Dress is frequently used to convey widespread societal preoccupations or fears. This can be quite obvious, such as in a T-shirt slogan, or very subtle, such as in a regularly repeated decorative theme. Anxiety about the Industrial Revolution and the transition from agricultural to urban/industrial civilization resulted in the frequent appearance of ripe wheat stalks on apparel and accessories in the nineteenth century.
Often called the staff of life, wheat is a long-standing symbol of fertility, bounty and resurrection.
This symbolic link can be traced back to the beginnings of Western civilization, when the production of wheat and other grains aided in the creation of cities and towns. Wheat was strongly identified with women because of their shared ability to sustain society: wheat nourished women, who reproduced and subsequently fed their families with wheat (in the form of bread).
Urbanization became the norm during the Industrial Revolution, with many people shifting from farm to factory in quest of better jobs. This transition culminated in a romanticization of country life and all things natural. Many people turned to historic or imagined types of dress and traditional design techniques, such as smocking, in an effort to protest a more automated and standardized way of life. More subtle resistance, such as the widespread appearance of wheat patterned and adorned textiles, accompanied these deliberate attempts to avoid certain features of an industrial lifestyle.
Despite the growing use of machine embroidery, many women sewed clothing or decorative things for the home. Wheat stalks appeared on pin-cushions, footstools, slippers, and bed coverlets, and were based on embroidery patterns from the 1860s-1880s. The actual embroidery medium was sometimes wheat or straw.
Today, wheat symbol is used in fashion wearing, including necklace and earrings. You can browse the collection of handmade wheat necklaces here.