While fashion moves at a truly breakneck pace in present times, and bad trends are quickly abandoned, there are plenty of ridiculous fashion trends that lasted for centuries, and shaped the look of women and men in a way that looks bizarre to the modern eye.
See the weirdest fashion trends in history and discover how they came to be and left a big mark on style history. From the European Dark Ages and Renaissance to weird African and Asian traditions, here are some of the most bizarre trends ever.
Starting out in France, at the court of Louis XIII, powdered wigs are still worn by British and Australian judges in court to this day.
The trend began as a way to hide male pattern baldness, and after the king decided to hide his disappointing hair line with big powdered wigs, the aristocracy followed and helped turned the wigs into a status symbol.
Two centuries before powdered wigs ruled France, another beauty statement turned into one of the weirdest fashion trends in history. Seeing a more pronounced forehead as a mark of nobility, women began to pluck their eyebrows out completely and even push back their hairline. The most famous fashion victim that succumbed to this trend is the Mona Lisa herself!
Women with small feet were traditionally seen as more feminine in Chinese culture for centuries, and foot binding made sure that every girl could jump on the trend. Lotus shoes, shaped either like a cone or sheath were specifically designed for women with bound feet. The trend lasted for almost a thousand years before Chinese women realized suffering for fashion isn’t worth lifelong disabilities.
Egyptian Eye Make-Up
While it may be used for a cool fashion statement today, the all black eyeliner seen as part of Cleopatra’s iconic look is one of weirdest fashion trends in history thanks to its initial function. Living in sunny North Africa and building pyramids covered in limestone that would shine even brighter in the afternoon, Egyptians started wearing black around their eyes to protect them from glare.
For centuries, fair skin was one of the biggest European beauty ideals. The reason why pale skin was in vogue is because it showed that a woman was truly a lady and wouldn’t spend one second of her time laboring outdoors. Avoiding a tan wasn’t enough, as women caked white powder on their faces as foundation before adding jarring blush on the lips and cheeks.
The curvy women portrayed in Renaissance art are considered an ideal of healthy womanhood by many, but in fact they’re just one of the weirdest fashion trends in history. Making a statement by packing on extra pounds showed that you were well off, since the poor’ skinny appearance was considered unfashionable and unattractive at the time.
Still surviving in some African and Asian cultures, neck coils are supposed to create the appearance of an elongated neck. More that just a fashion accessory, neck coils can actually twist the collar bone and push down the upper ribs. Probably the unhealthiest fashion statement ever, neck coils were used for girls as young as 2 in some cultures.
If you think Lady Gaga’s insane platforms are ridiculous, take a look at chopines, one of the weirdest fashion trends in history. With a height of up to 20 inches, these platforms were popular in Europe from the 15th to the 17th centuries, and were designed to elevate women in order to protect their outfits from the filthy streets, especially in Venice and Spain.
Born in Japan in the early ‘90s, Ganguro fashion mixes a deep tan with light shades of hair. While this fashion statement was only popular for a short time, it still deserves a mention as one of the weirdest fashion trends thanks to its “tacky” look. Ganguro girls would also wear light shades of makeup over the dark foundation, along with false eyelashes and even glued-on gems.
Designed to protect healthy women and men against the plague, the bird mask had bright red eyes and a “beak” filled with oranges as a protection against the disease. It’s definitely one of the weirdest fashion trends in history, but considering that almost half of Europe’s population died in the 14th century from the Black Death, we get why things got a little crazy.