Fashion has always been dictated by the times and culture surrounding it. Politics, economics, and anthropology are some of the aspects that have influenced accessibility and fads. Here is a brief look at these changes over the years:
Anything that works for your bike trip.
The Edwardian period saw a rise in the popularity of the ‘health corsets.’ In the 1900s, people believed that these could help rectify posture, but the truth was that these girdles aimed at getting an hourglass figure. After this period, the World War became a deciding factor in the people’s fashion approach.
Somber Tunics and Exotic Opulence.
The following decade the hobble skirt took center stage. This design, often banded at the knees and narrowed through the ankle, was popularised by designer Paul Poiret. These are not beloved by experts today, but they are grateful for other functional items like lace-up boots and duster jackets.
Canvas and Lines.
The Roaring or Golden Twenties had a boom in androgynous looks with shorter hair, flapper dresses, suits, and women gaining newfound freedom. Beads and feathers were everywhere, and waistlines were relaxed. However, the token that remains from then is ‘the little black dress,’ boosted by none other than Coco Chanel.
An ode to casual wear.
The Great Depression of 1929 brought back conservative hemlines, larger sleeves, wider trousers labeling this decade the ‘Traditional Thirties.’ Nevertheless, glamour did not make a complete exit as bias-cut gowns were raved about due to being worn by movie stars such as Jean Harlow and Bette Davis, an industry that had provided an escape to the masses. Satin, tweed, rayon, berets, and flounce were beloved.
Of Gingham and White Collars.
The 40s brought fabric rationing due to the Second World War and simultaneously had high-waisted bikinis. The Frenchman, Louis Reard, who created the swimsuit as we know it today, named it after the American sites for nuclear testing. Also, think of red lips and women making their outfits with something as random as curtains.
Rhythm and Blues.
The 1950s had industry giants like Christian Dior create silhouettes as an antithesis of wartime, with layered taffeta skirts, sweater sets, large petticoats, cinched-in waists, and mid-calf lengths. The Rockabilly ‘New Look’ and casual jeans via Elvis Presley and James Dean to summarize. To cosplay this generation, use polka-dot, cardigans, and poodle wear. The distinction between age groups and their sense of style was highlighted.
The mini skirt and A-lines became most famous under Mary Quant’s Bazaar’s aegis, their boutique in London. The 60s were also called the Space Age making white and silver color palettes predominant. Advancements in bleaching and fabric technology gave momentum to these changes. Icons like Jackie Kennedy promoted simple wear. Mod (jazz and ska) and Beatnik’s elements of sexual liberation and free love were present.
Live and Let Live.
The 70s were a time of high platform shoes and synthetic fabrics. It also saw a surge in activism, with hippie culture taking over with tie-dye, facial hair on men, and bell-bottoms. The Punk scene thrived; safety-pinned plaids, halter tops, and tattered pieces came out on top. Important figures include Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.
Age of fashion sins.
Fitness clothing became ubiquitous, and now every second individual donned spandex leggings. Leg warmers, scrunchies, and sweatshirts were all the craze. Professionalism bought women into the workplace, with boxy blazers and other power outfits. Stylistically this era received criticism for its crochet jackets and carrot pants. Baggy tracksuits and color-block will help you nail this look.
Minimalism was the way-to-go in the 90s with sheer slip dresses and baggy flannels, and hip-hop became mainstream. Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain simultaneously brought pop and grunge, making the youth co-opt heavy eyeliner and school uniforms. Another term associated with this is Y2K, with its shade of pink, chunky accessories, and sparkles.
In the present-day, fashion has become the most inclusive it has ever been. And as trends make a comeback every 20 years or so, any fanatic today will have their ears ringing at the mention of pastels, baguette bags, and garters. It is imperative for anyone looking at this case incisively to see how the majority has dominated this evolution and separate that from their study of fashion. Hope this piece helped you explore and determine your preference!
You may also want to check out our article on how fashion has evolved over the years here: Fashion, over the years.