NO, it’s not pairing a pin-stripe blouse with floral pants, although in high fashion it is being done for as long as the colors are related.
I’m talking about the Halloween-ish horrors that fashion can create. I couldn’t be philistine when I learned something from the history of fashion through the pamphlet Fashion Can Be Fatal. It was an eye-opener. The pamphlet recorded how people made themselves attractive, what extremes they did to achieve it, even putting themselves unwittingly in danger.
Lip and ear plates are still used by some tribes around the world, by both men and women. In women it symbolized her strength, social status and maturity. The Mursi, Chai and Tirma tribes in Africa still use this beauty mark. The danger it poses is during emergencies. Removing the adornments can delay treatment.
Adult Chinese women used to bind their feet to a child-like size of three or four inches. It made walking almost impossible. According to the pamphlet, a lot of women suffered from gangrene because their foot became infected, or some lost their foot to save their lives. The trend was stopped in 1949.
Corsets became a trend in the 1500s when Catherine de Medicis, wife of King Henry II of France, banned wide waists in the French court. The corset’s tight pull was said to have given her an impossible 13-inch waistline!
It made digestion difficult and posed danger on the ribs, which added pressure to the ovaries, thus making some women incapable of bearing a child. The lungs could also be overinflated, which could trigger internal bleeding.
The fontange (1680s to 1700s) or tower-like head ornamentation posed danger. Some “architectural constructions” got caught in candle chandeliers.
As it is now, so it was then: women desire to have white skin. Elilzabeth I of England created a trend when she wore a cream made from egg white, vinegar and powdered white lead, the last ingredient causing lead poisoning. Read labels, and throw out any beauty product with lead in it.
According to the pamphlet, she used the white powder to hide scars she had from smallpox. The research noted that constant use of the white matter may have caused her death.
Crinoline cages and bustles (1800s) were petticoats that flared out a woman’s skirt. It was heavy and made sitting down difficult.
A recorded horror happened in 1863, when some 1,800 women died when a church in Santiago, Chile, burned down. “In the rush to get out, the women’s crinoline cages blocked the exit. They were trapped and burned to death,” Fashion Can Be Fatal said.