High heels

High heels have historically been a staple of many different cultures around the world and, as such, they have many different origin stories. In 16th century Spain and Italy specifically, platform shoes called chopines were used to keep the high status wearers away from dirt and mud, and they required full-time helpers to assist with their balance as they walked through the streets.


The humble t-shirt is now such a wardrobe staple that it’s difficult to imagine a time before them. Nevertheless, before the Cooper Underwear Company invented them in 1904, t-shirts just didn’t exist. They were originally created and marketed as a “bachelor’s shirt” for unmarried men, as they could give the illusion of a collared longsleeved shirt when placed under a jacket, but didn’t require any sewing knowhow to maintain.

Ballet flats

Ballet flats had an unusual path to the fashion spotlight. During World War II, leather was tightly controlled and difficult to secure for fashion manufactoring. Leather was allowed to be used in the production of workmans’ uniforms though, and ballet dancers were technically workers with pointe shoes as part of their uniform. So one enterprising designer began making ballet shoes and marketing them to the masses.


Socks might seem like a very utilitarian item of clothing, but they actually have origins that were born out of anything but practicality. Beginning in the fifth century AD, socks were worn throughout Europe, but they were supposed to represent piousness, purity and religious devotion. It was only later that socks evolved into pantaloons and became a symbol of wealth and status.

Winged eyeliner

People around the world have been decorating their eyes for milennia, but where did the trend for contemporary winged eyeliner actually start? The 1963 film Cleopatra can be thanked, as during production Elizabeth Taylor designed her own look when her make-up artist failed to show up. The story goes that she was inspired by the Egyptian queen’s belief that eyeliner could ward off the evil eye.


Creepers have been a staple of alternative or subcultural fashion movements for almost as long as the idea of the mainstream has been around. They got their name after World War II, when soliders who had worn the shoes as uniform in desert climates began wearing them to frequent London nightlife hotspots. They were called “brothel creepers”, because the thick soles muffled footsteps.

Women’s lingerie

Women’s underwear has evolved a lot over the centuries, and the traditional closed panty design most often seen today wasn’t thought of as a universally practical option for a long time. Instead, for much of history, closed panties were only worn during horseriding, where it was thought that women would accidentally expose themselves while getting on or off their mount.


Sunglasses are a fashion item that seem as though they only have two possible uses: to shield eyes from the sun, and to look cool. However, when Chinese judges in the 12th century began donning smoky quartz glasses, they were instead used to shield the judges’ expressions and prevent judicial decisions from being given away early. Emperor Nero also used emerald glasses to watch gladiator fights.


The tuxedo might seem like the height of formality today, but it was actually designed to be the least formal outfit still acceptable in the British Royal court. After a plague outbreak in the 1600s, King Charles II decreed that his nobles would wear more dark colours and subdued designs, in order to blend in to the newly shaken up class structure. The tuxedo was the result.

Hawaiian shirts

Hawaiian shirts might clearly seem like an American invention, but they actually have more of a history than you might expect. In the 1920s, local Japanese women who lived in Hawaii began adapting the fabric they used to create kimonos to sew shirts for the men in their homes, which American tourists saw while travelling and began purchasing for themselves.