Whether it be picking out the right buckle to complete a belt or grabbing a handful of spikes for the shoulder pads of a biker jacket, Trim Accessories gives any project that finishing touch making it complete. From customizing the handles of a handbag to adding a fur keychain to a purse, nothing makes a project more unique than its finishing touches. Incorporate brooches, decorative pins and sewing pendants for a special spin on a project, or grab a vial of loose sequins to repair something worth keeping. Trim Accessories gives you the opportunity to put your own spin on anything fabric or fashion related.
What Are Trim Accessories?
Trim Accessory Types♦
An In-Depth Look At
The History of Trim Accessories
Accessories may seem like simple ornaments, but they have a long and rich history. Whether an accessory was originally used as a tool (like the original brooch), or only worn by men (like the original buckle), there's a lot to learn about the little additions we wear with our garments every day. Travel through time in style, and find out all about the world's most fashionable centuries.
The brooch as we know it began a long time ago, in the Bronze Age (3000 BCE-2400 BCE). Before the Bronze Age, they were made of thorns and flint, and strictly held up clothing. During the Bronze Age, they were still not accessories, but tools to be utilized. This is when metal was first used for the brooch. These early brooches were called fistulas, and they were used by the Romans, Greeks, and people in the Germanic regions to close cloaks and hold up garments. These fistulas also denoted class and ethnicity. They were shaped like large safety pins and used in the Roman military. More elaborate fistulas were used by the higher ranks of early Bronze Age society. During the Byzantine Period (330 AD), brooches started to become more ornamental. Celtic society and Vikings used brooches, starting in the early Medieval Period in Ireland and England, as cloak fasteners. They were simple in design, a long pin that hooked into a ring. Some were a little more elaborate, but still had the same basic idea. They were worn daily by men and women.
Brooches were at the height of fashion in the 18th and 19th centuries, which is when they evolved into the multifaceted accessory they are today. There are many types of brooches, the first and foremost of which are mourning brooches. These were brooches that one would wear when a family member, friend, or spouse passed away. Typically, there was a portrait of the deceased lain out in ivory, or a landscape scene, adorned with seed pearls and inscribed with the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death. A lock of the deceased's hair was often incorporated into the brooch, either ground up or attached to the back. The most famous example of a mourning brooch was one of Prince Albert, which Queen Victoria wore for two decades after his death. Mourning brooches were very popular in the Victorian era, the 18th and 19th centuries. Both predating and succeeding the mourning brooch is the Aigrette brooch, which was popular in the 17th and 18th century, and made a comeback in the early 20th century. These were worn in women's hair as well as on lapels and cloaks. Aigrette brooches typically featured garnets and diamonds in the shape of plumage and birds. Another 18th and 19th century brooch was the En Tremplant brooch. ‘En tremplant' is the French term "to tremble," which is exactly what this brooch did. These brooches generally featured rose-cut or old-mine cut diamonds set into floral shapes that were placed on a mechanism that allowed the brooch to move. These were popular in a time before electricity, which is why people were so fascinated by the subtle movement of the En Tremplant brooch.
Around this period, something called a Grand Tour became very popular. Basically, the young adults of upper class, wealthy families were given the freedom to travel the world, typically Europe and European owned colonies, visiting popular sites and experiencing what the world had to offer. On these trips, the 20 year olds of the 18th and 19th centuries were in need of souvenirs, which is where the Grand Tour brooch came into play. This brooch was purchased for either the person on tour, or as a gift for a family member or lover back home. They featured images of famous landmarks from different lands, such as the coliseum in Rome. Another faction of the Grand Tour brooch was the cameo brooch. This depicted profiles of people from the different countries, or even narratives of mythology and legends. So, a Greek cameo brooch would feature a scene from Greek mythology, an image of a God or hero. This was another brooch Queen Victoria popularized, as she often gave away cameo brooches that depicted an image of herself or her husband, Prince Albert, to visitors. Many of these brooches were for the wealthy, members of the upper class who could afford frivolous accessories. But, that doesn't mean the lower classes could not partake in frivolity, which is where the Sweetheart brooch comes into play.
A Sweetheart brooch was given away by soldiers to their lovers before they left for World War I. These love brooches were lightweight, and made of silver with rose or yellow gold, making them cheaper than a typical brooch. The Sweetheart brooch would feature images of lovebirds, hearts, and well wishes, some engraved with the lover's name or personal messages from the soldier about to be deployed. Another popular brooch of the time, around the 1920s and 30s, were Dress Clip brooches. They were worn as one, but were detachable and could be worn as two parts, pinned to the straps of gowns, left and right of dress necklines, on collars and cuffs, shoes, or handbags.
Modern examples of popular brooches are the 1948 Cartier Bird of Paradise brooch that Uma Thurman wore to the Met's Costume Institute Gala, and Queen Elizabeth the II's collection of royal brooches.
The brooch started out as a tool, later evolving into an ornament. Surprisingly, the buckle evolved in the opposite way. The term buckle stems from the latin word "buccula," meaning "cheek strap." Our ancient ancestors in hunter/gatherer societies used belt buckles, fashioning them out of antler and bone. In the iron age (1200 BCE to 600 BCE) they were used to identify social and economic status. They were ornamental then, although in ancient Rome and China, buckles were beginning to take shape as functional accessories. These early Roman buckles were D shaped, made by pounded wrought-iron, which was replaced by bronze during the Bronze Age. They began to be used by Roman soldiers who used baldrics. A baldric was a diagonal belt, going from the right shoulder to the left hip meant to hold their sword. Buckles were also used to hold the soldier's armor together, which were made of bronze and very expensive. Scythian and Sarmatian peoples, who were located in what is modern day Iran, also used belt buckles. These often portrayed detailed animal motifs, typically of animals in combat.
By the 4th and 5th century, buckles had spread throughout Europe. Germanic peoples were using buckles, and they were found in the graves of Franks and Burgundies. During the 6th and 7th centuries, buckles were gold-shielded. Throughout the middle ages, up until the later half of the 14th century, buckles were decorative. Around this time, knightly belts came into play, which were functional and showy. Buckles were mostly for the male, wealthy, upper class members of society up until the 15th century when manufacturing began improving, making production easier and cheaper.
In America, buckles were crafted by Native Americans once they were introduced to silversmithing in the 1850s. It was the Navajo Indians who first started creating Native American buckles, using turquoise as an important component of the buckle. To the Navajo Indians, turquoise is actually a piece of the sky that has fallen to the Earth, which makes turquoise an important part of their culture. It was believed that turquoise was the protector of the body and soul. The Navajos quickly introduced their techniques to the Zuni and Hopi Indians, who each developed their own style. Zuni Native Americans emphasized the use of multicolored shells and stones in their buckles, inlaid in sterling silver. Hopi Native Americans used an overlay style, cutting designs out of flat silver. Although one would think this would also be the time that cowboys were wearing their ostentatious buckles, those would not be developed until the end of the 19th century, when silent western movies popularized cowboy style. These cowboy buckles, juxtaposed with the buckle styles of Native Americans, inspired the American Pride buckles that are still popular today. Adorned with bald eagles and American flags, these dignified buckles are often engraved with sayings like "God Bless America" or "United We Stand."
Up until the 20th century, men were typically the belt wearers. That is, until the 1920's when flappers began to appropriate the buckle. Stylish buckles were introduced by Hollywood, and the fashion of the 20s through the 50s showcased the waistline of women, enabling women to start wearing belts. In the 70s, gaudy belt buckles became all the rage, and the 80s followed suit with customized buckles, like Madonna's iconic ‘Boy Toy' buckle.
Buckles can be made with a myriad of materials, like pewter, silver, sterling silver, brass, bronze, comstock silver, pearl, copper, wood, leather, glass, or polymers. Buckles are made of four parts; the frame, chape, bar, and prong. The frame is the most visible part, and holds the buckle together. The end bar and center bar are attached to the frame, and the end bar holds the strap, while the center bar holds the tongue of the belt. The chape enables the buckle to be adjustable. The bar holds the chape and prong to the frame of the buckle. The prong fits into the holes of the belt.
Within the general term buckle, there are four types of buckles. A conventional buckle was made for reliability, not decoration, and has a frame, bar, and prongs. The clasp buckle is two separate pieces, one hook and one loop. These were very simple, typically not adjustable, and popular during the turn of the 19th century. Buckle trim, or side buckles, do not have chapes or prongs. They were used in home dress making, and for decoration on shoe fronts. The final buckle type is the side release buckle. There is a ‘male' and ‘female' component to the side release buckle. The male part has two side prongs and a center prong, which are inserted in the female piece, which has two side holes to click the buckle open and closed. These are typically used on backpacks and boots.
Buckles often accompanied soldiers into battle, and so did another fashion accessory that still accompanies the rough and tumble crowds. Studs were originally used on the armour of Samurai, Celts, and Romans. They added additional protection for those entering battle. In the Middle Ages, studs were used on brigandines, complex armor that consisted of metal plates pressed between layers of leather, which was held together by studs. Spikes were often used on weapons, like maces. Although spiked collars may seem like new fangled attire, they are quite literally ancient. In ancient Greece and Rome, hunting and fighting dogs wore spiked collars to protect themselves against large and vicious predators. These symbols of predatory power were picked up in the 70's by the punk movement, and then by the rest of the fashion world, and they have not been put down since. Shoes, jackets, head gear, tops, leggings, you name it, someone has put spikes on it. In the 80s, the popularity of leather rose, and with it, spikes and studs. Although spikes and studs have been stripped of their power, they are still an edgy addition to various garments.
Spikes and studs may have fought the good fight, but keychains are a relatively new invention that were created to battle a different problem. Frederick J Loudin invented them in 1894. He created them to help fight against pickpocketing, and help people locate their keys. They started out as ways to promote businesses, and reached their peak popularity in the 90s. Tamagotchi and similar video game keychains were seen all over in the 90's, with a brief resurgence in the mid 2000's. Hit Clips were also popular, as they played 30-second snippets of songs for the wearer to enjoy. Rabbit's foot keychains are considered lucky, and have been popular since the 1950's. The current keychain trend is large fur and faux fur pom poms.
Unlike keychains, pendants are one of the oldest pieces of body jewelry. The word pendant comes from the Latin word "pendere" and the old French word "pendre," which both mean "to hang down." Sewing pendants are simply pendants with a little hole at the top to loop or sew onto garments or jewelry. They serve several functions, including as an award, identification, ornamentation, ostentation, protection, and self-affirmation. There are many types of pendants. Amulets serve as protection against evil spirits, while Talismans serve as protection and imbibe the wearer with magical qualities. Lockets are small pendants which open to reveal a space for a small object, typically a lock of hair or picture of a loved one. Medallions are typically in the shape of coins, and given out as awards, for recognition, or for religious blessings. Some pendants are functional, like old shepherd's whistles, or even more modern objects like USB drives as pendants.
Decorative pins may look like pendants, but they're not nearly as old. Decorative pins evolved from Military pins and lapel pins. During the Civil War, soldiers wore small brass pins with their unit number on them, so they could recognize each other in battle. As this tradition continued, pins began to foster a sense of community. Pins started to become political, as people wore decorative pins that stated their political leanings or who they would vote for. As the civil rights and LGBT rights movements began, they adopted these pins, stating their goals and who they were. Members of the LGBT community could identify other members or allies with pins that showed support for the community. Currently, lapel pins are in style, with many referencing pop culture.
Decorative pins are often placed on lapels, but recently they've been adorning the handbag. Handbags have been around for centuries, holding people's belongings in their travels. As times changed, so did the way handbag handles worked and looked. In the Middle Ages, handbag handles were wrapped around the waist, like old school fanny packs made of leather. During the Renaissance, drawstrings handles were popular. In the Victorian Era, long straps on small bags and long strings that were tied around the wrist. In the 19th century, bags were hung from belts and clasped shut. Now, popular bags are often clutch bags, which have no handles. But, handles on bags like the infamous Birkin Bag, two stiff handles, are very popular, too.
Another ancient, and shiny, accessory is the sequin. Sequins were all the rage in the Victorian Era, where high class ladies waltzed at their coming out parties in glimmering gowns. After the sequins craze died, it was rediscovered in 1922 when King Tut's tomb was found. Why? Because attached to King Tut's garments were small, golden discs. Historians believe this was to ensure financial stability in the afterlife. This idea of wearing money on clothes is an old one, and many fashionistas have used sequins and sequin precursors to show off their wealth by stitching it into their clothing. Even the word sequins stems from wealth, combining the Arabic word for coin, "sikka," and the Venetian "zecchino," which was a gold coin produced in Venice.
In the 1930's, a new type of sequin was produced out of gelatin. This made sequins cheaper, but they were prone to melting at the smallest indication of heat. Even the touch of a lover's hand on a woman's back could melt the fragile sequins. In the late 1930's, acetate sequins were made. These were shinier than traditional sequins, but were very easy to crack. In 1952, DuPont invented Mylar, which was quickly replaced by vinyl. The sequin trend hit its height with Michael Jackson, who wore sequins on many of his tours, and even to meet the president!
Fashion may seem accidental, but the choices you make while you stand in front of your closet have been contemplated for thousands of years. From long forgotten kings adorned with coins, to hordes of punk fans sprinkled with spikes and studs, accessories have always been a part of human fashion and function. Accessories say just as much about you as your garments do, so have fun and experiment with different trends from every century.
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