If you traveled back in time to the 1700s in Europe, you would laugh when you saw how the aristocracy dressed. Soon you’d realize, though, that the aristocrats of Europe were very serious about their appearance.
The predominant style in women’s attire was enormous dresses. They were often three times larger than the wearer. Ladies even used pads to enlarge the appearance of their hips and shoulders. On the other extreme, the aristocratic women made their waists appear extremely thin. It took several maids stretching fabric and pulling straps in order to get a lady’s waist to the proper thinness. These ladies could barely breathe and often fainted.
Pale skin was also a craze, yet this too was done in excess. One could not simply be pale. Instead, she needed to look as if she had anemia. In order to look paler, ladies actually cut themselves daily, so they would bleed.
The hairstyles, however, were the hallmark of women’s fashion. These stood a meter high on the ladies’ heads. The columns of hair were a ridiculous tangle of wigs, jewels, flowers, and even stuffed birds.
Men’s fashion was similarly absurd. Today it would probably seem very feminine. Reputable men wore wigs of long curly hair. Their shoes had large soles or high heels so that they could walk high above the filth on the streets. Furthermore, just like the ladies, the men wore lipstick and put rouge on their cheeks.
Their clothes were brightly colored, often purple and pink. They were made from the finest of fabrics and decorated with jewels and lace. The men vied with one another to see who wore the more expensive clothes, for the clothing signified his wealth and status.
Both men and women spent huge amounts of money and time on how they looked. Though such vanity would seem vulgar today, three hundred years from now, the fashions of our time might also seem completely ridiculous.