Weird body piercings, Uggs, Crocs, baggy jeans, T-shirts over long-sleeve shirts, leg warmers paired with neon leotards,super ripped jeans that almost bared all your legs and thighs– we’ve all seen these absurd fashion trends. Besides these, perhaps you’ve fallen trap with some fashion trends in the past that seemed cool at first but looks so silly now. But the trends you cringe about from your past have nothing on certain fashion trends from history.
Be grateful that you’re a part of this generation because here are some crazy fashion trends people followed way back then:
1. Crinoline (hoop skirts) and panniers
The crinoline, or the hoop skirt, is one of fashion’s weirdest trends ever. Imagine you need to strap yourself up in a six-foot wide, cage-like hoop before wearing your actual skirt before being able to leave the house. But back in the 1850s and the rest of the Victorian era, it was a sort of relief for ladies from wearing heavy petticoats, and they can freely move their legs beneath the cage. These are horsehair and wood or steel, and its main purpose is to keep the skirt looking fuller. This fashion took the royal courts of Europe by storm. On top of it, it was paired with a tight and restrictive bodice, a.k.a. the corset. Because of the crinoline, women occupy a bigger space because their skirts are very big.If we look at it now, it looks like they are smuggling something underneath those dresses.
The voluminous skirts are not only absurd – they were also proven deadly. There were accounts of women being tossed off of cliffs, getting caught up in the gusts of wind, getting caught in the carriage wheel spooks, or even getting caught by the fire because of the crinoline. In 1863, thousands of people died in a church fire and many of them are women, as their large crinoline skirts got caught in the door, hindering their way to escape.
Panniers, or side hoops, was an older cousin of the crinoline. It was popular during the 1700s, and it extended the width of the skirt without making it fuller at the back or front. The area at the front of the skirt is where wealthy women would show off their fanciest embroidery. But honestly, the look like big walking paintings because of the absurd width of the skirt. This also causes them to have difficulty walking through doorways, as they often had to turn sideways.
Don’t get us wrong, corsets are still worn by some people today, mostly for medical reasons, waist-shaping or fetish fashion. But the corset was a mainstream “requirement” for women to wear during the 1500s to early 1910s. Back then, it’s really important for women to have small waist, and these corsets are like dangerous contraptions that can damage internal organs. Corsets are made stiff with the use of either whalebone, wood, horn, ivory or metal, and it was tightly laced around the body to achieve the inverted cone shape for the torso. These materials seem so uncomfortable, but perhaps, women of the era were just used to it so they didn’t mind. It fell out of fashion eventually during the World War because they were encouraged to stop buying corsets to save up metal for war production. Thank God, we are now living in this free world where women can wear comfy T-shirts with only a bra (or even nothing) underneath.
And it wasn’t just women who wore corsets. Men wore corsets during the 19th century to promote upper body posture and to help protect their spine if they were ever thrown off a horse. It also protected their torso to prevent bruising while galloping along. Nevertheless, it fell out of fashion before the 20th century.
Think those six-inch heels of yours are the most uncomfortable thing in the world? Think again. Once upon a time, there were chopines, which are very tall platform shoes popular with the Venetians during the 16th to 17th centuries. These chopines had a practical and symbolic function: they were designed to protect the foot from wet or muddy streets, and also to enhance the wearer’s stature. As it started to become more fashionable, it denoted that the higher the chopines, the higher the status of the wearer. If you wear such tall chopines, it indicates that you were an important, wealthy person.
The chopines trend were taken dangerously high as it affected how people walk. It get to be so high – up to 20 inches tall – and it required an attendant to help maintain balance while walking in it. It looks silly, but this elevated platform would later give rise to our beloved wedges and platform shoes of today.
4. Hobble skirts
Another crazy trend of the past included the hobble skirt, which was popular during the early 1910s. That time, women are just starting to forego wearing corsets, petticoats and crinolettes, so the trend for creating a sleeker skirt seemed like a fresh new start. The original hobble skirt was created by French designer Paul Poiret, featuring long skirts that were tapered at the hem that it literally hobbled the wearer. For those who do not know, “hobbling” is a term for tying an animal’s legs together to prevent it from running away.
The trend was obviously awful, as it slows women down and prevented them from taking large steps.Poiret is said to have wrote, “Yes, I freed the bust, but I shackled the legs.” It also created a sexy silhouette that was so shocking at the time that it was condemned by the Pope. Ultimately, with the advent of World War I, these skirts faded into obscurity. But it’s interesting to note that it became the predecessor of the pencil skirt.
5. Crakow (poulaines)
The crakows or poulaines were a style of shoes popular during the 15th century. These shoes feature an exaggeratedly long and pointy beak and an elongated form. These are worn by both men and women, but generally, the men’s version had pointier tips and longer lengths. In 15th century Europe, the wealthiest aristocrats wear the most extreme version of the crakow.
Physical evidences show that the length of the shoe soles are more than double the actual length of the foot. They had to be reinforced with whalebones to make walking “possible.” Because the shoes aren’t practical, they were eventually phased out.
6. Tudor ruff
While versions of the Tudor ruff can still be seen on today’s runways from time to time, the original Tudor ruff of the Elizabethan era was layered, enormous and suffocating. It became a fashion emblem during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who liked versions made of expensive linen.
Its purpose is to frame the face and obscure the décolletage, but it was very difficult to wear.At the peak of the ruff trend during the 1580s to 1590s, these Tudor ruffs could include 6 yards of material with up to 600 pleats supported by a wire, a board or a wooden frame. Seems such a waste of material for such absurd fashion.
Codpieces were a flamboyant fashion statement that emphasizes the manhood of the wearer. Originally, it was created for modesty purposes, because during the 15th to 16th century, men’s hose and jackets cannot cover the crotch really well.
Codpieces were made of linen at first. But somehow somewhere, men saw it can be an opportunity to emphasize their manhood until it was made out of a variety of materials, including wood. During the reign of King Henry VIII – who proudly wore this prominent accessory, by the way – codpieces are even stuffed with wool to make the penis looking alert and erect. Funnily enough, Queen Elizabeth I, who was touted as the “virgin queen,” didn’t like the trend, so a new fashion for more polite and discreet codpieces took over.
Named after the Italian pasta, the macaroni was a fashion trend for men who are very recognizable due to their extravagant wigs with a tiny hat or feather, tight clothing, flashy waistcoats, bright stockings, buckled shoes and gaudy outfits overall. This flashy and audacious style of fashion originated during the mid-1700s, started by aristocratic Englishmen who went on a “Grand Tour” of the European continent. Back then, it was sophisticated, but it actually is ridiculous.
Perhaps you’ve heard about it from the classic children’s song “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” which contains the line “Stuck a feather in his cap/ And called it macaroni.” This was a mocking reference to an American simpleton who thinks he can achieve the fashionable look by just putting a feather in his cap.
9. Powdered wig
White wigs that were popular during the Middle Ages were white because they are powdered. It rose to its peak as a fashionable accessory among the French nobility during the reign of King Louis XIV. The king was going bald and began wearing these flamboyant wigs, and noble men and women would began to follow suit.
Actually, this trend was much related with the late 16th century syphilis outbreak. Back then, many of those in the upper and middle classes had the disease, which produced some symptomatic smells as well as baldness. To cover the smell and the baldness, they began wearing horse, goat or human hair wigs called perukes. These wigs are coated with scented orange or lavender powder to mask the odor coming from down there. The king’s balding was reportedly caused by syphilis, too.