consumer, consumer trends, Design trends, Fashion

9 Historical Fashion that led to Numerous Deaths

fashion trends of past

Even though humans claimed to be civilized animals, we still follow various trends that are potentially a threat to life itself. Historically speaking, there were several such trends that ended up killing numerous people. It is quite fascinating to realize that people are willing to go to any extremes to be different and make a statement for themselves. In this article, we will be looking at some really interesting stories from the past that we can consider as ‘deadly fashion’.


  1. Lotus Foot or Foot Binding

During the eighteenth century, the Chinese were obsessed with tiny feet. People who had large unbound feet (Normal feet) were seen to be crude. It is reported that the foot-binding custom can be traced back to the time of Emperor Li Yu and was inspired by a court dancer named Yao Niang who bound her feet into the shape of a new moon and performed a ballet-like dance on the points of her feet on the lotus.

foot bindingfoot binding

The above images clearly show that this was a painful procedure. The process typically starts at the ages of four until nine and the way that this was achieved was by breaking the bones in the feet and shaping them in such a way that they resembled hooves.

To give you more detailed information on this process, it also involves soaking the feet in some acids like vinegar or urine. Then the toes will be folded down and the arch of the foot bent back. Often, the bones would break resulting in fatal infections. Some people would survive the infection as their toes fall off leading to a tinier foot. She would therefore be considered more beautiful and desirable.


  1. Corsets

For an ideal slim body, women used to wear corsets regularly and were a part of the 19th-century wardrobe. Wearing a corset would reduce the waist size thereby exaggerating the bust and hips. This fashion dominated the Victorian era.

womens corset

During this time, the women who didn’t wear this as an undergarment were considered loose and scandalous. All good so far! However, this fashion trend pushed numerous women to become a victim of this fashion as they began to wear the corsets more tightly around their waists. This led to several health problems like constipation, indigestion, internal bleeding, and fainting from the pressure placed upon the lungs. The worst-case scenario is death from high pressure and internal organ damage.

Yes, women always desired a thin waist. But this practice proved to be fatal.


  1. Crinoline

Crinoline is a stiffly structured petticoat designed to hold out a women’s skirt. It was invented by R.C Milliet in 1856. It comes in a variety of materials and sizes. It is recorded that Crinolines were made using steel, wood, rubber, etc. that had a circumference of thirty-five meters.


During the Victorian Era, Crinolines killed around 3000 women. Out of them were Oscar Wilde’s half-sisters, Emily and Mary, who died in agony after their swirling crinolines skirts caught fire. The large amount of ignitable fabric that made up crinoline dresses was the reason for the easy inflammation.

There were also other difficulties for people who wore enlarged crinolines. It became difficult to walk, often gets entangled in carriage wheels causing injuries.


  1. X-Ray Hair Removal

xray hair removal fashion

We clearly know that x-rays and hair removal do not go hand-in-hand. The picture you see above is an advertisement during the time when x-ray machines were invented. Beauty salons promoted hair removal using x-rays and a whole bunch of people would queue up for the treatment.

The women who utilized this, ultimately suffered from ulcers, atrophy, and cancer, eventually leading to death. Yes, it’s a tragedy.


  1. Belladonna Eye Drops

belladonna fruit extractbelladonna fruit

Belladonna, the grape-like fruit in the picture above is a toxic fruit. The extraction from this fruit is used as eye drops. During the Renaissance era, people considered ‘dilated pupil’ beautiful and seductive.

What this fruit extract did was that same thing. It would help to dilate the consumer’s pupil. People would often sacrifice their health in order to get their eyes lit. This extremely toxic her was administered as eye drops that often led to skin irritations, heart problems, and potential blindness.


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  1. Surgical Eyelash Extension

artificial eyelash attachment

Eyelash extensions are a popular cosmetic even in today’s world. Millions of people even use it on a daily basis. The difference is that we have found an easy way to do it. Today’s eyelash extensions have a gruesome history.

During the early period, it was believed that eyelashes fell out because of excessive sex. So naturally, women were put under pressure to keep their lashes intact to prove their chastity. Yes, this is an absurd claim!

But back in the day, people were a lot more credulous. So, in order to ensure their chastity, most women resorted to having eyelashes implanted on their eyelids manually. Back in the day, this was a dangerous procedure often leading to infections and blindness. But during the 1800s, chastity and beauty outweigh death.


  1. Tight High Collar

In 1888, the New York Times reported on a man called John Cruetzi who had been found dead in the park, “the Coroner thought that the man had been drinking, had seated himself on a bench and fell asleep. His head dropped over his chest and then his stiff collar stopped the windpipe”.

tight high neck wear fashion

This was an invention of the 19th century. It was later nicknamed as “father killer” as many lost their lives accidentally to asphyxia and apoplexy.


  1. Mad Hatter Syndrome

During the 18th and 19th century the hat makers were in direct contact with mercury. Mercury poisoning was an occupational hazard for hat makers.

Mens fashion of hats

Hat makers suffered the side effects of long exposure to mercury in the forms of aggressiveness, mood swings, and anti-social behavior. It is reported that some workers killed their co-workers.


  1. Radioactive Makeup

radium in cosmetics

In 1898, Madam Curie discovered Radium. Quickly it became popular among cosmetic companies because radium made the skin glow bright. The picture above you see is an ad for Radior cosmetics which contained radium. The company that sold these items, Radior, was an English brand that introduced a line of cosmetics containing radium including night cream, Rogue, Compact Powder, Vanishing Cream, Talcum powder, Hair Tonic, and Skin Soap.

People didn’t know the harmful effects of radium at that time. When people who used these products started vomiting, anemia, internal bleeding, and eventually cancer, it was eventually banned from use.


Yes, killer fashion existed. Maybe there are still some weird things people do to be fashionable. If you know any, comment below.

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