When it comes to fashion, "forward thinking" tends to imply that fashion is all about the future. But when we think about the cyclical nature of style, it makes sense to take tips from fashion trends throughout history. As original as you might think your style is, it's pretty likely that it's been done before. For me at least, originality comes from how we combine styles from history. I might not be able to pull off the fringed, shapeless shift dresses of 1920s flappers, but finger waves look so good on my blonde hair.
That's not to say that fashion isn't evolving. From the popularity of body positive campaigns to a rise in gender neutral clothing brands, it feels like the time to shine for those outside of traditional beauty standards has finally come. At its core, fashion has always combined the old with the new, though. Our social ideals are becoming more radical, yet many of us have happily returned to the era of the flared jean. It's obvious to me that we can move forward consciously, but still look back on fashion trends worth bringing back.
People in history may have poisoned themselves with lead to keep looking fresh — you kind of have to admire the dedication, am I right? — but we don't have to be quite so extreme when borrowing fashion tips from history.
1. Put Waist Training To Rest
Around the 1920s, women started to give up corsetry — partially due to the war effort, which required the metal far more than women's waists. But the dangers of waist training were coming into the light as well. As much as women felt they needed tiny waists (thanks traditional beauty standards), they knew then that messing up your internal organs just wasn't worth it. Now, almost 100 years later, we've returned to the practice. To me, that just doesn't make sense.
2. Remember The Importance Of Color
Across history and cultures, the colors of our clothing have meant many different things. In Elizabethan England, for example, the color of clothing you wore was dictated and upheld by the law. I'm not trying to say that we return to a regency-led totalitarian way of style rules, but taking colors into consideration can't hurt. Although wearing all black may make you look completely chic, wearing different colors can affect our own moods and how others perceive us.
3. And The Powerful Variety Of Wigs
The fashionable wearing of wigs was championed by King Of France, Louis XIV when his hair started thinning at age 17. Five years later, the King of England, Charles II, copied his cousin by bringing wigs into style after his hair started turning gray. Although I highly doubt Kylie Jenner — at the fresh age of 18 — is wearing wigs to hide her own head of hair, the social media icon has definitely helped bring wig-wearing back into style.
4. Winged Eyeliner Is Your Bestie
I can't really remember when winged eyeliner wasn't in style throughout my life — emo kids loved excessive eyeliner and many of my trendy peers do today. But the historical use of it is actually pretty interesting: In ancient Egypt, the use of eyeliner wasn't just about looking bomb, but about blocking out the glare of the harsh sun. As if I needed another excuse to wear makeup to the beach.
5. Male Corsetry Should Be Allowed (Sort Of)
As I said earlier, I don't believe corsetry is the way forward for the 19th century woman or the 21st century woman. But at least in the late 18th century/early 19th century, men wore corsets too. Instead of going backwards with waist training, however, I feel that men should be allowed to wear female shapewear — or even female underwear — without judgement.
As I would slide into control top tights to smooth out my silhouette, an equally chubby ex boyfriend used to openly tell me of his jealousy. Shapewear for men does exist, and regardless of whether it's body positive or not, men should be allowed the option of wearing it without judgement as well.
6. Fashionable Leaning Is Your Solution To Walking In Heels
You might think that platforms were invented in the '60s, but you'd be wrong. Chopines were the 16th century Italian woman's answer to not walking through streets covered by an inch of filth. Due to the height of some chopines (and an unpracticed wearing of heels), many Venetian women had specific servants to lean on as they strutted (read: stumbled) about in their chopines.
As a clumsy gal, I hate the expectation of walking flawlessly in heels placed upon most women. If we could bring back leaning on each other (maybe not on servants, but on friends) as we wear heels, perhaps I would be able to don a pair again.
7. Hole-y Clothes Are Forever Fashionable
This one doesn't reach too far back into history, but the grunge movement of the '80s/'90s meant that your old, hole-y, and worn clothes were actually a fashion statement rather than a sign of being a lazy or dirty slob. Of course, now you can buy clothes with pre-made holes in them, much to the benefit of your mom's jokes. But the recurring coolness of this trend means you don't have to worry about it when your favorite clothes get a little bit threadbare.
Whether we're delving into the depths of different centuries or just heading back a couple of decades, there are tips, tricks, and trends to be found in history that can still be applied today — be it the styles of the peasants or the gentry.
Image: Columbia Pictures (1); Wikimedia Commons (6); 20th Century FOX (1)