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Oscar Wilde once said, "Fashion is something so ugly, you have to change it every three months just to look at it." Though it seems like we have made fashion stay at a standstill for a while, the truth is that he's right. Fashion still changes pretty heavily, and regularly makes itself obsolete.
We often forget that the fashion we see today really isn't what it used to be. There was a point, not too long ago, that wearing jeans was considered to be taboo. There was also a point where heels and makeup were trademarks of prostitutes—or men.
Throughout the centuries, there have been a lot of fashion trends that were nothing short of awful. These historic fashion trends will remind you that the good ole days of fashion really weren't that good.
(Note: You might expect to see corsets on here, however, since there are still many people who use waist trainers and cinchers around the world, it's not a passing fad.)
The Grecian Bend
"You know what I want to see in women? I want to see them walking around hunchbacked," said no man, ever. Yet, in the 1860s, the Grecian bend offered women the luxury to show off their figures by forcing them to crouch.
The Grecian bend was not necessarily a trend that was intentional, per se. It's just that the clothing that was popular at the time involved a thick pannier, a corset, and also had a very heavy bustle where everything was pinned together.
All these factors together would make women double over from the sheer weight of their clothes. The posture women took was called "the Grecian bend" after artwork from ancient Greece that displayed people in a similar pose.
It was so laughably bad, it quickly became a joke throughout the Western world.
Very few historic fashion trends are as notorious as foot binding, a Chinese practice that involves slowly binding young girls' feet until they break. Once the feet break, they were folded underneath the soles of the feet.
The entire practice came after a dancer performed for the emperor while having bound feet. Women followed suit, then began to create a system that would involve a goal of having the smallest possible feet as a sign of being wealthy.
The ideal foot size was considered to be 3 inches in length, or "Perfect Lotus." This practice was very popular in the 19th century and was subsequently outlawed in the earlier part of the 20th century.
Even so, there are still many elderly Chinese women who live with bound feet today. Once in a while, you might hear of people trying to bind their feet these days, but it's nowhere near as extreme.
Macaroni wasn't just a pasta. In the 18th century, it was a particularly exaggerated style of foppish dress that originated with Britain's Macaroni Club.
This style of dress was known for having men dressed in bright red heels, ultra-high jacket collars that stood straight up, wigs as high as a foot and a half tall, lace ruffles, gold embroidery, and tricornered hats.
The idea behind it was to look more like royalty. In reality, these guys looked more like the court jester. It was laughable to most others, even back then!
Macaroni remains one of the few historic fashion trends to be mentioned in children's songs today. This is what the line in "Yankee Doodle" was talking about when the song says he "stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni!"
Believe it or not, there are a couple of historic fashion trends that still live on in fetish communities. One such example would be hobble skirts. These skirts were approved for daily wear in the 1910s, and were known for being heavily cinched right at the knees.
In order for women to actually walk in these skirts, they would have to take very small steps that would make them "hobble." Simply put, these stopped being fashionable after women kept falling in them.
Along with being absolutely foppish in nature, powdered wigs were one of the most notoriously bad fashion trends in England from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
At first, the wigs were meant to hide the hair loss that happens from syphilis. Later on, these wigs were meant to show social status and the ability to afford the finer things in life.
The higher the wig was, the more elegant you were considered to be. This sounds great, however, the practice was pretty vile. These wigs would use "pomatum" to keep them in shape. Pomatum was, at the time, made of animal fat, arsenic, and a handful of other ingredients.
Once the pomatum was applied, the wealthy would top it with scented powder. These wigs could not be cleaned, so they smelled horrible, regularly attracted vermin, and also typically had fleas after a certain point.
Chopines and Kabkabs
Ultra-high, unwalkable platform shoes were popular in the Middle East from the 14th to the 17th century. There, they were called kabkabs. When Europe heard of the trend, they got in on it too, called them chopines, and had them in style from 1520 to 1640.
Both sets of heels measured in at well over eight inches in height, and yes, they were made for the same purpose. These shoes were meant to allow women to walk around without having street dirt ruin their exceptionally delicate outfits. The higher the shoe, the higher the status.
Some were also rumored to wear them as a way to avoid running off with another man. If you wanted to run away after a guy who made you wear these shoes, we wouldn't blame you!
Though these are still worn by some hair metal bands, the truth is that codpieces are out of style—and for good reason. Codpieces, which were popular during the 15th and 16th centuries, were the way that men flaunted their packages.
Codpieces were made out of every material imaginable, even wood. The idea was to help men look more masculine by enhancing the appearance of junk down there.
Nowadays, we're more civil. We just use dick pics for that, and today's fashion trends can focus on not looking like a bad AC/DC knockoff.
The 50s were, for the most part, a relatively fashion-forward era. People still enjoy the look of pinup models and still yearn for the looks found in classic 1950s sci-fi movies too. However, beehive hairdos still remain one of the ugliest historic fashion trends of the last century.
I mean, really, look at this. It's awful.
Crinoline Hoop Skirts
Though you might see poofy bridal dresses use crinoline to get a little extra "puff" into their bodies, they had absolutely nothing on this trend! During the 1850s and 1860s, crinoline hoop skirts would involve wooden hoops that forced dresses to puff out.
Many women had a hard time fitting in through doors due to the size of their skirts, and sitting down was a serious task. These skirts were very, very dangerous. Women often would get blown around by the wind, get their skirts caught in wagon wheels, and also break their bones from falls.
In the time of Queen Elizabeth, being able to afford to feast was very unusual, and that meant that being fat was in, one of the more unusual historic fashion trends probably not making a comeback anytime soon. To add a little extra padding to their frames, they would "bombast" their clothing by adding stuffing in the sleeves and bellies to achieve this look.
Some would even bombast their thighs, which made them look like way fuller-framed people than they really were.