A Brief History of Bows in Fashion Reply

Yellow sapphire and diamond bow pin

Yellow sapphire and diamond bow pin

Bows may not always be on the forefront of fashion but they are never something that goes out of style. In fact, bows are quite the iconic shape which was been repeated in fashion; clothing, hair accessories and jewelry for the past century.

In the Victorian era, bows made an appearance not only as women’s accessories but also in men’s fashion. For women, bows were quite the embellishment for dresses and as hair ribbons. In the Victorian era, it was common that a cameo would be places in the middle of a bow. Men’s bows were often worn as bowties but they were more over the top than bowties are today.

Bows continued on in fashion during the Edwardian era but became a more popular design for jewelry. White gold and diamond bows were seen often as pendants and as brooches. The design was more delicate and elegant. The shapes of the bows were often rounder and more intricate.

Then, bows fell out of fashion. The art deco era became a time of geometric shapes and straight lines. There was no place for sculptured and fluid bows during this time.

1940's Harry Iskin golf filled bow brooch

1940’s Harry Iskin golf filled bow brooch

Yet, in the 1940s, bows came back stronger than ever. They were huge in jewelry, often in the form of brooches made in green and rose gold with colorful gemstones. In fashion, they became an embellishment of the Peter Pan collar. A fun fact is that in the 1940s, the placement of bows in hairstyles indicated a teenage girl’s love life. If worn on the right side, it indicated that a girl was deeply in love, if worn on the left, the girl was going steady. If worn on top of the head, a girl was out looking for a man, and if worn in the back of the hair, it indicated that a girl was simply not interested in men. As you can tell, the Retro period may have been the biggest time for bows. Something we are starting to see repeated in fashion today.

Green and rose gold retro brooch with carved amethyst in center

Green and rose gold retro brooch with carved amethyst in center

By the 1950s, bows in jewelry went back to more of an Edwardian style, white gold and diamond with delicate lines. Bows were once again used as an embellishment on dresses and sometimes on fascinators. The combination of bows in jewelry and fashion was interesting during this time period because women’s clothing was somewhat basic, straight hemlines with little to no patterns. The bow placement was simple, sometimes on shoes but never adding to much frivolity on clothing. The contrast between these simple bows and the more elegant jewelry bows made the look interesting.

1940's gold filled spray bow brooch

1940’s gold filled spray bow brooch

Today, bows have been in and out of fashion, sometimes on jewelry, sometimes on clothes. But the shape of bows is what is more influential to clothing. Brocade patterns that are popular now have taken their form from the Edwardian bow. The bows in jewelry have thinned down a lot; they are simple, used as pendants, on rings and as earrings. On our recent trip to New York, bows were a huge motif in jewelry at the Jewelers of America show.

No matter what the current style is, bows have showed they are a timeless shape in both fashion and jewelry.