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12 Weird Fashion Trends From Around The World

Updated on July 8, 2018
Sudhir Devapalan profile image

I am a front-end developer by profession, but I enjoy writing articles about anything mysterious, interesting and fascinating.

When it comes to fashion, people try out very weird and crazy things which can't even be imagined. This can range from trends which can be considered to be silly or comical to trends which are just plain dangerous. Let us now look into some of the crazy ideas which have ever crossed our minds.

12. Hoop skirts:

Hoop skirts
Hoop skirts

The Hoop skirt is a women’s undergarment which was famous during the 16th, 18th and 19th century. This is used to hold the extended skirt into various fashionable shapes. The original purpose of this skirt was to keep the dress away from the wearer’s legs during warm climates to keep cool. They were even worn by farmers while working in their fields.

The initial types of Hoop skirts were smaller and more convenient. However, they were later taken up as a fashion trend as the size and shape of the skirts grew. They could be as wide as 18 feet. The large size made them very inconvenient. For example, they could not be carried through doors and were heavy. The wearer would also not be able to sit for the entire duration of wearing it.

11. Hobble skirts:

Hobble skirts
Hobble skirts

The Hobble skirt is just the exact opposite of the Hoopskirt. Instead of making the skirt very wide, this time they made it as narrow as possible. They reached the peak of their popularity between 1908 to 1914. The Hobble skirt was made to be so narrow that it impeded the wearer’s ability to walk. Due to this, they could only take short steps which gained it the nickname “speed-limit skirt”.

The idea for the Hobble skirt came from Mrs. Hart O Berg who was the first American woman to fly as a passenger on an airplane. To keep her skirt from flying she tied a rope around it at her ankles. When she got off the plane and walked away, she had the rope still tied to her legs which inspired a French fashion designer to come up with the idea of the Hobble skirt.

10. Powdered wigs:

Powdered wigs
Powdered wigs

By 1580, Syphilis was a major concern as it was spreading like an epidemic. Since there was no cure for the disease people who were affected by it were doomed. The symptoms included rashes, sores, blindness and patchy hair loss. Baldness had now spread all over the land. During this period, having long hair was a status symbol and being bald was a disgrace.

To solve this problem people started to wear wigs. The wigs were also made white by using a powder scented with lavender and orange. The wigs were not as stylish as they were a mere necessity to hide baldness. This changed however when King Louis XIV started losing hair at the age of just 17. He had 48 wigmakers work on a fashionable wig to save his reputation. Later, the King of England Charles II did the same when his hair had started to gray. The price of the wigs rose and they were converted into a fashion trend that all wealthy aristocrats followed.

The word “bigwig” was coined to describe the people who could afford to buy the fancy and expensive wigs. Even after the death of Louis and Charles, the wigs popularity did not drop as they were quite useful. Lice was a major problem during the period and having wigs solved this as they infested the wig instead of the natural hair. Delousing the wig was a whole lot easier. The wigs went out of popularity only during the late 18th century.

9. Chopine:


High heel shoes are a big fashion trend now. But did you know that people started wearing them from the 15th century? Chopine is a type of women’s platform shoe popular during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The original use of the Chopine was to protect the shoes and dress from mud and street soil.

Later on, the Chopine was seen as a status symbol. The higher the Chopine, the higher the status of the wearer. Inevitably the wearer of these shoes would have a very comical walk. Even Shakespeare joked about the extreme height of the Chopine by stating that the wearer would be “nearer to heaven”.

8. Human Tooth Sharpening:

Human Tooth Sharpening
Human Tooth Sharpening

Things will get weirder from here on. Human tooth sharpening is exactly what it sounds like. This is the process of manually sharpening a person’s teeth, usually the front incisors. This was followed in a number of cultures which includes Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were initially done for spiritual purposes.

In Bali, teeth were filed down to represent anger, jealousy and other negative emotions. They are done as part of extreme body modifications even now. In many cultures teeth sharpening was done as a rite of passage for adolescents. Some people also file their teeth to imitate animals such as the Sharks.

7. Chalk for pale skin:

Pale skin has been considered beautiful in most cultures. So many women go to great lengths to make themselves look paler by using cosmetics. White chalk has been applied on people’s faces to make them look pale for centuries. However, women in the 18th and 19th century took it a step further.

There was a trend to eat the chalk and this, in turn, would make you look more pale from the outside as well. Essentially the chalk made them feel sick and they looked a bit pale. But supposedly this was exactly what the people of that period considered to be attractive!

6. Corsets:


A Corset is a garment which is tightly worn around the waist region in order to obtain an ‘ideal figure’. It has been used by both men and women but largely used by women to obtain a smaller waist or a larger bottom. The Corsets became widely used in the 16th century, reaching the zenith of its popularity in the Victorian era.

The Corset was introduced by Catherine de' Medici, wife of King Henry II of France when she enforced a ban on thick waists in court. Tightly laced Corsets were used to reduce the natural waist size. This however restricted the wearer’s movement and some women could only breathe with the upper part of their lungs. This caused the lower part of their lungs to fill with mucus.

5. Neck rings:

Neck rings
Neck rings

Neck rings are a piece of stiff jewelry worn around the neck. Doesn’t sound so bad but it is nothing like a normal necklace. This fashion trend is famous among the Kayan people of Myanmar. In various African and Asian cultures, the neck ring is worn to create the appearance that the neck has been stretched.

Having a long neck is considered to be beautiful in many cultures and neck rings were used to artificially create a long neck. The weight of the neck rings twist the collarbone and the ribs at a 45-degree angle creating the illusion of a long neck. Girls start wearing the rings when they are 5 years old. In some cultures, only married women are allowed to wear neck rings and are presented to them by their husband.

4. Lotus shoes:

Lotus shoes
Lotus shoes

Lotus shoes are a special type of footwear worn by women who had bound feet. This is a fashion trend which was followed by Chinese women. The shoes were in the form of a cone which resembled a lotus bud. They were made of cotton or silk and were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Although the shoes themselves don’t do any harm, it is the foot binding process which is gruesome.

Foot binding is the process of applying tight bindings to the feet of a young girl to modify the shape of their feet. This was practiced from the 10th to the 20th century. Small feet were considered to be a status symbol and a sign of beauty. By the 19th century, 40-50% of Chinese women had bound feet.

The process was started between the age of 4 to 9. The bandages were soaked in herbs and animal blood and bound over the legs to prevent it from growing. Women and their family took great pride in their tiny feet with the ideal size being called as “The Golden Lotus”. This process, however, was dangerous as the bones and muscles of the leg were crushed together. Infection was a common problem and about 10% of women died from gangrene and other infections.

3. Black Teeth:

Black Teeth
Black Teeth

During Tudor, England sugar was not readily available to everyone. It was imported from various places but it was still very expensive like spices. This meant that it could only be afforded by rich people. So most of the people in England had pearly white teeth. However, Queen Elizabeth, I had a thing for sweets and her teeth were soon turned black. People soon began to realize that sugar was causing the teeth to turn black due to decay.

However, instead of concentrating on oral hygiene, everyone in England artificially tried to get black teeth themselves. Having black teeth was a sign of aristocracy as sugar was available only for the rich. Black teeth was a fashion trend even in Japan during the 3rd, 4th or 5th centuries.

2. Muslin Disease:

Muslin Disease
Muslin Disease

At the beginning of the 19th century, there was a new trend sweeping across France. This was a revolutionary time in which women wanted to flaunt their curves in public. They did so by wearing muslin gowns which were drenched in perfume or water so that the fabric would stick to their skin revealing their curves and skin.

France also had a law that the weight of one’s clothing should not exceed 3.5kg as heavy embroidered clothing was reserved for the upper class. Lower class women went around this problem was avoiding underwear. The cold temperatures, however, was taking its toll on the women wearing soaking wet dresses and many fell sick with pneumonia. An influenza outbreak spread out in Paris in 1803 due to this and was referred to as the “Muslin disease”.

1. Arsenic dresses:

Arsenic dresses
Arsenic dresses

During the Victorian era, women wanted to dress in bright colors which stood out at parties. So when the Wilhelm Dye and White Lead Company of Germany came up with a dye which was bolder than any other green color before, it was a hit. The bright green was called “Emerald green” and women loved it. Soon everyone was starting to wear it and it is said that Victorian Britain was “bathed in green”.

These Emerald green dresses might seem harmless at first but the green dye was actually made from arsenic. This gives more meaning to the term dressed to kill! The effects of arsenic poisoning are horrific. Apart from being deadly they also resulted in ulcers all over the body, hair loss and some vomited blood. The sad part of it was that the rich women who wore them weren’t exposed much as they wore it only for special occasions.

However, sweating could cause the arsenic to seep into the skin causing blisters. There were also reports of babies dying in nurseries while they were playing in green carpets. It is also speculated that Napoleon had died from arsenic poisoning from the wallpaper of his house in St.Helena. The real victims, on the other hand, were the factory workers who were making the dye and were exposed for long durations. Many lost their lives in creating the perfect color for fashion.

© 2018 Random Thoughts


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