Just like recent times, people in the past did quite a number of crazy things in the name of fashion, including swallowing tapeworm to lose weight, wearing flamboyant dresses having deathtrap called crinoline, pannier and tight-lacing corset just to get the perfect 16-inch waist and all sort of wacky things in order to be stylish.
While you desire to stay abreast with the latest fashion trend, you must know how it used to be in the past.
In this article, you’ll get to see 7 crazy fashion trends in history; some of which were really dangerous and caused a lot of deaths.
It’s a well-known undergarment that was originally made from stiffened fabric then developed into cages like contraptions made from steel, whale bones or wood. It was made for training the waist and torso to give a desired small waist and a large bottom.
Dizzy and fainting spells accompanied this fashion device because of difficulty in breathing due to it being laced too tight and compressing the lungs.
Although, corsets weren’t really deadly but they did cause constipation, indigestion and shifting of organs which eventually lead to deformity.
This was created by a French designer, Paul Poiret, in the 20th century before the first world war.
This dress freed women from tight corset and heavy petticoat but since it was long and closed fitted, women couldn’t afford to take large steps so they had to embrace mincing little steps. In Paul Poiret’s words “Yes I freed the bust. But I shackled the legs”.
This came to be in the era when Queen Elizabeth the first had a very huge thing for sugar which was very expensive at that time in Tudor, England. This craving caused her to have decaying teeth at the early stage of her life. Her teeth were so black and decaying that some people complained of having a hard time trying to understanding her. In her early fifties, her teeth had almost all turned black and fallen out.
This lead to a short-lived fashion trend in England as women found means to blacken their teeth to prove that they had enough money to buy sugar.
Also known as ‘hoop skirt’, a large stiff bell-shaped petticoat made of horsehair, wood or sometimes steel. It was structured to push out ladies’ dresses out to an extreme degree and give them big regal hips.
Crinoline was very dangerous as many casualties were recorded. For example, there are stories of women’s dresses being caught up in carriage wheels then dragged to death and also, a young woman in Boston died when her large skirt got caught fire in 1858 etc.
This fashion style has a scary fire related death record of about 3,000 women in England from during the late 1850s and late 1860s. Yikes.
This trended in the 17th and 18th centuries. Panniers (derived from the French word ‘Pannier’ meaning basket) were worn. It was similar to crinoline since it gave dresses large volume and the wearers, large hip, but unlike the latter which was bell hoop, this was by the sides and was made from woods, metals, whale bones and sometimes reeds.
Large occasions and high social status of the wearer called for bigger panniers. It was so big the two noble women couldn’t pass through an entrance or seat on a couch together.
Just like its crinoline, the uncomfortable and movement limiting dress has its retards of death.
Are you familiar with Yankee Doodle who stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni? This song was inspired by a weird fashion trend in the 18th century when young men wore large powdered wigs and topped it with thermal hat or feather.
This was decked with outrageous flashy outfits by the dandy ‘macaroni men’ who had clubs and their own long formed from French, Italian and English.
The tapeworm diet was common in the Victorian era for losing weight. To eat without worrying about gain fat or calories, women took pills containing tapeworm’s egg. This egg would hatch and partake of whatever is eating leaving the latter free to eat whatever and still have the perfect dainty, fragile shape. Some people in this era still use this way to lose weight. It might seem like a reasonable mutualistic relationship but we all know who’s going to suffer it at the end
Bug encrusted jewelry was also worn in the Victorian era but that is a story for another day. It’s funny how what was called fashion at that time is now deemed as crazy, it’s also ironic when you remember that what we see as trendy now will be a joke in the nearest future.
We’ll like to hear your thoughts on these crazy fashion trends in history in the comments section below!
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