5 Amazing Things From The Past That Saved Our Ancestors From Bad Weather

In the era of central heating and paved roads, the natural phenomena in the city are more like a freshly bred cat: restless, but completely tame. Getting cold or wet outside is more fun than deadly today. But it was not always so.

To the question “how to dress nicely in winter and not freeze?” nowadays it is customary to recommend layering, thermal underwear, fleece jackets and coats with modern insulation. There are vinyl raincoats, rubber boots and umbrellas for autumn rains, and sunburn can be prevented with SPF cream. We have come up with means to cope with any, even extreme bad weather. Climb Elbrus and not freeze yourself anything? Easy peasy. Dive 30 meters and stay cool? You are welcome.

To this day, humanity has not only invented a lot of technologically advanced materials, but also tacitly agreed that clothes, first of all, should be comfortable. Whole advertising campaigns are built around this – so understandable – value of the modern city dweller: to be dressed so that clothes allow you to move around easily and quickly, get dirty (and easy to clean) as little as possible, not get cold in the cold and not get sweaty in transport. But the 21st century is a time of minimalistic forms and clever solutions. Whether the previous milestones in the history of fashion: a flight of imagination, the triumph of redundancy and dubious efficiency – without all this, protection from bad weather simply did not exist.


An odd-looking collapsible design – something like a hood to protect the hairstyle. In 1765, when such hoods became widespread, the wealthy lady’s hair was not only styled, but also powdered and smeared with lipstick – clearly not the kind of mixture that you want to wet with rain or thoroughly ventilate. The first “kibitki” was made exclusively from green silk – probably following the same logic as the inventors of the first camouflage fabric. As a rule, bamboo or whalebone was used as a base. The headdress was easy to unfold, but it was necessary to keep it open with the help of a special cord that could not be released even for a second. Actually, due to the similarity of this design with the upper part of a horse-drawn carriage, the name appeared – calash for the British, calèche for the French, and “wagon” for us.


Platform shoes have been in vogue in Europe for several centuries, from the 15th to the 17th, when they finally gave way to heels. “Platforms” were convenient in that they allowed, firstly, to indicate the status of the owner – the height of the shoe or its finishing, or both. And secondly, by the fact that they were allowed to walk the city streets without getting their skirts dirty. In some places – as, for example, in Venice – this was critical: city streets were always flooded with water, and often with something else. But the Venetians, unlike their Spanish shoe comrades, preferred not to flaunt chopins, but to hide them under long, richly trimmed skirts: “A Venetian woman,” a contemporary wrote, “consists of a third of wood.” It was difficult to wear such shoes, and given their height, sometimes reaching fifty centimeters,

Anti-blowing cones

Plastic cones, as conceived by Canadian manufacturers, were supposed to protect the face from snowstorms and cold weather (and makeup from smudging). They were invented in 1939 – and today it seems that for the sake of a single picture, which Internet users endlessly send to each other. This strange thing did not go “to the people”. There are enough reasons: rapid fogging, unaesthetic appearance, injury hazard. And the resemblance to the mask of the plague doctor is too obvious.


Miniature glands that allow you to quickly warm your hands still exist today: they are used by hikers, mothers in playgrounds, and those who like to stand at the bus stop waiting for the bus. Modern devices are heated with the help of electricity or gasoline (the latter, by the way, are made by the famous Zippo brand, and the former are made by all and sundry). But they did not appear yesterday. Ball-shaped hand-warmers were in every self-respecting church in the late Middle Ages: without their help, it would have been difficult for priests to deftly commune the parishioners. The parishioners themselves, apparently, also brought hand-warmers with them, which allowed them not to die during the mass. In the absence of gasoline and electricity, hot coal was placed inside such hand-warmers, which was fixed in place with the help of an ingenious mechanism. The Chinese had similar adaptations starting from about the 6th-7th centuries.

Jaeger’s underwear

Today you will not surprise anyone with thermal underwear with wool, but its appearance 150 years ago caused Europeans, if not a stir, then at least an extensive discussion. Gustav Jaeger, a German biologist, and hygienist published Normal Dress as a Way to Protect Health in 1880. The main thesis is this: a man is a beast, and since he is a beast, he should wear wool and nothing but wool. A little later, Yeager opened his own store, which sold clothes made in accordance with his ideas. Among the admirers of the “Jaeger uniform,” as contemporaries mockingly called it, were Bernard Shaw and Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Yeager believed that the “sanitary underwear” he created not only improves thermoregulation but also contributes to the more hygienic wearing of clothes. In his texts, you can stumble upon strange statements like this: “… The wool is filled with a pleasure substance that is not only inhaled when worn but also likely acts directly on the blood vessels of the skin, expanding them and accelerating inspiration. This substance of pleasure is opposite to the substance of fear, it increases the tone of the tissue … “. By the way, the Jaeger brand exists to this day, but woolen underwear can no longer be found there.