Cummerbund

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Black ottoman silk cummerbund, for black tie Cummerbund1950.JPG
Black ottoman silk cummerbund, for black tie

A cummerbund is a broad waist sash in various designs including pleats, that was worn with double-breasted tail coats, [1] it is now often worn with single-breasted dinner jackets (or tuxedos). [2] The cummerbund originated in Persia and was adopted by British military officers in colonial India, where they saw it worn by sepoys (Indian soldiers) of the British Indian Army. [3] [ citation needed ] It was adopted as an alternative to the waistcoat, and later spread to civilian use. The modern use of the cummerbund to Europeans is as a component of traditional black tie and white tie events. [4]

Contents

Etymology

The word cummerbund is the Anglicized form of Hindustani kamarband (Hindustani: कमरबंद; کمربند), which is inturn from Persian (Persian : کمربند, romanized: kamarband). It entered English vocabulary in 1616 from India. It is a combination of the words kamar meaning 'waist' and band meaning 'strap' or 'lacing'. The 'waist-band' was a sash accessory worn by Indian men for many occasions. [5] [6]

The word cummerband (see below), and less commonly the German spelling Kummerbund (a Germanized spelling variation of the English word), are often used synonymously with cummerbund in English.

Description

The form of the cummerbund is a wide band around the waist, and its origin as part of black tie determined the acceptable colours. Once it was adopted as civilian dress, beginning as a largely summer option with informal dinner jackets, such as Burmese fawn and white, it was restricted to the narrow range of colours which accompany black tie. These were predominantly black, sometimes midnight blue to match the trousers, and occasionally maroon (the normal hue for coloured accessories). The pleats face up because they were originally used to hold ticket stubs and similar items, [7] [ page needed ] explaining the slang name 'crumb-catcher'. However, the cummerbunds worn as part of the US Army Blue Mess and Blue Evening Mess uniforms are worn with the pleats down, as prescribed by Army Regulation 670–1 Chapter 24 Section 10(b). The US Navy Uniform Regulations NAVPERS 15665 stipulate the cummerbund be worn with the pleats up for the Navy Dinner Dress Jacket. The contemporary use of the cummerbund is purely aesthetic, providing a transition between the shirt and the waistband. [8] The fastening is a ribbon around the back, tied or held shut by a buckle or velcro.

In contemporary use, it is now common to see coloured bow ties and cummerbands, often matching, but this is considered non-traditional. [7] They have also expanded in less formal situations into use with components of white tie, particularly by musicians, who sometimes wear a white cummerbund instead of the traditional piqué waistcoat. [9]

Military cummerbunds

The cummerbund of the French Foreign Legion is blue. French Foreign Legion dsc06878.jpg
The cummerbund of the French Foreign Legion is blue.

The units of the French Army of Africa (such as the Zouaves or the Chasseurs d'Afrique) wore cummerbunds of 2 different colours: blue for European soldiers and red for Native recruits. Some current French regiments, related to the French colonial history, still retain cummerbunds as part of their full dress uniform (notably the French Foreign Legion and the Spahis).

Similar to the cummerbund, a cummerband is an accessory to the dress uniform used extensively in modern South Asian armies including Indian Army and Bangladesh Army and others. It is generally worn during ceremonial parades and dinners. The colour or combination of colours varies widely according to regiment or corps. Unlike the civilian cummerbund, a leather belt is worn above this cloth piece and one end hangs free displaying an ornamental fringe.

Athletic cummerbunds

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, cotton cummerbunds were commonly worn by athletes participating in gymnastic and/or combat sport training and competition.

Cummerbunds in scuba diving

A cummerbund is also an informal word used in scuba diving to mean a wide waistband either on a buoyancy control device designed to provide more comfort to the user than a standard waistband and usually made of a stout fabric backed with velcro fastenings, or on a two-piece dry suit where a flexible rubber waistband helps to maintain a watertight seal between the jacket and the pants of the suit.

Related Research Articles

Kilt Tartan-patterned skirt worn in Scotland

A kilt is a type of knee-length non-bifurcated skirt with pleats at the back, originating in the traditional dress of Gaelic men and boys in the Scottish Highlands. It is first recorded in the 16th century as the great kilt, a full-length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak. The small kilt or modern kilt emerged in the 18th century, and is essentially the bottom half of the great kilt. Since the 19th century, it has become associated with the wider culture of Scotland, and more broadly with Gaelic or Celtic heritage. It is most often made of woollen cloth in a tartan pattern.

Black tie Semi-formal western dress code; dinner suit, tuxedo

Black tie is a semi-formal Western dress code for evening events, originating in British and American conventions for attire in the 19th century. In British English, the dress code is often referred to synecdochically by its principal element for men, the dinner suit or dinner jacket. In American English tuxedo is common. The dinner suit is a black, midnight blue or white two- or three-piece suit, distinguished by satin or grosgrain jacket lapels and similar stripes along the outseam of the trousers. It is worn with a white dress shirt with standing or turndown collar and link cuffs, a black bow tie, typically an evening waistcoat or a cummerbund, and black patent leather dress shoes or court pumps. Accessories may include a semi-formal homburg, bowler, or boater hat. For women, an evening gown or other fashionable evening attire may be worn.

White tie Most formal traditional Western dress code

White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal in traditional evening western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black dress coat with tails worn over a white shirt, white piqué waistcoat and the eponymous white bow tie worn around a standing wingtip collar. High-waisted black trousers, along with black patent leather oxford or optionally court shoes, complete the outfit. Orders, decorations and medals may be worn. Acceptable accessories include a black top hat, white gloves, a white scarf, a pocket watch and a boutonnière. Women wear full-length ball or evening gowns and, optionally, jewellery, tiaras, a small handbag and evening gloves. Some white-tie functions also request that the women wear long gloves past the elbow.

Suit Western male business attire of matching jacket and trousers, now worn by women.

A suit is a set of men’s or women’s clothes comprising a suit jacket, or coat, and trousers. When of identical textile, and worn with a collared dress shirt, necktie, and dress shoes, it is traditionally considered informal wear in Western dress codes. The lounge suit originated in 19th-century Britain as more casual wear alternative for sportswear and British country clothing. After replacing the black frock coat in the early 20th century as regular daywear, a sober one-coloured suit became known as a lounge suit. A darker, understated lounge suit for professional occasions became known as a business suit.

Formal wear, formal attire or full dress is the traditional Western dress code category applicable for the most formal occasions, such as weddings, christenings, confirmations, funerals, Easter and Christmas traditions, in addition to certain state dinners, audiences, balls, and horse racing events. Formal wear is traditionally divided into formal day and evening wear; implying morning dress before 6 p.m., and white tie after 6 p.m. Generally permitted other alternatives, though, are the most formal versions of ceremonial dresses, full dress uniforms, religious clothing, national costumes, and most rarely frock coats. In addition, formal wear is often instructed to be worn with official full size orders and medals.

Jacket Clothing for the upper body

A jacket is a mid-stomach–length garment for the upper body. A jacket typically has sleeves, and fastens in the front or slightly on the side. A jacket is generally lighter, tighter-fitting, and less insulating than a coat, which is outerwear. Some jackets are fashionable, while others serve as protective clothing. Jackets without sleeves are vests.

Mess dress uniform Formal evening dress worn by military officers in the mess or at other formal occasions

Mess dress uniform is the semi-formal type of uniforms used by military, police, fire and other public uniformed services for certain ceremonies, receptions, and celebrations, in messes or on private occasions. It frequently consists of a mess jacket, trousers, white dress shirt, often with standing collar and bow tie, along with orders and medals insignia. Design may depend on regiment or service branch, e.g. army, navy, air force, marines, etc. In Western dress codes, mess dress uniform is a permitted supplementary alternative equivalent to the civilian black tie for evening wear or black lounge suit for day wear - sometimes collectively called half dress - although military uniforms are the same for day and evening wear. As such, mess dress uniform is considered less formal than full dress uniform, but more formal than service dress uniform.

1870s in Western fashion costume and fashion of the 1870s

1870s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by a gradual return to a narrow silhouette after the full-skirted fashions of the 1850s and 1860s.

Morning dress jacket worn with mens morning dress

Morning dress, also known as formal day dress, is the formal Western dress code for day attire, consisting chiefly of, for men, a morning coat, waistcoat, and formal trousers, and an appropriate gown for women. Men may also wear a popular variant where all parts are the same colour and material, often grey and usually called "morning suit" or "morning grey" to distinguish it; considered properly appropriate only to festive functions such as summer weddings and horse races, which consequently makes it slightly less formal. The correct hat would be a formal top hat, or if on less spacious audience settings optionally a collapsible equivalent opera hat.

In Western clothing, semi-formal is a grouping of dress codes indicating the sort of clothes worn to events with a level of protocol between informal and formal. In the modern era, the typical interpretation for men is black tie for evening wear and black lounge suit for day wear, corresponded by evening dress or cocktail dress for women.

1840s in Western fashion costume and fashion of the 1840s

1840s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by a narrow, natural shoulder line following the exaggerated puffed sleeves of the later 1820s and 1830s. The narrower shoulder was accompanied by a lower waistline for both men and women.

Court uniform and dress in the United Kingdom formal dress for presentation at certain courtly functions in the United Kingdom

Court uniform and dress were required to be worn by those in attendance at the royal court in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

1880s in Western fashion costume and fashion of the 1880s

Fashion in the 1880s in Western and Western-influenced countries is characterized by the return of the bustle. The long, lean line of the late 1870s was replaced by a full, curvy silhouette with gradually widening shoulders. Fashionable waists were low and tiny below a full, low bust supported by a corset. The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in reaction to the extremes of fashionable corsetry.

Eisenhower jacket waist-length United States military battle dress jacket with breast pockets and a snug-fitting waistband

The Eisenhower jacket, or "Ike" jacket, is a type of waist length jacket or blouson developed for the U.S. Army during the later stages of World War II and named after Dwight D. Eisenhower. Intended to be worn on its own or as an insulating layer beneath the M-1943 Field Jacket, it featured a pleated back, adjustable waist band, fly-front buttons, bellows chest pockets, slash side pockets, and shoulder straps.

Uniforms of the United States Marine Corps

The Uniforms of the United States Marine Corps serve to distinguish Marines from members of other services. Among current uniforms in the United States Armed Forces, the Marine Corps dress uniforms have been in service the longest. The Marine Dress Blue uniform has, with few changes, been worn in essentially its current form since the late 19th century.

Uniforms of the Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force uniform is the standardised military dress worn by members of the Royal Air Force. The predominant colours of Royal Air Force uniforms are blue-grey and Wedgwood blue. Many Commonwealth air forces' uniforms are also based on the RAF pattern, but with nationality shoulder flashes. Cadets of the RAFAC which includes the ATC and CCF (RAF) Sections wear similar uniforms.

Red Sea rig, sometimes known as gulf rig or schooner rig, is a dress code for semi-formal evening events, which in general consists of black tie attire with the jacket removed, a red bow tie and red cummerbund, although there are local variations.

Uniforms of the Royal Navy

The uniforms of the Royal Navy have evolved gradually since the first uniform regulations for officers were issued in 1748. The predominant colours of Royal Navy uniforms are navy blue and white. Since reforms in 1997 male and female ratings have worn the same ceremonial uniform.

The uniforms of the United States Army distinguish soldiers from other service members. U.S. Army uniform designs have historically been influenced by British and French military traditions, as well as contemporary U.S. civilian fashion trends. The two primary uniforms of the modern U.S. Army are the Army Combat Uniform, used in operational environments, and the Army Green Service Uniform worn during everyday professional wear and during formal and ceremonial occasions that do not warrant the wear of the more formal blue service uniform.

British Army mess dress is the formal military evening dress worn by British Army officers and senior non-commissioned officers in their respective messes or at other formal occasions.

References

  1. "Vintage Evening Waistcoats & Cummerbunds — Gentleman's Gazette".
  2. Villarosa; Angeli (1990), The Elegant Man: How to Construct the Ideal Wardrobe, p. 148.
  3. "Vintage Evening Waistcoats & Cummerbunds — Gentleman's Gazette".
  4. "Vintage Evening Waistcoats & Cummerbunds — Gentleman's Gazette".
  5. "Cummerbund". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  6. "cummerbund". Thefreedictionary.com . American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 2016.
  7. 1 2 Bridges, John (2008). How to be a Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
  8. Flusser, Alan (2002), Dressing the Man, p. 246.
  9. Walroth, Chris (March 2001), "Behind", The Wholenote Magazine, archived from the original on 15 February 2009.