Fashion A to Z: Yokes and Zippers

Hello and welcome back for the FINAL post in the Fashion A to Z series! This has been a fun and interesting journey.

We are going to wrap up this series with Y and Z in one post and talk about some functional parts of garments- yokes and zippers.

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A yoke is a separate pattern piece for the shoulder area that attaches to the front or back of the garment.

Yokes can be in the front or back shoulder area only. Sometimes it’s a section at the top of a skirt.

Yokes can have different shapes. They can be round, square or straight. They are used to give support to the garment. It’s more of a functional part than fashionable but some can give interest to a top and have features that have been trendy through the years.

Here’s a fun top with a sheer yoke:

sheer yoke top
Draper James Sheer Yoke Top

A smocked yoke top:

smocked yolk top
Caslon top

Lace yoke top

lace yoke top, interesting yokes in tops
Halogen lace yoke top

Zippers- We would have a hard time keeping some of our clothes in place without them. But how did we get them?

Buttons were the first choice for clothing fasteners, but we are always looking for easier and better ways to do things. The inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, received a patent in 1851 for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” He was too involved in promoting the sewing machine to market the product.

Whitcomb Judson improved upon Howe’s idea and began to market what he called a “Clasp Locker.” He designed it to be a fastener for shoes and he started the Universal Fastener Company. The product debuted at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, but it didn’t have much success.

The modern zipper was eventually designed in 1913 by Gideon Sundback, who worked at the Universal Fastener Company in Hoboken, New Jersey. He received a patent for his “Separable Fastener” in 1917.

Sundback’s design increased the number of fastening elements to 10 per inch and included two rows of interlocking teeth that would latch together with the help of a slider. His design was the first fastener to resemble what we now know as a zipper.

The name “zipper” was developed by the B.F. Goodrich Company when they used Sundback’s device as a fastener on a new type of rubber boots they produced. They called the device a “zipper” and the name stuck! It took another twenty years for the fashion industry to begin using the zipper and it started in children’s clothing so they could more easily dress themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the zipper was invented. I’d never get out the door on time if I had to button everything!

Zippers are usually hidden in garments, but it became trendy a few years back to have exposed zippers.

Eliza J Shift Dress

Remember in the 80s or 90s when it was cool to have jeans that zipped up the back or sides of the leg from the hem? It’s back.

Zip hem pants

Have you ever given much thought to what yokes and zippers add to a garment? Do you even think about them when shopping?

Fashion A to Z