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Take a Look at 15 Truly Bizarre and Unique Fashion Trends From Eras Gone By

By Jatin Sharma, 20 June 2018

Fashion has always been the imagination of what would look good on a person. It has changed since the days of Adam and Eve, who supposedly wore leaves, to prehistoric humans, who wore animal skin, to the invention of woven cloth. How a person carries themselves has changed with time and each era has had some bizarre fashion trend that was the rage of its time.

21st century, in which we live, has already seen many bizarre fashion trends all ready to document, but the fashion trends of 400-500 years back are truly mesmerizing as we today think that how people wore such stuff.

Keeping that in mind, we today take a longing look back into 15 of the truly bizarre fashion trends from history.

1The 1800s trend of the Alexandra Limp

Princess Alexandra, the princess of Wales was a well-respected authority on fashion in the 1800s. She is also the originator of the bizarre fashion trend of ‘Alexandra Limp’ which became a rage in London in 1860s.

Alexandra of Denmark, the bride of the Prince of Wales was a fashion icon of her time and everything from her clothes, her jewelry, and necklaces reigned supreme in the fashion world in the latter half of the 1800s. In 1867, Alexandra gave birth to her third child and suffered from the rheumatic fever which almost caused her to die. Her left leg became stiff from fever and she had to limp from then on while walking.

People thought that it was a fashion statement and ladies started copying the limp, often by wearing mismatched footwear, with one shoe having a higher heel than the other.

The 1800s trend of the Alexandra Limp

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2Long-toed shoes are known as Crakows

Originating in Krakow, Poland, the long-toed shoes came to be known as Crakows and became a rage in 12th century Europe. They lost some of their sheens in the 13th century, only to make a big comeback in the 14th century when Richard II married Anne of Bohemia in 1382.

The length of the long toes was directly proportional to the social status of the person wearing it. Charles V of France was the first one to ban the shoes in 1368. Edward IV banned shoes with a specific length of anything more than two inches in 1463. In 1465, England banned them as well.

Long-toed shoes are known as Crakows

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319th century dresses made of arsenic to die for

The 19th century Victorian Era had fashion that could literally kill you. During those times, there was a trend of wearing emerald green colored dresses. However, that shade of green could only be achieved by using the poisonous Arsenic to dye the dresses.

However, it was a time when Arsenic was thought to have medical properties and consumed in large quantities. Apart from being used in dresses, it was also used in floral headdresses. The British Medical Journal called the women who wore the green dresses “killing femmes fatales.” Women wearing these dresses for a long time suffered from severe ulcers on the skin, but the biggest casualties of this trend were the makers of these dresses.

19th century dresses made of arsenic to die for

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4The ‘Hobble Skirt’ that made the wearer hobble

Hobble Skirt got their name because the lower part of the skirt was so tight, that the ladies wearing the skirt had a hard time walking freely in it. This trend can be partly blamed on Mrs. Edith Berg, who is the first woman to fly a plane. She did so with the Wright Brothers and had to tie her skirt around the ankle so that it wouldn’t fly off.

The ‘Hobble Skirt’ that made the wearer hobble

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519th century's stiff, starched, detachable collars

Starched, rigid, and separable collars can be seen as the most common fashion accessory of the Victorian era. These collars were so tight, that they could possibly choke their wearers. On September of1888, John Cruetzi died due to the stiff collar crushing his windpipe as he slept and stopping blood flow.

19th century

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6Blackening one’s teeth

In Britain, the consumption of sugar increased by 5 times in 1770 as compared to 1710. People really loved to eat their jams, tea, candy, coffee, processed foods, cocoa, and other sweet treats more than ever. Well, anything in excess has its demerits, and excess of sugar caused the teeth to rot and become black. Even Queen Elizabeth had black teeth due to excessive sugar consumption, reports suggest.

The richer the person, blacker the teeth and it became a trend to separate rich from the poor. Poor and middle-class people intentionally blackened their teeth to give the impression that they were rich.

Blackening one’s teeth

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720 inches platform shoes known as ‘chopines’

The 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries saw the fashion trend of 20 inch high heeled shoes known as ‘chopines.’ These originally were designed to protect the actual shoes from mud and dirt, but later became a signal to show how rich a person was.

The Renaissance period saw chopines rise to the stature of societal statement among women. The platform on the shoes were also raised to comical heights. A law had to be made known as Venetian Law to make sure the height doesn’t exceed three inches.

20 inches platform shoes known as ‘chopines’

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8The men’s fashion of ‘Macaronis’

“Macaroni” was a term used in the mid-18th century to illustrate a guy who had an amazing fashion judgment. He was a person who has “exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion.” Young men who had come back from Italy brought their love for a type of pasta known as macaroni and these people distinguished themselves by wearing fashionable clothing with frills and coats with a sharp, tail-like characteristic at the back of the garment.

These clothes were accompanied by spyglass and curly wigs. A cap known as chapeau was so tall that it could only be touched by a sword. English men had never seen such a fashion style and it became an instant hit amongst them. A verse describes Macaroni as “It talks without meaning, it smiles without pleasantry, it eats without appetite, it rides without exercise, it wenches without passion.

The men’s fashion of ‘Macaronis’

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9Extra padding or bombasting of clothes

We should thank Victorian Era for most of the bizarre fashion trends on this list. Bombasting is one such fashion trend that involved stuffing one’s clothes with stiff padding. They used these bombasts to get a desirable body shape or muscular shape.

Bombasts were used to pad up and give shape to garments by adding volume to the areas like shoulders, chest, and stomach.

Extra padding or bombasting of clothes

Image Source: bustle.com

10Wax cones on head

Ancient Egyptians were totally unique in their fashion sense when it came to fabric, accessories, and wigs. Fashion for them went hand in hand with hygiene and Egyptians took very good care of their bodies by bathing regularly and using scented oils for beautiful skin.

Egyptians were known for loving their fragrance cones and often wore them. The cones were made up of scented wax and were worn on top of the heads. The wax would then melt as the day went on and kept the wearer smelling fresh all day long.

Wax cones on head

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11Foot binding

Foot binding is a cruel and disturbing fashion trend that prevailed in China in from the Song Dynasty until the 20th century. Allegedly it started in 501 AD and involved a consort of Southern Qi emperor Xiao Baojuan, Pan Yunu (died 501 AD), who had delicate feet and danced barefoot on a floor decorated with golden lotus flower design.

Therefore, upper-class women started binding their feet in order to attract the attention of an emperor. Young girls of ages between 4-9 years got their feet bound tightly. The process saw the feet soaked in a combination of animal blood to soften them. Then, the toenails were cut back to avoid infections. After that, the toes were warped downward towards the bottom of the foot, crushing the bones.

The broken toes were then firmly bound with cotton strips, preventing them from healing appropriately. Over the next few months or years, the process would be repeated every few weeks.

Foot binding

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12Hoop Skirts or Crinolines

Hoop Skirts or Crinolines were accessories worn under frocks in the 19th century. The hoops were made of horsehair, wood, or sometimes even steel. It was intended to push the skirt out and give the wearer the appearance of big, regal hips; the crinoline was also incredibly dangerous.

There are tales of women getting caught up in gusts of wind, being tossed off of cliffs, and getting caught in carriage wheel spooks. This trend was also deadly as women wearing these skirts couldn’t escape buildings in event of fires, which were a common occurrence in those days.

Hoop Skirts or Crinolines

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13Powdered Wigs

Middle ages saw the trends of wearing powdered wigs. Back then, many of those in the upper and middle classes had the disease known as syphilis, which produced some raunchy indicative smells and of course baldness.

Therefore in order to hide both the symptoms, people wore wigs made up of goat, horse or human hair known as perukes. The wigs were drenched in lovely scents like lavender and orange and helped cover the stink coming from down below. King Louis XIV began the trend by wearing these wigs.

Powdered Wigs

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14Corsets

Corsets were and are still used to achieve tiny waists, curvaceous hourglass figures which lead to Victorian women to faint. Not only women, even Victorian men wore corsets to achieve a narrower waist in the 1820s. However, when the male trend shifted to broader shoulder in the Victorian era, make corsets fell out of practice.

The trend continues today as women keep going back to corsets to achieve that hourglass figure.

Corsets

 

15Tudor Ruffs

The Elizabethan age saw the rise of the fashion trend of Tudor Ruffs. Queen Elizabeth, I preferred these suffocating neck collars made out of fine linen. However, people in Western Europe in mid 16th century took the ruff to a whole new level and it quickly grew in size and popularity. Ruffs of more exaggerated shapes started taking place, instead of decorative pieces.

Tudor Ruffs

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