The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History

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We’ve all committed a fashion crime or two – perhaps that neon phase in the ’90s or those questionable early 2000s denim choices. But believe it or not, our fashion mishaps are mere blips on the radar compared to these 17 biggest “what were they thinking?” moments in the fashion world.

Muslin Dresses

via Wikimedia Commons

Made from lightweight, sheer fabric, they left little to the imagination, especially when wet. And get this – it was fashionable to deliberately dampen them to appear even more translucent!

This trend wasn’t just about aesthetics, though. It was downright dangerous. The chill from wearing these wet muslin dresses was linked to health issues like pneumonia.


The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Photo: © AlSimonov via

These fashion statements were more like a form of medieval torture, cinching in women’s waists to unnaturally small sizes in the name of an “hourglass figure.”

The promise of a petite waist came with a hefty price – difficulty breathing, displaced organs, and fainting spells were the daily specials on this fashion menu. A renowned medical journal, the Lancet, published an article on June 14, 1890, titled “Death From Tight Lacing.”

Powdered Wigs

The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Wolfgang Sauber via Wikimedia Commons

Introduced by King Louis XIII of France, who was trying to cover his balding head (talk about setting trends under pressure), they quickly became a fashion must-have among European aristocracy. The bigger the better, was the rule of thumb.

Ironically, most of these hairpieces were made of horse, goat, or human hair, and guess what? They attracted lice. Imagine itching your head with a stick at a royal dinner. Not so classy after all, huh?


Edmund Leighton via Wikimedia Commons

These were the must-have items for Western European nobility, most notably France. With their long, flowing sleeves and tight fit from waist to hips, bliauts were the epitome of “extra” long before the term was coined.

Yet, practically speaking, the extravagant sleeve design made even the simplest tasks like cooking, cleaning, or even just eating quite challenging.

Bullet Bras

Emma Benitez via Wikimedia Commons

Engineered to give the gals a uniquely torpedo-shaped appearance, bullet bras shot straight to fame in the 1950s. From Hollywood starlets to everyday women, the bullet bra was a must-have item in every lady’s arsenal.

As absurd as it may seem now, back in the day, these bras were the epitome of style and femininity. They were a bizarre blend of fashion-forwardness and Cold War-era weaponry aesthetics.

Micro Mini Bags

ChinaImages via Depositphotos

These bite-sized late 2010s accessories, so small they could make a Barbie doll jealous, provide an impressive lesson in impracticality.

Their comically small size, which often couldn’t accommodate more than a credit card or a single lipstick, effectively threw the whole purpose of a bag out the window. Yet, the style crowd adored them, parading them as chic handcuffs to couture.

Hoop Skirts

The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Wilhelm Storm via Wikimedia Commons

Hoop skirts, also known as crinolines, literally embody the phrase, “beauty is pain.” This trendy 19th-century disaster had women navigating their daily lives inside a cage of wire, horsehair, or whalebone to maintain a bell shape from the waist down.

Yet, these skirt supporters, much like a peacock’s plumage, were all about making a statement – the bigger the skirt, the higher the status.


Martin SoulStealer via Wikimedia Commons

Ladies of the late 19th century strutted around with these oversized pads strapped onto their backsides – talk about a fashion statement!

What started as a simple hoop skirt in the 1860s swiftly ballooned (literally) into a massive, often comical protuberance by the 1880s. Despite the seeming absurdity, ladies wore bustles proudly, and they became a symbol of elegance and status.


The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Tim Evanson via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, the codpiece, a peculiar and somewhat risqué fashion statement from the Renaissance era. This peculiar sachet of fabric, often elaborately decorated, sat front and center, covering and accentuating the “family jewels.”

Some were padded, some jingled with bells, and others were even used as pockets. 🤦‍♂️

Hobble Skirts

The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Charles Trefts via Wikimedia Commons

If you think skinny jeans are a tight fit, let me introduce you to the Hobble Skirt. Named for its effect on the wearer’s ability to walk (hobbling, indeed), this skirt was designed to be so narrow at the bottom that it significantly restricted movement.

Elegance was apparently measured in inches… of stride. Walking slowly and tripping over were just some tiny sacrifices women made in the name of fashion. Ah, the things we do for style!


The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s step back to the 15th to 17th centuries when these towering platform shoes were all the rage in Venice. They weren’t just a fashion statement; they were a status symbol.

The higher your chopines, the higher your social standing, quite literally! Some reached a vertigo-inducing 20 inches in height. Walking in them? A nightmare. Ladies needed servants to prop them up.


The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, Macaroni! And no, we’re not talking about the cheesy, carb-laden comfort food you’re probably picturing. These dandies, known as Macaronis, sought to demonstrate their wealth and social status through over-the-top outfits featuring oversized hats, flashy jewelry, and pastel-colored silks.

The style was so exaggerated that people started saying, “Stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni,” which eventually found its way into the American patriotic song, “Yankee Doodle.”

Lotus Shoes

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Originating in the 10th century, Lotus shoes were a fashion trend in China associated with foot-binding. The idea was to create feet that were only about 3 inches long, referred to as “Golden Lotuses.”

The tinier the foot, the higher the societal status. This trend persisted for a millennium, only ending in the early 20th century! Can you imagine the discomfort?


Marieke Kuijjer via Wikimedia Commons

Named after Krakow in Poland, these shoes had toes so long that they often needed a string attached to the knee to prevent tripping. Some toes extended up to 24 inches — that’s two whole rulers of leather hanging off your foot.

Not only did these shoes scream, “I’ve got money to waste on absurd footwear,” but they also screamed, “I can’t run away from my problems.” Quite literally.

Patchwork Peasant Skirts

The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Photo: © esebene via

These skirts, often crafted from discarded pieces of fabric sewn together in a hodgepodge of colors and patterns, were the epitome of bohemian chic. Their charm resided in their uniqueness; no two skirts were the same.

While they may have perfectly embodied the free-spirited ethos of the era, in hindsight, they also beautifully exemplified the old saying: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Jumpsuits for Men

Jonathan Powell via Wikimedia Commons

And who could forget the fashion disaster that was men’s jumpsuits, popularized in the disco era of the 1970s? These one-piece wonders, often in garish colors and patterns, took “Saturday Night Fever” a little too literally.

A sly wink to convenience, they took the problem of matching separates and threw it out of the window. The only catch? A trip to the restroom became a game of how-fast-can-you-undress.

Stiff Starched Collars

The 17 Dumbest Fashion Trends in History
Charlie Huang via Wikimedia Commons

These rigid neck encasements were so stiff that they could literally cut a man’s throat. Can you imagine that? While they might have suggested a certain ‘stiff’ upper lip and conveyed an image of prim and proper status, they were uncomfortable.

On the plus side, though, they probably did wonders for improving posture, because heaven forbid you should tilt your head downward.

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Looking to give your home a makeover but feeling lost? Don’t worry, interior design trends can be as fickle as fashion! From wallpaper woes to paint predicaments and furniture faux pas, your choices can make or break your space. Thankfully, interior designers have already done the hard work and uncovered 15 decorating don’ts that they beg you not to follow! Get ready to ditch those outdated trends and avoid the pitfalls when renovating your living room or bedroom.

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  • Mitch

    A computer science enthusiast with a keen interest in technology and games, Mitchelle (Mitch) contributes a cutting-edge perspective to the Frenz Hub writing team, integrating her academic knowledge with her personal passions

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