"The Arsenic Waltz" depicted the use of arsenic as a green pignment, from an 1862 issue of Punch. Wellcome Library, London/Courtesy Bloomsbury
Green ball gowns tinted with arsenic. Top hats made with mercury. Flammable crinoline. These are just some of the lethal fashions covered in the book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present, which details the history of death by clothing. Focusing on the mid-1700s to the 1930s, the book is an astonishing and sometimes gory account of the ways in which clothing has killed—by accident, by design, or through treacherous manufacturing conditions.
This dark history is presented alongside a series of illustrations from the era, which show just how dangerous getting dressed could be. Atlas Obscura has a selection of images from this startling and fascinating history.
This story was updated with minor edits on October 22, 2018.
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