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History

The Girdle-Inspired History of the Very First Spacesuits

Bra and girdle technology and seamstresses on Singer sewing machines were integral to NASA’s first spacesuits.

Kim Jong Un Always Wears the Same Suit — This Is What It Means

His go-to outfit has serious political implications.

The Glamorous Female Assassin Is a Myth — For Good Reason

Judging a woman by her appearance could get you killed.

The Story Behind Wild Wild Country’s Red Rajneeshee Outfits 

In 1980s Oregon, wearing maroon meant you were likely part of a cult.

Acne Treatment Used to Include Poisoning Yourself a Lot

A history of the scientific blistering of maggot pimples, pustules, and papules by the most efficacious substances such as mercury.

Wearing a 19th-Century Mourning Veil Could Result in — Twist — Death

Grieving for a loved one sometimes caused rashes, irritation, and one’s own demise.

How Time Moved From Our Pockets to Our Wrists

A brief history of timepieces.

Why Do We Think Serial Killers All Wear the Same Glasses?

A brief history of the cat-eye glasses, horn-rimmed spectacles, and clear aviators of serial murderers.

When Nice Nails Could Change Lives

For immigrants and black women in turn-of-the-century America, well-manicured nails were make or break.

The Trashy, Expensive, Contradictory Reputation of Leopard Print

An abridged history of class extremes.

When Cars Required a Special Wardrobe

Automobiles gave us everything from driving gloves to car coats.

Dressmaking Led Elizabeth Keckley From Slavery to the White House

But her memoir caused a rift with Mary Todd Lincoln.

The Origins and Appropriations of the Aloha Shirt

How the souvenir staple became beloved by hipsters and fashion houses alike.

In the 1920s, a Makeover Saved This Woman From the Death Penalty

Sabella Nitti was the first woman sentenced to death in Cook County, and she was innocent. And then she got a bob.

Before Fenty: Over 100 Years of Black Makeup Brands

African Americans have been loving, and buying, makeup for generations.

1860s Hipsters Loved Old-Timey Clothes Too

And they didn’t get the details right either.

The Marie Antoinette Dress That Ignited the Slave Trade

Unlike her usual ornate style, it was relatively simple — but still scandalous.

Depression-Era Movies and Their Bizarre Fashion Show Montages

How Hollywood cast itself as the center of style by stopping the action for Paris-style fashion shows.

There Was Never a Time When Western Society Wasn’t Weird About Cleavage

Classical paintings and Hulu’s Harlots have been lying to you.

A History of Women Who Burned to Death in Flammable Dresses

No matter what they wear, women get burned for it. But in the mid-19th century, this was extremely literal.

This Difficult-to-Wear Skirt Helped to Break Down Class Barriers

Today cage crinoline seems like the worst kind of antiquity, but at the time it actually freed up women across race and class lines.

How Garment Workers Used Fashion on the Picket Line

Wearing the clothes they made showed workers as consumers too.

How Tights Took the Devil From Terrifying Demon to Mustachioed Prankster

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was putting on an absurd outfit.

Clothes Make the Con Man

Why a well-cut suit or an elegant gown is a swindler’s best friend.

Why the Movies Are So Obsessed With Capes

The history of film is a history of the most dramatic garment.

What the Civil Rights Movement Has to Do With Denim

The history of blue jeans has been whitewashed.

The Most Polarizing Uniform in Baseball History 

Remember when the Astros had rainbow jerseys?

When Cardigans Were Battle Attire

Your favorite light sweater was worn to war, before getting picked up by academics, Mr. Rogers, and Kurt Cobain.

A Brief Cultural History of Hairy Legs

Unshaved legs are a natural state, but for some they're also a statement.

Fast Fashion’s Surprising Origins

Both the high-low collab and ultra-efficient manufacturing were born out of WWII-era austerity.

In the Cold War, Makeup Was a Weapon

How red lipstick was part of the US’s arsenal.

Chanel Sure Picked a Bad Time to Center a Marketing Campaign Around Coco

We all know she was a Nazi spy, right?