6. Giuseppe Garibaldi looked so good while reuniting Italy that even women copied his baggy red-shirted look
Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi might be best remembered for helping create the unified nation of Italy, but in his day, he was the ultimate fashion icon. What’s more, his appeal was not confined to men alone. Indeed, towards the end of the 19th century, âGaribaldi shirts’ were being promoted as the must-have women’s garment right across Europe.
A die-hard republican, Garibaldi was born in 1807. As a skilled military tactician, he swiftly rose up through the ranks of the armed forces and, when the wars for Italian reunification kicked off, Garibaldi found himself in charge of a small army of revolutionaries. Since they weren’t a regular army, his men lacked a regular uniform. As such, they took to wearing baggy, crimson-colored shirts made from thick wool. Garibaldi himself wore one and pictures of him in the bright red garment were soon making waves right across the continent.
Given his dashing looks as well as his daring exploits, Garibaldi soon had female admirers far and wide. In 1862, a popular women’s magazine celebrated the loose-fitting shirts he wore, and before long, ladies were making versions of their own, toning down the militaristic details and making them more classically feminine. According to some fashion historians, these were the earliest versions of the blouses women across the world wear today.
What’s more, a style of beard was named after Garibaldi and was hugely popular in Italy for a short while in the 1870s. The general also had an influence on sporting style. In 1865, the Nottingham Forest soccer club was established in England. They too looked to Garibaldi for style inspiration. They based their red shirts on the uniforms the Italian revolutionaries wore, and the club still wear that kit to this day.