It's dainty when parked along the perimeter of a poncho and rough-and-rugged indie when it's fashioned into a leather skirt.
What else, but fringe? Designers are effusively shearing suede into thin strips and stringing teeny, tiny beads (or sometimes bold baubles) onto angel hair pasta-size twine to make the fringe snazz up our spring silhouettes. The ticklish-to-the-touch tassels are at their most modern as pendants on cleavage-grazing necklaces.
Fringe finished the hems of ancient Egyptian robes. In the 14th century, tassels decorated sheaths in which gentlemen carried swords and daggers. In the 1920s, fringe went high fashion on flapper dresses by Coco Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet - providing the shimmy-shimmy-swish needed for dancing the Charleston.
Inspired by Native Americans, Halston and Yves Saint Laurent fringed out entire runway collections in the 1970s. Tasseled ponchos and Western-style dresses were key to the hippie uniform.
As fashion continues revisiting past decades, fringe flutters in and out of favor. In 2012, labels from BCBG to Zara incorporated fringe on Gatsby-inspired fashion. This spring, collections from Altuzarra, the Row, and Proenza Schouler feature lots of fringe. And just a week and a half ago, Christopher Bailey sent patchwork dresses, animal print bags, and fringed pumps down the runway for Burberry's fall 2015 collection.
Fringe is popular with millennial festivalgoers, who, in large part, are stealing their style from the Woodstock era, the peak of fringe. (See how cyclical fashion is?)
Just a few weeks ago, Amal Alamuddin was spotted in a $4,000 Saint Laurent fringe suede cape. At the Grammys, Katy Perry wore a Zuhair Murad dress sparkling with white-gold fringe, Nicki Minaj's Tom Ford gown boasted not only major cleavage but also a massively fringed skirt. And on Wednesday singer Estelle rocked an amazing fringe-trimmed vest.
I like the way fringe feels in my fingers, but tattered finishes aren't my friends. However, a tasseled necklace in slate or mint green with a little black dress is quite alluring.
Your fringe should match your sense of style. If 1970s western isn't your thing, stay away from suede fringe. A three-tiered fringe dress is a little bit much for most of us. If you yearn for glamour that moves with your body, try a dangling fringe earring.
Listen to Elizabeth on Fridays at 8 a.m. on (900 am) WURD with Solomon Jones.
Models: Colleen Sparks, Caleigh Giarra