The Genesis of the Holiday Sequin
Part Three In A Series Called “The Real History of Fashion”
The holidays, no matter your denomination, are essentially a cluster hump of back to back opportunities for glittering fetes. I’m using “glittering” in the literal sense, not in an attempt at painting you a wordy picture; the outside moonlight is not dappling across the room or playing tricks on eyes all up in this bitch. Rather, every party is literally glittering because at least 25 party guests — cater waters and dogs included — are wearing sequins.
So how did this come about? Who declared that sequins were the pinnacle of festive-wear? Well boy oh boy did you come to the right place.
It all started around 2500BC, which is where a very reliable source that rhymes with shmickapedia cites the first occurrence in the form of tiny, decorative gold disks. What rhymes-with-shmickapedia does not mention is who wore them, because to this day it’s still technically unclear. I am privy, however, to a tadpole of information that was leaked to me by way of a shady deal at a backyard bar wherein I promised to sell a pair of very strange old shoes that once belonged to my cousin Zeba in exchange for a bit of knowledge on She Who First Wore Sequins.
The first wearer of sequins — or gold discs, per the BC tagline — was a young woman who was a master at the art of distraction. Let’s call her Pam. You see, despite 2500BC being a time that feels farther away than your remote control, people still had to endure family parties. And they were asked, just as you and I are, repeated and annoying questions about the state of affairs regarding love life, work, and love life again, all whilst trying to navigate the awkwardness that is conversation between bites of puff pastries.
Now you see, our young heroine had exactly this type of holiday party circled on her pre-gregorian calendar for weeks. She was feeling equal parts excitement (Family! Presents! Ironically terrible sweaters despite this ancient era’s otherwise undocumented lack of thrift stores!), and equal parts dread (No love life to speak of when Grandma asks. No job to speak of when grandpa asks. Still no love life, Aunt Cathy. Did Grandma ask you to ask me that?). She knew that to enter said party unarmed and unprepared could mean a barrage of unwanted questions for which she just didn’t have the answers.
So, Pam did what many women do and pre-planned her outfit. Only this outfit — ha ha! — this outfit would distract the shit out of everyone.
She spent night after night leading up the eve of the party, sewing on sequin after sequin. By the time her debut finally rolled around, she’d created a dress so heavy that she could barely walk. (So pre-Gucci of her!)
Pam rang the door bell which may or may not have actually existed back yonder, and as Uncle Jamie opened the door with the family clamoring behind him, the setting sun’s light hit her dress just so, and a million billion spots of light exploded into the room. Everyone was temporarily blinded and dizzy, and our little Lady Wonder waltzed into the room without so much as a “Seeing anyone special?”
For the remainder of the night and all parties going forward, anytime she didn’t want to answer an annoying question — “Hey! Have you decided on a major yet?” — she found a touch of light to reflect in people’s eyes with her sequined dress. She was like the sun: regal, gorgeous, but when confronted head-on, impossible to stare at directly. She became a legend, and nearly every woman of 2500BC adopted the trend.
It should be noted, however, that these tiny gold discs were thought to have otherwordly powers. Since women were afraid to overuse the magic, sequins were worn to great excess only for the duration of (what we’d consider) December 1 through January 2.
Fast forward to today where a holiday fiesta is just not festive without that extra burst of sparkle which permeates the unilateral dress code. We may think we wear it because it’s pretty, or because there’s something about the concept of twinkling in general that seems to imitate snow’s luminescence under a full moon or the bubbles of a freshly popped bottle of champagne. But it’s actually all about Darwinism, because we need these sequins to mentally survive the Season of Annoying Questions.
Oh! As for where sequins originally came from? Alien puke, duh. That shit is really, really sparkly.
If you have a different theory, you know we have to hear it, and if you have a picture of you in sequins, you know we have to see it. (We’ll wear sunglasses while browsing the comments just in case.)