“Dressed to Rule”
Fashion is the current mode of grooming used by people. It is not necessarily clothes but also ornaments like earrings, necklaces and bangles. Frederiskborg Palace is a national museum in Denmark. It is located in the northwestern part of Copenhagen (Mackrell 97). Among the many cultures it holds, one of them is the fashion history of the Danish people. In this national museum, there is one unique portrait of a middle-aged woman. The name of this portrait is Paulette Goddard. According to her posture, she is an actress with the role of a traditional woman. Her simple dressing and posture depict a character of humility and submission. Women in the early years were not recognized and were expected to be obedient to the men. The portrait was made in the 19th century. The woman is in a long gown and she is holding a scarf too. The gown is long and loose (Lauring 22).
Paulette Goddard is an American but in this portrait; she is dressed like a traditional Danish woman. Therefore, this woman is showing the fashion history culture of the Danish people. Her role is to bring out the theme of identifying the fashion history of Denmark. The fashion of the Danish people varied on the gender, season, occupation, social class and age. For example, people wore light clothing during warm and hot seasons and heavy clothing during cold seasons. Men and women in the military or disciplinary force had there special uniforms and mode of dressing. Those who were rich and prominent wore expensive clothes and shoes whereas the low-income earners could only afford decent clothes. Children had their clothes made and designed differently from adults.
As shown by the portrait, women wore long dresses that had high waists and long sleeves. The materials used to make this dresses were different depending on the part of the dress being made. For example, linen was suitable to make a chemise. A chemise is an inner wear wore by both men and women (Yen 20). It was commonly made form linen. With time, the dresses were made to have lower waists that fitted well with the natural waist. Men’s shirts were tight fitting but as time passed by, they became loose. The shoulders were made wider and the collars more prominent. The sleeves were also long and loose. To go with these shirts, men wore them with skirts that were knee length. Children’s clothes were not different from those of the adults. The only difference was the size. Clothes made for children were smaller depending on the child. (Mackrell 68).
According to Mackrell (50) the general history of fashion in Europe, closely relates with that of the Danish people. The long and loose dress wore by the portrait signifies generally the attires wore by European women. Many European countries added embroidery to their clothes for decoration. Women used ornaments like necklaces and earrings. Men and women have now changed both shoes, clothes, and have added use of make up and hairdressing. Many decades have passed and the fashion trends in Denmark have changed. Today, women still wear gowns and long dresses (Cumming 178). Therefore, this portrait shows continued preservation of fashion culture. Men have changed and no longer wear loose shirts and knee length skirts. Introduction of more creative designs have come up. For example, the modern man wears trousers or shorts, and not skirts.
Lauring (13) says that fashion in the European countries is a major business, which many people have ventured in. Professionals have come up with new ideas to enhance fashion by introducing other accessories. For example, just like the portraits scarf, women have shown great liking of scarves. Some are worn on the head and some on the neck. Although there has been change in the mode of dressing, most of the new designs in women are borrowed from the ancient designs like those from the portrait’s clothes.
Cumming, Valerie. Dictionary of fashion history. California: Bloomsbury, 2010. Print.
Lauring, Palle. A history of Denmark in pictures. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Mackrell, Alice. An illustrated history of fashion: 500 Years ago. New York, NY: Routledge, Costume and fashion press, 1997. Print.
Tran, Yen. Fashion in the Danish experience economy: challenges for growth. Washington, DC: Cambridge press, 2008. Print.