3 Rebellious Fashion Trends In History

3 Rebellious Fashion Trends In History

Things that we consider in the fashion industry as ‘normal’ nowadays was at a point considered rebellious, alternative and even horrifying! Take a look at these 3 pieces of alternative fashion that we deem cool today but have had a hard time in the history books of fashion:

1. Jeans

Jeans are nowadays a fashion staple for everyone, but they have played a big role in alternative fashion. Did you know that according to what most people think, jeans were not originally designed in America. The Genovese sailors wore jeans already in the 1500's. Other Europeans copied the idea and jeans ended up in the United States with British salesmen who sold jeans as work gear to American farmers, miners, factory and metal workers


L-R: Workers in the 30s wearing dungarees, Levi Strauss

In 1873 shopkeeper Levi Strauss together with tailor Jacob Davis got a patent for ”farmer pants” that were jeans strengthened with metal rivets so that they would not get broken. The first type of Levi jeans were dungarees as they were practical for work.

However, after the charming actor James Dean wore jeans in the movie ‘Rebel without a Cause’ in 1955, jeans became a popular garment amongst American young rebels. Wearing these different garments could have had you banned from school or turned away from a restaurant!

James Dean in an opening scene in the movie, Rebel without a cause'

2. Corsets

Today corsets are top among Goths, Steampunks, Cybergoths and Lolitas.. Everyone knows that corsets are not a new thing, but did you know that the oldest corsets have been dated back to Crete around 1700 BC?

In the western culture, since the middle ages various types of corsets were a must for fine ladies. Girls were stuffed in their corsets since their pre-teens, and this was done daily until they got married in their later teens. In the 1800's, the ideal waist circumference for a woman was 33 cm which equals to 13 inches. Men were also known to wear corsets to get a better posture and a lean figure.

In the early 1900s people became aware of the health issues that corsets were causing and during WW1 women were asked to quit buying corsets to free up metal for the production of armor. However, while quitting wearing the very tight corsets with metal parts, women still kept wearing body shaping underwear.

Advertisement for Weingarten Bros, 1902

In the 1920's the trend was to flatten the chest and to get a very slim –‘boyish’- figure. This didn’t last long as the hourglass shape was back in the 1930's. Some women even went as far as getting some of their ribs removed to get a tiny waist. In the 1950's brasseries that made breasts look bigger and waist smaller, became fashionable, with several superstars of the era like the beautiful actress Marilyn Monroe donning them.

In the late sixties and early seventies women started to see these uncomfortable garments as degrading and refused to wear them with feminists in the 1970s even burning their bras in public. Anybody who would wear these corsets were viewed as complete rebels!

Women in history in corsets

L-R: Woman in 1800 in corset, woman in Christian Dior corset(1953), Marilyn Monroe, Madonna

Finally women were free to have their natural body shape. Tight corset was brought back by Jean Paul Gaultier in 1990 and presented to the big audience by the sexy star Madonna - who had already shocked people once by wearing a brasserie in public in the 1980s.

In the 1990s the corset was adopted by the rebellious tribe of Goths and later on other subcultures, and in the 2010s the production of bustiers and corsets has gotten bigger than ever!

women in corsets

L-R: Victoria Secret model, Beyonce, Dita Von Teese in corsets

3. Trousers for women

In the western world, the women have been wearing trousers for just 100 years, and in Finland, Northern Europe, the place where the feminism has bloomed big, broke the official national news threshold in Helsinki 1910 when someone spotted a woman wearing a pantsuit!

During WW1, trousers were considered practical for working women and in the 20’s some of the female fashionistas in Europe started wearing designer pants. Boy, did they get condemned for that. Trousers were considered as some sort of sexual power symbol of a man so women wearing trousers were literally thought as a sign of the Apocalypse! In the States, pants were okay for girls to wear in the early 19th century in ranches because they were practical for riding and working. However they definitely weren't okay for formal appearances.

Cowgirl rodeo texas 1948

In1930's, famous avant-gardist ladies like Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn were often photographed wearing trousers, but no earlier than around 1960 the designer pants became really fashionable among ordinary women and it was sort of okay to wear them. Sort of, because they weren't always considered okay for office work or school until the 1970's. Naturally in the fifties the rebellious sort of young women had already started wearing jeans! However, the combination of women wearing jeans and trousers became a totally acceptable in the 1970s.

Women in history wearing trousers

L-R: Women in France in the 20s in trousers, Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn, woman in the 70s in trousers

Surprised? Well you should be. This shows that fashion is always undergoing major changes. Whatever is acceptable today might change tomorrow. Any lesson for you? Always stay true to yourself and your sense of fashion. You never know, you could be the next trendsetter in a few years.

Did you know about any of these? Do you come to think about other things that have gone from rebellious to normal or from normal to rebellious? Throw us a comment and let us know!

Thank you for reading!

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