People have been making beaded clothes for thousands of years. The first beads were probably made of small bones strung together or sewn onto garments for decoration. Eventually ancient craftsmen started carving the bones into spheres or cylinders and boring a hole into them. These were attached to fabric and used to make the first beaded clothes.

Today beads are made from dozens of different materials including glass, metal and plastic. They come in sizes from tiny seed beads through the giants that are usually featured surrounded by smaller but no less spectacular beads.

In modern times beads have usually been reserved as decoration for formal attire, such as evening or wedding gowns. One notable exception is the cashmere cardigan sweater which features a beaded design surrounding the collar and/or the front and back yokes. These were wildly popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s and have again become fashionable in recent years.

An accessory that has always had beaded versions is the woman’s handbag, particularly smaller styles for evening use. Some of these bags are leather or cloth which are decorated with beads and others are completely covered with beads. Either style brings simple elegance to an accessory every woman should have for formal occasions.

Today beads are showing up in daytime wear and accessories. Novelty shirts and blouses use beads as enhancements to the printed or embroidered decoration or pattern. This use of beads is a subtle way to jazz up daytime clothes and is usually very charming and tasteful.

Along with beaded clothing and handbags, beads are showing up on other accessories, such as hats, belts, shoes, hair jewelry and even sunglasses. Use these expensive designs to inspire your own creations and add beads to ready made clothing either with needle and thread or glue. Beads are very forgiving when used this way. Unless you’re entering your creation into a contest, small irregularities or variations in pattern are welcome and add individuality to your beaded clothes and accessories.