The Devil’s Cloth

A few years ago I struck a deal with a friend, that I would make her virtually an entire closet of garb in time for Estrella, asking only that whatever fabric she bought for her own garments, she doubled, and that I be allowed to keep the excess. From this deal I’ve gotten several very nice skirts, and I think most of a bolt of muslin which is long gone. I also got a huge, and I mean HUGE lot of wide-cut velvet corduroy, which has wide stripes of green and gold. I fell in love with the fabric, but couldn’t decide what to make with it (other than a pair of salvar that don’t fit and were given to a friend), so it’s been sitting in storage for three or four years while I decide, and every now and then I look at it and go, “I can’t wait to wear this!” but then I still don’t know what to make of it, so it stays there.

My main hesitation is that it’s really nice fabric, and I’ve been unable to find evidence of striping in any of the time periods I was looking at as options for the fabric’s destination. After an unfruitful search today, I decided to search “history of striped cloth” to see if perhaps it was a technological, rather than fashion, shortcoming. As it turns out, my theory was wrong but I was on the right track.

I found an article discussing the fact that in the renaissance in the West, striped cloth was seen as immoral, and only immoral and untrustworthy people would wear it. Stripes are not found in the portraits of nobles because they were the territory of whores, tricksters, and traitors. By selecting my fabric I have committed myself to creating a gown which, to the historical eye, will mark me as duplicitous and untrustworthy.

This in mind, it looks like I’d be better off turning it into a very luxurious entari, since the East did not have the same prohibitions against stripes. Unfortunately, a Turkish lady of low enough station to be wearing stripes would not have velvet, so I’m still out of luck as far as period accuracy, but I have all this fabric, and damn it, I’m not letting details like history slow me down.


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