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What do Alexa Chung, Victoria Beckham and Olivia Palermo have in common with 16th-century Czech women? Their love for the embroidery and cutwork technique called eyelet, which is trending just as hard now as it was over 500 years ago.
Eyelet, also known as broderie Anglaise, (French for English embroidery) originated in what is now the Czech Republic but gained popularity in Europe during the Victorian Era. So, to be fair, the contemporary popularity of eyelet, epitomized by Brigitte Bardot, who in 1959 wore a gingham and eyelet dress to marry Jacques Charrier, has more in common with Victorian women, even though it was the Czech who came up with the technique.
Victorian women typically wore eyelet as undergarments, however, according to the 1885 text The Dictionary of Needlework, eyelet was also a common trim for sleeves. This trend is also quite popular today.
As you know, white looks best when clean, and the tiny holes typical of eyelet fabric can trap dirt and dust. A wash after every wear is recommended, and if you can’t afford to take your eyelet to the dry cleaners, you can soak in a tub of warm water with detergent. Do not rub the fabric, as this might cause damage. You can also wash in a machine (with whites, in a regular cycle) and lay flat to dry. If you are going to press your eyelet, be sure to iron the wrong side to avoid flattening any of the embroidery.
To avoid looking “costume-y,” choose an eyelet fabric that is not white or even ecru. Today’s eyelet comes in all colors, even black. Or wear this easy, breezy fabric with other patterns (like leopard or stripes). And don’t forget, eyelet details can be found from head-to-toe, meaning you can literally wear eyelet on your feet.