Weirdest Women’s Fashion Trends Throughout History
Marc Gordon - March 30, 2020

Looking Back

by Edgar A. Guest

I might have been rich if I'd wanted the gold
instead of the friendships I've made.
I might have had fame if I'd sought for renown
in the hours when I purposely played.
Now I'm standing to-day on the far edge of life,
and I'm just looking backward to see
What I've done with the years and the days that were mine,
and all that has happened to me.

I haven't built much of a fortune to leave
to those who shall carry my name,
And nothing I've done shall entitle me now
to a place on the tablets of fame.
But I've loved the great sky and its spaces of blue;
I've lived with the birds and the trees;
I've turned from the splendor of silver and gold
to share in such pleasures as these.

I've given my time to the children who came;
together we've romped and we've played,
And I wouldn't exchange the glad hours spent
with them for the money that I might have made.
I chose to be known and be loved by the few,
and was deaf to the plaudits of men;
And I'd make the same choice should the chance
come to me to live my life over again.

I've lived with my friends and I've shared in their joys,
known sorrow with all of its tears;
I have harvested much from my acres of life,
though some say I've squandered my years.
For much that is fine has been mine to enjoy,
and I think I have lived to my best,
And I have no regret, as I'm nearing the end,
for the gold that I might have possessed.

There’s a pretty simple reason why retail companies market primarily to females: Women love beautiful clothes, and men love to look at beautiful women. But throughout the history of the fashion industry, there have been more than a few choices that raised eyebrows and made people think, “who on earth is coming up with these ideas?” Here are a couple of the most shocking, impractical, and just downright bizarre fashion trends.

 

Women’s Shoulder Pads

 

Getty Images Entertainment/Claire Greenway

 

Era: 1980s

 

Perfect for those days when you’re in a hurry and wanna knock everyone out of your way, shoulder pads are one of those trends that have yet to make a real comeback. Despite that, they continue to pop up on the runway whenever fashion designers are feeling particularly nostalgic. This woman definitely pulls off the look though, by mixing the exaggerated look with a more sensual undergarment.

 

 

Bathing Suit Dresses

 

Getty Images/Gamma-Keystone/France

 

Era: 1930s

 

Looking like a combination of modern-day swimsuit mixed with a baby doll nightie, these bathing suit dresses were all the rage in 1930, back when women were still being policed over the modesty of their beachwear. Once bikinis were introduced to the world in 1946, this style pretty much faded away into the fashion archives, but some would argue that this is actually one of the more flattering styles for women. But it’s unlikely we’ll see a comeback.

 

Corsets

 

Getty Images/Gamma-Keystone/France

 

Era: 1800s, Early 1900s

 

We’re actually pretty torn about this one. While corsets are incredibly uncomfortable, they’re also ridiculously flattering. Rising to popularity in the Victorian era, the constricting garment is meant to  “train” the waist, creating the perfect hourglass silhouette. Thankfully, tightlacing is no longer common practice (hello, pizza) but the corset shape is still seen in lingerie and thanks to Kim Kardashian, waist training is alive and well.

 

 

Garter Belts

 

Getty Images/ Mondadori Portfolio

 

Era: 1940s-1960s

 

Oh my. While this photo looks quite, um, alluring, garter belts and suspenders were actually considered quite a functional garment during the first half of the 20th century and didn’t yet carry the taboo connotations that they do today.  Because dresses were getting shorter, these clips were necessary to hold up women’s stockings. One couldn’t simply bear their legs, after all.

 

Furry Everything

 

Getty Images/AFP/Patrick Kovarik

 

Era: 2000s

 

Remember that absolutely iconic girl with the apple bottom jeans and the boots with the fur? Well, it’s clear that Flo Rida was talking about Paris Hilton circa early 2000s, although there was definitely no lack of girls rocking this furry look. We can’t say we’ve missed this particular trend.

 

 

Flapper Style

 

Getty Images/Denver Post

 

Era: 1920s

 

While slinky, beaded dresses and feathered headpieces have long gone out of style, the flapper uniform lives on through every girl’s Halloween costume ever. These socialites of the Roaring 20s might seem tame now, but their flamboyant style was actually considered quite provocative at the time.

 

Transparent Trousers & Thigh Highs

 

Getty Images/Entertainment/Edward Berthelot

 

Era: 2010s (present)

 

If you think this latest plastic trend seems a bit redundant, you’re absolutely right. But then again, the 2010s are all about being a little extra, so why not slide on a pair of totally see-through boots in 80-degree weather? To make your outfit even more nonfunctional, pair with a corset bra and oversized denim jacket that must stay on at all times.

 

 

Short Bangs

 

Getty Images/WireImage/Steve Granitz

 

Era: 1950s-1960s

 

Short bangs are an unconventional look for sure, and definitely not suited for every face. But as one of the most beautiful actresses of the era,  Audrey Hepburn helped them rise in popularity during the 50s and 60s. Oh Audrey, if only we all had those eyebrows…

 

Patchwork Everything

 

Getty Images/WireImage/KMazur 2001

 

Era: 1990s

 

So, 90s fashion was kind of a mess. It was basically a mash-up mix CD of previous generations hits, if you will.  Thus, the patchwork jean is truly the fashion manifestation of this era. Of course, this unique and kooky style wasn’t limited to jeans and could be found on flowy skirts and leather bags as well.

 

 

Crazy High Platform Shoes

 

Getty Images/WireImage/John Stanton

 

Era: 1990s

 

Oh my, these shoes bring back some bad memories. This dangerously trendy footwear gives the expression “break a leg” new meaning. Paired with a tight mini dress, or a crop top and some sporty pants, and you can basically transform yourself into the honorary sixth spice girl.

 

Bandannas

 

Getty Images/ FilmMagic, Inc/ Jeff Kravitz

 

Era 1990s

 

Back in the late 90s, J-Lo really had it going on. Okay, who are we kidding, Jenny is still the hottest girl on the block.  While the bandanna look is definitely not for everyone, this all-white ensemble mixing low rise jeans and a bedazzled belt definitely makes a good argument for it. Bottom line: these paisley printed handkerchiefs are clearly not just for cowboys.

 

 

Long Gloves

 

Getty Images/Gamma-Keystone/Keystone-France

 

Era: 1950s

 

In the late 50s, women would wear long, white gloves in order to look especially glamorous. Not that Marilyn Monroe needed any help in that department.

 

Monochrome

 

Getty Images/ WireImage/ Daniele Venturelli

 

Era: 1960s-present.

 

The term monochrome literally means one color, but in fashion, it often refers to an all black and white look. When Coco Chanel invented the little black dress in 1926, it was a revolutionary step for fashion as it changed people’s perception of black as a funeral color. Designers harnessed the flattering and chic shade, and by the 1960s, monochrome fashion reached its peak. The rest is history.