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Fringe and Tambourines


Fringe and Tambourines

Erin Burke

Fringe and tambourines go together like peas and carrots. If your life has been adorned with these things, like Stevie Nicks' has, you are by far one of the lucky ones.


While I don’t know where tambourines came from, fringe dates back all the way to 3000 BC to the ancient civilizations living in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and made it’s way to America via the Native American tribes of the Plains. Fringe on garments served as a type of gutter repelling rainwater from the wearer. Fringe was a border or edge of hanging threads, cords, or strips, and was often found on garments made from suede, leather and buckskin.  

Fringe made it’s way into fashion embellishment in the 1920s as part of the flapper look. Skirts suddenly rose above the knee for the first time in Western history, and fringe was used to add a bit of demure to the daring styles. These fringed looks invaded all of high society throughout America and Europe. 

In the '50s, Elvis Presley adopted fringe as a part of his uniform with his famous leather jackets, creating an army of worldwide followers. In that same period (late '40s and early '50s) the Hell's Angels movement adopted the fringed look with jackets and gloves while riding their Harley Davidsons.

But the use of Native American fringe was an outgrowth of the hippie movement of the late 1960s. The movement had a huge impact on mainstream society; young Americans of the era were keenly interested in civil rights. Political gains made by African Americans earlier in the decade had spurred interest in the plight of other oppressed minority groups, including Native Americans. Wearing fringe became a way of showing sympathy for this cause.

Since its explosion in the 1960’s fringe has made a regular rotation in fashion, evolving and modernizing but always paying homage to it’s roots of liberty in the face of oppression. 

Let’s keep up the spirit, bonus points for working in a tambourine.

Photo credit: US Plains

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