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18th Century Men Wore Dresses Called Banyans

Strolling down the streets of colonial Williamsburg, you wouldn’t have done a double take if you passed a gentleman clad in a flowing dress that looked like a nightgown. In fact, you might have complimented his fashion sense.

The garment was called a banyan, and in 18th century America and England it was considered typical, informal day wear for educated men of leisure. As comfortable and forgiving as sweatpants are today, banyans were loose robes that provided a welcome relief from the period’s often-constricting coats.

To modern sensibilities, banyans looked like nightgowns, or even bathrobes. In fact, they were originally inspired by styles from Japan, China, and India, which at the time had become fashionable in England thanks to the Dutch East India Company. (The name “banyan” is actually an Anglicized version of a Gujarati word for “trader.”)

Even though they were “casual” clothing items, some banyans were fancier than others. Fabrics ranged from simple linens and cottons to more elaborate chintz fabrics, brocades, and silks. There were also stylistic variations—fitted vs. loose, ties vs. buttons, and set-in sleeves vs. a chemise cut. Some banyans were quilted and lined, yet others were cool and lightweight. Patterns and colors also ranged widely. The variations were just about endless.

A banyan was worn over a shirt and breeches; a small, matching hat called a “negligé cap” topped off the look and kept a man's bald head warm when it wasn't covered by a wig. The oufit was commonly worn in the privacy of a gentleman’s home—particularly in the early morning or evening hours, during which he’d dine with his family, write letters, and read books.

However, banyans were also worn in public. Men in colonial Virginia donned banyans during the humid summer months. And since the loose cuts were thought to be conducive to “the easy and vigorous exercise of the faculties of the mind,” intellectuals like Benjamin Franklin and Sir Isaac Newton were often painted wearing banyans.

So if you’re passing through a museum and catch sight of an 18th century oil painting depicting a man wearing a silk gown, don’t think he stole it from his wife’s closet. The outfit may look silly now, but back then the ensemble signified that an individual was well-read, cosmopolitan, and refined—the same way that an expensive Polo shirt or a pair of imported designer spectacles might today. 

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The Very Disgusting Reason You Should Always Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them
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iStock

It’s sometimes assumed that clothing with a price tag still dangling from the sleeve can skip an initial wash. Someone else may have tried it on, sure, but they didn’t run a marathon in it. Why not just throw it in the closet as soon as you get home?

One big reason: lice. As The Independent reports, Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told NBC's Today show recently that clothing fresh off store racks can harbor infestations of lice, scabies, or fungus.

You might be familiar with head lice as the dreaded insects that occupy the scalp and give school health monitors cause for concern. Head lice can be transmitted via clothing and other fabrics, and anyone who tried on a shirt or dress before you did can be a carrier. While they only live for one or two days without a blood meal, that’s still enough time to cause problems if something is being tried on frequently.

Scabies is far more insidious. The mites are too small to see, but the allergic reaction they cause by burrowing into your skin to lay eggs will be obvious.

Both scabies and lice can be treated with topical solutions, but it’s better to kill them by washing new clothes in hot water. A good soak can also get rid of formaldehyde, a common chemical used in fabrics to help ward off mold in case stock gets wet in transit. Formaldehyde can cause allergic skin reactions. For all of these reasons, it’s best to hit the washing machine before those new pants ever hit your hanger.

[h/t Independent]

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These Super Realistic Ski Masks Let Your Inner Animal Come Out
Beardo
Beardo

No matter how serious you are about your skiing performance, it doesn't hurt to have a sense of humor on the slopes. These convincing animal masks spotted by My Modern Met make it easy to have fun while tearing up the trails.

Each animal mask from the Canadian apparel company Beardo is printed with a photorealistic design of a different animal's face. Skiers can disguise themselves as a bear, dog, fox, orangutan, or even a grumpy-ish cat while keeping their skin warm. The only part of the face that stays exposed is around the eyes, but a pair of ski goggles allows wearers to disappear completely into their beastly persona.

The playful gear is practical as well. The stretchy polyester material is built to shield skin from wind and UV rays, while the soft fleece lining keeps faces feeling toasty.

Beardo's animal ski masks are available through their online store for $35. If you like to stay cozy in style, here are more products to keep you warm this winter.

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

Animal ski mask.
Beardo

[h/t My Modern Met]

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