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If It Ain’t Got That Swing

Aug 22, 2011

by Cate Fitt handmade and vintage goods

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


  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 5 years ago

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

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField said 5 years ago

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

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 5 years ago

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

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 5 years ago

    Wow that fringe purse is too much!!

  • StreamsofConscious

    StreamsofConscious said 5 years ago

    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 ;)

  • AurDenDesigns

    AurDenDesigns said 5 years ago

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

  • SweetMagnoliaLane

    SweetMagnoliaLane said 5 years ago

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

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

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

  • sparrowgrey

    sparrowgrey said 5 years ago

    Love all the movement in these pieces. Awesome post!

  • cjmantel

    cjmantel said 5 years ago

    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 ( 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?

  • yukonron

    yukonron said 5 years ago

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

  • knitfitt

    knitfitt said 5 years ago

    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.

  • PamelasDesertRocks

    PamelasDesertRocks said 5 years ago

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

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 5 years ago

    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!

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns said 5 years ago

    love the jewelry pieces. Great post.

  • elleestpetite

    elleestpetite said 5 years ago

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

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 5 years ago


  • NopalitoVintageMore

    NopalitoVintageMore said 5 years ago

    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!

  • MouseTrapVintage

    MouseTrapVintage said 5 years ago

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

  • mroses

    mroses said 5 years ago

    Beautiful jewelry! Fantastic article; thanks for posting!

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds said 5 years ago

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

  • greeneyezdesignz

    greeneyezdesignz said 5 years ago

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

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 5 years ago

    My apologies, the skirt from Vairea Creations IS an authentic Tahitian skirt and is listed as such, I read the caption wrong...thank you so much!

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink said 5 years ago

    what about fringe curtians :)

  • windupgirl

    windupgirl said 5 years ago

    i LOVE me some fringe. gimme gimme.

  • RetroStock

    RetroStock said 5 years ago

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

  • NatalieDrest

    NatalieDrest said 5 years ago

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

  • audreyjewelry

    audreyjewelry said 5 years ago

    great items!

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 5 years ago

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

  • CallOfEarth

    CallOfEarth said 5 years ago

    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

  • mudpuppy

    mudpuppy said 5 years ago

    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?

  • mudpuppy

    mudpuppy said 5 years ago

    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.

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection said 5 years ago

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

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox said 5 years ago

    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.

  • jenjenpb

    jenjenpb said 5 years ago

    Fun with Fringe...awesome.

  • QueenBeeVintiques

    QueenBeeVintiques said 5 years ago

    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!

  • 2k2l2e2v2e2n

    2k2l2e2v2e2n said 5 years ago

    Yes. Yes. YES.

  • thebeadgirl

    thebeadgirl said 5 years ago

    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!

  • LiddoKiddo

    LiddoKiddo said 5 years ago

    Lovely Fringe creations... great post!!

  • susanosof

    susanosof said 5 years ago

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

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 5 years ago

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

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 5 years ago

    Love the Navy mini tunic dress from twostringjane

  • PaintedHorse

    PaintedHorse said 5 years ago

    Delightful, simply delightful! Thank you.

  • DarwinsDress

    DarwinsDress said 5 years ago

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

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 5 years ago

    Nice picked. Love them.

  • AliceCloset

    AliceCloset said 5 years ago

    So funny! I am a fringe lover too :D Thank you!!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

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

  • thriftage

    thriftage said 5 years ago

    Who doesn't like a little fringe :)

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 5 years ago

    i love the fringe and a little afraid of entanglements.

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas said 5 years ago

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

  • AutumnLeavesJewelry

    AutumnLeavesJewelry said 5 years ago

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

  • Trenza

    Trenza said 5 years ago

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

  • charlenesbags

    charlenesbags said 5 years ago

    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.

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 5 years ago

    Shake it!

  • NekozukiYarns

    NekozukiYarns said 5 years ago

    I love fringe, especially on beautifully beaded buckskin jackets!

  • hawthornehill

    hawthornehill said 5 years ago


  • TNShopthailand

    TNShopthailand said 5 years ago

    Beautiful jewelry! Fantastic article; thanks for posting!

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice said 5 years ago

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

  • Zalavintage

    Zalavintage said 5 years ago

    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.

  • adoodle

    adoodle said 5 years ago

    great items!!! :D

  • Recy

    Recy said 5 years ago

    I've got these same boots in my store in a GORGEOUS peacock blue/green size 6. Fringed and all!

  • sofisticata

    sofisticata said 5 years ago

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

  • designsbycher

    designsbycher said 5 years ago

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

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 5 years ago

    Very nice ! Love your fringe finds!

  • diymold

    diymold said 5 years ago

    so beautiful , love them

  • fondueavenue

    fondueavenue said 5 years ago

    I love EVERYTHING! Cool finds!

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