15 Delightful Obsolete Garments Fashion Should Bring Back

istock
istock

Your wardrobe already has plenty of shirts, sneakers, and jeans in it. What you really need is for a sharp pair of spats to come back into style.

1. Muffs

From the 15th century onward, the smartest bet in keeping your hands warm was a muff, a cylindrical piece of fur, leather, or fabric that provided a cozy resting place for chilly fingers. Although muffs were originally unisex garments, by the 19th century only women were sporting muffs. While you’ll still occasionally see a muff as part of a very formal outfit, the muff has yet to return to the absolute apex it enjoyed during the 17th and 18th-century reign of Louis XIV of France, when every classy lady had a muff dog—a tiny pooch that she carried around in her muff!

2. Top Hats

Until the early 20th century, the top hat broadcast a powerful message of prosperity and was the finishing touch on any gentleman’s formal outfit. However, as cars became more common, wearing giant hats stopped being practical, and they disappeared from the wardrobes of everyone except magicians.

3. Spats

How could button-up fabric covers that go over your shoes and socks to protect them from rain ever go out of style? Spats were originally meant for this practical purpose, but by the 1920s they had become the height of fashion and a crucial element of a formal outfit. On behalf of splashed-shoe wearers everywhere, bring them back!

4. Nightcaps

The pointy caps associated with Ebenezer Scrooge weren’t just dapper—they were functional. In the days when heating was hit-or-miss, the long nightcaps helped sleepers keep their heads warm, and the long pointed ends could be wrapped around the wearer’s neck like a scarf. As a hilarious visual that also keeps you warm and toasty on cold winter nights, these caps are due for a comeback.

5. Boudoir Caps

After the utilitarian nightcap faded from fashion, women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries slept in more elegant headwear. Intricately decorated boudoir caps stylishly protected a woman’s hair while she slept and disguised any sleep-mussed locks as she went through her morning routine. These small decorative caps made of soft, light fabrics were considered an essential part of a woman’s pajamas. Boudoir caps disappeared during the Depression and haven’t really been seen since, but why shouldn’t modern women have the option of pulling on a stylish cap to disguise a case of bed-head?

6. Chopines

Throughout the 15th century, many of Europe’s classiest women preferred ludicrously oversized platform shoes called chopines. The platforms on some chopines soared over two feet tall, and although they were very fashionable, they didn’t get any points for practicality—wearers had to be accompanied by attendants to steady them as they walked on the stilt-like shoes. By comparison, getting around town in modern high heels looks like a breeze!

7. Detachable Pockets

Before women started carrying handbags in the early 19th century, many used the next best thing, an accessory called a “pocket.” A pocket was a small bag on a string that could be tied around the waist and hidden under a woman’s skirts to give her a discreet hiding spot for any cargo she needed to carry. Sure, modern garments come with built-in pockets, but the persistent popularity of cargo shorts proves that you can never have too many pockets.

8. Dickeys

Formal attire for late 19th and early 20th century men included a shirt with a stiff, heavily starched front that was uncomfortable and difficult to maintain. To make things a little easier, many men wore dickeys—false shirt fronts made of fabric or rigid plastic to make it look like they were wearing complete shirts. As attire became less formal, dickeys fell by the wayside, but anyone who’s attended a summer wedding in a rented tuxedo knows that a dickey revival would be an excellent thing.

9. Hatpins

When women’s hats rapidly faded in popularity after World War II, they took the hatpin with them. In the early days of women’s hats, ladies couldn’t count on their complex, heavy hats to stay put on their heads, so they affixed them to their hair using ornate pins. Many of the hats they helped keep in place may seem ridiculous in retrospect, but these small pieces of beautiful jewelry are missed.

10. Union suits

These all-in-one long-underwear/jumpsuit hybrids first hit store shelves in the late 1860s, and they were a hit with men and women alike. Men liked the warmth and convenience of the soft underwear, while women preferred union suits to the restrictive corsets and undergarments of the day. Union suits eventually gave way to more practical two-piece long underwear, but they can still be a nice option on chilly nights or any time you want to feel like an Old West prospector.

11. Shapeless Swimming Smocks

Sick of worrying about achieving the perfect beach body? In the 18th century, any body was beach-ready. Women went for dips in long smocks that protected their modesty as they splashed around. The outfits weren’t the most streamlined attire, but female swimmers were probably less self-conscious than their male counterparts—during this era men generally swam in the nude.

12. Sporran

When you see a man in full Highland garb, it’s easy to be distracted by the majesty of his kilt. Look closer, though, and you’ll see a sporran, the traditional pouch of leather, fur, or horsehair that hangs from his belt. Although they’re now mostly worn as part of costumes, sporrans originally served as handy cargo space for anyone wearing a pocket-free kilt. Think of a sporran as the manliest possible variation of the fanny pack—they would make the average tourist dad look 40 percent tougher.

13. Motoring Bonnets

Passengers in early open-air cars often ended their rides in a bit of a mess—whipping wind and dirt roads left them with grimy faces and tousled hair. Fashion-conscious women countered this problem with “motoring hoods,” more or less fabric bags with eye-holes cut in them. As automobiles became more sophisticated, so did fashions. By 1910 women were sporting “motoring bonnets,” decorative headwear that protected their hair, necks, and shoulders from dirt. Sounds like something that could still come in handy for convertible owners!

14. Banyan

Men really knew how to lounge in the 17th and 18th centuries. For members of the upper classes, casual wear consisted of a banyan, a long-sleeved, ankle-length dressing gown. While men had to don formal suits when they left the house, they could slip into the more comfortable banyan during their leisure time, and the long gowns became associated with scholars, merchants, and other worldly thinkers. The world would be a more relaxed place if loose-fitting nightgowns were once again the height of sophistication.

15. Western Bow Ties

It’s impossible not to smile when you see someone wearing one of these long ribbon bows around their collar. Are they a fried chicken magnate? A 19th-century riverboat gambler? An old-time saloon keeper? Add one to your wardrobe and delight everyone you meet.

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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11 Fascinating Facts About Tamagotchi

Tamagotchi is the toy that launched a thousand digital pet competitors.
Tamagotchi is the toy that launched a thousand digital pet competitors.
Chesnot/Getty Images News

They blooped and beeped and ate, played, and pooped, and, for ‘90s kids, the egg-shaped Tamagotchi toys were magic. They taught the responsibility of tending to a “pet,” even though their shrill sounds were annoying to parents and teachers and school administrators. Nearly-real funerals were held for expired Tamagotchi, and they’ve even been immortalized in a museum (of sorts). Here are 11 things you should know about the keychain toy that was once stashed in every kid’s backpack.

1. The idea for the Tamagotchi came from a female office worker at Bandai.

Aki Maita was a 30-year-old “office lady” at the Japanese toy company Bandai when inspiration struck. She wanted to create a pet for kids—one that wouldn't bark or meow, make a mess in the house, or lead to large vet bills, according to Culture Trip. Maita took her idea to Akihiro Yokoi, a toy designer at another company, and the duo came up with a name and backstory for their toy: Tamagotchis were aliens, and their egg served as protection from the Earth’s atmosphere. They gave prototype Tamagotchis to high school girls in Shibuya, and tweaked and honed the design of the toy based on their feedback.

2. The name Tamagotchi is a blend of two Japanese words.

The name Tamagotchi is a mashup between the Japanese words tamago and tomodachi, or egg and friend, according to Culture Trip. (Other sources have the name meaning "cute little egg" or "loveable egg.")

3. Tamagotchis were released in Japan in 1996.

A picture of a tamagotchi toy.
Tamagotchis came from a faraway planet called "Planet Tamagotchi."
Museum Rotterdam, Wikimedia Commons//CC BY-SA 3.0

Bandai released the Tamagotchi in Japan in November 1996. The tiny plastic keychain egg was equipped with a monochrome LCD screen that contained a “digital pet,” which hatched from an egg and grew quickly from there—one day for a Tamagotchi was equivalent to one year for a human. Their owners used three buttons to feed, discipline, play with, give medicine to, and clean up after their digital pet. It would make its demands known at all hours of the day through bloops and bleeps, and owners would have to feed it or bathe it or entertain it.

Owners that successfully raised their Tamagotchi to adulthood would get one of seven characters, depending on how they'd raised it; owners that were less attentive faced a sadder scenario. “Leave one unattended for a few hours and you'll return to find that it has pooped on the floor or, worse, died,” Wired wrote. The digital pets would eventually die of old age at around the 28-day mark, and owners could start fresh with a new Tamagotchi.

4. Tamagotchis were an immediate hit.

The toys were a huge success—4 million units were reportedly sold in Japan during their first four months on shelves. By 1997, Tamagotchis had made their way to the United States. They sold for $17.99, or around $29 in today's dollars. One (adult) reviewer noted that while he was "drawn in by [the Tamagotchi's] cleverness," after several days with the toy, "the thrill faded quickly. I'm betting the Tamagotchi will be the Pet Rock of the 1990s—overwhelmingly popular for a few months, and then abandoned in the fickle rush to some even cuter toy."

The toy was, in fact, overwhelmingly popular: By June 1997, 10 million of the toys had been shipped around the world. And according to a 2017 NME article, a whopping 82 million Tamagotchi had been sold since their release into the market in 1997.

5. Aki Maita and Akihiro Yokoi won an award for inventing the Tamagotchi.

In 1997, the duo won an Ig Nobel Prize in economics, a satiric prize that’s nonetheless presented by Nobel laureates at Harvard, for "diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets" by creating the Tamagotchi.

6. Tamagotchis weren't popular with teachers.

Some who grew up with Tamagotchi remember sneaking the toys into school in their book bags. The toys were eventually banned in some schools because they were too distracting and, in some cases, upsetting for students. In a 1997 Baltimore Sun article titled “The Tamagotchi Generation,” Andrew Ratner wrote that the principal at his son’s elementary school sent out a memo forbidding the toys “because some pupils got so despondent after their Tamagotchis died that they needed consoling, even care from the school nurse.”

7. One pet cemetery served as a burial ground for expired Tamagotchi.

Terry Squires set aside a small portion of his pet cemetery in southern England for dead Tamagotchi. He told CNN in 1998 that he had performed burials for Tamagotchi owners from Germany, Switzerland, France, the United States, and Canada, all of whom ostensibly shipped their dead by postal mail. CNN noted that "After the Tamagotchis are placed in their coffins, they are buried as mourners look on, their final resting places topped with flowers."

8. There were many copycat Tamagotchi.

The success of the Tamagotchi resulted in both spin-offs and copycat toys, leading PC Mag to dub the late ’90s “The Golden Age of Virtual Pets.” There was the Digimon, a Tamagotchi spin-off by Bandai that featured monsters and was marketed to boys. (There were also Tamagotchi video games.) And in 1997, Tiger Electronics launched Giga Pets, which featured real animals (and, later, dinosaurs and fictional pets from TV shows). According to PC Mag, Giga Pets were very popular in the United States but “never held the same mystique as the original Tamagotchi units.” Toymaker Playmates's Nano Pets were also a huge success, though PC Mag noted they were “some of the least satisfying to take care of."

9. Rare Tamagotchis can be worth a lot of money.

According to Business Insider, most vintage Tamagotchis won't fetch big bucks on the secondary market. (On eBay, most are priced at around $50.) The exception are rare editions like “Yasashii Blue” and “Tamagotchi Ocean,” which go for $300 to $450 on eBay. As Complex notes, "There were over 40 versions (lines) of Tamagotchi released, and each line featured a variety of colors and variations ... yours would have to be one of the rarest models to be worth the effort of resale."

10. A new generation of Tamagotchis were released in 2017 for the toy's 20th anniversary.

The 2017 re-release of the Tamagotchi in its packaging.
Bandai came to the aid of nostalgic '90s kids when it re-released a version of the original Tamagotchis for the toy's 20th anniversary.
Chesnot/Getty Images

In November 2017, Bandai released a 20th anniversary Tamagotchi that, according to a press release [PDF], was "a first-of-its-kind-anywhere exact replica of the original Tamagotchi handheld digital pet launched ... in 1996." However, as The Verge reported, the toys weren't an exact replica: "They're about half the size, the LCD display is square rather than rectangle, and those helpful icons on the top and bottom of the screen seem to be gone now." In 2019, new Tamagotchis were released; they were larger than the originals, featured full-color displays, and retailed for $60.

11. The original Tamagotchi’s sound has been immortalized in a virtual museum.

The Museum of Endangered Sounds is a website that seeks to immortalize the digital sounds that become extinct as we hurtle through the evolution of technology. “The crackle of a dial-up modem. The metallic clack of a 3.5-inch floppy slotting into a Macintosh disk drive. The squeal of the newborn Tamagotchi. They are vintage sounds that no oldies station is ever going to touch,” The Washington Post wrote in a 2012 profile of the museum. So, yes, the sound of that little Tamagotchi is forever preserved, should it someday, very sadly, cease to exist completely.