ADORN means to DECORATE. One way we adorn ourselves is through the CLOTHING and JEWELRY that we WEAR. 

Around the world, people adorn themselves in different ways and for all sorts of special occasions. What do you wear for special occasions? How are those clothes different from the clothes you are wearing right now? How do you feel when you dress up in special clothes?

Here are some examples of clothing and jewelry that people from other times and places wore on special occasions.

Bride’s Robe, 1700s. Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). 1918.550

Wedding robes like this were communal garments, meaning they were shared and passed down through generations of brides. Do you have special clothes or jewelry that have been passed down in your family? When you wear something that belonged to someone else, how do you feel?

Earrings, 600s. Byzantium. 1947.178.a–b

These earrings were worn by a fashionable woman in the 600s in Byzantium. They are decorated with pearls, glass, and emeralds. Would you wear these earrings? Why or why not? Think about your own jewelry. What kinds of materials are they made of?

Tilting Suit (composed), c. 1560–80. South Germany. 1916.1511

This armor was worn during jousting, a sport between two men holding lances, or spears, while battling on horseback. The armor helped protect the wearer from getting hurt. Today, we also wear objects that protect us while playing sports. What do you wear when you play your favorite sport? How is it similar or different to what a knight wore during jousts?

Crown, 1900s. Guinea Coast, Nigeria, Yoruba. 1995.22

Found in Nigeria, this beaded crown was once worn by a Yoruba king during annual festivals and for other public ceremonies. On the very top of the crown is the Okin, or Yoruba “royal bird.” What do you see when you look at this crown? How do you adorn your head or hair for special occasions?

Take a look in the CMA’s Collection Online. Can you find more objects that people wore long ago? To get started, try different “key word” searches for types of clothing or accessories. How many different words can you think of?

Play Dress Up

Print out this page and cut out the pieces. Draw a face on your paper figure, then dress it up using the different objects from the collection. Which outfit is your favorite? How many combinations can you make? Try exploring the CMA’s Collection Online to find more clothing or accessories for your paper figure to wear.

Don’t have a printer? Make your own paper figure and create your own outfits using pencils or crayons.


Be a Designer

This plain T-shirt needs some decorations. How would you decorate it? Where would you wear it? Take a picture of your creation and share it using #CMAatHome.

Blank T-shirt

Extra Challenge 

Look through your closet and pick out your favorite outfits. Remember, you can include hats, jewelry, and shoes! Pick some music and take turns showing off your favorite outfits to your family. What makes those outfits special? Share with us using #CMAatHome.