10 Strange Fashions

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zibellino1. Zibellino, which is the Italian word for "pelt." I bet you can guess what it is, or at least get close to it. It's a pelt, but it can be worn in several versatile ways: around the neck, clutched in the hand, or hanging from the waist. Sometimes the pelts were festooned with jewels, making them even more valuable. It's been documented that Elizabeth I had a zibellino with rubies and diamonds.
2. Leading Strings. These were long pieces of cloth that trailed off the back of children's garments so parents could use them like leashes. Here I thought parents leading their kids around on leashes was a somewhat recent phenomenon, but turns out it's centuries old.
3. Panniers. They were metal frames that strapped on around women's hips so their dresses would flow out over them.

I can't imagine how uncomfortable this was, especially to sit. Maybe you just refrained from sitting.

gorget4. A gorget was a steel collar that was worn around the neck but under the clothing to protect men in the military. But during the Renaissance, they meandered over to mainstream fashion. They were worn on the outside of clothes and became quite intricate "“ they were etched, engraved, embossed, bejeweled"¦ you name it. They've gone out of military fashion, although you still see decorative versions from time to time. They were used in the Third Reich, for example, but were largely just used as symbols of power and authority. I'm going to regret saying this after the Glenn Miller/Ben Affleck comment, but doesn't Washington look a little like Will Ferrell in this painting?

5. Scissors Glasses. Popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, scissors glasses were supposed to help with seeing long-distances "“ the glasses had two different lenses for two different purposes. Users of the scissors glasses included George Washington and Napoleon.
motoring6. Motoring Hood. I wish people still wore these to go out driving. They would be especially handy for riding in a convertible, don't you think? And you would only look ridiculous until the fashion caught on. Who wants to go first?
7. Transparent ruffles. When Louis XVI was king of France, the fashion was to have the "neckline" of a top actually fall just below the breasts. They were "covered" by a transparent ruffle, and then could be decorated with jewels and gemstones and rouge as the wearer so pleased. This didn't last too long. And thank God. Can you imagine trying to conduct a business meeting like that?
8. Lovelock. From 1600 to 1650 or so, it was fashionable for men to wear one long strand of hair brushed forward over one shoulder. The rest of the hair was worn collar-length. Weird. Sounds somewhat like a brushed-forward rattail.
patten9. Pattens. They were shoes of the 17th century, with a flat metal circle that served as the bottom of the shoe, followed by a length that varied from shoe to shoe, then a flat metal plate nailed into the wooden sole of the shoe. They were supposed to be good for women who worked outside a lot "“ the tall part kept dress hems off of the ground and kept them cleaner. By most accounts, they weren't terribly comfortable. I know, that's a shocker. The picture makes them look so cozy.
10. James Monroe was notorious for wearing britches, a buffcoat, an old-fashioned wig and a cocked hat. This might not sound that strange, but it was actually very out-of-date by the time Monroe was wearing it as President. The book Secret Lives of the Presidents by Cormac O'Brien likens it to George W. Bush insisting on dressing like Mike Brady. I know, this factoid is slightly out of place, but it's so interesting I thought I should share it.

That's it for our Countdown/Countup! Hope it made the time til you get to hang out with family and friends go by a little quicker. Enjoy your holidays!

December 24, 2008 - 10:54am
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