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Deadly Fashion Trends in History

Dec. 13, 2016
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The price to look good sometimes causes sharp pain and discomfort. “Fashion is pain,” as some say, but is it worth dying for?  Throughout history, there have been some questionable fashion trends that have left its wearers disfigured for life, or even dead from wearing the item. Check out this list dangerous and deadly fashion trends - some of these may shock you.

The organ-shifting, airway-restricting, rib-breaking corset is one of the most dangerous pieces of clothing on earth. They come in various designs; some enhance a woman's breast, others are breastless. The latter in particular is known for causing severe damage to the hips and spine.  This 19th-century phenomenon shrunk waists and suppressed appetites, while slowly killing its wearer.  In addition to dying from pneumothorax, atelectasis, or chronic gastroesophageal reflux, it was also possible to faint, resulting in a bad fall.

The Crinoline is an underskirt meant to give the skirt its flare. While the trend wasn't particularly deadly, it did cause significant irritation and physical restriction. The crinoline is made from a combination of fabrics including horsehair, cotton, and linen. For women who were allergic to the materials experienced reactions in the form of hives and blistering skin rashes. It also created a challenging range of motion because of its large shape. The crinoline took up a lot of space, so it was known to snag, become entangled in wheels, and causing the wearer to trip, resulting in injury.

Have you ever looked at a 16th-century painting of Queen Elizabeth? Notice how white and powdery her skin is. This was the most popular beauty trend of its time, and this look was achieved using lead face paint. Despite many knowing the toxicity of lead paint, you had to deal with the consequences if you wanted to uphold the then standard of beauty. The use of lead in face makeup enabled a whole host of terrifying symptoms including nausea, rotting teeth, headaches, confusion, and even death.

Some would think that wearing spiked heels is the modern equivalent to foot binding, but there is no comparison. In 10th and 11th century China, Lotus Feet, or foot binding, was considered feminine, delicate, and the pinnacle of beauty. However, if you have seen the effects of foot binding, it is anything but. The goal of this fashion trend was the make the foot three inches in length and to achieve this the foot bones were broken and restructured. This resulted in excruciating pain throughout one's life, restricted mobility, deformity, infection, and sometimes lead to death. As wild as this sounds, the tradition wasn't outlawed until the early twentieth century, with many women still left with the after effects of the practice.

High Collars was a 'men only fashion trend’ in the 1800s, and the ladies loved the look. However, all that glitters is not gold, as these detachable high collars were referred to as 'Father Killers' for a reason. The collars were so stiff and tight they were known for cutting off circulation and causing asphyxia. John Cruetzi is a high collar death victim, and his obituary reads as follows: “His head dropped over on his chest and then his stiff collar stopped the windpipe and checked the flow of blood through the already contracted veins, causing the death to ensue from asphyxia and apoplexy.” That does not sound like fun.

Cover Image via ShutterStock