COVID-19 has transformed every aspect of our lives, our lifestyle, jobs, and even our wardrobe. But, it’s not the first pandemic to reshape fashion.

Over the centuries, pandemics have shaped the way we style and dress. Styles that we adapted as a fashion statement were once a way to cope with infections, like the fashion of whiter face, red lips, denser hair, and masks.

Painting Skin White!

Majority of women in previous centuries had super pale/white skin. At least that’s what I thought until I got to know it was face paint!

In the late 16th century, smallpox spread across the world. Queen Elizabeth contracted the disease and recovered, but the infection left scars on her face. To hide the scars, she used white power on her face. 

Inspired by the queen, people started using white paint and powder to hide their scars. 

It later became a famous make-up of that era. So maybe the face powder we use now to hide skin imperfections was inspired by an infection!


Also Read: Wearing Face Masks Is Part Of Social Etiquettes In Japan Since 1918’s Spanish Flu


Red Lips Were A Fashion Statement Even Back Then

Not only red lips, but also thin body, sparkling eyes, and pale skin, these all fitted perfectly in the definition of beauty in the 18th and 19th centuries. But apart from being in the good books of beauty, these were also the symptoms of tuberculosis or consumption. 

The infection that makes you look even prettier!

The symptoms were enough to lure people. People started adding things to their wardrobe to look like they are suffering from tuberculosis like applying lip color, painting face white, necklines highlighting bony shoulders and, dresses with a cinched waist.

Doesn’t it all look familiar? The 21st century is no different than the 18th and 19th centuries. Red lips, thin waist, the definition of beauty has not changed much.

Remember Those Big Wigs

You have probably seen these wigs worn by royal people of the 17th and 18th centuries. Although these wigs depicted royalty, they were also a means to hide syphilis.

Syphilis was a bacterial infection that caused blindness, open sores, and hair loss. People back then took the help of wigs to hide the visible symptoms. 

Wigs gained popularity when a lice outbreak occurred in the 17th century. They proved to be a good option for hiding baldness and short hair.

Plague Doctor

This is a Plague Doctor. Not gonna lie, it looks more like a Halloween costume than a prevention suit. 

This spooky-looking suit was worn by doctors treating patients of bubonic plaque. The suit had a long leather coat covered with wax along with a leather hat.

The mask was the highlight of the attire. It had a long nose to store herbs to purify the air. In that time, people believed that plagues and infections were airborne.

This costume then became a part of Italian culture and was even portrayed in video games like Assassin’s Creed.

Eye Makeup To Fight Infections

People in ancient Egypt wore black or green eye makeup. From servants to kings, everyone wore this makeup every day in the belief that this makeup had magical properties.

Some believed that this makeup pleased their gods Horus and Ra and might help protect them against infections.

Later studies found that this black and green powder had lead content in them. Usually, lead is harmful, but the lead content in this powder was little enough to produce nitric oxide when exposed to skin. This mixture helped ancient Egyptians to fight off infections.

Masks- They Came And Never Left

Masks were added to the wardrobe in 1918 when Spanish flu became a pandemic. Back then, Japanese people made masks a priority.

After the end of the Spanish flu, people still preferred masks. Some thought of it as a style statement, while others wore them for escaping pollution and social anxiety. 

 

With COVID-19 around, masks became an essential part of our lives. It’s our only protection against the novel coronavirus.

Maybe in some time, not wearing a mask will be illegal. Taking advantage of that, people have started several businesses of supplying customized masks. And masks will soon be an unexpected fashion statement in India.


Image credits: Google Images

Source: Indian Express, National Geographic, MD Linx

Find the blogger: @mitali_pk

This post is tagged under: pandemic, pandemics in the past, Queen Elizabeth, COVID-19 fashion, #fashion, ancient fashion, fashion history, evolution of fashion, mask fashion, fashion trends, victorian fashion, victorian era fashion, bubonic plague, plague doctor, Spanish flu, how illnesses inspired fashion, fashion inspired from infections, pandemic inspired fashion, fashion, design that prevented illnesses, health issues, infections


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