Killer Fashion: Trends That Proved Fatal

7. Edwardian Strangling Collars

Detachable collars were invented in the 19th century (possibly in the state of New York) and quickly spread worldwide — as men didn’t need to change shirts all the time. They eventually were starched to become stiff, but it led to unfortunate deaths and gained the nickname “father killer.”

The main problem was that the stiff collar could potentially block both the windpipe and the blood supply, leading to asphyxia and apoplexy. It was more frequent with drunken men who would fall asleep, tilt the head forward, and unfortunately die.

8. Nightshade Eye Drops

In the Victorian era, large pupils were considered beautiful and women used eye drops to keep them big and dilated all the time. However, Nightshade (also known as Belladonna) is considered extremely poisonous and its berries, containing tropane alkaloids, can kill in small quantities.

Even though most people knew about the problem, they continued using the dangerous oil anyway, in the name of fashion. The plant could cause blindness, slurred speech, hallucinations, and death.


Jrgen Hopf / EyeEm / Getty Images

9. Lead-Based Makeup

During the Elizabethan period in England (late 16th century), tanned skin was considered to be a symbol of lower classes, so women used copious amounts of makeup to show their status. They used ceruse as their foundation, nowadays commonly known as white lead.

Lead poisoning can cause hair loss, muscle paralysis, rotting teeth, skin lesions, and eventually death. The more ceruse they used, the worse their skin got, and more poisoned they became. It’s thought that the most probable cause of the death of Elizabeth I was lead poisoning.

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