Chintz

This post has been a while in the making! I’ve been wanting to write a terminology post about chintz for a while, but I wanted to do it right and include a bit of the history, how it was used and how it was made. That made it a bit longer than I’d originally envisioned, so be ready for a rather extensive overview! (If you don’t like those, feel free to just look at the pictures, chintz is very pretty!)

Chintz is a name referring to cotton fabric or paper with flower patterns. In this post, I’ll give some information on the historical fabric. It’s one of my favorite patterns, it’s often used in historical (mainly 18th century) dress and in Dutch folk costume. I’ll try go give a brief overview of the history of chintz, it’s characteristics, patterns and how it’s used in fashion. My focus will be on chintz in the Netherlands and traded by the East-Indian Trading company, but I’ll also try to give some more global information.

A short definition

Lets start with a brief section on the term ‘Chintz’ I’m using. In Dutch, we call this fabric ‘Sits’, and it refers to the glazed cotton painted and/or printed with flowered patterns, originally coming from India. This post is about what the Dutch would call ‘sits’. The translation in English is the term ‘chintz’. In time the English term chintz has evolved and become the name of many different types of flower patterns as well as the original patterns. It’s also sometimes used for basic plain cotton. I’ll focus on the Dutch meaning for ‘sits’ or chintz in this post. Most of those chintzes are 17th or 18th century, maybe early 19th century. All later chintz fabrics are based on these historical patterns. They were originally Indian, but when chintz gained popularity it was also produced in Europe. I’ll start off with some images, to clarify what I’m talking about.

 

This is Indian chintz:

BK-BR-328b

Part of a kids blanket, quilted, ca. 1725 – ca. 1750. Made in India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

Stylized flower patterns. The most typical version is of blue and red flowers on a pale background. There are different colors as well though. This is also Indian chintz:

BK-1971-118b

Detail of Palempore of chintz with tree pattern , ca. 1725 – ca. 1750, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

These two examples are typical for the type of floral patterns. The chintz below is much more ‘European looking’, but still also made in India (very probably for the European market though). As you can see, it has a much later date, indicating how the chintz became more ‘European’ and evolved with fashion.

Chintz, ca. 1775, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Chintz, ca. 1775, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

The following image is of a pattern also often named chintz (in English, it wouldn’t be ‘sits’ in Dutch), but which is much more modern than Indian chintzes. To my eye, it’s also much more English, and there’s generally a lot more roses and pink in these more modern fabrics. This is not what this post’ll be about. A good indication if a chintz is Indian or Indian-inspired is to look at colors. Original chintz was mostly white, blue and red. The reason for this is that the white cotton was dyed with natural dyes, which were mostly red and blue, with some yellow. All other colors were a mix of those. Greens and purples you see, although they are rare. Orange and pink are almost nonexistant. Another cue is the flower style, original chintz flowers were very stylized and almost ‘flat’. They became a little less stylized as time went on, but nothing as life-like as the image below.

Modern ‘Chintz’. This is not what I’ll be talking about.

 

The rise & fall in western Europe

Chintz was brought to the Netherlands by the VOC, the East-Indian Trading company. They started around 1600, but chintz didn’t really start to play a role in Europe until about 1675. It initially gained popularity as an interior fabric, later also as dress fabric.  Chintz was imported most notably from Bengalen, Ceylon, Coromandel and Suratte, the latter two being the most important. Some chintz was probably also traded into the Netherlands via England. Indian chintz was copied from the very start, but especially in the beginning these copies weren’t very good. The Indians had a way of binding the color to the cotton to make the fabrics keep their color after washing, and they hand-painted the fabrics. Early European copies didn’t keep their color well, and were block-printed instead of painted. Nevertheless, many companies started making imitations of chintz, and started trying to copy the process to keep the colors, getting more successful as they went.

Two sleeves, displaying a quality difference. Left is early 17th century chintz with a much finer pattern than the right, made around 1800. Fries museum

 

The copying happened in different European countries, but not all of them were happy with this popularity. In 1681, France banned both importing cotton and printing it to protect their silk industry. England followed in 1700 with a ban on importing chintz, and in 1721 a ban on printing cotton, again to protect it’s own linen, wool & silk industries. The English did keep trading in chintz, however, and still made printed cotton for export. Given the bans in England and France, it’s not surprising that cotton printing flourished in the Netherlands from that time.

This started changing around 1750, when the economy in the Netherlands started to fail. The bans in France were lifted in 1759, giving rise to a flourishing cotton print industry. One of the most well-known chintz factories, Oberkampf, was located near Versailles in Jouy-en-Josas. This town still gives it’s name to the famous toile-de-jouy fabrics.

Cotton printed fabric. This sample was made by Oberkampf around 1800. These type of fabrics are still known as toile-de-jouy, after it’s original place of creation. V&A. (We wouldn’t call this chintz though, because it lacks the stylized flower patterns)

Chintz fabric by Oberkampf, 1770–75, MET museum

 

England held on to the bans a little longer, lifting them in 1774, finally allowing printing pure cotton fabrics. New printing techniques meant they also caught up to the Netherlands quite quickly, where innovation stayed behind.

English made chintz, early 19th century. V&A

 

The chintz trading and factories disappear almost entirely in the Netherlands between 1785 and 1815. Archives show 80 chintz-shops in Amsterdam in 1742, 117 shops in 1767, but sharply falling numbers between 1771 and 1776, even more companies fail in the 1780’s. The VOC officially ceased to exist in 1800, after almost a century of decline and growing debt. Changing fashions eventually meant the end of the chintz fabrics. Even though printed cotton was there to stay, the Indian(inspired) flower fabrics went away. Several regional Dutch costumes held on to chintz a lot longer though, some surviving until today.

Interiors

A lot of chintz was not used for clothing, but for home decorations. Curtains, wall hangings and chair coverings are all seen, but bedspreads and blankets seem most popular of all. It seems that using chintz in your interior caught on a little earlier than in clothing.

Schloss Hoff, in Austria, built in 1725

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Room in dollhouse of Petronella Dunois, ca. 1676. Rijksmuseum

 

Clothing

Chintz was also often used in clothing. All existing chintz clothing is from the 18th century, when it reached it’s peak in popularity. It was already worn in the 17th century though, as shown by the girl portrait below. This is one of the earliest depictions of chintz being worn.

Emanuel de Witte - Portrait of a Family in an Interior - WGA25820.jpg

Emanuel de Witte, 1678

 

Despite it’s popularity, chintz never really was used much by the upper class for their best clothes. These fashions were very much influenced by the French court (even in the Netherlands), and employed very rich fabrics. Silks most commonly, often embroidered with silver & gold thread. Nevertheless, chintz was worn by the upper classes. Initially, you mostly see it used in ‘undress’. These were clothes worn at home, for non-official occasions or items such as dressing gowns. So it were the type of clothes not many see, but also the ones for less official occasions. This probably also explains why you don’t see many portraits of high-class women wearing chintz, they owned it (records of property show this quite clearly), but didn’t wear it for such a formal thing as having your portrait painted.

What we in Dutch call a ‘Japonese gown’. A dressing gown for a man, strongly influenced by Japanese kimonos. At this point in time (early 18th century), the Dutch were the only ones allowed to trade with Japan. Fries museum

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A rare example of a chintz Francaise, many more skirts and jackets exist than gowns, Francaises are even rarer. This was probably an (upper) middle class gown. An upper class woman would’ve been more likely to use silk. Rijksmuseum, ca 1780

 

As chintz gained popularity in the highest classes, the higher middle class followed, as did the lower middle class. The lowest classes didn’t own much chintz. For the middle class, chintz would’ve been much more valuable and you therefore do see it on prints/paintings of middle class women. There wasn’t much difference between city and country wear in this.

Girl from Sneek (city in Friesland) in her wedding clothes. Tragically, she died in childbirth age 16.

 

Although we see a lot of chintz dressing gowns for men in the higher circles, it seems that for daily wear chintz was by far most commonly worn by women. Baby clothes are very common at the moment in museums, probably also because little fabric was needed, so jackets and skirts could easily be re-made into baby clothes when necessary. Because you could wash chintz well without it fading, it was very suitable.

Baby Jacket, probably re-made from a skirt.

 

By far more jackets exist nowadays than full gowns. Skirts of chintz have also survived a lot. You do see a bit more skirts, dresses and capes with the richer classes than with the middle class, where jackets are more common (Again, we know this from inventory lists). Probably because jackets require less fabric. You also often see border patterns on skirts, indicating that fabric was specifically made for skirts.

rok:

Chintz skirt

Chintz jacket on white fond, Dutch, 1810-1820. From www.rijksmuseum.nl #Friesland #Hindeloopen:

Jacket. Fries Museum

 

Aside from gowns, jackets & skirts, you also see chintz in powder capes, or as lining of sun hats.

Cape, tot iets over heup, boord en geschulpte kraag katoen sits zwart/bruin; beschilderd bloem + takje veelkleurig; voerin: wol bruin/groen; garnering: lint zijde lichtbruin:

Short chintz cape. ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen

zonhoed:

The lining of a sun hat, the top would be straw. This particular shape was worn over a huge lace cap in the  province of Friesland.

 

Records show that chintz was worn throughout the Netherlands, but you do see it most often in the Northwest, around the coast. This makes sense, as they are either closer to Amsterdam (the founding city of the VOC), or have their own trading ports. This is also why a lot of existent chintz is in museums in these regions.

Activiteiten sitsen - Activiteiten - Te zien en te doen - Fries Museum:

Chintz jacket & skirt in the Fries Museum, in the north of the country

 

Regional costume

When chintz started to go out of fashion, it was also in these regions in the north-west that it was kept most. During the 18th century, we know that specific regional clothing was worn in certain areas. This could be either only be a specific form of headdress, or influence more items. Chintz survived in several regional costumes much longer than it did in regular fashion. Most well known is the Frisian town of Hindeloopen, which had grown wealthy from trade. The Hindeloopen costume was worn daily by women until the 2nd half of the 19th century, but has been kept alive by an active community. The society of Aald Hielpen still wear their costume for special occasions and events. The most well-known item of the Hindeloopen costume is the Wentke, a long coat of chintz worn by the women.

Titel:Sitsen Hindeloper bruidswentke, vrouwenjas, motieven op witte grond, contouren rood  Vervaardiger: onbekend  Soort object:wentke; borstrok; jas  Vervaardigingsdatum: 1750 - 1774  Vervaardiging plaats:India  Afmeting: hoogte: 135.5 cm, hoogte: 129.0 cm, breedte: 39.0 cm, wijdte: 56.0 cm, wijdte: 192.0 cm, sits  Materiaal:katoen, linnen  Techniek: sits:

Hindelooper bridal costume.

Coat (Wentke) #Friesland #Hindeloopen:

Back of a Wentke. Red patterns were most common, blue was worn for mourning.

 

Indian chintz survives up to today in the costume of Bunschoten-Spakenburg, which is still worn daily by a group of women. They wear an item called a ‘kraplap’ over the shoulders, made of heavily starched cotton. It can be made in all types of patterns, but the most valued are the ones from original Indian chintz. Because the kraplap has grown in size over the centuries, the original kraplappen don’t have enough fabric. If you’re lucky enough to find 2 of the same fabric, they are very carefully pieced together. These are the most valuable of kraplapen, and very coveted.

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Back of a kraplap made of 18th century chintz fabric.

 

Process

Chintz is a cotton fabric, with the colors being applied after weaving (as opposed to brocade for instance, where the pattern is woven in with the cloth). How exactly the colors were applied depends on location and time. Below a rough overview, as I’m not a chemist, nor an expert on dying. Be aware that the exact substances used could differ.

Original Indian chintz was mostly hand painted, sometimes block printed with smaller wooden blocks. This chintz had a very specific process to apply the different colors. Base colors were blue, red and yellow. Green and purple exist in chintzes as well, but would always be made by applying blue/yellow and blue/red on top of each other. The very special thing about Indian chintz was that it held its colors really well. This was due to the dying process used, some which weren’t discovered yet in Europe when chintz was first imported.

The first step (after bleaching and preparing the cotton) were the black outlines. These were painted directly on the fabric. After the black, the red would be applied. The red dye wouldn’t actually be applied to the fabric though. Instead, everything which would have to turn red was treated with mordant, a chemical substance which would later bind the color to the fabric. If there would be a ‘white’ area within the red, this would first be treated with wax before the mordant was applied. After applying the mordant (once or twice for lighter or brighter red), the cloth is dried and washed and rinsed. The mordant has now set, and only then the whole cloth is put into a dye bath, where only the parts treated with mordant will change color. After dying, the whole cloth can be bleached a bit again, because the white might’ve changed a bit to yellow. The next step would be to apply the blue, painting with indigo. For indigo, everything which does not need to be blue would be covered in wax. The wax-covered cloth would then in its entirety be put into the indigo dye. After dying, the cloth would be boiled to remove the wax again. After the blue, some fabrics would be treated with red again for brighter colors. Lastly, the yellow would be painted on, on top of the blue where you’d want green. This yellow tends to be a bit less well washable than the blue and red though.

In Europe, most chintzes were printed instead of hand painted, with large printing blocks. To be able to use the mordants with blocks, it had to be thickened as opposed to the very thin mordant used for painting. Another difference was that in Europe, some techniques existed enabling the printers to directly dye blue with the indigo, without having to use the wax method. For yellow, Europeans mostly used a mordant again, as opposed to the direct dye used in India.

These fabrics below were made when an interest in chintz began to rise again in the early 20th century and show the process. Collection of the V&A

Chintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samples

 

As a final step, most chintz was glazed by applying pressure to the cloth. Many of the reproductions I’ve seen of chintz miss this glaze, but it is very apparent on most originals! That shine to the fabric is also one of the things which gives it it’s luxurious appearance.

 

More pictures: If you want to see more examples of chintz clothing, like the red chintz gown below, I’ve got a pinterest board on chintz here.

Japon. Het japonlijf heeft een vierkante hals. Twee platte plooien lopen over de schouder langs de voorpanden en verdwijnen in de rok. Het lijfje heeft vestpanden die gesloten worden met haken en ogen met overdwars een split even in de taille. Vanaf de hals middenachter een brede aangehechte platte plooi die puntig toeloopt en in één stuk is geknipt met de rok. De mouwen zijn glad en uit één stuk tot op de elleboog en hebben een geplooid elleboogstukje...1780 - 1785:

Red chintz Anglaise, Museum Rotterdam

 

Sources

My main source for all of the above information is the book ‘Sits, oost-west relaties in Textiel’ (‘Chintz, east-west relations in textile’, see reference below). This is also my only source, which is not very good practice when it comes to research. I’ve found it to be the only Dutch book about chintz to exist at the moment of writing. In English literature there’re a couple more books, but not many. (I’m making a wish-list!) I personally suspected more to be available when I went looking, especially because chintz is still quite well known in the Netherlands due to it’s importance in regional costume. All books on regional costume seem to refer to this one source. Having said this, the book was written by scholars, and is based for the most part on primary sources. This means that the information comes from inventories of the V.O.C., from inventories of 17th and 18th century shops and homes, from letters and from 18th century books (for instance on fabric-printing). The list of sources used in the book is extensive, and each chapter was researched and written by another author. Given all of this, I trust this source enough to use it as my only reference. As it’s never been re-printed and only available second-hand, nor has been translated to English, I felt free to share the information and images. Good news though; a new publication has recently come out! With a new exhibition on chintz, a new book has been written. I’ll definitely write a post once I’ve visited the exhibit.

The book:

Sits, Oost-West relaties in Textiel

By the Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (National service Visual arts) , the Hague, together with the Rijksmuseum voor Volkskunde (State museum of Anthropology), Nationaal Openlucht Museum Arnhem (Open air museum), Groninger Museum, and the Gemeentemuseum the Hague.

On the occasion of the exhibition ‘Sits, Oost-west Relaties in Textiel’.

Published in 1987, no reprints

Authors:

Christian Jorg – V.O.C. in India

Frits Scholten – A journey of chintz in 1701-1702

Judith H. Hofenk de Graaff – The technique of chintz and cotton printing

Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis – Chintz and cotton printing, trade and make in the Netherlands

Frits Scholten – The interior ‘in the Indian manner’

Mary C. de Jong – Chintz and the printed neglige clothing of the higher orders

Hanneke van Zuthem – Farmers and Citizens in cotton

Ebeltje Hartkamp-J0nxis –  Motives on chintz and printed cotton

Terminology

In a lot of writing (blogs, books), specific terminology is used to refer to certain eras. These terms most often originate in politics or art, but are also used to define certain ‘periods’ of dress history. I’ve also noticed that sometimes, different terms are used for similar periods. And then, of course, there’s the language thing, where terms in different languages are different. They might even denote slightly different periods, because the terms refer to political periods of that particular country. A good example is the ‘Regency’, which is used to refer the period of the regent’s reign in the United Kingdom. In Dutch, we’d call this period ‘Empire’, which refers to the reign of Napoleon. But the political Regency and the reign of Napoleon only overlap for 4 years. And the term ‘regency’ is also used to refer to the period with a certain style of dress, which doesn’t have the same boundaries as the political regency.

So I’ve decided to try to make a glossary of terms. I’ll try to start with the English terms, and then add a list of the Dutch ones (which I’m slightly less familiar with, as most of my resources are in English). I’d love to extend this list further, so if there’s anyone who has additional terms, or terms specific to another language please let me know! (also, let me know if I’m mistaken! I’m basing this mostly on personal experience, art history classes I took almost 10 years ago and Wikipedia, so correct me if I’m wrong)

I’ll make an attempt at a chronological timeline. This means that the history, art, political and fashion terminology is all slightly mixed-up in the same list. I hope it doesn’t get confusing! I’ll also only describe terms used to describe certain era’s. Many people also just refer to the decade (’50’s) or century (18th century), which is a lot more self-explanatory, so I’ll leave those out here.

  • Viking/Norse
    • 793–1066
    • Political term
    • In 793 the abbey in Lindisfarne (England) was destroyed by Normen, signalling a period of over 200 years of exploration (and attacks and raids) from Vikings. The end is set to 1066, when the Norse king Harald III was in England. It should be noted that several other areas stayed under Norse rule longer (such as Scotland and the isles). I’m not very familiar with Viking costuming, so I’m not sure if this term will refer to any dress falling within the period, or if it’s used specifically for the dress worn by the Vikings themselves, or of their conquered peoples.
  • Medieval
    • 500-1500
    • History term
    • The medieval period covers a long period of a 100 years. Of course, within this era, there were many changes for clothing. Most often though, these are simply referred to by their century and location, making things easier.
  • Gothic
    • ca. 1100-1500
    • Art term
    • The term ‘Gothic’ refers to a certain style in art, specifically the latter half of the Middle-Ages. Of course, it is now also used to the modern clothing style involving loads of black, but that’s another story.
  • Renaissance
    • ca. 1450-1650
    • History / Art term
    • This term is used to describe the period between the Middle-Ages and ‘Modern time’. Generally, it is defined by an age of progress in art and science. Many countries have their ‘own’ renaissance, of which the start and end dates vary. They generally lie between 1450 and 1650 though. There’s also a lot of variation in European dress styles, so location matters!
  • Tudor
    • 1485 – 1603
    • Political term
    • This term refers to the rule of the Tudor family as kings & queens of England. Within fashion history, this term is often used to refer to the period between 1485 and 1558, because in 1558 queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. Most people would use the term ‘Elizabethan’ period for her reign within the Tudor era.
  • Elizabethan
    • 1558 – 1603
    • Political term
    • Referring to the rule of queen Elizabeth. She was the last of the Tudor monarchs, so with her reign the Tudor reign was also at an end.
  • Jacobean
    • 1567–1625
    • Political term
    • Referring to the period of reign of king James IV (for Schotland) and James I (same person, as king of England from 1603). This latter date coincides with the start of the Stuart era, as we’re talking about king James Stuart here.
  •  Stuart
    • 1603 – 1714
    • Political term
    • Referring to the rule of the house Stuart in England. Generally speaking, this term refers to the 17th century, as it almost wholly coincides with it.
  • Baroque
    • 1590 – 1725
    • Art term
    • Another art term, the Baroque spans the 17th century and a little more.
  • Rococo
    • ca. 1700 – 1785
    • Art term
    • Overlapping slightly with the Baroque, from which it sprung, the rococo is named after the ‘rocaille’, the shell shape used so often in its decorations. It ended quite abruptly near the end of the 18th century as politics changed and a new-found interest in the classics gave way to Neo-classical art.
  • Georgian
    • 1714 – 1830
    • Political term
    • Referring to the reign of four successive ‘Georges’ as kings of England. In fashion history, this term is mostly used for the earlier part up to 1811, as that’s when the (overlapping) Regency started, and that term is used. I’ve never seen it used for the period 1820-1830 (after the regency ended) in a fashion context.
  • French Revolution
    • 1789-1799
    • Political term
    • The period of the French revolution, in which the people turned against the establishment and which meant the end of the monarchy in France. Dress was quite an important thing in France in those days, and during this period there’s a sharp shift away from the opulence of before into clean and simple lines, which was no-doubt helped along by the hatred of the aristocracy at the time. There’s also a lot of red, white and blue in French fashion at the time, which were the colors of the revolution.
  • Neo-Classical
    • 1765–1830
    • Art term
    • An ‘opposition’ to the drama of the Baroque and Rococo, Neoclassicism was inspired by the re-discovery of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This started to show in dress around 1785, and strongly influenced the rise of the waistlines and slim, white dresses worn in the early years of the 19th century.
  • Regency
    • 1811-1820
    • Political term
    • The term ‘Regency’ refers to the period in which George IV held the regency for his ill father, George III. In historical fashion, this term is used a lot, and generally refers to a slightly broader time span to comply with the styles in clothing. Generally, I’ve seen it used for the period 1795-1825, when the high waistline and slim silhouette was popular.
  • Biedermeier
    • ca 1815 – 1848
    • Art term
    • Although the start & end date refer to political events (congress of Vienna – Revolutions of 1848), the term Biedermeier refers to a German/Austrian art style. It is used to refer to fashion mostly from ca. 1820 to 1840, or the period between the Regency & the Victorian era. I suspect the term came into use mostly because there’s no English political term covering this period except ‘the end of the Georgian era’, which is confusing.
  • Romantic era
    • ca 1800 – 1850
    • Art term
    • Romanticism was an artistic and intellectual movement in which the glorification of nature and history was important. There was a renewed historical interest, and an emphasis on emotion and the individual. In dress history, I see this term used mostly to refer to the 1820’s, 1830’s and 1840’s. This is probably because the period 1800-1820 is generally defined as Georgian/Regency and from 1850 on as Victorian, so ‘Romantic’ in turn means the bit in the middle for which we didn’t have a proper name yet.
  • Civil-War
    • 1861 – 1865
    • Political term
    • There’s been many civil wars through-out history, but in historical costuming this term is mostly used by Americans and refers to the American Civil War. There’s a lot of re-enactment groups in the US for this era, so also a lot of people interested in this period, and therefore a lot of resources available!
  • Victorian
    • 1837 – 1901
    • Political term
    • Referring to the reign of queen Victoria in England, this era covers most of the 19th century. This also makes it confusing, as dress changed greatly between 1840 and 1900, so the term ‘Victorian clothing’ can be used to refer to a large range of different clothing styles.
  • Crinoline/Hoop era
    • ca. 1855-1865
    • Fashion term
    • Finally a term actually referring to fashion! The expanding skirts of the 1840’s and early 1850’s were supported by loads of petticoats. In 1856, the wire/metal hoop skirt was invented to support the ever-growing bell shape. In the 1860’s, it changed into an elliptic shape and eventually transformed into what we now call the bustle.
  • Bustle period
    • ca. 1865-1890
    • Fashion term
    • This term is used for the period within the Victorian era when so-called ‘bustles’ were worn. Taking many shapes and sizes over the years, the general goal of the bustle was to increase the fullness of the skirt in the back. (or: to make your but look bigger). Generally, 3 different periods can be distinguished. Ca. 1865-1876 is the Early bustle era. Skirts are still slightly round at the hemline, and bustle expands out from the natural waist backwards. From ca. 1876-1882 bustles shrank to almost nothing (say, a small pillow), giving from to the ‘Natural Form’ era. But from ca. 1882-1890 the bustle returned and grew bigger than ever. This is the Late bustle era, the main difference with the Early one being even more emphasis on the back, and the bustle expanding out from a little lower, say the start of the hip bones. Around 1890, the bustles had shrunk again to nearly nothing, this time for good. (Well, for now at least!)
  • Edwardian
    • 1901 – 1910/1914
    • Political term
    • Referring to the reign of king Edward of England, who reigned from 1901 to 1910. Broadly speaking, it is often used for the first 14 years of the century, from 1900 to 1914. This is when the first World War started, and brought many changes to society.
  • WWI
    • 1914-1918
    • Historical term
    • World War I. Also referred to as ‘the Great War'(in English, at least for the Netherlands, if we refer to ‘the war’ its WWII)
  • (Art-)Deco
    • ca. 1920-1945
    • Art style
    • A style of art following on art-nouveau, which marries traditional crafts motives with the new technological possibilities. I’ve mostly seen this as referring to the 1920’s and 1930’s, which might have something to do with the lack of a proper other style term for the inter-war period.
  • WWII
    • 1939-1945
    • Historical term
    • World War II. This war started when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. For me, WWII has always has 1940 as start year, because the Netherlands were invaded in that year. The US got involved in 1941 with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Vintage
    • ca. 1920-1990’s
    • The term vintage is generally meant to be ‘anything old’, but usually any clothing from pre 1920’s will be labeled ‘antique’, and not vintage. Most often, ‘vintage’ is used to refer to clothing between 1940’s and 1970’s, but as time goes along this might change. (In 20 years, what we wear now can be considered vintage). This term is the odd one out, because it is generally used to specifically refer to actual items which were made in the past. Reproductions are generally named vintage-style, or retro. I find that in costuming circles, most people make a distinction between historical, being anything up to ca. 1920’s, and vintage being anything between then and 20 years ago.

 

Dutch:

  • Gouden Eeuw 
    • In English: Dutch Golden Age
    • ca. 1600 – 1700
    • A period of growth in trade, science and the arts in Dutch history. It is generally thought of to have started around the same time as the founding of the East-Indian Trading company (1602-\). 1672 was the ‘disaster year’ (war, with political and economical consequences), after which the decline started.
  • Empire
    • In English: Empire (we’d pronounce it the French way though)
    • ca. 1800 – 1815
    • Art term
    • Technically this is a term used to refer to the French neo-classical interior style made popular by Napoleon. In practise, it is also used to refer generally to the reign of Napoleon, of which the exact days are shown in the next term.
  • Napoleonistische tijd
    • In English: Napoleon’s time
    • 1804-1814/5
    • Political term
    • The period of Napoleon’s reign as emperor of France (and multiple other regions, including the Netherlands). Napoleon abdicated in 1814, to briefly return in 1815.
  • Belle époque
    • In English: Beautiful Era (another term borrowed from the French)
    • ca. 1870-1914
    • Historical term
    • Generally, this term is used to refer to the era of progress in France (and surrounding countries) around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. It ended with the start of WWI.
  • Interbellum
    • In English: Inter-war period
    • 1918-1939
    • Political term
    • The inter-war period, between WWI and WWII. I haven’t really seen this used often in costume history, although it might be used in a context for which it’s relevant that it’s a period between wars.