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5 Historical Fashion Fads that Would be Weird to See Coming Back, Part 2

Link to Part one

We all know that fashion repeats itself – clothing that was stylish twenty years ago comes back with a bang. Yes, it means that we cannot escape the trends of early 2000’s now, however little we may like that fact, and some things never escaped fashion in the first place.

The question remains: is there anything new waiting to be invented? Have we already reached the limits of what can be enjoyed and appropriated by the wider populace? I am not sure about the answer, but when you take a look at the haute couture fashion today, you see a lot of vestiges form the past decades. Sometimes there are new mix-and-match variants of old trends (like a mini skirt in an Elizabethan fashion), and sometimes something that looks like it’s straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, the street fashion today tends to be more down-to-earth and practical.

Here is a part two to the list of historical fashion fads that could make a comeback – at least in theory – but it would perhaps be quite freaky and quizzical if they did. Or did they already? What do you think?

  1. 1. Chopine and Crakows

    And you thought stiletto heels were an overstatement. The Chopine were highly fashionable during the Renaissance, especially in Spain and Italy. Nowadays, the style looks rather weird to us, but when you think about it, it’s not a long way from your regular fat bottom shoes or 10 cm heels – kind of. The high heels attached to a shoe, called chopine, were a statement: a token that the wearer was of a higher social stratum than the common hoi polloi. The shoe soles protected the actual shoes from getting muddy, but were almost impossible to walk in.

     A similar trend were the crakows in 12th and 14th centuries, likely named after the city of Krakow in Poland, they were shoes that feature a funnel looking a bit like an animal snout or a beak. These shoes were also so fashionable among young men and women, that the footwear started to feature ridiculously long dimensions, and were consequently banned in France and England.

  2. 2. Fontange

    Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, head accessories and hats used to be a must. Named after its inventor, madame Fontange, a fontange is basically an arrangement of lace and ribbons, put on a place with the help of a commode, a wire framework, which is then decorated. They were originally worn by French noble women, but cheaper and less showy versions of the headdress were used by almost everyone who had the chance. As was often the case with the fashion of the time, people thought the bigger the better and the more the merrier, and the fontanges became so complex and high that hours must have been spent putting them on place. But perhaps a simpler version with a bunch of lace attached to a topknot could become a trend in festive occasions?

  3. 3. The Hobble Skirt

    This style was especially fashionable in the 1910’s, and there are several variations of it. Typically, it was a skirt tightened around the calf or the ankle of the wearer. In 1910 the famous Parisian fashion designer Paul Poiret coined the hobble skirt with his new, “more natural” and exotic clothing lines. However, there are several versions of the origin story.

     If you google the hobble skirt you will find some interesting takes on it. Giving that mobility was not among the qualities appreciated in a woman, it is not surprising that this style became trendy before the great wars. The trend is said to have died out, when the first world war changed the ideal woman towards a more mobile and modest type, and the silhouette into a more boyish and ‘flat’. Today, it seems like the hobble skirt lives on as a ‘sexy’ vinyl version, and talking about plastics…

  4. 4. 60's Vinyl

    ‘Vinyl’ became fashionable in the 60’s, when a variation of PVC soft enough to be used in clothing was invented, and the race to the domination of the space between U.S. and the USSR inspired various designers and artists to think the future was now and plastic wasn’t only for raincoats.

    When I look at pictures of the 60’s fashion, I tend to think that the dresses, coats and bags made almost entirely of PVC or vinyl look quite ridiculous. Yet I saw an article on a Vinyl Fashion page that educated me that vinyl is, in effect, very fashionable today and has become an evergreen among the stylish celebrities. And here I thought that the vinyl made a short comeback in the 90’s when it was re-introduced on the other side of the screens once again (Matrix and cheesy pop bands, anyone?), but has since became synonymous with only certain type of niche clothing and found its way to the rear corners of most closets (perhaps only taken out when, you know, the situation calls for it). But who knows? Maybe I am wrong and the 1960’s fantasy spacetime never actually ended! Or, optionally, the vinyl simply looks less ridiculous when it is in black and not in every shade imaginable. Come to think of it, the psychedelic color palette of the 60s and early 70s isn't something we have quite seen since then. 

    However, as for being ‘the material of the future’, it is good to remember that the vinyl clothing is typically made from PVC and polyester, and therefore is short-lived and not very environmentally friendly.

This article was inspired by the book Fashion – the Ultimate book of Costume and Style, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2012.