I’m helping a friend move tonight, so here’s a short piece about historical fashion. To move furniture and boxes, I’m wearing sweats, a far cry from the panniers pictured below.
Panniers are associated with the 18th century, and I can’t imagine they were terribly comfortable. But historically, fashion is almost always about image rather than comfort. And I’m pretty sure the women of wealth and status who wore this fashionable clothing were probably not moving their own furniture.
I’m not sure if it was a bug or a feature, but the fact that the panniers at the side of the skirt could extend several feet allowed a large empty canvas across the front of the dress. I remember reading somewhere that the fineness of the embroidery across that expanse was a sign of an individual’s status.
The thought of maneuvering through a house in one of these dresses is mind-boggling. Although maybe the focus required to keep from running into everything would be good for me.
Sweats instead of panniers are one more reason to be glad we live in the 21st century.