Periwigs, all-weather gloves and the return of the face veil in the US can
all be traced to outbreaks and pandemics, from as far back as the 17th
century to as recently as the 20th.
Of the many changes wrought by Covid-19, the first pandemic of the 21st century, the most notable would have to be the mask. It too is being embraced, customised, embellished. PR executive Sami Sayyed, 30, for
instance, has ten face masks and counting.
He keeps collecting new ones to suit different occasions. He has masks to complement his Western formals and his traditional formal outfits, masks that go with his casual wear, others that match his gym clothes. “I see face
masks as providing me with an avenue to express my personality and sense of style,” he says.
It was another contagious-disease outbreak of syphilis that caused the cascading, poofy men’s periwig to catch on in the 17th century. King Louis XIV of France and Charles II of England took to wearing the big
wigs to hide and overcompensate for hair loss and premature greys (one of the effects of the sexually transmitted infection they both reportedly contracted ). Soon their noblemen were following suit and wearing
the wigs and, in the manner of all court fashions, the trend spread and the wigs became aspirational wear among the upper classes outside the palace walls.
Many nobles had already taken to wearing gloves indoors and all year round at this time, to cover other marks associated with the disease.
Wigs and gloves then went from rather embarrassing essentials to customisable accessories. Periwigs began to be ordered in a range of weaves and styles, in varying lengths or with added curls. Some were
embellished with jewelled pins or pearls.Wearers went to great lengths to set theirs apart and have their style and status reflected in the wigs.
Since periwigs were hard to maintain, they became markers of affluence. The grander and more stylised the wig, the wealthier the wearer was assumed to be