In my novel HORSES OF THE WEST SUN (yet to be released and also known as BONE FIRE) set circa 5700 B.C., I based most of my characters’ garments on the clothing and shoes of “the man in the ice” — Otzi. His body was found in 1991 trapped in a glacier in the Otztaler Alps (Austrian-Italian border). His corpse was in surprisingly good condition, as were many of his weapons, tools and some of his clothing.
The papers sticking out of the book are my notes. Not a sophisticated research technique but it works for me!
Circa 5,700 B.C. weaving had not yet made its appearance in most parts of Europe. Clothing was constructed from hides and pelts, sinew, and braided plant fibers. However, European women were — and had been — making a very specific type of garment using a rudimentary type of loom, now called the backstrap loom. The garments they made on these looms are often referred to as string skirts. Basically they consisted of a wide waistband that was tied around the belly. Fringes hung from that waistband down toward the knees.
A number of ancient clay images depict women wearing string skirts, including a figure from Gagarina, Russia, estimated to be more than 20,000 years old. In my novel, the string skirt is used as a sexual lure, a garment of spiritual protection, and to signify that a girl had attained sexual maturity. I’m obviously making an educated guess that, although fashion has changed over the eons, many of the motivations for our fashion statements remain the same.
Times have changed, of course. Consider the skirts women wore during the Victorian Age. I’m not old enough to remember Victorian fashions, but I do remember the advent of the circa 1960s mini-skirt. (And how uncomfortable it was.) We thought we were thoroughly modern and so very daring. Now I know that we had nothing at all on our many-greats grandmothers!
When you select your clothing for the day, what are your primary motivations? Fashion, comfort, reliability, peer pressure, protection within your environment, or something else? What is your favorite type of clothing?