Perhaps the most important accessory for wealthy women in the seventeenth century was the folding fan. Made of fine materials such as silk or decorated paper, stretched between handles of ivory, carved wood, or even fine gold, and studded with jewels, fans were an item used to display the user's wealth and distinction. Women carried their fans dangling from decorative ties at their waist or held them in the hand. Late in the seventeenth century and through the eighteenth century fans became a prime prop in women's social performance. Women coyly hid their faces behind fans, waving them delicately in the air, in the flirtatious courtship rituals of the period. "There was an art in using a fan," writes fashion historian Ruth M. Green, "and some ladies wielded it with such self-conscious stylishness that they provoked the satirists," who ridiculed the exaggerated manners of some fan wavers.
Cassin-Scott, Jack. Costume and Fashion in Colour, 1550–1760. Introduction by Ruth M. Green. Dorset, England: Blandford Press, 1975.
De Vere Green, Bertha. Fans Over the Ages: A Collector's Guide. New York: A. S. Barnes, 1979.
[ See also Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Fans ]