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distinctive forms of clothing, including official or ceremonial attire such as ecclesiastical vestmentsvestments,
garments worn by ecclesiastics in ceremonial functions. The cassock, a close-fitting gown buttoning down the front and reaching to the feet, is not a vestment so much as the daily uniform of the Western priest.
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, coronation robes, academic gowns, armorarmor,
apparatus for defense of persons, horses, and such objects as vehicles, naval vessels, and aircraft. Body armor developed early as protective suits made of such materials as leather, shells, wood, and basketwork, later supplemented by metal.
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, and theatrical dress. The use of ornament preceded the use of protective garments; its purpose was to emphasize social position by a great display of trophies, charms, and other valuables and to enhance attractiveness. Superstition, caste distinction, and climatic necessity all have been influential in the evolution of dress.

The term costume also includes accessories, such as the shoeshoe,
foot covering, usually of leather, consisting of a sole and a portion above the sole called an upper. In prehistoric times skins or hides may have been tied around the foot for protection and warmth; studies of the foot bones of ancient humans suggest that some form of
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, hathat,
headdress developed from the simple close-fitting cap and hood of antiquity. The first hat, which was distinguished as such by having a brim, was the felt petasus of the Greeks, which tied under the chin and was worn by travelers.
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, gloveglove,
hand covering with a separate sheath for each finger. The earliest gloves, relics of the cave dwellers, closely resembled bags. Reaching to the elbow, they were most probably worn solely for protection and warmth.
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, corsetcorset,
article of dress designed to support or modify the figure. Greek and Roman women sometimes wrapped broad bands about the body. In the Middle Ages a short, close-fitting, laced outer bodice or waist was worn. By the 16th cent.
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, handkerchiefhandkerchief.
In classical Greece pieces of fine perfumed cotton, known as mouth or perspiration cloths, were often used by the wealthy. From the 1st cent. B.C., Roman men of rank used an oblong cloth of linen (the sudarium
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, fanfan,
device for agitating air or gases or moving them from one location to another. Mechanical fans with revolving blades are used for ventilation, in manufacturing, in winnowing grain, to remove dust, cuttings, or other waste, or to provide draft for a fire.
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, umbrellaumbrella,
a small canopy used as a protection against the sun in China, Egypt, and elsewhere in remote antiquity. It was often an emblem of rank. During the Middle Ages the umbrella became almost extinct in Europe; its usefulness was not rediscovered until the late 16th cent.
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, canecane,
walking stick. Probably used first as a weapon, it gradually took on the symbolism of strength and power and eventually authority and social prestige. Ancient Egyptian rulers carried the symbolic staff, and in ancient Greece, some gods were represented with a staff in hand.
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, and jewelryjewelry,
personal adornments worn for ornament or utility, to show rank or wealth, or to follow superstitious custom or fashion.

The most universal forms of jewelry are the necklace, bracelet, ring, pin, and earring.
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; styles of wearing the hair (see hairdressinghairdressing,
arranging of the hair for decorative, ceremonial, or symbolic reasons. Primitive men plastered their hair with clay and tied trophies and badges into it to represent their feats and qualities.
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) and beardbeard,
hair on the lower portion of the face. The term mustache refers to hair worn above the upper lip. Attitudes toward facial hair have varied in different cultures. In ancient Egypt, as well as Turkey and India, the beard was regarded as a sign of dignity and wisdom.
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; and primitive methods of body-markingbody-marking,
painting, tattooing, or scarification (cutting or burning) of the body for ritual, esthetic, medicinal, magic, or religious purposes. Evidence from prehistoric burials, rock carvings, and paintings indicates that body-marking existed in ancient times; ethnographic
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 and attaching ornaments to the body.

Ancient Costume

The ancient Egyptian costume for men was first a wrapped loincloth and later a kilt or skirt of pleated and starched white linen. Egyptian women first wore the kalasiris, a one-piece, narrow sheath of transparent linen, which was later adopted by men as the tunic. The Egyptian costume evolved into a highly decorative mode of dress characterized by the use of fluted linen, of jewelry (especially the beaded yoke collar), and of cosmeticscosmetics,
preparations externally applied to change or enhance the beauty of skin, hair, nails, lips, and eyes. The use of body paint for ornamental and religious purposes has been common among primitive peoples from prehistoric times (see body-marking).
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 and perfumeperfume,
aroma produced by the essential oils of plants and by synthetic aromatics. The burning of incense that accompanied the religious rites of ancient China, Palestine, and Egypt led gradually to the personal use of perfume.
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; the wigwig,
arrangement of artificial or human hair worn to conceal baldness, as a disguise, or as part of a costume, either theatrical, ceremonial, or fashionable. In ancient Egypt the wig was worn to protect the head from the sun; short-haired and in many tiers or long and thickly
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 was also worn. The basic Greek garment, noted for its simplicity and graceful draping, consisted of the chiton and girdle. Roman dress, influenced by that of the Greeks, was simple and dignified; the toga, which was worn over the tunic, was the distinctive garment of the Roman citizen.

Medieval Costume

The change from ancient to medieval costume began (c.400) with the disintegration of the Roman Empire. Roman attire, which had previously assimilated the elaborate features of Byzantine dress, was gradually affected by the austere costume of the barbaric invader. Both men and women wore a double tunic; the under tunic, or chemise, had long tight sleeves (a feature that remained until the 17th cent.) and a high neck; the girded wool overtunic, or robe, often had loose sleeves. A mantle, or indoor cloak, was also worn.

After 1200 a great variety of fine fabrics from the East were available as a result of the Crusades, and the elegant dress of feudal Europe was evolved. With the introduction of various ways of cutting the basic garment, fashionfashion,
in dress, the prevailing mode affecting modifications in costume. Styles in Asia have been characterized by freedom from change, and ancient Greek and Roman dress preserved the same flowing lines for centuries.
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, or style, began. A long, girded tunic, then called the cote or cotte, continued to be worn over the chemise by both men and women; a surcote (sleeveless and with wide armholes) was often worn over it. At this time family crests, or coats of arms (see blazonryblazonry
, science of describing or depicting armorial bearings. The introduction, since the Middle Ages, of artificial rules and fanciful medieval terms has complicated the science, particularly in England.
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; heraldryheraldry,
system in which inherited symbols, or devices, called charges are displayed on a shield, or escutcheon, for the purpose of identifying individuals or families.
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; crestcrest,
in feudal livery, an ornament of the headpiece that afforded protection against a blow. The term is incorrectly used to mean family coat of arms. Crests were widely used in the 13th cent.
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), became popular, and particolored garments came into vogue.

Proper fit was increasingly emphasized, and by 1300 tailoring had become important and buttonsbutton,
knoblike appendage used on wearing apparel either for ornament or for fastening. Although buttons were sometimes used as fasteners by Greeks and Romans, they were more often merely ornamental disks.
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 had become useful as well as ornamental. The belted cote-hardie, with a close-fitting body and short skirt, was worn over a tighter, long-sleeved doublet and a chemise. And, as men's legs were now exposed, hosehose,
covering for the legs and feet. In the Middle Ages the leg was bound from the ankle to the knee with hides or cloth and then cross-gartered with thongs or strips of cloth; later a loose trouser, bound at the ankle, was worn.
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 were emphasized. The introduction (c.1350) of the houppelande, or overcoat, marked the first real appearance of the collar. Over a chemise and corset women wore a gown with a V neck and a long, flowing train; the front of the skirt was often tucked into the high-waisted belt. In its extreme, the style of the period was typified by profuse dagging (scalloped edges), exaggerated, hanging sleeves, pointed slippers, and fantastic headdresses (see headdressheaddress,
head covering or decoration, protective or ceremonial, which has been an important part of costume since ancient times. Its style is governed in general by climate, available materials, religion or superstition, and the dictates of fashion.
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 and veilveil,
a feature of female costume from antiquity, especially in the East, where it was worn primarily to conceal the features. In modern times it is worn to enhance the face.
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Renaissance Costume

After 1450 there was a reversal in fashion from the pointed Gothic look to the square look of the Renaissance. The style in its exaggerated form is best represented in Holbein's paintings of the English court of Henry VIII. Men's costume had wide, square shoulders with puffed sleeves, padded doublets, bombasted upperstocks, or trunk hose, short gowns (cloaks), and square-toed shoes. The doublet, now sleeveless, was worn over the shirt (formerly the chemise) and under the jerkin.

Women wore a square-necked gown with the bodice laced up the front and attached to the gathered skirt at the hips; the front of the skirt was often open, to reveal decorative petticoats. These, together with a preference for rich, heavy materials, especially velvet, and a fad for profuse slashing and puffing of the under material seen through the slash, created a massive and bulky appearance.

In Elizabethan England (c.1550) the costume was stiffened, and the appearance was less bulky. Both men and women wore the characteristic "shoulder wings," pointed stomacher, and starched ruff and cuffs made of lacelace,
patterned openwork fabric made by plaiting, knotting, looping, or twisting. The finest lace is made from linen thread. Handmade laces include needlepoint and bobbin lace, tatting, crochet work, and some fabrics made by netting and darning.
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. Materials were heavy and lustrous and considerable ornamentation was used. Men wore a short cape, and their trunk hose were unpadded, longer, and generally made in sections, or paned. Women wore exaggerated farthingales, or hoops.

Seventeenth-Century Costume

The early 17th-century English costume was less formal, with a softer line created by satin and silk materials. The period of the Cavalier and Puritan is captured in the court paintings of Van Dyck and in the early work of Rembrandt. Men characteristically wore pantaloon breeches (full trunk hose), high boots, a broad, falling lace or linen collar and cuffs, and a full cloak. In women's costume, the arms began to be displayed and necklines were lower. The bodice was finished with a wide, round collar, or bertha, at the neck, and a flared, pleated, or ruffled skirtlike section, or peplum, was added at the waist. The apron was often a permanent part of the skirt.

In England after 1660 the dress of the Restoration period became extravagantly decorative, using ribbons, flounces, and feathers. The dandies of the period wore petticoat breeches, full-sleeved cambric shirts, and bolerolike doublets. Sir Peter Lely's court paintings show excellent examples of such costume.

Eighteenth-Century Costume

In the 18th cent. France, under the rule of Louis XIV, became the costume center of the world, with Mme Pompadour, Mme du Barry, and Marie Antoinette successively dictating the fashions of the day. It was the age of the wig, of rococo settings, of delicate pastels and flower-patterned silks, and of embroideryembroidery,
ornamental needlework applied to all varieties of fabrics and worked with many sorts of thread—linen, cotton, wool, silk, gold, and even hair. Decorative objects, such as shells, feathers, beads, and jewels, are often sewn to the embroidered piece.
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. Early in the century Rousseau's ideas affected style of dress. Women's costume became graceful and pastoral; the pointed bodice, tightly laced, was finished with a triangular scarf, or fichu, at the neck, and sleeves were ruffled at the elbow. The bell-shaped hoop appeared c.1710, and c.1735 side hoops, or panniers, were popular. Women's costume, which at this period became extremely formal, was gradually softened into a romantic look (as in portraits by Gainsborough) that anticipated the Empire styleEmpire style,
manner of French interior decoration and costume which evolved from the Directoire style. Designated Empire because of its identification with the reign of Napoleon I, it was largely inspired by his architects Percier and Fontaine.
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The 18th-century man first wore a knee-length cassock that buttoned all the way down over an equally long waistcoat, and buckled knee breeches. As the century progressed, the waistcoat became shorter, the skirt of the coat began to form tails, the collar became higher, and the sleeves and breeches became tighter.

Nineteenth-Century Costume

The Empire style, associated in early 19th-century France with Josephine, was an attempt to recapture classic simplicity. Women wore a thin muslin dress with a high waist, a low round neck, and puffed short sleeves. Men wore a short-waisted cutaway coat with tails, a high collar, and large lapels and military boots; plain-colored wools became predominant. The whole male appearance was strikingly military. After 1815 women, emphasizing their fragility, achieved an hourglass shape with an extremely tight corset. Their dresses had wide collars, sloping shoulders, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and full skirts. Men wore the frock coat, which was fitted and had a skirt that reached the knees, and trousers were introduced and generally adopted.

After 1840 Victorian women wore layers of decorative crinoline and after 1855 the hoop; sleeves were bell-shaped, and waist and necklines were pointed. Though men still wore the tailcoat and frock coat, the sack coat, sometimes worn without the vest, was becoming popular for everyday wear. In general, men's clothes were becoming looser and more tubular and were predominantly of somber broadcloth.

After 1865 the bustle became fashionable for women; at this time, too, women first wore a tailored jacket with collar and lapels—the forerunner of the suit. The growing emphasis on sports, especially tennis and golf, was beginning to affect costume. Knee breeches, called knickerbockers or knickers, came into fashion for men, and sweaters became popular. After 1890 women most often wore the suit or the shirtwaist with balloon sleeves and wasp waist: the dress of the Gibson girl. Men's suits had square shoulders and straight waists and were usually of serge or tweed; the tuxedo was used for formal wear.

Twentieth-Century Costume

After 1910, as women's feet and legs began to be exposed, shoes were colored to match the outfit. The nightgown, for women, gave way for a time to pajamas. The popularity of sportswear for men increased; the open-necked shirt was worn and trousers were cuffed and creased. Women's dress after 1914 was characterized by straight lines, e.g., the floor-length hobble skirt and the flapper's boyish, short-skirted costume and matching accessories were popular in the 1920s.

The following decades produced radical changes in women's wear, from the flowing skirts of the 1930s and the box-jacketed suits of the 40s to the sack dress of the early 60s. Since then the fluctuating hemline has been a predominant concern of fashion. The abbreviated miniskirt has vied for popularity with the full-length maxi and the calf-length midi in coats, skirts, and dresses. Women's clothing has become less restrictive and more casual than in previous eras. During the 1960s men's clothing underwent revolutionary changes in color and fabric, becoming flamboyant for the first time in the 20th cent. The flaring of trouser cuffs in the 1970s was a major modification in shape.

National Dress

The traditional national dress of Western European countries has generally given way to standardized modes, although traditional costume is still associated with national celebrations and pageantry. The typical costume—a gathered peasant skirt, a full blouse with puffed sleeves, and a laced bodice—is colorful and picturesque, often elaborately fashioned and embroidered, and augmented by kerchief, headdress, and apron.

Costume in East Asia has until recently remained unchanged for centuries. In the Arab countries both men and women have for centuries wrapped themselves in voluminous flowing robes that indicate the tribe and status of the wearer by means of style, color, and richness. The people of Malaysia wrap themselves in a loose skirt, or sarong. Chinese dress was traditionally distinguished by the use of magnificent textiles and embroidery and of pearls and jade—all symbolic of rank and wealth. However, from the years shortly after the Communist regime began (1949) until the 1990s men and women of China wore dark-colored trouser suits; in recent years the Chinese attitude toward dress has changed somewhat, particularly in urban areas, allowing for more varied clothing styles. On Taiwan a sheath dress with mandarin collar and side slits in the skirt was traditionally characteristic of women's clothing.

Japanese men and women have widely adopted Western modes of dress, but many women retain the characteristic kimono and tabi (socks) or geta (wooden clogs). India, too, has traditional costumes dictated by religion or caste. Women in general wear the long draped fabric, or sari, sandals, and profuse jewelry. Exquisite muslins and "painted" cottons have from antiquity been notable features of Indian garments.


See J. Laver, The Concise History of Costume and Fashion (1969); G. Squire, Dress and Society (1974); V. Steele, Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in the theater, one of the important components of a theatrical production: the clothing, shoes, headdresses, ornaments, and other objects that an actor uses to create a character based on the director’s general concept; makeup and hair style are essential complements to the costume. Costuming is an independent area of creativity for the designer, with which he can create a variety of images that may be socially critical, satirical, grotesque, tragic, or magical.

Costumes were used in ancient games and rites, the theater of antiquity and the Middle Ages, and the classical theater of the East. The early and later forms of theater costumes, as a rule, had either a conventional character or mimicked contemporary dress. In staging his plays, Moliere used the contemporary costumes of people of various walks of life. Voltaire, supported by the actress Clairon, aimed at historical accuracy. The costumes for F. J. Talma were executed according to the designs of the artist J. L. David. The German Meiningen Theater in the second half of the 19th century had an important influence on the development of costumes. The Moscow Art Theater played an enormous role in creating costumes that corresponded precisely with the era and milieu depicted in the play, as well as with the character of the stage hero.

Theater art, including costuming, was part of the work of some of the greatest Russian artists, including V. M. Vasnetsov, A. N. Benois, L. S. Bakst, K. A. Korovin, M. A. Vrubel’, A. la. Golovin, M. V. Dobuzhinskii, I. L. Bilibin, and B. M. Kustodiev. The outstanding designers of Soviet theater include N. P. Akimov, P. V. Vil’iams, S. B. Virsaladze, B. I. Volkov, V. V. Dmitriev, E. E. Lansere, V. F. Ryndin, and F. F. Fedorovskii. The greatest costume designers abroad include C. Berard, L. Guichiat, and G. Wakhevitch of France and M. Harris, S. Devine, and E. Montgomery of Great Britain.

The traditional classical theater of the East (India, China, Japan, and other countries), because of its unique forms of artistic expression, assigns symbolic meaning to every costume.

In motion pictures costume design requires great accuracy in tiny details, which are emphasized in close-ups, and both the properties of the fabric and the characteristics of film (light sensitivity, resolution, and color transmission) must be taken into consideration. Soviet film costume designers include V. E. Egorov, E. E. Enei, and N. G. Suvorov.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a costume?

In a dream, a costume can indicate things that may be obscured about the dreamer’s or another’s identity, owing to conscious or subconscious disguises. (See also Clothing.)

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Albert was triumphant in his harlequin costume. A knot of rose-colored ribbons fell from his shoulder almost to the ground.
Instantly a mask, wearing the well-known costume of a peasant woman, snatched his moccoletto from him without his offering any resistance.
In the streets the lively crowd is dressed in the most fantastic costumes -- gigantic cabbages walk gravely about, buffaloes' heads below from men's shoulders, dogs walk on their hind legs; in the midst of all this a mask is lifted, and, as in Callot's Temptation of St.
"To make us between now and to-morrow two Roman peasant costumes," returned Albert.
Leave all to me; and to-morrow, when you awake, you shall find a collection of costumes with which you will be satisfied."
"Agreed," returned Albert; "but remember, Signor Pastrini, that both my friend and myself attach the greatest importance to having to-morrow the costumes we have asked for." The host again assured them they might rely on him, and that their wishes should be attended to; upon which Franz and Albert mounted to their apartments, and proceeded to disencumber themselves of their costumes.
The next morning, at nine o'clock, he entered Franz's room, followed by a tailor, who had eight or ten Roman peasant costumes on his arm; they selected two exactly alike, and charged the tailor to sew on each of their hats about twenty yards of ribbon, and to procure them two of the long silk sashes of different colors with which the lower orders decorate themselves on fete-days.
Philip's rise from shop-walker to designer of costumes had a great effect on the department.
Meantime Aunt Plenty was examining Rose's costume, for the hat and sack were off, and the girl was eagerly explaining the new under-garments.
It was dressed in old French costume, and little Lord Southdown now appeared admirably attired in the disguise of an old woman hobbling about the stage with a faultless crooked stick.
She still appeared in her Marquise costume and danced a minuet with Monsieur de Truffigny, Monsieur Le Duc de la Jabotiere's attache; and the Duke, who had all the traditions of the ancient court, pronounced that Madame Crawley was worthy to have been a pupil of Vestris, or to have figured at Versailles.
In his volume there were several pictures of Sands in various oriental costumes; and he travelled about with a black attendant of most unprepossessing appearance, just like another Brian de Bois Guilbert.