The best-known deadly Victorian fashion trend is the corset. This fashion piece was designed to suck a woman’s waist and hips in, giving her the desired hourglass figure. Corsets can be used safely without any risk, but the Victorian trend of tight lacing them had deadly and long-lasting consequences for the wearers. Tight lacing would push the wearer’s internal organs out of place, as well as breaking their ribs. Ladies would often collapse due to being unable to breathe and there was even one instance of a woman dying due to the steel ribs of the corset stabbing her in the heart.
Another example of a risky Victorian fashion choice is the crinoline, a hoop skirt made from horsehair or steel. Because of its large round design, women who wore this skirt were susceptible to violent gusts of wind and there are even accounts of ladies on piers getting carried out to sea. But that’s not all, the hoop skirts were so large that they ran the risk of getting caught in the wheels of carriages or knocking over candles and setting the wearer ablaze. In 1863, 3,000 worshippers in a church burned to death when the large skirts caused the terrified women to fall over and block the exits.
A host of other questionable fashion choices plagued the Victorian population, from gowns made from fabrics dyed with arsenic-based dye, the starched collars that choked men to death in their sleep and top hats steamed into shape with mercury, it’s undoubtedly for the best that these particular fashion trends died out.
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