The History of Chokers By Sophie and Shannon

Origins

The exact, original origin of the choker is unclear, but there are several places and cultures that have used the choker.

Origins of the choker include Whales, France, Eastern Africa, and England.

Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry V111, alive in the early 1500s, was one of the first recorded people to wear a choker. Tied closely around her neck, Anne wore a choker made of pearl beads, ornamented with the letter "B" in the center for her last name, Boleyn.

Perhaps the more well known origin, later on, was in the 16th century, during the French Revolution. Many French women and men were known to wear red ribbons tied around their necks, resembling chokers, to stand in silent solidarity for those who had lost their lives (and their heads) to the guillotine.

Guillotine

Another origin, dating back much further, were Native Americans, who were known to adorn themselves in choker-like necklaces. However, instead of using them for reasons centered around vanity, they were used during special ceremonies as well as armor for warriors.

Many traditional tribes in Eastern Africa were also known to wear chokers. In the instance of the Maasai tribe, chokers are worn to symbolize marriage, and to help in spiritual ceremonies.

Diffusion

The choker has spread through relocation and hierarchical, as well as stimulus diffusion, as some of the traditional tribes in Africa were colonized by Europeans. Some of these cultures could have adopted this fashion and repurposed it to their own culture and practices. Royalty in many different European countries wore them as a sign of class. But in France in the 1700s, commoners developed a different purpose- to wear them in homage to those killed by the guillotine. Then, in the 1800s, concubines were known to wear chokers, and Degas was even known to paint dancers wearing them as well.

'Dance Class' by Degas
Alexandra Princess of Whales

Alexandra, Princess of Whales, brought back the trend of the choker in the late 1800s, destroying the idea of its bad connotation.

Later then, the trend of the choker spread to America, becoming popular in the 1940s, 1960s, 1990s, and the 2010s. More recently, the choker has gained popularity due to high fashion catwalks and later on, the rapid growth and popularity in social media. Especially on Instagram, the choker has become a popular trend in younger generations.

Style of choker popular in the 1940s.

Style of choker popular in the 1960s.

Choker popular in the 1990s.

Choker popular in the 2010s.

Distribution

The choker has been extremely popular in cities, especially where there are many popular, trendy stores, as well more traditional cultures, where they are used for more spiritual practices. Where the choker is popular varies greatly. In more traditional societies, it is used for ceremonies, and like in more urban areas, is an indicator of class and status. Due to the nature of core countries' fast-growing and ever-changing economy and trends, chokers have begun to be an aspect of popular fashion. In chain stores, such as Target, Forever 21, H&M, chokers are now mass-produced for the consumer.

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