Deadly Fashion Trends from the 1900s


If you go through the history, you will find it full of completely insane fashion trends. Several of these trends were not only dangerous but deadly as well. Ancient people had all types of crazy ideas which they believed were fashionable, healthy, and substantial. The same now applies to the trends of the 90s. Women have tried everything they could to be more attractive – some of these trends caused death too.

Compared to today, at that time, fashion had more control over people, and they were obliged to follow every trending style if they belong to a particular social status. This means that they followed cultural practices and trends even if they were dangerous and uncomfortable. 

Following are some of the deadliest fashion trends from the 1900s:

1. Foot Binding in China 


From the 18th to the early 19th century, the Chinese were obsessed with tiny feet, also known as lotus feet. To achieve this, the Chinese women would bind their feet from a very early age. The bones would break by binding the feet and deform into tiny feet. The process of binding feet involved soaking them in some acids like urine or vinegar. 

The procedure followed by the toes, except the big toe, to fold down and the foot’s arch bent back. It caused bones to break, leading to gangrene – a fatal infection. Despite infections being deadly, the women wanted to have it as it could make toes fall off. If the woman luckily survived it, her feet would be even tinier, which were considered more desirable and beautiful. 

2. Corsets 


In 1903, Mary Halliday’s autopsy revealed that she had corset steel’s two pieces in her heart. It may sound strange to you, but she is not the only victim of this extreme fashion trend. Moreover, this trend dominated the Victorian era and became a vital undergarment for the women of that period. And the women who denied following this trend were considered scandalous and loose.

In the Victorian era, you would not have found any self-respecting woman without the corset. The corset, laced so tight, could cause several health conditions. These include indigestion, fainting from the pressure on the lungs, constipation, and internal bleeding. And in the worst-case scenario, the complications can lead to the death of the wearer as well. 

3. Muslin Dresses

Muslin Dresses

In the early 19th century, the Muslin dresses used the cotton fabric of plain weave for their manufacturing. They took their name from a place it manufactured for the first time, the city of Mosul, Iraq.  There was a little danger associated with these dresses. People started calling this fabric the Muslin disease, and it was when it had brought to France.

A new dangerous and strange fashion trend started at the beginning of the 19th century in Europe. Women would wet their dresses before they go out. The new trend practice was quite scandalous as the women’s figures showed off. However, it was equally dangerous as it was improper. It led to severe cases of pneumonia, and thousands of women lost their lives.

4. Hobble Skirts 

Hobble Skirts 

There came a short trend that lasted for a few years – from 1908 to 1914. It was the hobble skirt, comically called the speed limit skirt. It had a slightly narrow hem that slows down the pace of the individual wearing it. To keep the knees together, some women would wear fetter. It prevents them from falling as well.

When this fashion trend started to fade, the designers come up with new designs that offer better style and leg movement. 

5. Belladonna Eye Drops 

Belladonna Eye Drops 

Deadly nightshade or belladonna is one of the most poisonous plants on Earth. Berries of belladonna look edible and are exquisite but contain concentrated dosages of tropane alkaloids. Even taken in small quantities can prove to be fatal. Women with large pupils in the Victorian era were considered gorgeous. The woman used herb oil daily to enlarge and dilate their pupils. They knew the dangers of using this oil but continued to use it. 

This poisonous plant caused rapid heartbeat, slurred speech, inability to urinate, flushed skin, confusion, potential blindness, hallucinations, irritation, dry mouth, light sensitivity, loss of balance, memory loss, and even death. The trend was assuredly the most dangerous cause of poisoning in its era.

6. High and Tight Collar (Upturned Collar)

High and Tight Collar (Upturned Collar)

One of the most popular fashion trends among elite society individuals in the 19th century was a high and tight collar, also known as an upturned or popped collar. The trend was purely for the fashionable men of that time. Since the upturned collar was so fitted, it was known as the father killer. These collars often cut off the blood supply to the brain and caused death.

You can say now that women are not the only ones who fell for ridiculous fashion trends back in time. Men who would drink while wearing these collars were more prone to its dangerous complications. Men might suffer from asphyxia if they drank while wearing this popped collar. It should have come with a warning tag of ‘do not wear and drink’ to save lives. The warning could have saved several lives in the 19th century. 

7. Lysol for Birth Control 

Lysol for Birth Control 

Lysol is a cleaning product used to clean the bathrooms and kitchens. However, in the 19th century, Lysol was advised to use for feminine hygiene and birth control for a few years. The usual birth control methods, at that time, were expensive, so women tried to find the solution to this issue on their own. Moreover, the brand also told the people that the product is safe to wash down there. 

Several women reported burning, inflammation, and some even died. And still, the company stayed at its statement that Lysol is safe to use to wash down there. 

8. Male Corsets 

Male Corsets 

Women have been wearing corsets for ages (around the 1500s). However, men began leaning towards corsets much later, somewhere around the 18th century. The aim to wear these corsets was mainly to slim the figure, and it was well-liked from 1820 until 1840. At that time, the men, just like women, were desired to have tiny waists. The shape of the corset changed by 1880 into a stiff band with ribs.

The trends stayed popular in the 1900s, and men have worn it to have the desired tiny waist.

9. Tapeworm Diet 

The tapeworm diet, during the early 1900s, was popular among women who wanted to lose weight. The diet consisted of pills containing one tapeworm egg. When ingested, the egg from the tablet hatched and grew inside the intestines of the individual. These worms would then eat most of the food eaten by the person. 

Just like today, the women of the Victorian era were also obsessed with tiny figures. And to get that, they could do anything no matter how dangerous it was. The tapeworm diet helped the women to lose pounds off their bodies without cutting down on their calories.

There were some dangers of this diet, including intestinal blockages and cyst formation in their eyes, spinal cord, liver, and brain. Moreover, the other side effects include abdominal pain, weakness, fever, and nausea.


Most of the trends that people follow blindly come with a cost. History showed several deadly fashions that were so popular in their time. And people were obliged to follow these trends to maintain their status and secure a reputable position in society. The people who did not follow them were considered loose and scandalous.

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