What is horsehair?
What is Horsehair?
Horsehair is not what it seems at first glance. It's not actual hair from horses, but rather a flexible netting or fabric used in the hems of garments to add weight and body. When incorporated into a hem, it helps to create a crisp, structured look, providing a smooth and elegant drape to the clothing. Horsehair adds a touch of grace and sophistication to various types of attire, from wedding gowns to evening dresses.
A Glimpse into History
The roots of horsehair in fashion trace back to the mid-19th century. During this time, horsehair petticoats were all the rage, especially in the 1850s. These petticoats, known as "crinoline," were named after the French word for horsehair, which is "crin." The term "crinoline" reflects the essential role horsehair played in creating these underskirts.
Crinoline petticoats were known for their voluminous, bell-shaped silhouette, making them a vital element in the fashion of the era. These garments used horsehair to give structure to the skirts, allowing them to stand out and maintain their shape, creating a sense of grandeur and opulence.
Modern Uses of Horsehair
While crinoline petticoats have largely faded from everyday fashion, horsehair is still very much in use today. Modern clothing designers and tailors incorporate it into a variety of garments to achieve specific effects. Some common uses of horsehair include:
1. Hem Reinforcement: Horsehair is skillfully sewn into the hem of wedding gowns, evening dresses, and ball gowns to create a flowing, structured look.
2. Couture and Bridal Gowns: High-end fashion designers often use horsehair in the construction of couture and bridal gowns to add volume and grace to the skirts.
3. Veils and Accessories: Horsehair is also used in veils, fascinators, and other accessories, providing support and structure to these delicate pieces.
4. Historical Reenactments: Enthusiasts and historical reenactors continue to use horsehair to recreate authentic period garments, maintaining a sense of history and tradition.
Caring for Garments with Horsehair
When you own clothing with horsehair hems, it's essential to take care of them properly to preserve their shape and structure. Always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. In most cases, it's recommended to have these garments professionally cleaned and stored appropriately to ensure the horsehair maintains its integrity.
In summary, horsehair is a versatile and timeless element in the world of fashion and garment construction. Although its historical significance harks back to crinoline petticoats of the 1850s, horsehair continues to be a valuable tool in creating the beautiful, structured looks we associate with high-end fashion and bridal wear. Whether you're a fashion enthusiast or just curious about the hidden gems of the fashion world, understanding the magic of horsehair is sure to enrich your appreciation for the world of clothing and style.