3. Women used to fall sick because they were wearing wet clothes
In the late 18th century, for a brief moment, it became popular to forgo all the corsetry and contraptions of femininity in favor of flowy Regency-style gowns. Regency gowns were pretty similar to Grecian togas or dresses in their simplicity, and served to really emphasize the feminine form and highlight the natural curves of a woman’s body.
To really get the most out of the look, women used to wet the muslin fabric of their dresses so that it would really cling to their bodies (like that saucy lady on the left in the painting above.) Not a really big deal, EXCEPT! Intentionally wetting a gown to make it cling to your body probably isn’t a great idea when it’s cold outside already and you’re not wearing undergarments, like the majority of middle class women of the era. Scads of women came down with pneumonia as a result of the fad. And several doctors blamed the wet muslin trend on a serious outbreak of influenza that hit Paris in 1803. They even named the epidemic “wet muslin” disease. (Source: buzzfeed.com)