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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!

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The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
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Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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5 Tips for Becoming A Morning Person
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You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is an internal clock that influences your daily routine: when to eat, when to sleep, and when to wake up. Our biological clocks are, to some extent, controlled by genetics. This means that some people are natural morning people while others are night owls by design. However, researchers say the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle, which is good news if you want to train yourself to wake up earlier.

In addition to squeezing more hours out of the day, there are plenty of other good reasons to resist hitting the snooze button, including increased productivity. One survey found that more than half of Americans say they feel at their best between 5 a.m. and noon. These findings support research from biologist Christopher Randler, who determined that earlier risers are happier and more proactive about goals, too.

If you love the idea of waking up early to get more done, but you just can't seem to will yourself from out under the covers, here are five effective tips that might help you roll out of bed earlier.

1. EASE INTO THE HABIT.

If you’re a die-hard night owl, chances are you’re not going to switch to a morning lark overnight. Old habits are hard to break, but they’re less challenging if you approach them realistically.

“Wake up early in increments,” Kelsey Torgerson, a licensed clinical social worker at Compassionate Counseling in St. Louis suggests. “If you normally wake up at 9:00 a.m., set the alarm to 8:30 a.m. for a week, then 8:00 a.m., then 7:30 a.m.”

Waking up three hours earlier can feel like a complete lifestyle change, but taking it 30 minutes at a time will make it a lot easier to actually stick to the plan. Gradually, you’ll become a true morning person, just don’t try to force it to happen overnight.

2. EXERCISE IN THE MORNING.

Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, so jumping on the treadmill or taking a run around the block is a great way to start the day on a high note. Also, according to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising early in the morning can mean you get a better overall sleep at night:

“In fact, people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00 a.m. sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day.”

If you don’t have much time in the morning, an afternoon workout is your second best bet. The Sleep Foundation says aerobic afternoon workouts can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often throughout the night. “This may be because exercise raises your body’s temperature for about four to five hours,” they report. After that, your body’s core temperature decreases, which encourages it to switch into sleep mode.

3. MAKE YOUR BEDROOM IDEAL FOR SLEEP.

Whether it’s a noisy street or a bright streetlight, your bedroom environment might be making it difficult for you to sleep throughout the night, which can make waking up early challenging, as you haven’t had enough rest. There are, however, a few changes you can make to optimize your room for a good night’s sleep.

“Keep your bedroom neat and tidy,” Dr. Nancy Irwin, a Los Angeles-based doctor of psychology on staff as an expert in sleep hygiene at Seasons Recovery Centers in Malibu, suggests. “Waking up to clutter and chaos only makes it more tempting to crawl back in bed.”

Depending on what needs to be improved, you might consider investing in some slumber-friendly items that can help you sleep through the night, including foam earplugs (make sure to use a vibrating alarm), black-out drapes, light-blocking window decals, and a cooling pillow

Another simple option? Ditch the obnoxious sound of a loud, buzzing alarm.

“One great way to adapt to rising earlier is to have an alarm that is a pleasing sound to you versus an annoying one,” Dr. Irwin says. “There are many choices now, whether on your smartphone or in a radio or a freestanding apparatus.”

4. TAKE THE TIME TO PROPERLY WIND DOWN.

Getting up early starts the night before, and there are a few things you should do before hitting the sack at night.

“Set an alarm to fall asleep,” Torgerson says. “Having a set bedtime helps you stay responsible to yourself, instead of letting yourself get caught up in a book or Netflix and avoid going to sleep.”

Torgerson adds that practicing yoga or meditation before bed can help relax your mind and body, too. This way, your mind isn’t bouncing from thought to thought in a flurry before you go to bed. If you find yourself feeling anxious before bed, it might help to write in a journal. This way, you can get these nagging thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

Focus on relaxing at night and stay away from not just exercise, but mentally stimulating activities, too. If watching the news gets your blood boiling, for example, you probably want to turn it off an hour or so before bedtime.

5. GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF LIGHT.

Light has a immense effect on your circadian rhythm—whether it’s the blue light from your phone as you scroll through Instagram, or the bright sunlight of being outdoors on your lunch break. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, scientists compared the sleep quality of 27 subjects who worked in windowless environments with 22 subjects who were exposed to significantly more natural light during the day.

“Workers in windowless environments reported poorer scores than their counterparts on two SF-36 dimensions—role limitation due to physical problems and vitality—as well as poorer overall sleep quality," the study concluded. "Compared to the group without windows, workers with windows at the workplace had more light exposure during the workweek, a trend toward more physical activity, and longer sleep duration as measured by actigraphy.”

Thus, exposing yourself to bright light during the day may actually help you sleep better at night, which will go a long way toward helping you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Conversely, too much blue light can actually disturb your sleep schedule at night. This means you probably want to limit your screen time as your bedtime looms closer.

Finally, once you do get into the habit of waking up earlier, stick to that schedule on the weekends as much as possible. The urge to sleep in is strong, but as Torgerson says, “you won't want your body and brain to reacclimate to sleeping in and snoozing.”

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