Fashion is an extremely dynamic domain, and at least twice a year tendencies change and everybody is trying to adjust their wardrobe in accordance with these. There are, however, some materials and fabrics that no matter the era are still very fashionable yet full of tradition, such as ribbons. Most people consider them only some random accessories, but they have actually played an important role in the evolution of fashion, being used in ancient times as a sign of wellness and social status. They are nowadays considered some of the oldest adorning materials, especially in Europe, where they have become extremely popular in the eighteenth century. Even if initially ribbon was represented by narrow stripes used by women to tie their hair, ornate braids or as headbands, the material gained a lot of popularity and women all ages and social categories started to use them as hair accessories.
During the Victorian times, ribbons became an accessory that would never lack from women’s attires, regardless their form, dimension or texture. Besides being a statement accessory of the Era, the material also had a social symbolism behind it. The importance of these pieces of material was considerable, but their decline started no longer after this, in the next decades, once women started to access the labour market and feminists gave up various adornments which prevented their attires to be practical. It was then the moment when ribbons began to decline, because fashion elements became more masculine. Before this, ribbons were used to adorn any garment, from lingerie, to dresses and hats. If you read a novel written during the Victorian times, it is impossible not to find a passage where the writer describes in detail the main female character’s attire, and of course, you can be sure that ribbon plays an important role and is for sure mentioned. Besides the fact that it was a popular accessory, at that moment, wearing ribbons was also an indicator of the wearers’ social or financial position. The Victorian hat is a fashion icon of that period, and has become famous due to its impressive design: long ribbons which were tied under the jaw, ample feathers or flowers and bohemian ruffles. Most of these traditional bonnets were made of solid straw covered in fabric, with large stripes. Any piece of clothing could become sophisticated by adding ribbon (whether it was a skirt, night gown, blouse or hat) and the fabric was so useful that it sometimes also replaced the necklace’s string.
Nowadays, ribbon has remained a symbol of femininity, being used as an award for the winners of beauty contest and also as an awareness sign for breast cancer, so if you want to buy printed ribbons in the UK there are many online stores where you can do this. As a symbol of fighting against cancer, the pink ribbon was first introduced in 1991, by a New York foundation which gave the item as a prize for all those who ran in a race dedicated to breast cancer survivors.