Ancient Origins of modern fashion

Men today attach great significance to fashion; some even own fashion labels, fashion houses and so on.

Men today attach great significance to fashion; some even own fashion labels, fashion houses and so on.

What many don’t know is that modern fashions like leggings, neckties, and even the Mohawk-style hairstyle date back to the days when the idea of a runway wasn’t conceived.

Below are examples of ancient fashions that have been revived to become modern statements.

Leggings are tight, form-fitting trousers that extend from the waist to the ankles. Leggings were primarily worn by men in Europe, especially during the 15th and 16th centuries (the Renaissance period), and into the early 17th century (the time of Shakespeare).

In many places, especially in colder countries such as Russia, men continued to wear leggings well into the 1970s, often as an additional undergarment for warmth. It was not until the fitness and aerobics craze in the very early 1980s that leggings came to be regularly used by women.

Because of their comfort and attractive appearance, leggings quickly found their way out of the fitness clubs and into everyday casual wear.

By the mid-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States.

Men have also begun to wear leggings more frequently in recent years as long underwear, and for more casual physical activities such as walking, hiking, or gardening, replacing the old standby, sweatpants.

Leggings are typically ankle-length; they are occasionally stirrupped, or less commonly, footed. Since socks are normally worn over the top of leggings rather than underneath, stirrups prevent the leggings from becoming untucked from the sock.

Neckties were originally the distinction of a warrior. Various forms of neckties have existed for more than two millennia. When the panache they added to a military uniform was noted and copied by European nobility, the look began to trickle down through the masses until a tie became a vital accessory for the well-dressed man of any class.

In 1970, archaeologists discovered in China thousands of terracotta figures of soldiers from 221 B.C. wearing something around their necks, although ties worn by Chinese men wouldn’t become widespread until the 20th century.

Pictures of Roman soldiers from approximately 100 B.C. show them wearing cloths around their necks. Roman orators at the time also wore cloths wrapped around their throats to keep their vocal cords warm.

That basic design prevails today as collars and coat lapels change with the times, ties grow wider or slim down to stay in proportion. Some men prefer bow ties.

The necktie, however, is still considered a must for business or formal dress and the myriad choices available make ties a form of male self expression.

The Mohawk
The Mohawk hairstyle had origins far past those of Sid Vicious and Jelly Biafra. In fact, the earliest known Mohawk dates back nearly 2,300 years ago.

It was discovered on a body, known as the Clonycavan man, by a peat farmer in Dublin Ireland; the Mohawk style is well preserved and held together with imported plant oil and pine resin from France or Spain.

Historically this radical hairstyle is more often associated with the Native Americans. It had often been thought to have originated within the Mahican and Mohawk tribes; however, we now know that the Wyandot were most likely the first to wear it.

This is not to say that other Native American tribes didn’t wear their hair in the Mohawk style. Many historical accounts have stated that in times of war, the Mohawk men cut their hair into ‘hawk’ styles as well.

The Mohawk was adopted into modern culture as early as World War II, when Allied Airborne soldiers, specifically the 101st Airborne Division, cut their hair in the Mohawk style.

Soldiers during the Vietnam War were also known to cut their hair in the Mohawk style, which was part of the inspiration for Travis Bickle’s famous haircut in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film, “Taxi Driver”.

A lonely anarchist, Bickle may have served as the inspiration for many young punk rockers in the 1970s, as they picked up their electric razors and shaved the sides of their head.

In the Mohawk style, the hair was extremely tall and fanned out, and held together with so much glue and gel that the tips appeared to be sharp.