History is known to tend to repeat itself and in the dynamic world of fashion, trend cycles have proven this.
Yet in the deep recesses of design history lie some of the most eccentric and practical styles to escape modern wardrobes. From scented head cones to knee paint, here are some of the most extraordinary fashion trends that should be brought back.
Egyptian head cone
At first glance, the peculiar cone shapes on the heads of Egyptian women appear to be some sort of hat—perhaps a ritual or spiritual adornment. A deodorant might have been the last idea that came to mind, but these elongated cones were a surprisingly effective way for the ancient Egyptians to maintain a pleasant smell on long, muggy days. The precise purpose of this accessory is still debated by historians. However, it can be inferred that the perfumed beeswax the objects were made of may have released sweet scents of oils as they melted under the hot Saharan sun.
If you’re feeling bold, a wax cone could be a great way to liven up or freshen up your next Monday lecture. The concept of incorporating scent is a practical and innovative styling choice – but some aromatic earrings or vanilla-scented necklaces might be a better place to start.
While makeup can undoubtedly be a form of artistic expression, can you think of it as a form of literal communication? Well, welcome to the secret language of beauty features, where any dot placement, size, and quantity can be used to test or celebrate you. This trend emerged in the mid-16th century and gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also known as “mouches” or “flies” in French, these beauty features can indicate economic or relationship status and appear as hearts, birds, or the traditional rounded freckle shape. When a woman was single, she could attend balls with a single heart on her left cheek. If she was lucky enough to find a suitor, she would move the heart to the right to show her unavailability.
Even more scandalously, these marks were created to cover up smallpox and syphilis scars, much like a modern-day pimple plaster. This also meant that cutie marks could be linked to promiscuous behavior, unless of course you were from the upper class – in which case it was elegant. Hulu The great uses the beauty trends from the era of Catherine the Great by having birds, stars and bugs decorate her cheeks by the eccentric nobles Aunt Elisabeth and Georgina. In the 17th century, the more detailed your outfits were, the more voluptuous you were—a standard still applied to the most delicate features.
So if you look in the mirror and realize your outfit needs an extra touch, consider adding an elusive beauty mark — just not too many.
Ever go about your day only to realize you left your scissors and sewing at home? Well, it might be time to retrieve that forgotten accessory, the Chatelaine. The chatelaine is an addition to your belt that includes straps for sewing kits, thimbles, stationery, and even a light vinaigrette for on-the-go.
For the 18th-century modern woman, this meant that you could have all the essentials for work or study right at your waist, while accessorizing your waist with beautiful metal engravings of stucco fabrics, dainty flowers and family crests. For the purposes of this millennium, chatelaines are the perfect way to add a detailed touch to your outfit while wearing school supplies. Forget about being a tote girl—Chatelaine women can now go hands-free while keeping essentials handy.
In 2019, Kim Kardashian released a divisive line of body makeup from her brand, KKW Beauty. While the ethic of encouraging the concealment of any physical “imperfections” remains controversial, less than a century ago body makeup was used as a source of rebellion to emphasize once-discreet features: the scandalous knees. During the flapper era of the 1920s, despite much disapproval, shorter dresses emerged and the knees became a newly liberated aspect of the female body. To push the boundaries, flappers ditched stockings and powdered their knees with blush, a trend that became known as “party patellas.” Knee blush eventually evolved into knee painting as watercolors and oils turned dull legs into canvases for young beauty artists.
Maybe you want to see a pristine landscape every time you look down? Paint it on your knees. Fighting the urge to get that whimsical fairy tattoo you saw on Pinterest? Paint it on your knees. Would you like to declare your love to someone without cliche flowers or love letters? Paint her portrait on her knees for all to see. In fact, it can be used to express all sorts of feelings, including contempt. In a 1925 feature by American weekly newspaper, housewife Clarice Wilson told the story of her husband’s hatred of their new dogs. In an artistic depiction of passive aggression, she painted her two canines on her knees — one for each leg.
Knee art could be used to express issues that are too difficult to put into words. Verbal breakups can be tricky — writing your two initials on your legs next to a scowl can be a neat way to get the message across. There is no need to anonymously declare your hatred to any class or person on Sidechat—wear your animosity proudly on your body.
However, it should be noted that you choose your knee fights carefully. The Wilsons’ marriage was shaken when Mr. Wilson retaliated by painting two younger women on his knees – you never know how far knee art can go.
By now you’ve probably experienced that unfortunate moment when a peaceful sleep is interrupted by the harsh abrasion of your own cough. To make matters worse, you must attend an economics class surrounded by a few hundred sickly individuals. So instead of hacking half the first years, consider the elegant vintage look of plague masks. These crow-shaped masks may look like they’ve crawled out of the crevices of your deepest nightmares, but their function couldn’t be more wholesome. They were used during the bubonic plague cycle around 1600 and were a way for doctors to help patients without contracting the disease themselves. Crafted from the finest leather and glass and decorated with the lovely scent of roses and spices, N-95s could only dream of being this stylish. From one plague to another, it seems only natural that we revive a trend that is both health-conscious and fashion-forward.
As fast fashion dominates 21st century clothing, the utility and meaningfulness that styles once had are quickly being lost in the endless cycle of microtrends. Some of these trends from centuries ago certainly seem bizarre to a modern audience, but every accessory, garment and beauty feature had a higher function or statement. Next time you’re rummaging through your closet without anything exciting to wear, consider digging up an archived trend.