Origins and ideas on lace

by Cathy Rae Smith
founder of Culture Magazine

During the reign of King Louis XV, known as the Rococo period for its decorative flourishes and curvilinear style, lace enjoyed popularity unprecedented in history. During this time of the 17th century, the wearing of lace carried such status that law to be worn by anyone outside of nobility restricted it. By the 18th century its use knew no such bounds. Anyone who could afford this delicately hand fashioned bit of finery donned it as a symbol of status. The more money one had, the more lace. According to the Costumes Organization, a lace called “Alencon” was considered the most elegant and aristocratic due to its rarity and high cost. By the late 18th century, lace took a less conspicuous role, remaining underground to women’s lingerie. It transformed from a status symbol to an accessory for women of sensual enticement.

Do we think of lace much today, outside the topic of lingerie, that is? I found some antique lace at an estate sale a couple years ago. It languished in a drawer for a while, then one day I got the idea to embellish a fitted white button up shirt with long cuffs. I hand stitched the lace all down the front on either side of the button enclosure as well as around each cuff. I wear it with jeans or suits simply because I like it. Interestingly, I seem to get compliments on it every time I wear it, regardless of the casualness or dressiness of the occasion. Perhaps it is a quiet harkening back to a sartorial era with a dash of elegance. Have you noticed any interesting details of distinction lately? Care to enlighten us with your observations or experiences?

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