What not to wear: Zouave pants

And you thought mental_floss Fashion Week was over! I just came across this piece in the IHT that completely stymied me with regards to a look seen at left on the Marc Jacobs and YSL runways:

"She wore bold checked jackets that flared away from the body and slim skirts. The silhouette was vaguely reminiscent of the 1980s - or even of the 1970s, when those weird zouave pants were first shown as fashion."

Those weird what pants? It turns out this look was originally worn by particularly snazzy infantry regiments in the French army:

250px-Zouave1888.jpg"The corps was first raised in Algeria in 1831 with one and later two battalions, and recruited solely from the Zouaoua, a tribe of Berbers. ... The Crimean War was the first service which the regiments saw outside Algeria. Their distinctive dress and dash made them well known outside France. After 1871 the Zouaves lost their status as an elite corps of long service volunteers and became mainly comprised of conscripts from the French settlers in Algeria and Tunisia doing their compulsory military service. ...

The four Zouave regiments of the French Army wore their traditional colorful dress during the early months of the First World War. The development of the machine gun, rapid fire artillery and improved small arms obliged them to adopt a plain khaki uniform from 1915 on. Between the wars the 'oriental dress' of red fez ('chechia'), braided blue jackets and voluminous red trousers was still seen as off-duty dress for re-enlisted NCOs and other long service regulars in the Zouave regiments."

You know, though, if I really want to look like a French soldier, I think I'll just stick with the current season's Napoleon-themed Dolce & Gabbana line. (Sorry, I just can't bring myself to make a cheese-eating- surrender-monkey joke.)

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


More from mental floss studios