Baubles & Pooches Event - My Top 10 Fave Accessories

by Tracy James


Last week I guest hosted a Stella & Dot event benefitting the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in memory of my beloved dog Rufus. After spending time styling clients in the jewelry, I was asked by several who could not attend to list my favorite pieces from the current collection. For for two more weeks you can shop the show online at http://www.stelladot.com/ts/wa816 and the profits will go to the GBHS.

Since a lot of you, like me, have attended or at least been invited to similar shows, I want to explain why this is different. As you can imagine, I have been approached by just about every social sales company to become a representative. Because I see it as a conflict of interest - wanting to remain neutral for my clients - I have always, and will continue to, say no.

Recently, upon a visit to Jerry La Suer's cool downtown loft (I was interviewing/shooting him as my September B-Metro Magazine Style Icon feature), I had the opportunity to peruse his display of Stella & Dot accessories (Jerry is a Senior Director and Founding Leader of the company). I've always liked Stella & Dot's pieces and been impressed with their trend representation and quality, but frankly, as I told Jerry, in the past I've found them to be priced higher than I want to spend for costume jewelry. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that Stella & Dot has significantly lowered their price point (but, important to note, not their quality)! 

Knowing I have clients whose wardrobes could use some of these pieces, I asked Jerry how I could arrange for my clients to see the collection. He suggested I host a trunk show, and I told him no, I didn't want to do anything like that. Then Jerry made me an offer I couldn't refuse: how about I bring clients by his place for a viewing and he would in turn donate all of the profits from the sale to the charity of my choice. DONE!  My obvious charity of choice is the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, for a variety of reasons, including the support they showed me after the tragic death of my beloved dog Rufus, and continue to show as the resulting criminal trial is pending.

I figured if Jerry was donating his profits, I should donate my time. What resulted was a highly successful event! Many clients who couldn't attend asked for purchase recommendations in order to purchase online. So I thought I'd share my Top 10 favorite/most recommended pieces - it was difficult to choose only 10! As I mentioned, for another two weeks, you can shop the show online: http://www.stelladot.com/ts/wa816 and profits will go toward the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.

1) Engravables

Jerry introduced me to these months ago when he presented me with a necklace that reads "#CHIC" that I wear almost everyday. I love layering it with some of my other delicate necklaces. I also love the look of multiple charms - whether an engraved piece, birthstone, symbol, etc - as one pendant. A favorite is the numbers, reminiscent of the old NYC Plaza hotel numbers that appeared on the necks of fashionistas who were able to snag one after the hotel was remodeled and the room numbers sold as jewelry.

2) Reverie Chandeliers

A fabulous gold chandelier earring is a must-have in my wardrobe. Beacuse Stella & Dot jewlery endures so well, I bought these to replace all of the other versions I've bought that have turned or tarnished too quickly. I love the antique gold color and ethnic inspiration of this design.

3) Christna Link Bracelet 

One reason I love this bracelet in gold or silver is that, with it's detailing like hammered links, it could easily pass for fine jewelry. It looks great paired with a gold or silver or two-tone watch.

4) Rebel Pendant

OK, so everyone has this necklace...and by "everyone," I mean lots of celebrities. But that's because it's cool and oh-so easy to wear.The pendant is just the right length and weight to hold its own when worn alone.

5) Double Clutch

For my younger or trendy clients - in citrine perforated saffiano (see previous post) leather, this clutch offers a pop of color to any outfit. I've been obsessed with perforation lately - I love its modern vibe and textural interest.

6) Tansy Fringe Collar

Dramatic and intriguing, this bold statement necklace in lovely antique gold is a true conversation piece...one that can define an outfit, whether it be a cocktail dress or white t-shirt and jeans.

7) Strength & Inspire Bracelets

Clearly I'm a fan of purchases that benefit a good cause, and through October 100% of net proceeds of these bracelets benefit the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research and creating awareness of the importance of early detection. I also love jewlery that has personal meaning. On a much lighter note, Bama fans will love the elephant design!

8) Gitane Tassel Necklace 

Faceted metallic glass beads add sparkle to this rosary-style silver plated brass necklace. Removable tassel features two smoky quartz accent stones. S-hook closure allows for versatility in styling. Wear it doubled with S-hook with or without tassel, or wear it long or tripled without the S-hook.

9) The Kimberly Necklace 
There's something to be said about a piece of jewelry versatile enough to add an ethic chicness to a t-shirt and jeans as well as a unique elegance to a streamlined dress.

10) Petra Braided Bracelet

If you haven't figured it out already, I like versatility, especially when it comes to the ability to dress up or dress down a piece of jewelry. Wear this statement piece with boyfriend jeans and jacket with rolled up sleeves or with a sassy cocktail dress. A pair of diamond studs is all you need to complete either look.

Further investigate in detail or order any of these pieces at http://www.stelladot.com/ts/wa816.


Fall Happenings

by Tracy James


Despite the fact that the weather has yet to "snap," Labor Day has passed, which in the South means Fall has arrived, bringing with it school days, football and fashion. As the leaves change, we start thinking about switching out our closet for the season...and so begins my busiest season as a wardrobe stylist. Here's a bit about what I'm up to during these Fall months: 

Transitional Wardrobing

"Can I wear white jeans after Labor Day, and if so, how?"

"It's mid September but 90 degrees outside, what the heck do I wear?"

These are questions I receive on almost a daily basis early in the season. Popular services include shopping end-of-season sales to snag deals on a few transitional items or particularly fab Spring/Summer items that are such great finds they are worth buying now for next year. Many clients also like to "shop their own closet" for transitional outfits - I will put together combinations that are still temperature appropriate but depart from colors and ensembles that scream summer.

Closet Revamp

As cliche as it is, the analogy is true: a closet is like a garden, in need of constant pruning lest it become choked with weeds. The result is not being able to see the forest for the trees, so to speak - becoming so overwhelmed with the quantity of items in your closet that you not only lose track of what is even in there, but instead of taking the time to mix and match, you wear the same 4-5 "safe" outfits over and over again. The end of each season/beginning of the next is a great time for a Closet Revamp: we will inventory what you have in your closet and evaluate its contents, including your purchases over the past year. This will make it easier to create a "List of Needs" for the coming season, factoring in any missing wardrobe staples and taking current trends into consideration. These are items I can find for you on a shopping trip together, or for you to go it alone (often after a Revamp, these lists are shorter than one expected).

Fall Shopping 

Need a refresh? Want to add in current trends but are unsure which to chose or how to execute in a way that is age and lifestyle appropriate? Now that Fall styles are finally in stores (they arrive later in the South), I have been spending a lot of time shopping for clients. Over the years, I've found that the best way for my clients to get the most "bang for their buck" is to pre-pull - allowing me to edit selections, taking into consideration what he or she already has in her closet. It also permits me to introduce a few items to push clients out of their comfort zones. My favorite comment to hear is, "I would've never even pulled this off the rack but I love it!" Investing in the services of a professional to help you make the right style choices saves money in the long run, as you not only will end up with items that will mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe and endure through the seasons, but also you won't end up with items with tags still on them when Fall is over!

Wardrobing Sessions/Lookbooks

Once you have the right items in your closet, you owe it to yourself (and your wallet) to make the most out of these items. Some of my clients have no problem shopping for themselves, but limit their vision to only putting together pieces that were bought together. "Mannequin dressing," if you will. In order to have a closet that is focused on quality and not quantity, the ability to mix and match is imperative. During wardrobing sessions I will put together new combinations, complete with accessories and shoes. We can either take pictures for a printed out Lookbook, or, in this digital age, many have enjoyed an iPad album, with folders for different outfit occasions - for example: Work, Weekend, Date Night, etc. You'll feel like you have new clothes without even leaving your house! 

Tween & Teen Consulting

Whether we like it or not, we live in a first impression society, thus the clothes we chose to wear and the condition in which we keep our garments and ourselves send a message to the world. More than just style, but also modesty and grooming come into play, and this is a lesson better learned sooner than later. My 7 years of founding and teaching a Fashion Camp for girls aged 5-15 has given me a unique insight into the minds of these young ladies and the pressures - both peer and societal - that they face. Thanks to that experience combined with my passion for bolstering self esteem and confidence in girls starting at an early age, I have developed a niche  - and knack for, if I do say so myself - when it comes to relating to these girls and earning their trust. From helping girls make the best choices for their shape (which may be different from that of their friends), to mediating mom and daughter who can't seem to see eye to eye when shopping, to steering the new kid in school away from the goth look, to conducting a makeup and skincare lesson for rising 7th graders, to helping girls entering college prepare for sorority recruitment...the circumstances with which I've dealt run the gamut, and I find each so rewarding. I love helping girls embrace their own individuality and realize that style does not come at any particular price point, from a certain store, or in a specific size. Confidence is stylish at every age. 

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Saffiano Who?

by Tracy James


I recently posted an Instagram of a Saffiano leather weekender bag by hook + ALBERT, which begged the question for many, what exactly IS Saffiano leather?

Saffiano leather was first made in one of Italy’s most famous tanneries and was a signature and patent of Prada. Originally made from the highest quality calf leather, the name "Saffiano" comes from the cross-hatch print (a series of diagonal lines) pressed or stamped into wax that coats the leather. This treatment and distinctive markings render the leather resistant to stains and scratches, making it water repellent and easy to clean. Many high-end fashion houses use Saffiano leather for its many positive attributes.

Today the print is used on a wide range of leathers and PU coated splits. PU leather is leather created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the top-grain of the rawhide has been separated from the hide. An artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain. So although what we see is the same Saffiano print across all the current designer brands, what is actually underneath the surface could be no better than your cheap split leather with a surface coating simply printed with the cross hatch design “Saffiano Leather.” Therefore, make sure you know what you're paying for!


The Eyes Have It

by Tracy James


Last week I helped a client select eyeglasses and RX sunglasses (from the more than 3300 Schaeffer EyeWorks has available!) To some, frames this may seem like just another accessory, but keep in mind that this "accessory" is worn directly on your face and helps create the image that is the first impression you give someone, especially if they make eye contact upon meeting, as they should. (See the pop-culture inspired sunglasses chart at the end of this post as evidence of just how important what shades one chooses can be.)

As far as which frame for particular face shapes, all you really need to remember is "opposites attract." In other words, if you have a round face, avoid round frames and try square instead. If you have a square face, try oval frames. Hair and skin color also comes into play. You want to coordinate, accentuating undertones or highlights, but be careful not to match, which can wash you out.

Frames by SALT Optics

Frames by SALT Optics

When it comes to sunglasses, you can allow your aesthetic preferences dictate a bit more. My client, like me, likes a dark lens with a lot of surface area (covering above and below the eye, offering the added benefit of wrinkle prevention) and some peripheral coverage. So a Jackie O style frame with ever-so-slight wraparound fits this bill. 

Sunglasses by Robert Marc

Sunglasses by Robert Marc

If you have a classic style, consider wayfarers, which are versatile in that they can be dressed up or dressed down. On that note...guys, sporty frames like Revos or Maui Jims - especially with with cables attached - is not appropriate for suited or dressy casual looks. 

No matter what you choose, protect your peepers! They're the only ones you'll ever have!

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Fashion Goes High Tech

by Tracy James


Fashion has finally caught up to the new millennium's technological advancements, and society's obsession with electronic gadgets proposed to make our lives easier, bodies fitter, etc. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s now perfectly acceptable to walk around with a little activity monitor on your wrist, over your eyes, on your pant leg or, heck, even in your bra.

But for those who don't love the look of a rather un-stylish plastic doodad on your person, we’ve got good news: Fashion designers are getting in on the wearable technology game. Thank goodness we all don’t have to look like characters in Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

 

DVF for Google Glass

DVF Made for Glass has officially arrived at net-a-porter.com and Google. Famous for her invention of the wrap dress, Diane von Furstenberg is now wrapping faces in her very own Google Glass collection, which she recently featured as a runway model accessory. The five spectacle styles ($1,800 each) come with either clear or shaded frames. Along the same lines, there are rumors of a Google Glass/Warby Parker collaboration in 2015. 

Tory Burch for Fitbit 

If your step/sleep tracker doesn’t match your preppy-urban lifestyle, Tory Burch’s new collaboration with Fitbit can solve that. The hinged metal bracelet ($195) looks just like any of her other high-end brass cuffs, but this one secretly houses a Fitbit Flex ($100). There’s also a Flex-encasing pendant necklace ($175) and printed silicone tracking bracelet ($38), all available for pre-order now with shipping in early October.


Chic Tip

by Tracy James


I can't stand messing up pristine white towels with makeup, and yet I do every morning! So I'm loving this black hand towel made by The Turkish Towel Company for just this purpose. Spotted in upscale hotels & inns, I've ordered a set for myself. It will keep my other linens looking nice longer, and cut down on laundry as well! Also makes a unique - and useful! - gift. Order here: http://tinyurl.com/makeuptowel

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TREND WATCH

by Tracy James


There are plenty of fashion trends that I choose to skip each season, whether because of my age, size, shape, budget, lifestyle or just plain style sense. Often they are trends that the celebrity set choose to embrace. For example...this Spring, Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss appeared on the cover of New York Magazine wearing a pair of vintage denim overalls and nothing else, bringing to the forefront a trend that actually started on runways in 2013, but that has finally hit the mainstream Summer 2014. Sexy celebs like Alessandra Ambrosio, Julianne Hough and Diane Kruger have been stepping out in overalls and style magazines tout "Take this one-piece from practical to posh!" 

While I loved overalls as an 8-year-old and wanted to be a Girl Scout just so I could earn a pair of the kelly-green Liberty's (alas I was not willing to suffer through the brown pinafore years in order to get them), I have not been a fan since, and have never been on board with wearing them as an adult (yes, even if you're pregnant).  Now, I'm not saying that it's impossible to look good in overalls. (Full disclosure, I first wrote the word "chic" then deleted it and replaced it with "good.") But I mean, does it really say that much about the wearability of anything just because a Victoria's Secret Model looks hot in them? The fact is, most of us don't look like models or celebrities, so certain trends can be difficult to pull off stylishly. The idea of the average woman wearing overalls, frankly, concerns me greatly. Because for most, before you can say OshKosh B'Gosh, you're looking like The Farmer in the Dell or a Dexy's Midnight Runner. I work with everyday woman who have trouble pulling off skinny jeans, much less dungarees. This is truly a trend for the woman confident in her ability to pull it off. 

My point? Don't be a slave to fashion and feel you have to try every trend. However...think you've got what it takes to rock a pair of overalls? Then I'm all for you trying it. Fashion is experimental, after all, it's not a permanent mark - at the end of the day, you can take off that day's stab at style and try again the next.  

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Fashion Flicks

by Tracy James


All of your favorite shows are in summer hiatus and you've already binge watched the entire 2nd season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, so it's the perfect time to stream some of the best fashion documentaries around. Start with these, my top 5 picks in the genre.

1. Unzipped (1995)

The fashion documentary that launched so many others, this film tracks Isaac Mizrahi at the top of his game as he plans his autumn/winter 1994 collection. With a real fly-on-the-wall feeling, this 20-year-old film has reached almost cult-like status thanks to appearances from Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss and Amber Valetta, to name but a few. Mizrahi's hilarious ranting will keep you laughing - I especially love his obsession over the movie Nanook of the North and his desire to see women "walking the dog in a head to toe beast-fut suit." If anything, watch to see how the fashion industry has changed over the last two decades.

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2. The September Issue (2009)

For anyone who has ever dreamed of working at a fashion publication, or even just those who are avid readers of them, this is a must-see. Often dubbed the real Devil Wears Prada, current Vogue editor Anna Wintour is a style icon and powerful business woman, in many ways "ruling the roost" of the fashion industry. The film offers insight into the inner workings of the fashion bible, American Vogue, and in particular what it takes to produce the largest issue of the year.

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3. Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)

My favorite of the list, I defy you not to fall a little bit in love with Italian designer Valentino and his partner of over 45 years in business and life, Giancarlo Giammetti, in this touching and insightful portrait of their life together. From reflecting on how they met as young men, their multiple, lavish homes (and pugs, who deserve their own movie), to preparing for Valentino's final Haute Couture show before retiring, this documentary covers all areas of designer's life and career. The dynamic between Valentino and Giancarlo is not only one of obvious trust and respect, but hilarious. Giancarlo is a straight shooter who does not hesitate to tell Valentino things like, "You look a bit too tan." Valentino himself is funny, with his dry sense of humor and flair for the dramatic: "An evening dress that reveals a woman's ankles when she is walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen." Overall, this film is like a love letter to the designer, following him as he pieces together a retrospective of his work.

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4. Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston (2010)

Halston was arguably the first great American designer who could compete with the European fashion houses. He was the king of the 70's scene, along with Andy Warhol, Studio 54 and all of the era's trappings. But Halston's tragic decline was almost as swift as his ascent. Filmmaker Whitney Sudler-Smith (a socialite's son most recently seen on Bravo's reality show Southern Charm) went on a mission to find Halston's heritage, interviewing his former friends and muses, like Liza Minnelli, along the way.

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5. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's (2013)

Considered to be at the top of all American department stores and the scene of many an ultimate fashion fantasy (like Barbara Streisand's 1965 TV show segment, a medley filmed in the Fifth Avenue emporium). The Olsen twins, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs are just a few of the many big fashion names interviewed in this documentary. From the process behind the spectacular Christmas window displays, to a closer look at the work of esteemed personal shopper Betty Halbriech, who has worked at the store for almost 40 years, audiences get a chance to peek behind the doors and into the reality of the fascinating inner workings and fabulous untold stories from Bergdorf Goodman's iconic history.

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For The Boys Part II: Collar Styles

by Tracy James


The general guideline is not to wear a collar that is the same shape as your face. Men with long, narrow faces should avoid long pointed collars. Men with a round face should avoid spread collars. However, keep in mind that many variations exist and these guidelines (notice I didn't say rules) do not apply to every man and every situation. The key is to find a collar style in which you are comfortable, is office and/or occasion appropriate and, of course, is in keeping with your style aesthetic. (Don't know your style aesthetic? You may need an advance lesson. See my Style Services page.)

First, let's talk about the parts of a collar:

1.  Collar Points - The tips of the collar.

2.  Collar Point Length – The distance from the Collar Points to where they meet the Collar Band.

3.  Collar Band - the piece of fabric that wraps around the neck.

4.  Collar Height - The height of a folded collar as it fits on the neck.

5.  Tie Space – The distance between the top of the folded collar parts when the shirt is buttoned.

6.  Spread – The distance between Collar Points.

Next, how to achieve proper fit: Check your neck! Some guys just buy their shirts in small, medium, or large. No wonder they don't fit well. You should know your measurements—neck size and arm length—and not just for the sake of it. These numbers are the key to making you look better. If your collar is so loose it hangs off your neck, or so tight it makes your face blush, you're stuck with it. So take action—get measured. And remember The One-Finger Rule: make sure you can comfortably fit one finger between the collar and your neck. If two fingers fit, the collar's too big.

Don't forget the details: The smallest weapons in your style arsenal are collar stays. They keep your collar standing at attention. Stays should come out before your shirts get laundered and go back in when the shirts return clean. Keep one set on your dresser and one in your Dopp kit.

And finally, the collars themselves

Next up...Cuffs. Stay tuned.


For the Boys

by Tracy James


On the newsstands and grocery aisle now is GQ’s Style Guide, always a great seasonal resource for men. It got me thinking about the style issues most frequently presented to me by my male clients, so I thought I would cover a few of those topics in a series of posts.

Part I: A History of the Dress Shirt

Many questions revolve around dress shirts - what collar/cuff is best for what occasion, who designs the best shirts, what fabric or pattern should I look for, etc. A majority of men in the US have never custom designed a dress shirt.  However, a century ago, all shirts were custom made to the customer's specifications. You would walk into a store like J.C. Penney, peruse fabrics, have measurements taken, and 6 weeks later, a shirt would show up made just for you.

Subsequently, retailers figured out they could save a lot of money by making large runs of limited patterns in a handful of pre-designed sizes.  Customers could walk into a store, get a decent approximate fit, and have instant gratification. This significantly dropped costs and, within a generation or two, most men had no idea that there was any other way to order shirts.

In fact, even the term “dress shirt,” which signifies a more formal pattern in contrast to a “sports shirt,” which is a more casual fabric and style, only became necessary with the rise of the t-shirt as everyday clothing.  Our great grandparents would have called a dress shirt nothing more than “a shirt.”

This created an interesting cultural split in society.  Those who had sufficient resources or the sartorial culture in their family continued to have their dress shirts custom designed, tailored, and made specifically for them.  Those who lacked these resources believed that shirts were something you bought off a rack from a local discount retailer.  Nowhere is this split more evident than if you walk into a shirt maker’s showroom floor with someone who doesn’t know the process.  I’ve heard several friends remark about great clothiers, “I stopped in once but didn’t see anything I liked, so I left.”....having no idea that for every one dress shirt on the showroom floor, there are 100x as many fabrics in the shirting fabric books. The clothing on the racks are mere samples for display purposes.

Up next...Collar & Cuff Styles.


Client Comment

by Tracy James


From a Mountain Brook mom:

Thought you'd like to hear the compliment I just received from 20 year old daughter "Mom, I was just looking for something to wear and your closet is so much better than before I left for college".  I told her to BACK AWAY SLOWLY HANDS IN THE AIR.

 

From a Louisiana busninessman:

I'm loving the new look.  Even felt comfortable going to a pool party with no undershirt or socks!  I want you to come back and continue to help me evolve my look.  The rest of these pleated pants have got to go!


Chic Quip

by Tracy James


“IT IS BOTH DELUSIONAL AND STUPID TO THINK THAT CLOTHES DON’T REALLY MATTER AND WE SHOULD ALL WEAR WHATEVER WE WANT. MOST PEOPLE DON’T TAKE CLOTHING SERIOUSLY ENOUGH, BUT WHETHER WE SHOULD OR NOT, CLOTHES DO TALK TO US AND WE MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON PEOPLE’S APPEARANCES.” - G. Bruce Boyer


Chic TV: Alice + Olivia on Revenge and Modern Family

by Tracy James


Great stylists think alike? One of my favorite dresses I selected for a client in early Spring (Feb) was the long floral silk "Triss" dress by alice + olivia by Stacey Bendet, which she wore to her brother's Rehearsal Dinner. Thus I was amused to see Revenge's Emily Thorne wearing the dress in an April episosde. Then, tonight, Haley wore the dress to Cam & Mitchell's wedding on the Modern Family season finale! Take a look a the picture to see the slightly different ways the dresses were styled for each character - see if you notice the slight alteration on Haley's dress.


Chic Images

by Tracy James


Often I find style inspiration in everyday life - whether the color of lush green trees or texture of sand on the beach. In Chic Images, I will share these inspirations with you. Here, examples of fashion throughout history, as viewed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Marksburg Castle in Germany.

Top row & middle left, both Vermeer and Rembrandt included some of the elaborate ensembles of the time in their paintings. The rest of the pictures show actual clothing items on display in the Rijksmuseum, including, on the right, one of Yves Saint Laurent's classic shift dresses.

Top row & middle left, both Vermeer and Rembrandt included some of the elaborate ensembles of the time in their paintings. The rest of the pictures show actual clothing items on display in the Rijksmuseum, including, on the right, one of Yves Saint Laurent's classic shift dresses.

At top: intricate hair clips (waaaayyy before the Batman symbol was conceptualized); Middle row: before hipsters adopted them, Dutch shipyard workers donned knit toboggans. The rest of the photos show knight's armor throughout the ages, including the original gladiator sandal.

At top: intricate hair clips (waaaayyy before the Batman symbol was conceptualized); Middle row: before hipsters adopted them, Dutch shipyard workers donned knit toboggans. The rest of the photos show knight's armor throughout the ages, including the original gladiator sandal.