Surprising Facts about Clothing & Its History that are Hard to Believe
What is clothing?
Clothing refers to garments, textiles, shoes or ornaments worn by people to cover their bodies. The primary purpose of clothes is not just to appear more attractive but to provide protection & sanitation from insects, harsh weather, foreign particles & infections by creating a barrier between our body and the environment. In today’s context, clothing has become a cue to our personality, preferences & cleanliness. The type of attire worn depends on culture, occasion, weather, gender, activity, occupation and is generally inspired by current fashion trends. Interestingly, many ancient dresses were originally gender-neutral! Keep reading to learn about some interesting facts on clothing & apparel.
Clothing is ever-evolving, sometimes due to changing fashion trends and culture, and sometimes due to changing needs. The definitions of comfort, style and clothing needs vary from generation to generation, leading to innovations by clothes manufacturers to keep up with these changing definitions. While some of these innovations become obsolete over time, it is quite interesting to know what led to them in the first place. What were the needs and desires they tried to fulfill?
“I’ve always believed that clothing is a great way to tell your story.”
In this article, we look at some of these surprising clothing facts and fashion stories.
Interesting Clothing Facts:
High heels for…BOYS!
The history of high heels can be traced back to Persian horse riders, who used high heels for extra stability because they helped hold the rider’s feet secure in stirrups. As per sources, this high-heeled footwear is depicted on a 9th century ceramic bowl from Persia. The “rider’s heel” appeared in Europe around 1600.
The tiny jeans pocket
We all have seen that tiny pocket in our jeans that are too small to actually function as pockets and sit inside larger, actual pockets. Introduced in the 1800s, they were actually designed for cowboys to keep their pocket watches! Since then, wrist watches have replaced pocket watches and the jeans have been used over time for storing a wide range of other items- coins, matches and tickets to name a few.
In the 1870s, when denim jeans were created, the all-cotton fabric used to shrink in size after washing. To counter that, people would buy bigger jeans and cuff them till then shrunk to the proper size! The cuffs also served an additional function- they were used as storage spaces to store tobacco, cigarettes, coins, candy etc.
While the exact origin and rationale of wearing sagging pants is debated, it is believed that the trend began in the late 1980s in United States prisons, particularly in the Los Angeles area. Belts were often prohibited and due to lack of appropriate-sized clothing, prisoners started wearing their pants very low. It was popularized though in the 1990s by hip hop artists and skaters and became a symbol of freedom and rejection of values of mainstream society among the youth.
T-shirts for bachelors
T-shirts first appeared when the U.S. Navy started issuing them around the time of the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century. Featuring crew-necks and short sleeves, they were meant to be worn as “undershirts”. In 1904, a company named Cooper Underwear Company started marketing them to bachelors as “No safety pins — no buttons — no needle — no thread”, which became a hit!
Buttons on right for boys and on left for girls
You’d have noticed that buttons on men’s clothes appear on the right side and on women’s clothes appear on the left. While the exact reason for this is not very clear, it is believed that years ago during the Victorian Era, upper-class women wore elaborate dresses with many layers and invariably needed a maid or servant to help them get dressed. Having buttons on the left made it easier for a maid to button up (for right-handed people)!
That triangle on sweatshirts
Ever noticed that little triangle on sporty sweatshirts? Well, the purpose of the “V-stitch”, as it is called, is to act as a sponge and soak sweat around the chest and neckline after exercise. Sweatshirts were traditionally used as athletic gear and based on the sweat patterns on shirts after workouts, the V-stitch was introduced. Further, it is also a means of controlling the stretch of the neckline while putting them on.
Button-down collars, originally known as ‘polo-collars’, were worn largely by polo players in the late 19th century. Polo players at the time were required to wear traditional collared shirts but they found the collars quite cumbersome as it would flap in their faces while riding and distract them. The collar buttons were attached as a remedy to keep their collars out of the way.