It’s more than the clothes on your back, fashion is a message. Beware: these fun facts about fashion might just make you want to buy a new outfit!
Even if you don’t consider yourself a fashionista, it’s one of those things we come across every day without really being aware of it.
The clothes you wear tells the world a little bit about who you are. Whether you are wearing a uniform, a swimsuit, or your little black dress, people likely make an assumption about you, or at least about what you are doing based on what you’re wearing.
But why do we wear certain clothes? Who decides what is fashionable? These fun facts about fashion will tell you all you need to know style.
Fashion is an integral part of every society, whether you realize it or not.
As long as people have been wearing clothes, other people have been talking about those clothes. Even when you try to avoid attention with your outfit, or attempt to break out of a norm, you are making a statement.
Did you know the trend toward shorter skirts for women started with the advent of the automobile? Or that more than two billion t-shirts are sold each year worldwide? These fashion facts are as diverse as the clothes people wear!
Fashion is one of the first things people notice. What are you telling others with your clothes? Even what watch you wear says a lot about you!
These fun facts about fashion might help you decide what to wear, or what not to…
17 Fun Facts About Fashion
1. Weddings weren’t always white
A woman walking down the aisle in a white dress is an iconic image. But, traditionally, women did not wear white on their wedding day. In many countries, white was considered a grieving color.
That is until Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding with Prince Albert. She was one of the first women to do so. Queen Vicky really was the trend setter!
2. The first models weren’t humans
Initially, designers did not use men and women to model their new designs. They used dolls to display fashion trends. But in 1853, the “father of Haute Couture,” Charles Frederick Worth, asked his wife to model his designs.
His wife, Marie Vernet Worth, is therefore the world’s first fashion model. This is where the term “house model” came from.
3. Fashion Week was originally a distraction from the war
The first official Fashion Week was in 1943 in New York City. This was right in the middle of WWII. The goal of this event was to propel American designers and distract Americans from French fashion.
Today, there are over 40 Fashion Weeks. The five main ones are in New York, Berlin, Milan, London, and Paris. Have you been to any of these yet?
4. Buttons aren’t always for buttonholes
If you know much about history, then you know Napoleon’s armies spent some time in the cold. When people are out in the cold, their noses run. When noses run, people wipe them on whatever they can find. Turns out soldiers don’t always have a tissue handy, so French soldiers resorted to wiping their noses on their coat sleeves.
This bothered Napoleon so much that he had tailors sew buttons onto the sleeves of the soldier’s jackets. These buttons served no real purpose other than to be uncomfortable when people would wipe their noses on their sleeves. The trend caught on, and that’s why we have buttons on our sleeves!
5. The Little Black Dress changed things
Coco Chanel designed the infamous Little Black Dress in 1926. She revealed the dress at a time when many other designers were embracing patterns and colors. Traditionally, those in service like butlers and housemaids, wore simple black garments. Chanel changed everything.
When Vogue put the LBD on the cover, they compared it to the Ford Model T – a classic in its own time. By combining a simple garment with opulent accessories, like necklaces and bags, a new fashion staple was born.
Chanel herself said, “One can be overdressed, but never overelegant.” With the Little Black Dress, the wearer is never overdressed, only ever elegant.
6. Cotton is really, really old
While there is some debate surrounding the origins of cotton clothing, it is widely believed that the Indus River Valley civilization first cultivated cotton as fabric as early as 3,000 BC.
The Romans loved this material so much that they imported it. For thousands of years, civilization after civilization has used cotton for clothing. It is durable, dyeable, and easily manipulated.
7. The modern bra was originally made from handkerchiefs
Mary Phelps was a New York socialite in the early 1900s. Mary was preparing to go to a dance and wanted some extra support. So, she sewed handkerchiefs together to create the first modern bra.
Bras have made some huge advancements over the years, but we can all thank Mary Phelps for patenting the bra we all know and love (and love taking off the second we get home!) This is definitely one of our favourite fun facts about fashion!
8. Barbie is a trendsetter
Most little girls get their first taste of fashion by playing with their Barbies. Today, there are countless outfits and careers for Barbie enthusiasts to explore with. But did you know the first outfit Barbie came wearing was a black and white swimsuit?
Barbie’s first job was very different than a toy for children. She was originally a model. Fashion designers such as Yves St. Laurent, Calvin Klein, Versace, and Armani have all worked on her outfits over the years. Talk about an expensive wardrobe!
9. Sneakers are just over 100 years old
Both Keds and Converse released their trademark tennis shoes in 1917. However, Keds beat Converse releasing their shoe earlier in the year. Scientists discovered a new way to heat and manipulate rubber which made sneakers possible.
Did you know sneakers got their name because of how quiet wearers can walk with them? It’s true!
10. Children’s fashion wasn’t always a thing
Take a stroll down a mall or walk through a department store and you would be hard-pressed to miss the plethora of children’s clothes. In many areas, there are more options for children than adults. These brightly colored clothes were not always available to kids, however.
Until about 200 years ago, there were no clothes designed for children. Adult clothing was made small and that is what children wore, corsets and all. In the late 1700s, ideas about children and their innocence shifted. Along with that change in idea came looser clothing for kids. Today, children’s clothing is a multi-billion dollar industry.
11. High heels served a purpose
Now this is one of the crazier fashion facts – initially, men wore high heels. This fashion statement was less for looks and more for function. The heels on the back of men’s boots were for riding horses so they didn’t fall off.
Noblemen started wearing these heeled boots more and the trend took off. Today, men often have slight heels on dress shoes. But women take the cake when it comes to high heels.
In fact, the tallest heel ever recorded was over 9 feet tall! Yes, you read that right!
12. Retro vs. Vintage
Often people use these terms interchangeably. However, retro and vintage do not mean the same thing. Vintage generally refers to items made at least 20-25 years ago.
Retro most often is talking about an item that was recently made but designed to resemble something much older.
13. The necktie is an import
The modern-day necktie can trace its roots back to the 30 Years War in the 1600s. Croatian mercenaries came to France to fight with the French. These soldiers were small cloths tied around their necks called a cravat. This style piqued the interest of the French. Then, Louis XIV started wearing lace cravats in the 1640s. After that, the style caught on.
Today, there are many styles of ties including the bowtie, ascot, bolo, zipper tie, knit, and modern-day cravat.
14. Skirts are (almost) the oldest garment
Skirts have been around for thousands and thousands of years. In fact, the only article of clothing older than the skirt is the loincloth. And to be fair, the loincloth is basically a skirt.
Fun fact, both men and women wore skirts at one point!
15. It’s hard to start a fashion house
To be considered Haute Couture, you must go jump through quite a few hurdles. First, you must apply to the Chamber of Syndicale, the group that governs fashion in Paris. The process to get approved is so stringent that only 14 fashion houses have been awarded the Haute Couture honor.
It might surprise you who have not made the cut. Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci have applied but have never been accepted into the Chamber. We did not know that!
16. Lipstick has an interesting ingredient
Next time you’re painting on some bright red lipstick to hit the town, you’ll likely remember this fashion fact. Fish scales are a key ingredient in lipstick. At least there is no fishy smell!
17. Color told a story
Throughout history, people learned a lot from the color worn on one’s garments. For starters, consider military history. Countries, regions, and militias would be recognized by the color or design of their military uniform. To this day, everyone knows who The Redcoats are.
In medieval times, people wore different colors according to class. The highest-ranking members of society and nobility wore red. The gentility, for example, bankers and merchants, wore green. Peasants wore neutral colors, like brown and gray.
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
What is your favorite fashion trend? What story are you telling with your clothing choice today?
You can let us know your favourite fashion facts in the comments below. And if we’ve missed any facts, just let us know and we’ll add them to this list!