When you open up your closet each day to choose the outfit you want to leave the house in, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to what inspired the designer to create such an item. The truth is fashion is something that has been around for a very long time.
While our fashion trends right now are very different from what used to be popular in the 1940s, 1950s, and beyond, there is a lot of fashion history that repeats itself over and over again.
In the coming chapters, we’re going to take a look at what was popular during certain decades, specific facts about fashion, and the designers that have made the most impact on the fashion world.
How did fashion come to be? In this chapter, we’re going to discuss the history of fashion design, how fashion began, and the notable people that made a bold statement in the fashion industry.
What is the history of fashion design?
Fashion designers use different methods to form their creations. It is believed that fashion design dates all the way back to the 10th century. While fashion design was quite different from today’s, the concept was the same.
Designers wanted to create looks that made people feel good while putting their best foot forward. Since then, fashion has focused on functionality, formal wear, expression, and so much more.
Some of the earliest fashion design examples took place in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There was a dressmaker that worked for Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France. She ended up opening her own shop in Paris, selling her creations to locals. Her future in fashion was disrupted by the French Revolution when she fled to London.
Marie Antoinette had a very bold fashion sense that was uncommon for her time. She would easily switch between riding breeches and elaborate gowns for formal affairs. It wasn’t unlike her to be seen in a simple muslin dress as well. This fashion sense made her more appealing to citizens in France.
The origin of fashion
Fashion is the art of designing different articles of clothing. It also has to do with the accessories, color choices, and materials that are used to create a complete look. Fashion designers vary in their collections, but they all use a similar concept for making their shirts, dresses, skirts, pants, etc.
If you want to go way back in time, the Egyptians and Romans were some of the first humans to spend time focusing on their appearance. They have very specific articles of clothing that were made to show off a person’s status of wealth or occupation.
Roman women wore Pallas, which were shawls that they draped over their heads. The men wore togas, which was a circular cloth that was draped over the body to represent Roman citizenship. Togas evolved a bit over the course of the Middle Ages.
The aristocrats showed a great deal of interest in fashion during the Renaissance period. Henry VII, King of England, spent a great deal of his money on clothing, and many of his supporters followed his fashion preferences.
Who is believed to be the first fashion designer?
It is believed that fashion design began in the 19th century by a man named Charles Frederick Worth. Worth was the first person to have his own label sewn into the garments of clothing that were created by him.
Up until this point in time, seamstresses were the ones that were making clothing for people. They didn’t have any kind of fashion persona or function as a designer. They were typically nameless and just going about their jobs.
Worth was the first designer to create items that people wanted to wear. He dictated the direction that fashion was about to take. This is very different from the process that people usually used where they would tell a seamstress what they wanted to wear, and then it was made for them. It was after this point that clothing was sometimes considered to be made based on fashion design principles.
Eventually, design houses started to be built up. Artists would work there, sketching designs for clothing. These images were then shown to different wealthy clients that would decide if they wanted the item to be made. We now have designers that create these drawings and then form samples of clothing that will then be tried on by interested parties.
How Did People Use Fashion to Represent Their Wealth?
Fashion wasn’t always something that was used to express personality. One of the first ways that fashion was used is to represent the social status or worth of a person/family. The complexity of an outfit is what the representation was all about.
The more layers of fabric and the more detail in an outfit, the wealthier a person likely was. The quality of the fabric was also important. There were certain types of materials that were either difficult to obtain or cost a lot of money.
If you saw someone wearing something made of silk, for instance, this exemplified wealth. Muslin was a fabric that was very affordable for someone that didn’t have a lot of money to spend on their clothing.
Who Dictated Fashion Trends Centuries Ago?
It was typically the rulers of an area that dictated what was popular for fashion. This was often a queen, king, or notable political figure. Commoners would be inspired by that person’s fashion sense, whether they were wearing elaborate robes and gowns for appearances or they were dressed casually in a way that made them look like everyone else.
It was also common for fashion to be controlled by what materials and items were available at that time. During times of war and battle, certain supplies were hard to obtain. This usually resulted in much simpler outfits that were more about practicality than wealth.
There is a lot to be considered regarding the history of fashion. While fashion designers weren’t always employed at design houses like they are today, fashion was something that many cultures naturally gravitated towards as a way of expressing themselves or to show how wealthy they were. If you continue reading, we’re going to be talking more about fashion through the decades.
It didn’t matter how wealthy you were or what your social status was. You could look just as stylish as the next person in the 1920s.
1920s Fashion history facts
At the beginning of the 1920s, the First World War had just ended a couple of years prior. People were still adjusting at this point, and a lot of factors regarding society were changed forever.
Fashion became a simpler concept but with a whole new twist. Clothing was constructed in a way that was much more comfortable. There was no longer the need for countless layers of fabric or elaborate contours.
Fashion in the 1920s focused more on the shape of the body. While later decades accentuated the curves of a woman, the 20s had a very androgynous style that ignored curves.
In fact, clothing of this decade usually looked best on thin women that didn’t have curving hips with a thin waistline. Undergarments were often used to help achieve this look and flatter areas of the body. Hairstyles were also different in the 1920s. Hair was cut much shorter in simpler styles. Accessories remained simple as well.
The concept of fashion in the 20s was important because women were able to recreate popular looks from home and on a budget. Rather than fashion trends being something that the wealthy could only achieve, the style was marketed to the masses.
Clothing was made from materials like artificial silk and jersey for a more affordable and accessible option. Social status was no longer a concern in the fashion world.
What were the main fashion trends in the 1920s?
Much of the 1920s fashion was dominated by the ‘La Garconne’ look. It’s more commonly known as the flapper era that featured drop waists and higher hemlines. Affordable and simple fabrics were used.
Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel was a French fashion designer in the 20s that largely contributed to the flapper movement.
There were events and situations that still called for a more formal, full-length dress design. However, more beading, sequins, and embroidery were used to create flashy pieces.
Jeanne-Marie Lanvin was a French fashion designer that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. She created the Lanvin Fashion House, which focused on a very simple design that consisted of long and full skirts that were very feminine and romantic.
Her colors usually included pastel shades, and straw hats were a unique accessory that she incorporated into her designs. This was a dramatic shift from flapper-style clothing.
Sportswear became popular as daytime apparel in the 1920s. While it was previously popular for men, women started to wear things like tennis clothing when going out for cocktails. Some other popular fashion trends of the 20s included:
- Felt hats
- Wool sweaters
- Fur coats
- Sport jackets
- Newsboy hats
- Crepe dresses
What did women wear in the 1920s?
We’ve discussed a little bit about women’s dress fashion in the 1920s, but there were other articles of clothing that were popular during this decade. Wool sweaters were designed in many different colors, but navy blue and maroon were two of the most popular shades.
Some were very simple, but others had belts, wide collars, pockets, and buttons. Cardigans were usually made of wool as well, double knitted, and made in a rainbow of colors. Popular accessories included gloves, scarves, and heavy makeup.
Outerwear was necessary for certain areas and featured simple colors like brown and navy blue. Large buttons were a simple accessory included in the design. For a more formal look, fur was stitched into the collar of a woman’s coat.
This also provided a functional feature when it was cold outside. When the mid-1920s arrived, Paris was having a big impact on women’s fashion. Wool, velour, and fur became more popular outerwear materials. Bows and buckles were also introduced.
Headwear was an important part of 1920s fashion. There were a few different styles that were quite popular, including the bonnet. There were also fitted designs called felt helmets. A little bit of detail was featured, including things like ribbons, flowers, buckles, lace, and feathers.
The little black dress was introduced in 1926 by Coco Chanel. It was featured in Vogue Magazine and was actually dubbed the “Ford Dress” as a reference to Ford’s vehicle popularity.
This dress had a flattering style that would compliment just about any shape. It was an inexpensive option for a night out or formal event. The bodice flowed out slightly at the front while there was gathering at the back.
Small tucks of fabric at the front made for a very sophisticated but simple design. We’ve seen quite a lot of versions of the little black dress since the 1920s. This is a wardrobe staple that most women still have in their closets today.
Playing off the affordability of clothing and fashion, costume jewelry was introduced in the 20s. Cheaper materials such as plastics and resins were used to create timeless pieces that resembled expensive heirloom items.
Your everyday woman could invest in a large selection of items that she could use to accessorize her outfits. Younger girls could also have numerous pieces of costume jewelry, which is something that wasn’t common up until this point in time.
What did men wear in the 1920s?
The 1920s was a fun time for men’s fashion as well. Pinstriped suits, silk shirts, fur coats, and fedora hats were just some of the popular trends of the decade that men had to choose from. Formal day clothes were often left behind for more fashionable and fun options.
A lot of change was occurring in the 1920s that affected men’s fashion. Their wardrobe became much more diverse and customized, including formal clothes for evening events, casual day clothes, sportswear, and leisurewear. A lot of men were basing their looks on popular stars of the time, including Douglas Fairbanks, Ramon Novarro, and Rudolph Valentino.
Sportswear and sweaters were popular in men’s fashion, inspired by art movements that featured bold colors and geometric shapes. These are clothing items that were commonly worn in Hollywood movies during the rise of Consumerism.
Men wore their hair very short and slicked back in the 1920s. It was usually parted on either side or right down the middle. Pomade became very popular for styling hair. While men spent more time styling their hair in the 20s, they didn’t usually leave the house with some sort of hat on.
When dressed casually and just running out for a bit, a newsboy cap was popular. A step-up in style featured the boater hat, which was a flat straw hat with a colored ribbon around the rim. For the most formal outing, a top hat was brought out. A black bowler hat was also formal, made popular by Charlie Chaplin.
As part of the Roaring Twenties, men wore single-breasted lapel jackets. The lapel featured a buttonhole that would hold a flower. Formal accessories included suspenders, silk pocket squares, and a necktie or bow tie.
Ties came in a large selection of materials, including silk and rayon. They were narrow but usually flared out a bit at the end. The way a man tied his tie changed as well. The Windsor Knot became quite popular.
Men’s pants came in both wide-leg and straight-leg. Turn-ups were popular in the 1920s and featured folded cuffs on the exterior of the hem. The waistline was much higher than what was worn in previous decades.
The overall fit of the pants was much baggier as well. Knickerbockers were loose-fitting pants that gathered comfortably at the knee. They were worn for casual attire or as a piece of sportswear.
The Zoot Suit is a bold fashion statement from the 1920s that can’t be ignored. This style of dress was actually made popular by the African Americans that lived in the Harlem area during the Harlem Renaissance. It gained popularity among other crowds as well.
It featured a high-waisted design with wide legs and pegged bottoms. A long suit coat included a wide lapel and broad shoulders. Accessories completed the look, such as suspenders, bow ties, and handkerchiefs.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of men’s and women’s fashion in the decade of the 1920s, we encourage you to read more to find out about how fashion evolved in the coming years. We’re going to talk about fashion in the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond.
In this chapter, we’re going to take a look at the fashion trends that were popular in the 50s for both men and women. Whether you’re interested in learning more about this time period or you need to come up with a 50s-themed outfit for an event, you’re about to learn a lot about this stylish decade.
1950s Fashion history facts
Fashion evolved quite a bit in the 1950s. What the decade started out like was very different than what fashion evolution created as the 1960s approached.
Ultimately, people were feeling like they could be a bit more expressive with their fashion choices during this time. You could choose an outfit based on what you wanted to wear instead of worrying about what everyone else would expect you to wear.
This time period in fashion was shortly after World War II ended. During the war, women were expected to take on a very different role if their husbands were away. They were no longer confined to working within the household.
Many had to venture out to work and support their family. The evolution of shorter skirts, lower-cut blouses and stylish prints expressed the independence and confidence of women during this time.
Men’s clothing became a lot more comfortable and casual in the 1950s. A shift occurred from a very professional and conservative look to more color and style. This was very much inspired by fashion trends in the U.S.
In the way of formalwear, gray was a popular color, with navy and brown being added for some variety. Men’s style became more elaborate as the decade continued.
What were the main fashion trends in the 1950s?
The beginning of the 1950s was a continuation of the transition from WWII to this point in time. Fashion didn’t appear to have any kind of set direction, but a lot of different items were created and sold.
Sheath dresses were popular thanks to their narrow/straight design that often-included pleats. Ribbons were a popular yet simple accessory added to many skirts, dresses, and blouses.
Coats were generally made out of materials like lace or chiffon for a very soft look. The evening coat worn over a woman’s dress was just as carefully chosen as the outfit itself. A streamlined jacket that hugged the hips was a common style, including low buttons and pockets.
Fur made a comeback in the 1950s. Instead of women wearing full fur coats, this material was used more for trimming the collar of a coat. Reversible fabrics were popular, especially for jackets, showing off the interior, which was often much more elaborate with shiny material and bolder colors.
What did women wear in the 1950s?
Women’s fashion in the 1950s was a mix of the conservative dress along with glamour and glitz. Femininity was embraced while still covering up and dressing appropriately.
Adult women invested their money into higher-end styles, including flowing skirts and even pants and shorts. The hourglass figure was accentuated by clothing with cinched waistlines and fitted busts.
Christian Dior was introduced in the late 1940s, and his popularity continued into the 50s as well. Most of Dior’s designs were cinched at the waist, including a billowing skirt and accentuated bust.
Some women also brought back the look of large hoop skirts and petticoats. Pencil skirts were also popular, offering up a much more fitted look. Colors and fabrics became much more feminine, soft, and elaborate now that the war was over.
Prints became more common for women’s clothing designs, but they were tastefully done. It was common to see an elaborate floral skirt that was paired with a very modest and solid knitted top. Stripes with contrasting black and white shades were common, as were polka dots in colors like red dots on white fabric.
Up until this time, nylon was used for the construction of military materials like parachutes. In the 1950s, it became popular in the design of women’s blouses, lingerie, undergarments, and sportswear.
In the summer months, cotton provided a very breathable fabric for casual clothing. Rayon and Dacron eliminated the need for ironing, and women embraced this low-maintenance style.
Material with a two-way stretch was also created for things like beach attire. These synthetic materials reduced the use of wool. It was rare that you saw clothing made from this moth-prone material in the 1950s.
We mentioned it briefly, but women commonly wore pants in the 50s. This fashion trend started when pants became a uniform inclusion in the factories during World War II. However, women started to embrace the comfort and functionality of this type of dress.
Pants were worn loosely for casual dress, and tight-knit slacks were popular in more formal situations. Unlike women’s pants today, there was a side-installed zipper that provided a much smoother look at the front of the pants.
There were also straps that were sewn into the hems that could be pulled tighter for a more tapered look. Pants and shorts were usually worn with blouses or button-down shirts that were tied at the middle. Pedal pushers were similar to today’s Capri pants.
What did men wear in the 1950s?
In the early 1950s, men temporarily reverted back to a more formal style of dress before incorporating more comfortable items into their wardrobe. Suits started out as being full and built up to a more loose-fitting, casual design.
Jackets featured narrower lapels and no longer had shoulder pads. Formal pants were more tapered down the leg, featuring a much narrower cut at the very bottom. Turn-ups were left behind in previous decades.
Waistcoats had a high-cut design and contrasting colors that created a more unique look. Buttons with leathered sheathings or buttons made of brass often accentuated the look of formal wear for men.
Overcoats became shorter in length. Expensive versions included velvet on the collar and cuffs. Evening clothing for formal events included tailcoats and single/double-breasted jackets in a variety of styles.
On top of the head, men often wore a bowler hat, which was made popular by William Coke of Norfolk. Coke disliked the top hat because of its ability to hit low-hanging items when walking. Bowler hats were acceptable for casual wear and also for business. They matched a man’s shoes and accessories like umbrellas.
Casual sportswear included comfortable designs that were still very neat. Gaberdine and different weaves of fabric were used instead of the formal grey flannel that was previously used. Lighter hats and coats were also worn.
Learning about fashion in the 1950s gives you a good idea of why fashion evolved the way that it did in the coming decades. It also teaches you about the impact that World War II had on fashion and clothing production. In the coming chapters, we will be talking about fashion in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.
1960s Fashion history facts
Early 1960s fashion was rather conservative and much like what was being done in the 50s. Style and design included modest cuts, basic colors, and not much in the way of shape. The 60s ended up being completely opposite.
It took a few years for changes to occur, but eventually, we saw brighter colors (including tie-dye), unique prints, short skirts, tunics, long hair, and much more. Women showed more skin than they had in any other decade.
London was now the main focal point of the fashion industry, which was a change from Paris being the epicenter. The Vietnam War was charging on.
The 1960s are well known for experimentation that spilled over into fashion. During the daytime, women were often seen wearing a large and elaborate hat with a simpler dress that featured wide sleeves and a slenderer silhouette.
Jackets were often worn on top to complete the look. Evening attire looked slightly different thanks to low-waist dresses, blouses, and full skirts.
Inspiration was taken from a number of different places in the 1960s. Architecture and art were two commonly followed concepts for designers. It seemed as though the 1920s and 1930s were also making an impression on style thanks to bias cuts, straight cuts, shorter skirts, and fitted hats.
More casual items were offered, especially to women, in the form of streetwear, culottes, and trouser skirts. Low heels and sleeveless shirts were new additions. The two or three-piece suits were often designed for men that wanted to mix and match their look for the day or night.
What were the main fashion trends in the 1960s?
There were some very distinct fashion trends in the 1960s that were bold, unique, and showed off personality and style sense. Let’s take a look at some of the most common trends of the 60s.
The Shift Dress
This was a unique style in the 60s because of its lack of a form-fitting shape. Though it was boxy, it became very popular among women. Worn with high boots, the shift dress was quite similar to the classic flapper dress of the 1920s.
The shift dress was simple, classic, and acceptable for a number of events or purposes. It wasn’t necessarily appropriate for any one demographic. It worked for different ages and styles.
Patterned tights were around in the late 50s, but they gained a lot of popularity in the 60s. They were often worn in the same color scheme as what a woman was wearing, though the patterns often clashed.
It wasn’t uncommon to see a black and white striped dress paired with pair of black and white polka dot tights. They were worn with short miniskirts.
The hippie era of the 1960s brought the creation of the bell-bottom pant. With a tapered/fitted top flowing down to a large wide leg around the ankle, bell bottoms were usually made of denim. However, there was a more formal version as well.
The tuxedo jacket was first designed by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s. It was actually worn by both men and women, and we still use this formal style of clothing as a classic wardrobe piece.
The turtleneck was worn in a multitude of colors, styles, and fabrics. You could find thin versions for warmer weather, and chunky turtleneck sweaters were available for winter months.
What did women wear in the 1960s?
Women had a lot of fashion options in the 60s. Their dresses started out without a lot of shape, but London fashion changed this style to a much more pronounced waistline over a number of years.
If you take a quick look at fashion trends in the early part of the decade, you can easily mistake clothing choices for styles of the 50s. The decade started out with Jackie Kennedy being a prominent style figure, only to fade out of the spotlight with the assassination of JFK in 1963.
The emergence of the Beatles brought a bit of British style to the World. We saw a change to more modern lines and form-fitting styles among women. They ditched fur but hung onto their formal gloves.
By the end of the decade, women were dressing similarly to men and throwing femininity out the window for much more casual dress. Cue the flared bell-bottomed pants, polyester, wild colors, and culottes.
Mod Fashion was popular in the 60s. This originated in London, though it spread worldwide to the younger female crowd. It featured modern prints, bright colors, raised hemlines, and much more. You’ve probably seen photos of some of those boxy dresses with a collar and buttons/belt, paired with high go-go boots.
Hippie fashion was all about music, peace, and love. Hippie culture embraced nature and natural fabrics. Bell-bottom jeans, fringe, floral prints, bright colors, and peasant blouses were common wardrobe options. Women wore their hair very long and simple.
Miniskirts were a classic fashion staple of the 1960s. It had a short design that allowed women to show off their long legs without adhering to conformity. Women still wear short miniskirts today, though the style of dresses and skirts have changed a bit since then. You could wear a miniskirt in many different ways in the 60s. From high boots to sandals, miniskirts were formal or casual.
What did men wear in the 1960s?
A lot of change occurred to men’s fashion in the 1960s, similar to what women experienced as well. Men’s pants became more fitted around the thigh area. They wore casual pants that were very flared at the bottom as well.
Previous decades included very relaxed fits. The pea coat became very popular in the 60s, paired with boots, scarves made of silk, and hats.
Not a lot of development was made to men’s workwear in the early 60s. Their suits were still basic gray and brown selections with a simple fit and a single pleat on the pant.
Tweed and corduroy did become popular, providing a little bit of variety. If you encountered a fashion-forward gentleman in the 60s, he might be lucky enough to pick up a suit with a herringbone or check pattern.
For casual wear, men often wore polo shirts, skinny belts, and flat-front pants. A lot of shirts were made with two color-block tones, while some featured elaborate prints.
Instead of buttons, zippers were often used. Button-down shirts were still very popular, often featuring a geometric pattern for some added style.
One of the boldest items that men wore in the 60s was sweaters. They came in a large variety of colors and prints. The pullover sweater was popular, as was the cardigan.
Different knitting techniques were used by designers such as Missoni and Gino Paelo. Sweaters stood in place of a sports coat in many scenarios and often featured wide blocking or chunky knits.
We’ve covered much of the basics of 1960s fashion for both men and women. It’s interesting to see how the style changed over that decade. We use a lot of the same inspiration today.
So you won’t have too hard of a time picking out some of our current fashion trends that incorporate 1960s style. Stay with us to learn more about what happened with fashion in the coming decades.
Let’s take a look at some of the different style trends of the 70s, what fashion was all about during the decade, and we’ll include some information about what women and men wore during this time.
1970s Fashion History Facts
While the 1970s weren’t known as being some sort of elaborate fashion revolution, there were some changes and developments that took place. A popular material used in the construction of a lot of clothing pieces was polyester.
It was a much-loved fabric, thanks to how easy it was to maintain. You could skip the ironing process, and polyester was versatile for both casual and dress wear. Bright colors were common, becoming more popular as the decade went on.
Clothing was designed to be very form-fitting. The pants were very fitted, worn with eye-catching platform shoes. Low-cut pants and high-cut boots became the norm for women later in the 1970s.
We saw bell bottoms fade away. This decade was truly a blend of hippie fashion with more basic and common trends. Pantsuits, leisure suits, and tracksuits were fashion trends for both genders.
A crossover took place from daytime wear to things you would wear out at night in the 70s. Culottes, tunics, and go-go boots were versatile items that worked for many scenarios. Men fashioned butterfly collars, tight t-shirts, floral dress shirts, and plenty of polyester.
Women wore pants for most of the 70s, which was quite different than previous decades. There were different pant styles in the 50s and 60s, but dresses were still trendy.
By the time the decade was ending, colors were starting to go out of style a bit. Black, white and neutral shades were becoming popular. This was about to change with the fashion trends of the 80s.
What were the main fashion trends in the 1970s?
A lot of fashion in the 1970s was influenced by music and movies. The most common genres of music were glam rock, punk, disco, and psychedelic. Important television shows that influenced people’s fashion choices included Charlie’s Angels.
Farrah Fawcett’s hairstyle was one that every woman wanted to have. Popular movies that influenced fashion trends included Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Notable figures that were looked up to for their smart fashion sense included Jackie Kennedy, Beverly Johnson, and Janice Dickinson.
The Hippie Trend of the 70s
The hippie style began in the 60s, but it dominated most of the 70s as well. Hippie outfits in the 70s included bright colors, floral prints, and earth tones for basics. The cut of hippie clothing was very simple and flowing. Commonly used materials included suede and denim. We still use a lot of hippie style in some of the boho-style clothing that’s being worn today.
The 70s Sporty Style Trend
The sporty style trend was introduced in the 70s. It became much more popular in the 80s, but it was still a common athleisure look of that time. The goal was to look as relaxed as possible while still looking put together. Cuts and styles were minimal, focusing on sports jackets, jogging suits, tracksuits, leggings, t-shirts, and headbands.
The 70s Disco Era
The 70s disco trends were very elaborate and flamboyant. With all of the glitter and glitz you could manage, designers were including details in their creations like sequins, neon colors, and metallic prints. High-waisted pants were popular, as were chunky high heels.
What did women wear in the 1970s?
The early 1970s were essentially a carryover from the late 60s when it came to women’s fashion. Bright colors were popular, and flowing skirts and tight pants were wardrobe staples.
Short skirts and tight t-shirts were more striking and risky options that showed some skin. As the decade went on, the flare of women’s pants became more and more pronounced. The bell-bottom was about as wide as they got.
Even though many women stuck with formal dresses and skirts throughout the 60s, the 70s resulted in all women embracing the comfort and functionality of pants. From the female business suit to jeans, there were plenty of different options to choose from.
Speaking of suits, matching tops and bottoms were common in women’s fashion (in addition to men’s fashion in the 70s). Formal evening clothing included the leisure suit.
Pants suits were worn by women during the daytime for work. Tracksuits or warm-up suits were casual selections. Blouses, skirts, and dresses were still suitable for many occasions, though.
In regard to accessories, things were simple in the 70s. Hats were no longer popular. Jewelry was simple, and hair was kept long and worn naturally.
What did men wear in the 1970s?
Men’s fashion experienced quite a breakthrough in the 1970s. Everything changed about a man’s appearance, including their hairstyle. Pants became much more fitted and slim. Low-rise bell bottoms were popular, worn with platform shoes (just like women wore). Popular fabrics were polyester and cotton. Velour and terry cloth also became popular later in the 70s.
Men’s suits evolved pretty dramatically in the 70s, which was interesting since not a lot of change occurred up until that point in history. Leisure suits were a far cry from what men were wearing in the 60s. Tracksuits were also very popular for casual weekend wear. This fashion trend continued into the 80s for hip-hop culture.
Men also ditched hats as an optional accessory in the 70s. They grew out their hair, and it was worn naturally. Shirts didn’t have to be tucked in all the way, men showed off their chest hair underneath unbuttoned shirts, and jewelry included large, gold medallions.
It seems like it would be hard to top all the fashion fun that came about in the 1970s, but we’re going to be talking about fashion in the 1980s next. You didn’t get more elaborate than the bright neon colors and geometric prints of the 80s. Stay with us to learn more.
In this chapter, we will take a look at fashion in the 1980s. We’ll talk about the historical basis of this decade relating to fashion, different 80s trends in fashion, as well as some of the popular clothing items for both men and women.
1980s Fashion history facts
We all know about the bold fashion of the 80s, but do you really know where all of these unique styles came from? The Memphis design movement that took place in Milan, Italy, was centered around very clean lines, geometric shapes, and bold colors.
It was based on concepts created by The Memphis Group, which was a design and architecture group in Italy. Everything they were working on had to do with asymmetrical prints and plenty of colors.
Though the group shut down in the mid-80s, the concept lived on throughout the decade. London Fashion Week was created in 1983, showcasing all of the top fashion trends each year.
We saw fashion trends in the 80s based on the working woman. Women were interested in commanding more power at work during this decade, resulting in things like the power suit.
The power suit was made for females, incorporating wide shoulders and shoulder pads. The colors of power suits were usually pretty plain, creating a very confident and professional look.
What were the main fashion trends in the 1980s?
Traditional, conservative and simple fashion trends were completely thrown out the window in the 1980s. Designers focused more on futuristic looks that were very bold and unique.
A lot of fashion trends mirrored what was going on in the world of music, art, movies, and television. You could unapologetically be yourself in the 80s. The more elaborate of an outfit that you put together, the better you looked. You could be as wild and carefree as you wanted to.
Big hair was incredibly popular in the 80s. Women (and men) were encouraged to tease their hair up very big and use hairspray to hold the volume. Crimpers were also popular.
Similar to how a straightener looks today, you pressed small sections of hair in between two plates that had indentations on them. The result was hair that had a textured effect.
Neon colors were bold and popular in the 80s. It was very common to pair a bright neon pink or yellow shirt with basic black leggings and leg warmers. You could even top it all off with a headband as your accessory.
Sweaters and shirts often featured geometric prints that included large triangles, squares, and diamonds layered on top of each other. Of course, each was shaded in its own bold color.
One of the most popular movies of the 80s was Dirty Dancing, which came out in 1987. Women mirrored themselves off of the main character Jennifer Grey’s style, with a short, permed do.
In his tight jeans and cropped leather jacket, Patrick Swayze is what many men wanted to copy. Men wore high-belly shirts while women switched between simple and feminine dresses and tight, high-waist pants with tight t-shirts.
Flashdance (made in 1983) is another movie that was often emulated in the fashion world. It featured characters in denim jackets, leg warmers, heels, ripped shirts, and teased hair.
What did women wear in the 1980s?
Women were encouraged to develop their own style sense in the 1980s. It was almost a competition to see who could come up with the flashiest outfits. Let’s take a look at some of the commonly worn clothing items in the 80s from a female perspective.
Jeans in the 80s had a very high waist that would taper all the way down to the ankles. They came in a bright blue shade or acid-washed. For a bit more style, some jeans had extra material added to the waistline to create the look of a flap. Belts were sometimes worn, though they weren’t ultra-popular for women. When they were worn, they were thick.
For a slightly different take on denim in the 80s, overalls became popular. A baggy pair of overalls were worn with a tight crop top. One strap was often undone, hanging down at the chest.
We take today’s romper from the jumpsuits of the 80s. However, there was a bit more of an angular design back then. Shoulders were cut at a very pointed angle. The legs were tapered. They also came in a large selection of colors.
Jumpsuits could be worn in conservative colors for work, while bold colors came out for the evenings. To add some personalization, women wore belts with their jumpsuits along with large earrings and bangle bracelets.
Shirts and Tops
From sweaters to crop tops, there were a lot of different shirt choices for women in the 80s. Bulky sweaters were worn off of one shoulder, featuring different neon colors and geometric shapes. Baggy t-shirts had a graphic on them for a popular band or brand name. If you were fashion-savvy, you may have cut your t-shirt into a cropped design.
A lot of different shoe options were available in the 80s. Nike and Reebok were popular brands. Converse and Keds were the go-to casual shoe choice. Ballet flats or low heels were popular formal shoes.
What did men wear in the 1980s?
Men’s style changed pretty dramatically over the course of this decade. The male style was more conservative early on, with leisurewear and casual clothing being added later on. Here are some of the most popular clothing styles and trends for men in the 1980s.
The man’s suit in the 80s was very similar to the woman’s power suit. Broad shoulders with padding were featured up top, with wide-leg pants completing the bottom. Suits came in a variety of colors, including grays and even creams. Accessories included suspenders and loafers as shoes.
Shirts and Tops
Men also mirrored women’s style when it came to shirts and tops. It was common to see a man wearing a cropped graphic shirt when they were dressed casually. Turtlenecks, polo shirts, and bright and bold sweaters were also common. Most men’s clothing in the 80s was loose and baggy.
Remember MC Hammer? Well, his signature pants were incredibly popular in the 80s. This style of parachute pants fit snuggly at the waist before widening out at the thigh and tapering down towards the bottom. Jeans were also popular, featuring the iconic acid-washed style. The distressed look could be found in casual denim.
Men’s sneakers for casual outfits included styles like Air Jordans and Nike Air Max. Reebok and New Balance were also popular brands. The loafer or wingtip shoes were worn for formal or work wear.
Women weren’t the only ones rocking neon colors. Men wore them as well, though it was more subtle on their end. Tracksuits, t-shirts, and even sweaters often featured neon accents of geometric designs on them. Unfortunately, those bright shades quickly became less popular as we entered the 1990s.
We won’t soon forget what the 1980s did for the fashion world. We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go since that decade. It’s likely we’ll see a lot of 80s trends continue to appear in the coming years. Next up is fashion from the 1990s. It wasn’t that long ago, but there is a lot to discuss about that decade.
Chances are, you remember some of this fashion because you were alive at the time. If you were just a baby during the 90s, your style memories won’t kick in until the 2000s begin.
1990s Fashion history facts
A lot of what was worn in the 1980s was forgotten about as soon as the 90s began. We said goodbye to things like shoulder pads and big hair, opting for a more low-maintenance sense of style.
Dresses were simpler thanks to the slip style. This was a big change from the elaborate layers of fabric that was prevalent in the 80s. T-shirts with graphics, baggy jeans, and un-styled looks took center stage.
Fashion was heavily influenced by performers such as Britney Spears, No Doubt, Nirvana, and Soundgarden. Clothing styles ranged from grunge to preppy. Bohemian and urban were also popular.
Metallic materials, unique prints, and cultural aesthetics were the focus of the 90s. A lot of what happened within fashion was a revival of old trends, paired together with a new style to create some pretty unique looks.
What were the main fashion trends in the 1990s?
Some of the 1990s fashion trends were subtle and less than popular. However, we all remember them. For example, the grunge movement brought about flannels and torn jeans. It wasn’t a style that everyone was wearing at the time, but it’s something we won’t soon forget.
In the way of accessories, there were some interesting developments in the 90s. Slap bracelets were big among the younger crowd. This was a thin strip of layered stainless steel that would curl around the wrist when you applied pressure by ‘hitting’ the arm. They came in all kinds of prints and styles.
Choker necklaces were also very popular and replaced long, elaborate chains. They were made out of materials like stainless steel, gold, silver, and even ribbon or fabric.
Mood rings could be found in every store at the mall, and they came in all kinds of styles (many of which were adjustable). While their legitimacy was questionable, it was fun to watch them change colors over the course of the day.
Overalls were still worn throughout the 90s, but they were styled a little differently than they were in the 80s. One or even two straps were left undone, allowing the pants to hang loosely on the body.
Rolling up one pant leg was part of hip hop culture, but teens were doing it as well. It gave you a good opportunity to show off your Nike or Adidas athletic sneakers.
Bleached hair was the perfect accessory to any 90s outfit, and it was made popular among the male crowd thanks to groups like the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.
Chain wallets were the perfect ‘skater’ accessory. A basic Velcro wallet was attached to a wallet chain that attached to the belt loop of your pants. You could choose between a short chain that hung up near your waist, while many people wore a much longer version that hung down the side of the thigh.
What did women wear in the 1990s?
Women’s fashion incorporated a lot of different trends during the 1990s. Some of the most popular inclusions are:
Flared pants became popular in the 70s, but a very wide-leg denim version arrived in the 90s. Loose pants were popular among most crowds, including grunge and skater. JNCO was a popular brand, and distressed looks were common. Denim usually came in a light blue shade. Flared pants could be paired with a ribbed tank top, sweater, choker, and high platform sandals.
There were some big hoop earrings that made their presence known in the 90s. This basic accessory came in all different sizes, in both gold and silver. If you were feeling outgoing and bold, you could choose a large pair. Something subtle worked for more formal attire.
Low rise pants paired well with crop tops. Showing off the midriff was something women often did in the 90s, whether they were wearing a halter, cami, or short sleeve shirt.
Carrying over from the 80s, women wore overalls in a few different ways. A fitted t-shirt underneath with a flannel around the waist and Converse sneakers gave a very chic grunge vibe. There were dressier overalls as well. They were usually made of linen and were paired with a turtleneck.
Scrunchies were popular in the late 80s to early 90s, and they’ve actually made a big comeback. They were made in all different colors and sizes in the 90s. This major women’s hair accessory came in fabric choices like velvet and satin.
Popular female footwear in the 90s included combat boots, sneakers, and square-toe heels. Ultra-casual options included sandals, both platform, and flat.
What did men wear in the 1990s?
Gentlemen in the 90s had some pretty fun trends. It was a time of cool and laid-back style for both work and casual attire. Let’s check out some of the popular men’s fashion trends of the 1990s.
The snapback hat was introduced by hip-hop influencers in the 90s. It was eventually worn by all men. It’s a look that’s still popular today with its flat brim and logo. They were worn both forward and backward.
Men also wore overalls in the 90s, and they usually had one strap hanging down. It was a look that was worn by all types of people, usually with a t-shirt underneath.
You didn’t have to own a motorcycle in the 90s in order to rock the leather biker jacket look. It was a bit of a rebellion against the different trends going on during the decade.
A preppy look for work or casual wear, men, wore turtleneck sweaters to emulate boy band stars. They were a cozy shirt option for cold weather months.
Bandanas were an accessory that went well with the 90s biker jacket. Worn by rappers, bikers, and trendy males, the bandana came in all shades.
You’re now well versed in the fashion trends of the 90s. If you’re looking for some throwback inspiration, you can use this information to come up with a 90s-themed outfit for a party or when going out with friends. We’re not done yet. We’re about to talk about fashion in the 2000s.
You may have been following popular fashion trends for these decades and didn’t even realize what was happening. Let’s take a look at some fashion history facts, trends, and gender-specific examples for the 2000s.
2000s+ Fashion History Facts
The 2000s was a collection of different trends that drew inspiration from previous decades, ethnic clothing, music, movies, and more. Hip-hop fashion, athleisure wear, and casual and indie clothing all took center stage at one point in the 2000s. Faux materials allowed for a friendlier and more affordable look, including fake fur and recycled materials.
The early 2000s featured a futuristic approach to fashion that included metallic materials and colors, buckles, black/gray patterns, sexy cuts, and unique accessories. Some of the hot items of this time included wraparound sunglasses, pleated skirts, leather skirts, concert t-shirts, handkerchief tops, cocktail dresses, and halter tops.
Oversized hoop earrings were carried over from the 90s. Other carryovers included tie-dye, wedge sandals, fitted pants, belly shirts, and oversized sweaters.
Fast and convenient fashion was the main focus of the 2000s. Affordable designs were made for the average consumer, being sold at department stores like JC Penney’s, Macy’s, Forever 21, and Kohl’s.
These stores even featured lines by designers such as Vera Wang. Online shopping also increased, providing access to all kinds of fashion from the comfort of your own home.
Some people were even able to rock some ultra-fashionable designer items thanks to online rental companies. You paid a price to rent high-end clothing for a period of time before sending it back for another lot of clothing. Online coupons and discounts also made fashion more affordable.
High Fashion was worn by celebrities and prominent figures. Runway shows and events like Fashion Week featured creations by notable designers such as Alexander McQueen, Christian Louboutin, Vera Wang, and Vivienne Westwood.
What were the main fashion trends 2000s+?
A lot of the trends that were popular in the early 2000s have either made a comeback recently, or they were able to hang around for much of the past two decades. For those that grew up during this time, fashion trends still feel magical and fun.
From flip flops to low-rise jeans, certain fashion trends have been prevalent throughout the 2000s, even if they took a little time off here and there.
While it may sound simple, hair accessories were an incredibly important part of the 2000s. Scrunchies were popular early on as a carry-over from the 1980s and 1990s. They took a break for a number of years before recently becoming popular again.
Butterfly hair clips have also been very popular over recent years. For the younger crowd, small barrettes and clips not only keep hair held back but also add a degree of style to an outfit.
While the corsets we’ve worn in the 2000s are quite different from what was used all the way back in the 1600s, the corset design was included in all kinds of garments like tops and dresses.
A fitted bodice accentuated curves while having the option to flow out at the bottom or remain fitted throughout the rest of the design. Corset dresses were often made of silk or polyester.
A pair of petite, strappy sandals were worn with anything from a formal dress to shorts and a crop top. They came in all kinds of materials and colors. Some had a completely flat design on the bottom, making it easier to walk around in them. Wedge and platform sandals with straps were also popular.
Baggy pants were very popular in the early 2000s before taking a break to let in low-rise jeans. They’re making a big comeback right now. With a high waist and comfortable cut, baggy pants can be dressed up with a fitted top, or the baggy look can be kept consistent all over. You can wear them with a pair of athletic sneakers or a chunkier sandal.
What did women wear 2000s+?
Women had a multitude of fashion options available to them during the 2000s. From a professional look to something much more conservative, a variety of trends were present.
Animal prints, especially leopard print, were very popular for women’s clothing designs in the 2000s. Some articles of clothing were completely made from these prints, while others featured subtle accents to add some style and edge. Black and white zebra print was also very popular.
Very different from the cropped t-shirt that was worn in the 80s and 90s, crop shirts in the 2000s were much more fitted. They had a corset-like appearance, often including thin spaghetti straps at the top.
These tops usually ended just above the belly button or didn’t even show the belly button at all. Paired with a high-waist pair of pants, just a minimal amount of skin was shown in the midriff region.
Velour is a very soft and durable material that was commonly used in the 2000s for things like tracksuits or leisurewear. It came in all kinds of colors and only looked better the more that you washed it.
A simple hair accessory that could be matched to your outfit, headbands came in all kinds of colors, patterns, and styles. Some were very thick, covering some of the forehead in addition to the front of the hairline. Others were very thin, used more for functionality when working out or spending time outside.
It seems as though overalls will never go out of style. They’re simply refreshed with other articles of clothing to create new styles as the decades go by. In the 2000s, overalls were worn with tank tops, dress shirts, crop tops, and everything in between. Demin came in very dark shades, including navy blue and black. It also was available in lighter blues.
Women’s blazers were worn as part of professional attire, but they were also casual clothing items that were paired with jeans, Capri pants, and skirts. A classic black or navy blazer was common in most woman’s closets at some point in the 2000s.
What did men wear 2000s+?
Men’s fashion was also very versatile in the 2000s. What men wore usually depended on what they were interested in. Music, movies, and cultural trends usually influenced men’s fashion choices. Let’s take a look at what their biggest trends were in the 2000s.
Slim Cut Pants
Skinny pants weren’t just for women in the 2000s. It seems that men’s pants got slimmer and slimmer as the years went on. Men are currently rocking some pretty fitted styles. These cuts are popular for both denim, casual pants, and dress pants.
The flannel shirt is an iconic fashion piece that men can wear open with a t-shirt underneath. Flannel can also be neatly pressed and worn as a dress shirt. Flannel has come in a variety of colors over the years.
Athletic clothing has been worn by men in the 2000s for working out and participating in athletics, but it’s also a form of leisurewear that is perfect for evenings or weekends. This style features track pants, sweats, sweatshirts, sports jerseys, and both long and short-sleeved jerseys.
One of the most practical short options around, cargo shorts are a classic men’s style that feature large pockets on each side leg. They’re very casual but can be paired with anything from a t-shirt to a button-down shirt.
The 2000s were an impressive time for fashion, but let’s continue on by discussing some of the notable fashion designers and icons that truly had an impact on the evolvement of fashion over the years. We’re not done just yet!
In this chapter, we’re going to be talking more about these designers and brands that have made a substantial impact. You may be familiar with many of them, while others may be new to you. After reading more in-depth about these influencers, you may find that you’re able to spot some of their ideas and creations in today’s style.
There are some fashion designers that we will forever remember for the impact that they made on style and this industry. Many of them pushed boundaries in a way that was never done before. Their ideas influenced how people dressed. From business clothing to artistic runway designs, let’s take a look at some of the masters of this craft.
Coco Chanel had a profound impact on women’s fashion. Her designs provided more freedom and versatility for women, who were beginning to work their way up the corporate ladder at that time. Her men’s designs were created in a way that they could be worn by women as well.
This was not only a fashion development, but it was a representation of the fact that women could do just as important work as men could. Her designs have a looser waistline, they were comfortable, and a whole new genre of fashion began.
While Coco Chanel died in the early 1970s, we still have this brand in the fashion world today. There are still designers working for the brand that are creating risky and unique designs for women worldwide. Chanel is also a perfume brand featuring the classic Chanel No. 5.
The Giorgio Armani brand was created in the mid-1970s. It has become one of the most respected fashion brands in history. This fashion house is based on Armani’s personality and style.
His sense of aesthetics has always been based on luxury, class, and beauty. It includes designs for swimwear, accessories, perfume, watches, glasses, cosmetics, bags, and more. Items are made for men, women, and children.
There are a number of sub-brands that come from the original and signature Giorgio Armani brand. This includes:
This is a line that has been created for young professionals between the ages of 25 to 35. It offers fashionable and simple designs that appeal to a large group of people.
The EA7 fashion line was inspired by Ukrainian football player Andriy Shevchenko. It includes an edgier style that incorporates athletics into the mix. It’s ideal for people who are interested in running, exercise, golf, and other sports.
Calvin Klein had an interest in fashion from very early on in his life. When he was a child, he would sketch designs and attempt to sew them into unique creations. It wasn’t until his adulthood, after taking different fashion courses, that his designs would capture the attention of the masses.
The Calvin Klein brand was created by Klein and a friend of his. He struggled to get by for quite a while before a dealer accidentally stumbled upon Klein’s store. After placing a large order, Calvin Klein broke into the fashion world.
The brand has taken off since then, achieving worldwide fame. Calvin Klein now makes clothing, fragrances, home goods, and sportswear. It’s a rag to riches story that inspires us all.
Kate Spade originally began as a handbag designer, creating designs that were similar in style to the classic Coach brand. The original line included just six handbags. Her bags eventually became more elaborate and colorful before branching out into clothing, shoes, and other accessories.
The Kate Spade line was always focused on creating stylish yet timeless items that would be appropriate for a lifetime. Unfortunately, Kate Spade took her own life in 2018, but her brand still lives on, with new items hitting the fashion world all the time.
Donatella Versace is an Italian fashion designer and businesswoman that began her career as a model. She is the sister of Gianni Versace, who was the creator of the Versace brand. She became the creative director after her sister’s death in 1997.
Her brother Gianni is also part of the company. Her aspirations were always focused on fashion, even from a young age. Versace has worked with notable celebrities over the years, such as Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Courtney Love, and Beyonce.
Christian Dior was born in 1905 in France. He was born into a wealthy family that supported his love of art. His original interest was steering him toward a career in architecture until the Great Depression changed the course of his life.
He eventually began working for fashion designer Robert Piquet in the late 1930s. He served in the military for a few years before returning home and, in 1947, released his first collection titled “New Look.”
These designs changed fashion after World War II, and more releases came out over the years. Each one had some sort of subtle change or development that would completely change up what women were wearing at the time, whether it was a different neckline or an evolved waistline.
Tom Ford began his career with the Gucci brand before starting his own company in 2005. Ford quickly gained popularity thanks to his luxurious designs and related products. Early on, Ford had involvement in a number of collaborations in the cosmetics, eyewear, and fashion worlds.
Marketing involves very risky images that are unlike what other designers are doing with their brands. One of the most notable advertisements from the Tom Ford brand features a naked woman holding a bottle of perfume in between her legs. Clothing from this brand is very simple and classic, made from high-quality materials.
The Michael Kors fashion house was created in 1981. It has now become one of the top five global brands in the luxury goods sector. With designs for both men and women, Michael Kors originally started out as a handbag brand that marketed its designs to women. It evolved into a company that offered watches, eyewear, perfume, and then clothing.
There are stores in 80 different countries all over the world. Michael Kors creates products under its own brand, but it has worked with other companies such as Disney, DKNY, Nine West, Adidas, and Levi Strauss and Company.
Though his fashion line was discontinued after the 2015 season, Marc Jacobs was a notable fashion designer that produced clothing for both men and women throughout the 2000s. The brand was well known for a fine arts-driven style that utilized cultural figures and artists instead of fashion models.
His style was very street-focused, incorporating the styles of grunge, preppie, and couture into his creations. Marc Jacobs now works on a project called “Protect the Skin You’re In,” which features celebrities posing nude with just their breasts and frontal areas covered. The project raises money for melanoma awareness.
Vera Wang was born in New York City and trained to become a figure skater. When she didn’t make the cut for the Olympic Team, she started out in the fashion industry. She worked for Vogue Magazine for many years before starting a job at Ralph Lauren.
She then started her own bridal wear line before branching out to women’s clothing. Her casual, dressy, and comfortable designs are featured worldwide. They are accessible and affordable, even being sold at the major retailer Kohl’s.
Carolina Herrera is a Venezuelan-American fashion designer that released her first fashion collection back in 1981. Since then, her brand has grown to become a global brand. She had no formal fashion training prior to her introduction into the fashion world.
Though, she was close friends with Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Carolina Herrera designs feature classic, well-tailored white blouses that are usually paired with ballgown skirts. Casual designs have also been included for daily wear.
Now that you know a great deal of information about notable fashion designers and their brands, your historical knowledge will allow you to incorporate some new fashion trends into your wardrobe while understanding where those styles originally came from.
You may already have some of these designer’s creations in your closet, but you now have a new appreciation and understanding of where they came from. You can also discover some new options by looking into these designers and the different items that are currently for sale through their lines.
Many of the designers we talked about today produce affordable options for the average American that wants to look nice and keep up with current fashion trends.
You’re nearly a fashion history expert by this point, thanks to the information that we shared in chapters one through nine. Whether you want to expand your wardrobe to include some classic articles of clothing or you simply want to know what inspired designers over the decades, this information can be reviewed again and again.
If you have any specific questions about fashion history, leave a comment below. You can also share this post with friends and family that may also be interested in learning about history over the decades.