High Fashion or Health?

If you have been toeing the ‘no pain, no gain’ line in a bid to subscribe to all things fashion and trends, you may want to take the caution path and ensure that health is not at stake

Last year, the ‘Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry’ reported the alarming story of a 35-year old lady who was hospitalised following numbness in her legs after wearing skinny jeans. Her legs and ankles had become so swollen that nurses in the emergency room had to cut her jeans off; her pants were so tight that it had cut circulation to her feet. Although her knees and hips were working normally, her ankles and toes were weak, throwing the health spotlight on what has come to be known as ‘tight-pants syndrome’.

The dangers of wearing tight pants were first observed by health experts in the early 90s, following a trigger of symptoms like abdominal discomfort among men wearing tight pants. A comparison of the size of the pants to the abdominal girth of the wearer showed discrepancy, leading the experts to urge men to loosen up the pants and regain health.

Similar health warnings have also been sounded by experts on a variety of issues revolving around fashion, most significantly pointed heels… In the following health feature, we have compiled some fashion trends that have signalled health warnings.

Labelled as killer heels, the stiletto is said to push the body into an unnatural position. According to podiatrists, stilettos can cause significant damage to the wearer, not only impacting the posture and gait, but also altering the structure of muscles and tendons. Regularly wearing high heels can cause poor posture, put pressure on your joints and lead to a range of conditions including arthritis, hammer toes, back pain and tendon injuries, they note. They advise limiting the heels to under two inches and wearing insoles, while reserving stilettos only for special occasions.



Surprisingly, even the seemingly innocent looking flip-flops are known to generate health problems; it may not to be to the same extent as stilettos, but they are known to cause injuries that are as painful. As flip-flops have no arch support and no heel cushioning, it could lead to joint pain, shin splints and orthopaedic problems. It is best to slip into flip-flops when going to the beach.

Agreed, it has been an important article of clothing since the early days of fashion when it evolved as a trend; but the use of corsets to ‘train’ waists is seen as an extreme case of figure shaping. Experts warn that it can not only be painful but also make it hard to breathe and even result in rib damage.




This quintessential item of clothing in the wardrobe of most executives may not be a health hazard if the wearer knows how to tighten, rather fasten, it around the collar. For, there is evidence to suggest that wearing a necktie too tight could elevate intracranial pressure and, possibly, increase blood pressure in the eyes to unsafe levels.

Slimming shorts
Slimming underwear is a sought after item by all those who are figure conscious. However, many women are known to wear them under their clothes to get a streamlined look and make the dress flatter them. According to experts, tummy-control underwear has negative health connotation, as it acts like a corset, putting increased pressure on the stomach, which could lead to heartburn, breathing problems and digestive problems.

While on underclothes, it is also important to highlight the need to wear right fitting bras, as the wrong ones could lead to a range of health problems – from neck, back and breast pain to breathing difficulties, skin irritation and even irritable bowl syndrome.

Handbag is a quintessential accessory and no one is suggesting foregoing the use of one. But if it is one of those oversized ones, packed with what-have-you, hauling it around on the shoulders or, worse, on the forearm everyday could lead to aches and pains, and even bad posture. Clear the bag from all the unnecessary accessories or carry a smaller bag, which will naturally limit the contents. Experts have also suggested carrying it on bent elbows as the issue is also about how you carry it as much as it is about the size and weight.


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