This fashionable but deadly Victorian trend was detachable collars. Men of stature wore collars that were starched enough so they could stay stiff throughout the day. Normally, there would be no problem with a nice, crispy collar. However, most of these well-to-do dandies visited their local pub after work and drank silly with alcohol. (This is still a pretty common custom in some parts of England, minus the starch.)
Unfortunately, this meant that they often got quite drunk and ended up being choked to death by their hard collars. This happened so much that the collars got quite the dark nickname – “Father Killer.”
They Sent Eyes as a Sign of Affection
Another bizarre trend of Victorian times was the “Lover’s Eye,” a gesture of adoration where one would send a portrait of their eyes to their lover. It started with Prince George of Wales, who was the first one to send a miniature painting of his eye to his secret beloved, Marie Fitzherbert.
This gesture of love became so popular that Queen Victoria herself had several eye portraits commissioned. The portrait was at once a clear picture of the eye and a piece of jewelry since they were often embedded in a locket. For Victorians, to have someone’s eye meant they had their gaze, their look, and, therefore, their unwavering attention.
The Victorian Booty Lift
Kim Kardashian didn’t start the big booty trend; the Victorians did. They don't teach you that in history class, people. You have to go to the internet for information that is actually interesting. Back in the 19th century, women had a different approach when it came to drawing attention to their backsides – they wore bustles.
American inventor Alexander Douglas created this supportive undergarment which featured either metal cages or padded cushions, allowing glamorous skirts' hemlines to create that infamous curvature at the backside — all without breaking any modesty dress codes. As uncomfortable as it may sound, perhaps it was better than getting painful plastic surgery.
The Explosive Nightgowns
One generally likes to feel safe when sleeping at night, but apparently, Victorians weren’t big fans of it. Even at nighttime, these people prioritized beauty over comfort. They even prioritized it over their lives! The most popular pajamas and nightgowns back then were made of a type of cotton called flannelette. The fabric looked wonderfully elegant, but it was also extremely flammable.
This meant that many Victorians would suddenly burn to ashes in their sleep if the tiniest candle came into contact with their pj’s. Come on, people, no potential suitors are about to watch you in your sleep. And if they are, then they are more stalkers than suitors.
The Killer Shoe Polish
Their fabrics had arsenic, and their hats had mercury, but you’d think at least their shoes were safe, right? Wrong. And how could your shoes poison you anyway? Well, never doubt a Victorian's ability to take something innocent and turn it into an elegant death trap. Shoe polish from the 19th century had high amounts of nitrobenzene, a toxic chemical that caused men to pass out if they touched the wet polish.
Shoe shiners were doomed, and so was any impatient man that didn’t allow the polish to dry properly. The chemical caused nausea, vomiting, asphyxiation, and even death. And combined with alcohol, it was a sure ending.