Let’s talk about tassels! Have you ever looked in your closet and thought to yourself, “how can I make my clothing look more like curtains?” Well, 18th centuries ladies did, and their solution to this problem (other than using the same silks for both!) was to incorporate tassels into their gowns. And of course, if you were Queen Marie Antoinette, you had to have the biggest looks-like-curtains gown, with the biggest golden tassels of all.
Tassels have actually been used in clothing for thousands of years - they are mentioned in the Bible, and have been found on necklaces in Egyptian tombs. But tassels really reached their full height in France, where they were made by “Passementiers,” who formed a tassel and trim making guild during the 1500s. It took 7 years to master the craft of trim and tassel making, and tassels were insanely expensive, which is why you see Marie here decked out in them, and why the wealthy put them on their curtains, footstools, nightcaps, carriages, pillows, shoes, and of course, their clothing. In pictures 2-6, you can see examples of different types of tassels used on 18th century ladies gowns, and picture 7 is one of the tassels used on the Venetian gown I’m finishing up.