During the Renaissance, nobles who wanted to show off their fancy wardrobes used to do so through public portraits. Later, when they wanted people throughout the land to see their clothing, they began commissioning illustrations mass produced from engraved plates. These printings eventually became known as fashion plates.
Eventually, these plates were used for advertising the latest fashion trends to the growing middle class. Periodicals like The Lady’s Magazine would include fashion plates to show their readers the latest styles, sort of like a proto-Vogue. Women could take these images to their dressmakers and buy their own versions of the outfits shown. Today photos have taken the place of the fashion plate, but the term remains part of the vernacular and is used to refer to somebody at the height of fashion. And if you want to show off your handwoven clothes, what better way than to enter them into the Handwoven 2013 Garment Challenge? There’s still time!