The ins and outs of Pom-Pom Bags
In recent years there has been a huge upsurge in the number of ways pom-poms are used. Pom-poms and tassels accentuate movement making your clothes “come alive” as you walk and catching the eye of passers-by.
But if the thought of donning some fluffy little balls leaves you cold, then the ideal solution is to add them to your handbag. A pom-pom charm is the ideal way to fun up your boring handbag with a bit of colour and a bit of fluffy drama.
Of course, if adding just one or two pom-poms isn’t your style then you can go the whole hog and get a pom-pom bag. The ones we have in stock are fairly traded from tribeswomen in Thailand and are not only amazingly fluffy they are also beautifully embroidered and are sure to turn heads wherever you go.
What are pom-poms?
Pom-poms are those cute little fluffy adornments that can found on almost any piece of clothing from hats to shoes. Nowadays they are used to add some structure, shape or colour in a fun way, but they have a long history.
Origin of the name
The word pom-pom comes from the French pompon meaning the adornment added to Napoleonic soldiers’ uniforms in mimicry of the Hungarian Hussar’s Shako – a heavy, plumed helmet. The colour and shape of pompon signified regiment and rank – rather like the buttons and stripes of modern uniforms – and was a focus of pride for the soldiers.
Perhaps the earliest known depiction of a pompom comes from Viking times, however. In 1904 a statue of the Viking God Freyr was unearthed and the helmet the God wears is clearly topped with a pom-pom in such a way that it must have been a deliberate inclusion by the original sculptor.
Across the world
Pom-poms are used decoratively by almost all cultures. Traditional uses often imbue some kind of meaning into their use.
In South America, especially Peru, pom-poms are worn to denote marital status. The position, colour and number of pom-poms on his hat indicates whether a man is married, committed or up-for-grabs. Married women wear pom-poms on their hem and whilst colourful ones denote happiness if the overall colour is blue it denotes sadness and pom-poms behind the knees are especially significant.
Roman Catholic Clergy wear pom-poms on their birettas (hats) to denote their position in the clergy. The combination of pom-pom colour and colour of biretta indicates how highly ranked he is. Bishops wear amaranth colour hats with a purple pom-pom, clergy below wear black with those working at the Vatican wearing a red pom-pom and others wearing a black pom-pom. The Birettas of Cardinals are made of scarlet silk and do not have a pom-pom.
Greek soldiers famously wear shoes with pom-poms on the toes as part of their ceremonial dress. The shoes, known as tsarouchi, are formed of several pieces of thick leather coming to a point at the toe. It is thought that the pom-pom may originally have been added to improve waterproofing in the toe region.
They are an important feature of traditional Scottish Tam o’ Shanter, Glengarry or Balmoral bonnets (floppy beret-like hats) where they are known as toories. Originally the hat would be knitted or crocheted finishing at the crown. The ends of the wool were then tied off and allowed to fluff out into a pom-pom or tassel which later became the actual pom-pom on the modern form of the hat.
In Thailand Mien women are noted for their long jackets which are decorated with pom-poms at knee-height.
For decoration’s sake
Embellishment with pom-poms saw a huge increase in popularity during the 1930s when the Great Depression meant there was little spare cash for more expensive decorations. A pom-pom is simple to make from a couple of hollow-circular forms and scraps of yarn, which do not need to be of any great length as they are cut short in the final product.
Today’s more recent trends for decorating with pom-poms is all about adding a bit of fun and fluff to your life. Although used widely in ceremonial garments they bring a bit of light-relief to anything they adorn.
The jury is out as to whether or not the popularity of the pom-pom comes from the ease with which it can be created, the cost and the fact that scrap-pom-poms are an ideal antidote to today’s wasteful society or whether it comes down to The Monkee’s Mike Nesmith who, perhaps infamously, wore a bobble hat. While it is probably certain that he did influence some people to start wearing bobble hats, topped with a large pom-pom, the influence and reach of 60s pop-stars was much less than it is now so to what extent he really affect fashion is anyone’s guess.