• Could the Clothes on Your Back Halt Global Warming? What comes to mind when you think of vintage clothing? It’s probably those untouchably cool hipsters who seem transported from another time, or the fashionista who’s always got one piece that makes her outfit pop. You might think of quality, as old clothes are often better made than modern ones. Cultural nostalgia is everywhere these days, but if the item came from a family member, the nostalgia g…
  • If These Shirts Could Talk: The Tantalizing Tales Behind Used Clothes The mysterious packages kept arriving, some from eBay, others from the Home Shopping Network, each addressed to her. All these clothes she didn't want, which weren't her size or style. She couldn't explain them to herself, much less her husband. Finally, late one night he heard her stirring and awoke to see his wife browsing shopping websites and ordering clothes in her sleep. "They were sellin…
  • Jockeying for Position: How Boxers and Briefs Got Into Men's Pants Just as underclothes are shielded from public view, the evolution of men's most intimate apparel is shrouded in secrecy. But the story of men's underwear is about more than which came first, boxers or briefs. Undergarments as we know them today were first sold to promote cleanliness and improve the comfort of wearing clothing. That they might one day be deemed fashionable was not even an after-tho…
  • In Pursuit of the Great American Jean Admit it: If you're not wearing jeans right now, you wish you were. Loved by everyone from ranch hands to runway models, blue jeans are a unique clothing hybrid, living simultaneously in the worlds of high fashion and hard labor. But it's no accident that companies like Levi's are looking backwards for inspiration, emphasizing the product's American workwear heritage (even if they are now largely …
  • Meet the Man Who Made Cowboys Love Rhinestones Though it might seem like country-western stars sprang from the womb wearing golden boots and rhinestone suits, it wasn't always so. In fact, we owe such flashy styles to a Ukrainian-born Jew named Nudie Cohn, who was the first to mix Nashville and Hollywood, making it hip to be ostentatious. While Cohn's name might not be familiar, you’ve certainly seen his famous Nudie suits, ranging from Gram …
  • Hawaiian Style: The Roots of the Aloha Shirt When I came to Washington State University, I brought my passion for ethnic textiles and clothing with me. Our historic costume collection here at WSU now has increased in size as a result. We now have nearly 100 aloha shirts in our collection here at Washington State University. The University of Hawaii, where I taught from 1991 to 2002, has about 5,000 items of aloha attire, probably half of whi…