If you’re a fashion geek, you might be aware that Coco Chanel invented the “little black dress,” and Valentino Garavani popularized red dresses. But surely, there are still many fashion tidbits you may not know about. Here are some random facts:
1. Eyebrows on fleek
Nowadays, any self-respecting fashionista will never leave her house without just the right makeup done. And when we talk about the right makeup, we mean flawless eyebrows. While bushy eyebrows are a trend today, fashionistas during the Renaissance period used to shave them off. Take Mona Lisa for example.
2. No models, dolls only
Since the 1500s, fashion designers show off their clothing line by creating a mini version to put on little dolls. There were no real, human models until 1853.
3. Skirts are an ancient fashion
Although still widely used today, skirts are the second oldest garment in history, predated only by the loincloth. Plus, skirts were not intended only for women. In fact, during 1600 to 1700s, both men and women wore them.
4. Denim facts
For over 7,000 years, cotton fabric was used for clothing. For one bale of cotton, 215 pairs of jeans can be made. The word “jeans” came from the cotton pants worn by the “Genes,” a local term used to describe sailors from Genoa. Meanwhile, the word “denim” most likely originated from a French material called serge de Nimes, meaning serge from the French seaside town of Nimes.
5. The first sneakers
During the late 1800s, people wore shoes with rubber soles called plimsolls, but they were crude. The US Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber shoes with canvas tops during 1892 and called it Keds. The shoes were named sneakers because the soles were so smooth that they allow the wearer to sneak around silently. By 1917, the sneakers began to be mass-produced.
The Marquis Converse also produced its first sneaker on the same year and called it Converse All-Stars, a shoe made just for basketball. It was endorsed by basketball superstar named Chuck Taylor, and the shoes became known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
6. Buttons on jacket sleeves
It’s unlikely that a war dictator would contribute something to fashion. But during the Napoleonic wars, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered that his army’s uniforms must have brass buttons on the jacket sleeves to prevent his soldiers from wiping either their nose or mouth clean with their uniforms. Bonaparte must have cared so much about good hygiene. Nowadays, buttons on sleeves are retained as a design.
7. Lotus shoes
For a thousand years, the Chinese culture regarded small feet as beautiful and was necessary for women in order to get married and to have a better life. It was a common practice for them to bind women’s feet as early as five years old to keep their feet small. They used lotus shoes, which are small, triangular embroidered footwear used to show women’s pointy feet.
Since it affected their ability to walk, having lotus feet was a status symbol and is only practiced by the wealthy because they don’t need to work in the fields. Nowadays, it is utterly rejected in China, having the last lotus shoe manufacturer close it business in 1999.
8. Wearing black
During the 19th century, if you wear black and you weren’t mourning for the death of someone, you will be considered dangerously eccentric. The women of the Victorian era were expected to dress in black mourning clothes for two years after their husbands’ deaths, and that started the tradition of wearing black at funerals in the West.
9. British hat
The most remarkable item in British fashion is the hat, which they usually wear on formal occasions. It may be odd to see weddings and garden parties in the UK having guests with no hats. Ever wondered why? This fashion tradition started when Queen Elizabeth I mandated a law in 1571 that required anyone over the age of 7 to wear hats on Sundays and holidays. The queen must have loved hats so much that anyone who refused to follow her law would be fined.
10. Longest wedding dress
Remember when Princess Diana walked down the aisle in a royal bridal gown with a 25-foot train in 1981? If you think her dress was outrageously long, a bride from China topped it off with a dress that had a 2 km train behind her. It took her 200 guests three hours to unroll it. It required 18 feet of lace and three miles of taffeta to produce, and it was adorned with 9,999 silk red roses. The gown was designed by a Romanian wedding salon, and they currently hold the Guinness World Record for the longest wedding train.
11. High heels
High-heeled footwear has been present since the 16th century, but it used to be worn as a status symbol by both men and women. By the 1580s, men started to wear high heels for extra stability in riding horses, as it keeps the foot from slipping in stirrups. During the French Revolution, the trend was stopped to avoid the appearance of wealth.
12. Fashion Weeks
There are around 40 fashion weeks and 100 official events. The most prominent ones are held in the fashion capitals of the world: Paris, London, New York, Milan and Berlin. The first fashion week started in New York during 1943 to distract the public from French fashion in the World War II.