Fascinating facts: fun revelations on historical fashion trends

by Polly in Fun Facts

February 5, 2024

6 minutes to read

The history of fashion and its many trends

Fashion is more than just shoes, hats, and clothing; it reflects culture, innovation, and sometimes outright eccentricity. As we delve into the fascinating annals of history, we unearth intriguing and surprising facts about the trends that once captivated societies.

Brace yourself for a journey through time as we discover fun and interesting facts about historical fashion trends - facts you didn’t know that will leave you astonished.

Unveiling the past: a fashionable adventure

Long before stilettos: eccentric medieval shoes

In the 14th century, men flaunted shoes so long they rivalled modern stilettos, reaching an astonishing 2 feet. As time progressed, these shoes became so ludicrously long that laws had to be enacted to curb their excessive growth. King Edward IV had to impose a law limiting their length to prevent these elongated shoes from resembling clownish attire. It was a trend that echoed the quirky fashion choices of an era long gone.

Chopines craze: the first platform shoe

Venice, known for its muddy streets, birthed a unique trend out of necessity in the 16th to 17th century. With long shoes out of fashion,

Venetian women adopted Chopines - towering shoes reaching as much as 2 feet in height.

As women strutted above the muck, these trendy historical shoes became a symbol of social status. Only the elite could flaunt these elevated creations, showcasing a blend of practicality and fashion. Now you finally know where today's platform shoes come from!

Ship-inspired styles: coiffure a la belle poule

The French celebrated a naval victory in 1778 with a unique commemoration - the Coiffure à la Belle Poule. French women adorned their hair in styles resembling a victorious ship, creating a sensation that spread like wildfire. The historical version of today's viral trends, this hairstyle marked a moment of national pride and a time when victory affected hairstyles.

Gainsborough hat madness: a British affair

In 18th-century Britain, a hat trend erupted after a painting by Thomas Gainsborough featuring the Duchess of Devonshire. The

Gainsborough hat, adorned with feathers and accessories, epitomised the height of fashion.

The trend swiftly spread, turning British women into fashion enthusiasts proudly wearing these massive headpieces. What started as a royal portrait accessory became a must-have for British women, exemplifying the power of art in shaping trends.

Pannier: the wide dress dilemma

During the 17th and 18th centuries, European women embraced the pannier - an undergarment designed to widen their hips dramatically.

Originating in Spain, this trend spread like wildfire, transforming into wide dresses that, by the end of the 18th century, posed challenges like getting stuck in doorways and catching fire from candles. Fashion truly knew no bounds.

Wig wars: the extravagant mane of the 1700s

Wigs weren't just for covering baldness; they were a battlefield of extravagance! The 18th-century wig craze saw men and women competing for the most extravagant and creative styles. Wooden frames became essential to support their grandeur as wigs reached towering heights.

Men, in particular, engaged in friendly competition, showcasing their elaborate wigs adorned with gold and silver accessories.

Bonus: Crinoline Catastrophe of the 19th century

The 18th-century obsession with wide dresses culminated in the crinoline period of the 19th century. Initially inspired by Spanish fashion depicted by painter Velázquez, this trend reached such extremes that women faced challenges navigating doorways and, tragically, catching fire from candles. The crinoline trend eventually evolved, leaving a legacy shaping subsequent fashion sensibilities.

Fun facts about fashion trends

Let's take a quick detour through some additional fun facts that add more colour to the tapestry of historical fashion:

  • Beard tax in Russia: In the late 17th century, Peter the Great of Russia imposed a beard tax, encouraging men to go beardless or pay a hefty sum to keep their facial hair.
  • Boots and horse manure: Did you know that boots in history are not just a fashion statement; they served a practical purpose, protecting wearers from the prevalent horse manure covering the streets?
  • High heels for horseback riding: Initially designed for Persian horse riders in the 10th century, high heels found their way into women's fashion as a protest against the comfort of men's shoes.
  • Gender-neutral baby clothing: In the early 20th century, parents cared little about dressing their babies in gender-specific clothing, with even prominent figures like Franklin D. Roosevelt pictured in dresses as infants.
  • Ruffled cuffs for ventilation: The fancy ruffled cuffs in the 16th century were not just a fashion statement but originated from Spanish soldiers seeking ventilation in their layered clothing.
  • Lice-infested powdered wigs: While powdered wigs symbolised elite status, they concealed a less glamorous truth - lice infestations due to improper cleaning and use of animal hair.
  • Codpieces and syphilis: The trend of oversized codpieces in the 15th and 16th centuries wasn't merely a fashion choice but a clever attempt to conceal the symptoms of the rampant syphilis epidemic.
  • Leather jackets and censorship: Leather jackets faced scrutiny during the Happy Days era, with censors restricting their appearance unless a motorcycle was also on screen, contributing to some comical scenes.
  • Neckties for warm lungs: Do you know how neckties evolved into the modern necktie we know today? It originated from items like the cravat, men's neckwear initially intended to keep lungs warm in cold weather.
  • Hats and hoodies come full circle: While hats lost popularity, the hoodie resurgence in the 1990s indicates a cyclical return to head-covering trends, showcasing the ever-changing landscape of fashion.

Fashion's timeless eccentricities

Historical fashion is a captivating journey, and pausing our busy modern lives to admire past trends is fascinating! From whimsical shoes to towering wigs, each era's fashion choices tell a unique story, reminding us that style is a dynamic expression transcending time.

Let’s remind each other to appreciate a time when fashion wasn't just about aesthetics but often took deeper societal meanings. So, the next time you lace up your jogging shoes or choose a trendy new outfit, remember – you're contributing to the ever-evolving tapestry of fashion history of tomorrow.

Article by Polly

CasinoWow Contributor

Hey guys, my name is Polina but my friends and colleagues call me Polly. I am truly passionate about online casino gaming and exploring the different online gambling experiences. I'm really into diving deep into topics and researching all the details. My aim is to gather the best information and write interesting articles for all the readers at CasinoWow.

Anything incorrect or missing?

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