Take a trip down the Red, Yellow, and Blue Brick Road
For those of us who have full use of our vision, we see colors of every kind wherever we go, like the green of leaves and grass, the blue of the sky, the bland colors of office furniture, or the brown of coffee.
Natural or synthetic, the Earth is an incredible pallet of color. But the world didn’t always look like this, and colors, especially bright, vibrant ones, weren’t so easy to come by. Read on to find out how our ancestors dyed their dresses.
Before the 1850s, purple dye was often sourced from the bodies of snails. Cleopatra required 20,000 of the little guys soaked in liquid for ten days for one ounce of purple clothing dye.
Snails almost went extinct for this reason by the Middle Ages.
Because purple was so expensive and difficult to source, it was pretty much reserved for royalty. Roman emperors could sentence you to death for wearing it because it was “their thing.”
Roman Emperor Aurelian thought it was even too rich for his blood. He took away his wife’s purple silk dress because it was “worth its weight in gold.”