Everything has its own unique history, including fashion trends! Wars and other significant events always have a deep impact on the society’s life, and that’s true for fashion, too. For example, did you know that men used to wear heals but then stopped for some reason? And how about women’s shaving habits that changed drastically after the WWII? Oh, and pink used to be the boy’s color, while girls were all dressed in blue. Want to know how this all happened? History has all the answers! Here are 10 modern fashion trends and bizarre stories behind them.
Women’s and men’s buttons
You’ve probably noticed that men and women have buttons on the opposite sides when it comes to shirts. There’s a pretty unusual, but practical explanation to that. Back in the 13th century when buttons were first invented, they were mostly used by rich ladies, which meant they were dressed by maids. Thus, it was easier for right-handed maids to dress their ladies when buttons were on the left. As for men – it was all about access to the weapon. Thus, it was easier for them to use buttons that were on the right.
Pinks and blues
It’s become quite common to dress boys in blue and girls in pink, but it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, for centuries children younger than six were dressed in white robes as white cotton could be bleached, so it was a practical decision. Color wasn’t used as a gender signifier until the 1900s, but it was all vice versa back then – pink was considered a stronger color suitable for boys, while blue was more delicate, thus, more suitable for girls. Things changed in 1985 when prenatal testing became available and parents started shopping for clothes according to the gender of a child. Retailers started producing gender-oriented clothes with distinct color palettes to increase sales. And the blue/pink trend stuck!
Shaving legs is a relatively new trend. Back in the days Queen Elizabeth I, a huge trendsetter, ordered women to remove hair from their foreheads as well as eyebrows to make their faces seem longer (and, well, more beautiful?), but she had nothing to say about shaving legs. Legs were totally fine! Things changed during the WWII, when there was a shortage of stockings as nylon was mostly used to make parachutes. Thus, women had to bare their legs in public. In order to be socially acceptable they began shaving their legs and as skirts grew shorter – the trend stayed for years to come.
Manicure is as old as history itself. Ancient Babylonians groomed their nails more than 5,000 years ago, as did the Ming Dynasty elites in China, whose favorite colors were crimson and black. Elizabeth I also became a fashion icon due to her well-groomed manicured hands. Longer nails usually symbolize an elite social status as they are truly impractical for hard labour. Although, nail trends come and go and nowadays everyone wears them as they please.
Men and heels
It’s been a while since men stopped wearing heels, although lately you can see guys rock them on the catwalks of modern fashion shows. Nevertheless, high heels used to be worn by men on a regular basis due to its practicality. High heels helped riders and archers secure their stance when they stood up in their stirrups. In the 15th century European aristocrats adopted high heels from the Persian people, which became a new fashion trend and a symbol of wealth. During the Enlightenment era men ditched the impractical high heel, but women and practicality (or rationality) didn’t get along back then, so they were denied this luxury.
Women and long hair
Women have worn long hair since the dawn of times – it’s always been longer than men’s! But why? It seems that hair has always been a symbol of something – religion, sexuality, power, and personal beliefs. Long hair is indicative of wealth, health, and prosperity, thus long-haired women are viewed as better mates. To have long hair a woman needs to eat good food, sleep well, have no diseases, and do regular exercise. You also need to be wealthy to do all that, at least that’s how things were before. Long hair is still viewed as a strong symbol of femininity, although, short hair is just as popular, if not more.
Just a few years ago saggy pants were a true disaster that has taken over America. Special laws had to be created prohibiting this manner of wearing one’s pants as unsightly and lacking self-respect. This style also hinted to the embrace of gang culture, and no one wanted such a trend around. Where did saggy pants come from, you might ask? There are two theories. According to the first one, inmates who were prohibited to wear belts in prison, sagged their clothes and upon returning home continued this style. The second one states that inmates wore their pants like this in order to signal their sexual availability.
Men and ties
Ties are highly impractical – they don’t keep men warm and are uncomfortable more often than not. Then why wear them? It appears the history of a necktie dates back to the 1600’s and the Thirty Years’ War. King Louis XIII hired Croatian mercenaries to fight the war and they wore a piece of cloth around their necks that tied the tops of their jackets together. The king liked that fashion very much, which made these early neckties mandatory for all official meetings. The necktie was then named cravat after the Croatian mercenaries. Croatia even has a national Cravat Day which is celebrated on October, 18.
Wedding bands and ring fingers
Where does the ring finger come from and how did we end up wearing wedding bands on our fourth finger? Well, we have Romans to thank for that. They believed that a special vein connected the heart and the fourth finger – they even called it ‘vena amoris’, the vein of love. It was only natural to put wedding bands on that finger. It was pretty romantic of them! Well, nowadays scientists have proved that all fingers are connected to the heart, so there’s that.
Women and armpit hair
We’ve already found out why women started shaving legs, but what about armpits? Did they just wake up one day thinking that it kind of looks bad? We actually owe this armpit trend to the Harper Bazaar ad that shamed millions of women into shaving their armpits back in 1915. As the ad stated, all ‘objectionable hair’ had to be removed due to the growing popularity of dancing and sleeveless dresses. It featured a photo of a young woman in a sleeveless dress standing with her arms up, revealing her bare armpits. Within just a few years natural hair was deemed embarrassing and women with hairy armpits dubbed as gross. And men? They’ve never had to shave a thing.