Holiday Fashion Trends and Their Origins

Once the Pre-Fall collections hit the runways it is officially “Holiday” in the fashion world. Stores stock up on party attire that entices shoppers both passing by and on the other side of a computer screen. From glitz and glam to the tackiest of sweaters, we dress ourselves in classic styles year after year without thought of where they came from. That being said, here is a brief history of holiday fashion and their unique origins.


Anything that sparkles is the uniform du jour for any New Year’s Eve celebration. Interestingly enough, sequins have a history that far outshines even the flashiest ensemble. In 1922, King Tut’s tomb was discovered and inside his garments were adorned in “gold sequin-like disks.” Who What Wear reports, “Historians believe they were meant to ensure his financial stability in the afterlife.” Later in the Victorian era, they became more mainstream as both men and women wore them to add flair to their holiday looks. They used to actually be made of gelatin and would melt off in the rain and heat. Luckily they eventually made their way to the vinyl plastic we know today.


Nowadays ruffles are associated with femininity and glamour; this makes them such a staple among the holiday parties. But, in 1500’s Europe you’d find yourself surrounded by both men and women wearing ruffles galore. In fact, a man invented the ruffle in Spain at that time. It was a unisex style and even soldiers, the mightiest of men, wore them as a part of their uniform. By the 19th century it had become emasculating to wear ruffles and women took over this trend.

The Dress Shirt

The dress shirt is every man’s go-to when it comes to anything when the dress code requires more than a casual tee or sport’s jersey. Women rock this look for holiday season with everything from pencil skirts to a Le Smoking suit look. What has become such a commonplace item for both sexes actually is a relatively new invention. The dress shirts were traced back to 1800’s Britain. This is a product of the Victorian age and historians date it to the year 1837. The stated that this shirt was made for the “regal gentleman” of Britain.

Holiday Sweaters

One does not have a successful holiday season unless at least one ugly sweater party is attended. This seems like a recent phenomenon and the first Ugly Sweater party supposedly took place in Vancouver, Canada at the beginning of the new millennium. Although, there has been evidence found showing that men and women’s Christmas sweaters have been around since the 1950’s. Knitting patterns of snowy pines and other holiday motifs were found from that time.

High Heels

Even the tallest of the tall and those who despise heels find themselves strutting around in this style shoe this time of year. High heels add length to the leg and a more “dressed-up” feel to any outfit. Although, the birthplace the heel is traced back to the Middle East and were most definitely not used for the same purpose. The heel was actually created for men, particularly soldiers, who fought on horseback. They acted as a riding shoe that would hook into the stirrup so they could maintain balance and footing while shooting the enemy. Not exactly the most romantic of origins.

From soldiers, to elite British gentleman and Spanish sartorial innovativeness, many of these trends were not created particularly for a season of celebration. And, most of these looks we associate with women were actually created for men initially. Or they were unisex. In the end, knowledge is power, and great cocktail party conversation. So, us at ATS hope you have a fashionable and wonderful holiday and New Year. Now go blow everyone’s minds with your newfound information.

Christine Duff

Author: Christine Duff

Storytelling is my passion in life, whether through words across a page, a styled outfit that speaks volumes, or directing a photoshoot that expresses it visually. I live my life driven by my love of people, art, and the pursuit of happiness.