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Historic collections include garments recycled from old paisley shawls. Shawls enjoyed popularity in the nineteenth century, reaching their peak in the 1850s and 1860s. When the crinoline changed to the bustle circa 1870, paisley shawls faded from fashion. This project asked the question: what happened to paisley shawls after they went out of style? Using a material culture model, the study examined six paisley garments in a university collection as examples of recycling and reuse. Remodeling efforts dated from 1870s to 1940s. Reasons for remodeling paisley shawls into garments over this long stretch of time are varied. First is the practical reason of revamping a luxury textile no longer in fashion. Second, the large shawls provided fabric that could be repurposed during wartime when Americans experienced shortages. Third, the paisley motif, with its exotic origins in India, tapped into the Orientalism that permeated the early years of the twentieth century.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Second Chances for Paisley Shawls

Historic collections include garments recycled from old paisley shawls. Shawls enjoyed popularity in the nineteenth century, reaching their peak in the 1850s and 1860s. When the crinoline changed to the bustle circa 1870, paisley shawls faded from fashion. This project asked the question: what happened to paisley shawls after they went out of style? Using a material culture model, the study examined six paisley garments in a university collection as examples of recycling and reuse. Remodeling efforts dated from 1870s to 1940s. Reasons for remodeling paisley shawls into garments over this long stretch of time are varied. First is the practical reason of revamping a luxury textile no longer in fashion. Second, the large shawls provided fabric that could be repurposed during wartime when Americans experienced shortages. Third, the paisley motif, with its exotic origins in India, tapped into the Orientalism that permeated the early years of the twentieth century.

 

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