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5 Sparkling Facts About Sequins

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Getty Images

It’s not an official requirement, but the Olympics wouldn't be the same without a bit of sparkle and pageantry. At the Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympics, supermodel Gisele Bündchen set the tone in a dress covered in gold sequins, a garment that took four months to create.

Now a common material in the fashion and costuming industries and in high-visibility, performance-based events like parades and stage shows, there is actually more to the history of sequins than you might know.

1. THEY DATE BACK TO ANCIENT EGYPT.

In 1922, archaeologists discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb and became the first people to enter it in more than 3000 years. The rooms of the tomb were filled with many signs of Tut’s wealth, including a solid gold coffin. Inside the coffin, the young mummified king’s body was found draped in lavish garments with what Smithsonian.com described as “gold sequinlike disks” sewn onto them.   

2. LEONARDO DA VINCI INVENTED A SEQUIN MACHINE.

A prolific inventor, Leonardo da Vinci had ideas for many machines that he never got around to building. One of his sketches from the early 1480s is of a device that would use pulleys and what appear to be weights to make gold sequins. Da Vinci’s reasons for designing the machine are still unknown, but the Smithsonian believes it may have been for fashion or something more “utilitarian.”

3. THEY WERE ONCE MADE FROM ANIMAL PARTS.

From the solid gold of Ancient Egypt to the metal coins that inspired the word "sequin" in the 13th century, sequins have gone through many phases to become the plastic disks we know today.

In the 1930s, sequins were made of gelatin from animal carcasses because the material could be rolled into sheets and punched into shapes. The problem was that gelatin melts when too much heat is applied, and it also dissolves in water. Wearing sequin dresses in the rain was a disaster, and they obviously couldn't be cleaned using washing machines, so the collagen style didn't survive the decade.

4. WORLD WAR II CHANGED SEQUIN PRODUCTION.

Herbert Lieberman of the Algy Trimmings Co. was a pioneer of sequin production in the United States whose customers included everyone from the Ringling Brothers to Elizabeth Taylor. In an interview with Derek McCormack, Lieberman said that his father had to learn how to make sequins himself when the supply in Europe “dried up” during the Second World War. Working with Eastman Kodak (the camera company), Algy was able to get his sequin material custom made out of clear plastic.

“Eastman Kodak was producing acetate for their film stock,” Lieberman explained. “They plated it on one side with real silver. They coated the silver with a clear ink of the color we desired. They colored the other side as well ... The light would penetrate through the color, hit the silver, and reflect back.”

The new sequins ran the risk of cracking like glass because of the acetate, but they were more versatile and less fragile than the alternative. 

5. A NORWEGIAN FIGURE SKATER BROUGHT SEQUINS TO THE OLYMPICS.  

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Sequins have become a standard part of the Olympic dress code for sports like gymnastics and skating, but that wasn’t always the case. In the late 1920s, figure skater Sonja Henie changed the Games with her white boots, choreography, and short skirts, which gave her more range of motion and helped her perform jumps on the ice. No doubt influenced by the flapper style of the period, Lieberman says that the three-time Olympic champion was also the first in the sport to add Algy’s sequins to her outfits.

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These Super Realistic Ski Masks Let Your Inner Animal Come Out
Beardo
Beardo

No matter how serious you are about your skiing performance, it doesn't hurt to have a sense of humor on the slopes. These convincing animal masks spotted by My Modern Met make it easy to have fun while tearing up the trails.

Each animal mask from the Canadian apparel company Beardo is printed with a photorealistic design of a different animal's face. Skiers can disguise themselves as a bear, dog, fox, orangutan, or even a grumpy-ish cat while keeping their skin warm. The only part of the face that stays exposed is around the eyes, but a pair of ski goggles allows wearers to disappear completely into their beastly persona.

The playful gear is practical as well. The stretchy polyester material is built to shield skin from wind and UV rays, while the soft fleece lining keeps faces feeling toasty.

Beardo's animal ski masks are available through their online store for $35. If you like to stay cozy in style, here are more products to keep you warm this winter.

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

[h/t My Modern Met]

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Learn to Tie a Tie in Less Than 2 Minutes
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iStock

For most men—and Avril Lavigne-imitators—learning to tie a tie is an essential sartorial skill. Digg spotted this video showing how you can tie one the simple way, with a tabletop method that works just as well if you’re going to wear the tie yourself or if you're tying it together for someone else who doesn't share your skills.

The whole technique is definitely easier to master while watching the video below, but here's a short rundown: As laid out by the lifehack YouTube channel DaveHax, the method requires you to lay the tie out on a table, folded in half as if you're about to loop it around your neck.

With the back of the tie facing up, you loop over each end, then twist the thinner of the two loops around itself so it ends up looking like a mini-tie knot itself. You'll end up nestling the two loops together and snaking the thin tail of the tie through the whole thing. Then, essentially all you have to do is pull, and you can adjust the tie as you otherwise would to put it over your head.

Unfortunately, this won't teach you how to master the art of more complicated neckwear styles like the fancier Balthus knot or even a bow tie, but it's a pretty good start for those who have yet to figure out even the simplest tie fashions.

[h/t Digg]

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