23% Of People Think This Is The Most Bizarre Fashion Period In History

Ready for a quick creative exercise? OK, picture the worst fashion you can think of. Now what comes to mind? Pleated khakis, or maybe socks and sandals? Hammer pants, possibly, or that sweatband and leg warmer combo of the early '80s? Or perhaps, like many of the respondents to our recent poll, your imagination calls to mind a much earlier time. 

Grunge asked 518 Americans to name the most bizarre period in fashion history and the responses really surprised us on this one! As you might expect, the questionable (and possibly indefensible) fashions of the '70s and '80s definitely racked up a good chunk of the vote, thanks to brown leisure suits and those shoulder pads that evoked more of an NFL lineman vibe than "working woman," but many people's memories drifted back much further than that. 

Picture it: you're a French aristocrat, just minding your own business, fresh from the wig maker and walking around town in your red tights and heels when you come upon a crowd of angry peasants chanting, "Vive la révolution!" You may not know it yet, but in these late days of the French monarchy, change is coming fast. And neither you nor your fashion sense is going to make it into the next century.

When French fashion was all the rage

Nearly a quarter of respondents chose the late French monarchy period as the peak of awful fashion, and it's easy to see why. The haughty and impossibly stuffy clothing of the French aristocracy was ushered in by King Louis XIV who imposed strict etiquette on the dress of his royal court (via Encyclopedia.com). His 72-year-reign was something akin to Anna Wintour's helming of Vogue, with de facto pronouncements about what to wear and when. 

Woe to the woman showing up at Versailles with the wrong length of train trailing behind her (the length of train conveyed the social status of its wearer, according to Primary Source). 

That same woman might also be seen wearing a corset beneath her farthingale, a skirt with hoops made of whalebone or wire sewn into the fabric to retain that classic bell shape at the bottom (via Brittanica). She may have also been wearing something called a bum roll to enhance her, well, you know (some things never change). 

Man or woman, you'd better love lace because you'd have been wearing a lot of it, says Frock Flicks. Men, you'd have been in head-to-toe starchy frills, and wearing high heels to accentuate your knee breeches (via Canadian History). You might have even been termed a macaroni (kind of a pre-Revolution hipster dandy, according to History Today) for your towering, powdered wigs. Late-French-monarchy style was a lot. In our everyday athleisure-wear world, it seems a little absurd.  

Bad fashion beyond France

While the flounce of France topped the list, survey respondents were also not so hot on the looks of '70s and '80s America, as mentioned above, and those polyester-laden decades scored the number two and three spots, respectively. Rounding out the top five were Tudor England with nearly 18 percent of the vote (French fashion, but make it woolier) and the Middle Ages coming in at nearly 17 percent. Look, it's hard to look stylish when you're probably either wearing a burlap sack or chainmail. 

The fill-in option on the survey skewed much more recent, as we all seem loathe to revisit the flannel shirted grunge of the '90s, and prefer to keep our jeans above our hip bones, thankyouverymuch, unlike the early 2000s, an era that netted a few votes of its own. 

Several of you had no peace and love in your hearts for the '60s and at least one (probably very smart) person has a sartorial ax to grind with China's Three Kingdoms period, an era which ran from AD 220-280, according to China Highlights. Duly noted! 

Clothing trends come and go but, from the results of this survey, it seems likely we'll never have to worry about the size of our frilled ruff or length of our knee breeches ever again.