Even the name is a bit silly. From the rustling tufts of plastic thrust wielded by cheerleaders, to the fluffy variety that we learned to make at school, pom-poms are often associated with celebration and cheer. They featured heavily in Dolce & Gabbana’s Summer collection, bringing frivolity to the catwalk. Like the summer equivalent of baubles, pom-poms are fun (and even somewhat ridiculous) adornments – and yet they can be found in many official costumes and uniforms from around the world. The uniform of the Evzone unit of the Greek army features sizeable pom-poms on the shoes, or tsarouhi. They were originally added to the nose of the shoe to keep out water, but became unexpectedly useful as hiding places for small weapons. Now, they are purely ceremonial, but should not be taken lightly – not least because each tsarouchia weighs about 1.5 kg! One of the uniforms of the French navy also features pom-poms – in fact, it is from the French word ‘pompon’ that we get the name. Resembling a cherry on top of a cupcake, a bright red pom-pom adorns the regulation bachi bonnet, and to touch one is meant to bring good luck. Perhaps one of the most curious folk costumes is that of the Protestant women of the Black Forest region. According to custom, after being confirmed, a girl would begin to wear a formal headdress called a Bollenhut, which was decorated with no fewer than fourteen pom-poms. These pom-poms would be arranged in the shape of the cross, and may well have inspired the top layer of the famous Black Forest gateau. Get your fill of contemporary pom-pom inspiration in the current issue of Selvedge.