5 Ridiculous Modern Fashions With Badass Historical Origins

Since the day man first realized he could cover his butt with the skins of lesser beasts, he's been torn between purely utilitarian clothing and looking cuter than Ugg, that cocky jerk caveman down the path. It seems like fashion trends these days are nothing but pointless peacocking, but you might be surprised to find out that many of them arose from a very genuine need. Meet the rebellious and emotionally damaged offspring of aesthetic and function ...

#5. High Heels

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Even the most stylish woman will admit that high heels are a pain. In addition to routine complaints like soreness and calluses, they can cause permanent nerve and joint damage. But hey, they make your legs look longer and push your booty up and out, which is totally worth the risk of serious injury, according to booty aficionados everywhere.

Professor Emeritass, Booty Studies, Oxford University.

But Originally ...

High heels weren't even created for ladies. Not only were they the exclusive domain of men, but they were the exclusive domain of the manliest of men: soldiers.

"The high heel was worn for centuries throughout the Near East as a form of riding footwear," according to Elizabeth Semmelhack from Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum. It started in Persia, where horseback warriors found it difficult to maintain their stance while shooting their bows and arrows. They created shoes with a defined notch into which the stirrup would slide, allowing them to balance properly on their horses while standing.

Bata Shoe Museum
And look fabulous while doing so.

When Persia embarked on its first diplomatic mission to Western Europe in the 16th century, the royals they met were delighted by these novelties. They added their own fashionable twist by increasing the height of the heels to let everyone know that the wearers were people of status who couldn't be bothered with common things like walking very far or functioning correctly in society. Women really only started wearing them when it became fashionable to dress androgynously. That's right: Women first started wearing high heels to look more butch.

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
So if you "men's rights" guys really believe in your cause, you'll strap these on and take back what's yours.

#4. Popped Collars


The polo shirt is the standard uniform of the upper-middle class: classic, office-appropriate, vaguely sporty (but not the barbaric, poor people kind of athleticism). And when office hours are over and it's time to kick back, why, you just pop that collar up like a douche-sail and ride the breeze into Pussytown, population: soon to be you.

"Hope these clouds clear up. It'd be a shame if they ruined the Roofie Regatta."

But Originally ...

It turns out there was plenty of substance to this stupid style.

Tennis player Rene Lacoste, aka the alligator logo guy, is credited with the invention of the polo shirt, which caused quite a stir when it was introduced in 1926. You see, tennis players used to be restricted to uncomfortable and impractical attire: heavy, long-sleeved oxford shirts, starched to roughly the same stiffness as a rich white dude's butthole at an ethnic comedy show.

"I'll keep the hat. I'm not a savage."

Rene didn't enjoy playing tennis in a set of cloth armor, so he set out to make a lightweight, well-ventilated, short-sleeved shirt that would actually have some functionality for a person who swings his arms around in the glaring sun for hours at a time. A key component of his design was a flexible collar that could be propped up to protect the player's neck from the sun. That's right: The first popped collar was not only intentional, but practical.

The practice of wearing your polo shirt with the collar folded down didn't catch on until the wealthy spectators, to whom avoiding the outdoors was a raison d'etre, adopted the style. The guy with the popped collar is technically doing it right -- and you, gentle soul rocking through life with collar modestly flat, are emulating a bunch of clueless rich jerkwads.

Topical Press Agency / Stringer / Getty
"The solution to this problem lies in the heart of douchekind.
If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker." -Rene Lacoste

#3. Mohawks


Since the late '70s, the mohawk has been the hairstyle of choice for informing The Man that you will conform only to the standards of people who like the same music as you. The mohawk dates back to and is named for the Native American tribe, while the association with punk rock is a little harder to track: It's because they're both warriors, right? Warriors who don't conform to authority, be it white slavers or your mom asking you to take the garbage out.

Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images
"However, I will conform with recommended annual physicals. That's just common sense."

But Originally ...

The Mohawks weren't doing it as a symbol of defiance. They pioneered the hairstyle because they were just plain sick of folks ripping their scalps off their heads. To combat the growing practice of snatching enemy scalps in battle, which was generally performed by making an incision around the hairline and gripping the hair to yank off the scalp, the Mohawks would pluck the hair from the sides of their heads, leaving only a 3- or 4-inch strip at the crown of the head, which would typically be separated into three locks that would then be braided or otherwise decorated. This ensured that there wouldn't be enough hair at the hairline to lift the sides of the scalp away from the incision.

George Catlin
"Plus it concealed my receding hairline, which did wonders for my self-esteem."

To recap: The original mohawk was a purely logical and necessary defensive measure to avoid getting part of your head taken off. But unless there were some particularly savage mods dominating the scene, it was pure vanity for the punks.

"I'll have you know I'm one-sixteenth ... uh, Tonto. So there."

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