it to my book list.

    4 years ago

  • BanglewoodSupplies
  • NekozukiYarns

    NekozukiYarns says:

    I love fringe, especially on beautifully beaded buckskin jackets!

    4 years ago

  • hawthornehill

    hawthornehill says:

    Fringetastic!!!!

    4 years ago

  • TNShopthailand

    TNShopthailand says:

    Beautiful jewelry! Fantastic article; thanks for posting!

    4 years ago

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice says:

    fun & fringey! (I recently bought a purse and immediately cut the fringe off when I got home, too much!)

    4 years ago

  • Zalavintage

    Zalavintage says:

    Perfect, what a great collection! There is something unique about fringe, I remember hula lessons while in high school in Kailua Hawaii, feminine grace and strength.

    4 years ago

  • adoodle

    adoodle says:

    great items!!! :D

    4 years ago

  • Recy

    Recy says:

    I've got these same boots in my store in a GORGEOUS peacock blue/green size 6. Fringed and all! http://www.etsy.com/listing/19611231/laredo-peacock-cowboy-boots-size-6

    4 years ago

  • sofisticata

    sofisticata says:

    This is so much fun!! ... it brought memories from my childhood taking tahitian dance !!

    4 years ago

  • designsbycher

    designsbycher says:

    Yay! time to break out my black leather fringe jacket and hobo bag again!

    4 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    Very nice ! Love your fringe finds!

    4 years ago

  • diymold

    diymold says:

    so beautiful , love them

    4 years ago

  • fondueavenue

    fondueavenue says:

    I love EVERYTHING! Cool finds!

    4 years ago