At times, we may be guilty of excessively using the term “to die for” when it comes to fashion, but we don’t mean it literally. But as the Daily Beast points out in detail, there are actual historical (and one recent) trends that actually are lethal.
Your Highness, this corset is killing me.
Three scary highlights:
Muslin Disease: Back in late-18th- and early-19th-century France, the 99 percent were forced by society’s rules and by law to wear less than 7.7 pounds of clothing (because only the rich nobles could wear heavy and embellished, i.e., expensive, apparel). Meaning, women of the lower class had to show that they were forgoing undies by “dampening” their bodies before donning muslin gowns. But when the temperatures dipped, this fashion and class statement led to deadly bouts of pneumonia and influenza.
Foot Binding: On the flip side, in ancient China, rich ladies practiced this tradition, which involved broken bones and lost toe circulation, and worse: gangrene, blood poisoning, rotten, falling-off toes, and death.
Corsets: Also for the upper class, corsets created a more-than-nipped-waist silhouette by basically deforming the body by damaging the hips and spine. So, yes, women died not just from “pneumothorax, atelectasis, or chronic gastroesophogeal reflux” (not sure what those are, but they sound pretty terrifying) but also a bad fall caused by fainting spells.