Gainsborough hat
CultureFashion & Style

5 Weird Fashion Facts in History

There are many bizarre trends that happened in history. We are shocked many times of trends that happened just a decade ago, but what about going back in time, centuries ago? Here are 5 weird fashion trends in history and make sure to read until the end, as we have prepared a special BONUS and a VIDEO.

1. Long Medieval Shoes

At the beginning of the 14th century, men started to wear very long shoes up to 2 feet (60 cm). These were highlighted by their skinny pants and short tight tunics. Very manly, we might say!

By the end of the century, the shoes became so long that they had to reinforce the toe with bones. All Europe was obsessed with this trend, but mostly the English!

medieval shoes
Photography from

The shoes kept growing and growing and by 1463 they were so ridiculously long, that King Edward IV had to give a law to stop them from growing! Men couldn’t wear then shoes that extended 2 inches beyond the toe.

2. Tall 16th – 17th Century Shoes

Since they couldn’t wear long shoes anymore, people thought to wear tall shoes up to 2 feet height (60 cm). Imagine basically the same length as in the medieval shoes but in height.

Photography: Flickr / Creative Commons license

These were more practical, because women in Venice were wearing them. Since Venice was full of dirt and mud, women protected their dresses by wearing these tall shoes. They couldn’t keep their balance, so they needed a servant just to hold them.

Photography: Wiki / Creative Commons

These shoes were called Chopines and they weren’t so ridiculously tall in the beginning, but since we humans like to exaggerate everything, that is what happened with the Chopines as well.

Apart from its practicality, this shoe was also linked with the social status of the woman. Only courtesans and patrician women could wear them to show their importance. The Venetians also had a law to not exceed the height of the Chopines and these were limited at 3 inches, but they didn’t really followed the rules…

3. Wearing Ships on Their Head

The Coiffure a la Belle Poule was a mad manifestation of national pride, after the French navy damaged a British ship in the 1778. The French ship La Belle Poule was victorious, so the French women created this hairstyle in honor of the victory. The inventor of this crazy hairstyle was Léonard Autie, the court hairdresser of Queen Marie-Antoinette.

belle poule
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Or course, what the queen wears, everyone wants to wear. The hairstyle became an overnight sensation! Imagine having internet and social media at that time and just seeing the live tutorial of creating such a masterpiece. 🙂

4. The Huge “Gainsborough” Hat

The French had their ships and the British women had their huge tall hats. The name of this trend comes from the painter Thomas Gainsborough who was the painter of the royal family back in the 18th century. He always painted Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and she was a real style icon at that time. This time, she wore a huge hat and this trend became so popular, literally pulled out of the painting by Thomas, that everyone started calling it the “Gainsborough” hat.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough
Wikimedia Commons

The hat itself was designed by the Duchess but after Gainsborough exposed the painting at the Royal Academy, British women wanted a hat just like that with huge feathers, fox tails and all the accessories they could have.

5. Wigs Fixed with Wooden Frames

We talked mostly about women, but men were looking crazy too. In the 18th century, the wig trend exploded. Both men and women wore them, but women mostly were styling their own hair while using ships, hats and other accessories, while men were really wearing wigs. They were competing always on who has the biggest and most creative wigs and at some point, the wigs became so extravagant that they had to fix them with wooden frames.

Photo: Wikipedia

6. The Wide Dress of the 18th Century (BONUS)

Here we are at the bonus section of this article. We saved this at the end because we believe it is one of the craziest trends of all. It started nicely as most things, but it got out of control just like all the other trends.


Pannier was an undergarment worn by women in both the 17th and 18th century to make their hips look larger and extend the dresses. This style was born in Spanish, where another famous painter, Velázquez, was portraying women at that time wearing these wide dresses.

velazquez infanta margarita
Infanta Margarita by Velázquez

From Spain to France and then to the rest of Europe, trends spread very fast back then as well. The only problem is that by the end of the 18th century, the dresses were so wide that women could no longer get inside. They were stuck in between doors and they also caught fire from the candles.


This trend turned into the later crinoline in the 19th century, which was a way better style.

What do you think about these trends? Do you know other crazy trends from the past? Feel free to share them below in the comments! Watch our VIDEO too on this topic for a great laugh 🙂

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