Sunday, September 27, 2009

Six Functions of Dress

Environmental Protection:

The Zegna Ecotech Solar Jacket, launched in 2009, is my choice for the Envrionmental Protection function of dress, both from the wearer’s perspective, and for the environment itself, creating a recycled green product with and integrated renewable source.

Ecotech is the latest cutting edge innovation from Zegna Sport, and is made from 100% recycled plastic sources. According to Zegna Sport, the production process combines high-level technical performance with protection of the environment, and the recycled performance jacket guarantees protection against wind and rain, meaning that it helps to keep the wearer s body temperature constant as well as respecting the environment.

The Ecotech Solar Jacket combines groundbreaking ‘Ecotech’ recycled innovation with solar cell technology. A detachable solar cells system is featured on each of the jacket’s sleeves, converting sunlight into renewable energy. This is distributed by textile leads to a battery device stored in the inside pocket, that can recharge a handheld communication device or iPod, in addition to powering a heating system inside the jacket’s collar. The outer fabric, breathable membrane, seam taping, linings and padding are all made of certified 100% recycled materials.

Historical Costumes of Turkish Women: Context

As a native of Turkey, I will be using historical Turkish styles as examples and wanted to provide some background.

It was customary for both Turkish men and women to wear long braided hair and a single braid at the back seen in Kokturk statues in the Altay mountains, and two braids seen in the statues of the Kirgiz region, were later common in Seljuk Turks (11th – 13th century). The characteristics found in the dresses of the Seljuk period are a mere reflection of earlier periods. The dresses, boots and felt socks found in the graves of Huns indicate that the origin of such garments go back a long time before Turks accepted Islam.

Both Seljuk men and women enjoyed wearing a wide range of jewelry, mostly earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Women of ancient Turkish tribes who carried a knife wore a “but” (turquoise) on the forehead together with earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings. This tradition continued up until the later periods of the Ottoman Empire. Women of the Turkish tribes in central Asia who were nomads on horseback, preferred clothes that were suitable for riding and active life. Leather was used for their garments as well as cloth. There were no big differences in the Seljuk period in men’s and women’s clothes.

At the beginning of the Ottoman period (14th century), men and women wore quite simple and similar clothes as in the Seljuk period. Later, when the state flourished, this simplicity was gradually abandoned. After the 15th century, ostentatious clothes were preferred and women’s clothes became very elaborate. Although people with different religious beliefs like Muslims, Christians, and Jews, could wear their traditional clothes, due to the social and political conditions in the Empire, non-Muslim women also wore street dresses, and covered their dresses.

The clothing styles in Anatolia were not greatly influenced by Istanbul (where Ottoman court resided) and other big towns. Agrarian or nomadic life styles continued in these regions and Turkish traditions and related clothing were preserved. Women’s wear during the Ottoman era differed according to the life styles in palace, town and rural areas. The rules of each group differed according to traditions and customs. Furthermore, the regional dyes, weaves, embroidery and cuts enrich women’s wear.


In this bride’s dress from Aksehir, Konya (Turkey), the headgear is enriched with gold decorated fez, feathers, artificial flowers, gilding, silver thread and pear shaped gold coin. When the bride leaves the house, red and green sequined scarves are added to the headgear, symbolizing abundance and fertility.

Perhaps this was an inspiration for Diane von Furstenberg 'Konya' Silk Jersey Wrap Dress pictured to the right:
  • Trapunto stitching details the yoke and button-tab cuffs of boldly patterned jersey wrap dress styled with a button-topped collar and wide hem.

  • True wrap style ties at waist.
  • Front button-flap pockets.
  • Unlined Silk


The embroidered wedding dress from Elazig (far left), in eastern Anatolia, Turkey. The bride wears a velvet robe embroidered with gold and silver thread, belt woven in gold thread, golden ornaments and slippers. Her head is adorned with a fez, a silver knob, silver or gold threads, silver ornament worn on the forehead and muslin with embroidered edge. The head is covered with a hand painted or hand-printed kerchief with hyacinths. The wedding dress from Izmir (left), on the western coast of Anatolia is a two piece suit mad of pink satin with silver embroidery.

Gender Differentiation – The Great Kilt

The history of the kilt stretches back to ancient times. The word kilt comes from the Scots word kilt meaning to tuck up the clothes around the body. The Scots word derives from the Old Norse kjilt, which means "pleated", from Viking settlers who wore a similar, non-tartan pleated garment.
The great kilt, also known as the belted plaid, was an untailored draped garment made of the cloth gathered up into pleats by hand and secured by a wide belt. The upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the left shoulder, hung down over the belt and gathered up at the front, or brought up over the shoulders or head for protection against weather. It was worn over a léine (a full sleeved garment gathered along the arm length and stopping below the waist) and could also serve as a camping blanket.

A description from 1746 states: "The garb is certainly very loose, and fits men inured to it to go through great fatigues, to make very quick marches, to bear out against the inclemency of the weather, to wade through rivers, and shelter in huts, woods, and rocks upon occasion; which men dressed in the low country garb could not possibly endure."

The solid color kilts of the Irish were also usually soaked in goose grease to make them waterproof. For battle it was customary to take off the kilt beforehand and set it aside, the Highland charge being made wearing only the léine or war shirt.

Group Membership

African tribes have different clothing traditions. Here I look at the Ndebele of the southern part of the Gauteng Province in South Africa; the Zulu people, the most prominent tribe in South Africa; and Xhosa tribal in South and Western Cape.

The Ndebele of the southern part of the Gauteng Povince in South Africa are renowned for their colorful traditional clothing and artistic beadwork.
After passing through an initiation school the unmarried Ndebele girl dons the ceremonial clothing of the newly -admitted adult (1st image to the left). The outfit consist of a skirt, with beaded apron, a beaded bodice that covers the breasts, a necklace or two, earrings, neck band with multiple arm and leg bands. The image to the right is a typical example of the bright colored clothing and beads that make up traditional outfits.

A girl just entering her teens dressed in traditional clothing (above center) The outfit consists of a beaded bodice and characteristic double-layered cloth skirt with the neck, head, with multiple leg and armbands. This type of clothing is normally worn on special occasions like weddings or celebrations.

A young married woman with a colorful beaded cloak is dressed for a dancing ceremony (above right). The design of the beaded staff is typical of the Ndbele people. In Africa a woman's clothing indicate whether she is married. In many parts of Africa only the married woman may wear a cloak.

The Zulu people the most prominent tribe in South Africa.
The chief wears a leopard skin and bright colored feathers of the bishop bird adorn his headdress. The shield and spear is for protection and is part of the traditional gear worn by the chief.

The heard boy's traditional everyday work clothing consist of a loin cloth and skin to cover his rear, brightened by bearded hoops and necklaces.
Dancing costume of a young Zulu maiden: the entire outfit is made of beads. This costume is worn during festivals or dancing ceremonies.

Zulu diviner wears special clothing designed to please the snake. The Zulu takes its name after from their chief Shaka Zulu who founded the royal line in the 16th century. The complicated Zulu etiquette was refined during his reign.

Xhosa tribal South and Western Cape

A young maiden draped with a blanket of a favorite ochre color, and a elaborately beaded gorget. Her armbands are of copper and, weaved grasses and beads.
A tribal elder warmly wrapped in his blanket daubed his face with white clay. The Xhosa use clay for many purposes.

This married woman wears a typical wrap skirt and cloak. The beaded bag is for her smoking accessories. Only married women are permitted to smoke.

Sexual Enhancement

Plunging sheer green Versace dress, Grammys (2000).

Jennifer Lopez draped in a long sleeved, floor length frock of silk chiffon printed with emerald palm fronds and chartreuse leaves. Beneath this translucent wisp was a built in pair of crystal studded panties, and twinkling above that was a jeweled pin. The pin hovered inches below the navel, marking the height of the skirt's slit and the depth of the neckline's plunge. The house of Versace had designed the dress to be as backless and frontless as the outside bounds of vogue allowed.