Modern vs Vintage – Fashion history since a century

Let’s talk about pure fashion in this article – no technology, no gadgets, no apps but just pure form of fashion and styles. How fashion industry is changed over a century is basically what we are going to “rewind-and-play”.However, something strikes me here – has fashion really changed? I personally assume fashion is much like the philosophical idea behind life and soul! Soul doesn’t die, it just transform from one form to another. Likewise, fashion and trend do follow the same theory. Fashion doesn’t fade, it just transforms from one look to another. And the same trend seems to come over and over again with a little twist. But as experts say, fashion does evolve!It is amazing to see how the different events in history have influenced and changed the way people have dressed throughout time. Some of the most popular fashions are classic, they can stand the test of time and hardly ever “go out of style”, only experiencing minor changes to keep up with the trends. Other clothing items could be considered “fads”, styles that are only popular for a short season and then never worn again. Often certain fashion trends are dependent on the tastes of particular groups of people or cliques and are usually associated with social status or cultural preferences like the type of music a person likes.Fashion can also be influenced by world events such as war or the economy. For example, during World War II, people were only allowed a certain amount of fabric so they were forced to create simple outfits that were practical enough for wartime duties. From the 1920s to the 1990s, popular fashions reflected the mood of each decade and showcased changes in society as the styles of clothing and accessories evolved with the times.


After World War I and until about the year 1942, men’s wear was fairly relaxed and less formal. For example, softer collars were worn during this time period. Sleeveless sport shirts became popular and were worn with white pleated trousers and a belt. Celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s would sometimes combine casual pieces with formal pieces for a new look. Evening wear such as the doublebreasted white cotton pique was also worn during these decades, as well as day suits with wide lapels. These suits were worn with accessories such as wool tie, black trilby hat, or black gloves. Black leather shoes were also made popular during this time as well. After 1946, men wore items such as black trousers, single-breasted wool jackets, and suits with wide lapels and wide collars. Suit accessories included black bow-ties, black homburg hats, and black shoes. By 1947 the war rations on materials had ended, so more extravagant men’s clothing could be made after this time.The 1950s British styles were in some ways different than in the 1930s and the 1940s. One of the signature items for men during the first year of this decade include the kneelength single breast overcoat (grey-colored) and cuffless sleeves (although cuffless sleeves were sometimes worn in earlier times). American styles of sports and leisure wear that were created in the 1950s included a single-breasted fitted brown jacket, narrow lapels, and flap pockets. These were worn during riding, and perhaps along with kneehigh leather riding boots. During the late sixties and into the late seventies, fashion was influenced by designers from numerous countries. For example, Pierre Cardin from France had created a new design of a two-piece grey cloth suit that had a double-breasted long fitted jacket. In the year 1970, the cloth jacket with a zipper was worn as a day wear outfit. This item was made with large hip-level flap pockets and tight sleeves which flared at the wrists and brown cloth trousers which were also flared. Leather outfits also became more popular after 1973. Leisure suits and discoinfluenced styles were also popular with men in the seventies.The 1980s was a time of its own unique fashion. Men during this time who worked as an executive or other position of higher authority usually wore items such as a brown two-pieced double-breasted suit with long narrow lapels. These suits were designed with broad shoulders and shoulder pads. Casual clothing that was significant of the 1980s included denim blue jeans, often worn with a matching jean jacket. Punk fashion in the 1980s for men included clothing items such as sleeveless black leather jacket, off-center zip fastening, or flap pockets. In the 1990s blue jeans were also very popular, but unlike the 1980s, bell-bottoms, widerlegged and baggy pants were in style.While denims kept on ruling the men’s fashion world forever after, trends like blending casuals with formals are back in fashion in the 2010s. Likewise, polo neck sweaters and single breast suits are also back in fashion. Men today don’t hesitate to play with colors and different fabrics unlike earlier. However, there is a limit of experimenting when it comes to men’s style.


Changes in skirts and dress fashions have changed and varied dramatically between the 1920s to the present, as well as within each decade. In 1920, only a few years after World War I, skirt and dress hemlines rose and waist lines lowered to the hip. During 1926 to 1928, hemlines were reported to be at their highest but once the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression set in, hem lines returned to a more conservative length (below the knee or lower).womens-fashion1930s boasted a return to femininity and Hollywood glamour was idolized. Evening gowns showed bias-cuts and diamante accents and were made of chiffon or velvet. Real fur accents and floral prints were also popular during this era until World War II broke out and the glamorous look of the decade lost its lustre from about 1942 to 1947.With the economic boom in the 1950s, glamour become fashionable once again and A-line and pencil skirts were very popular form-fitting fashions. Dresses in the decade would often feature stylish ruffles or lace accents and were usually knee-length or tea-length. Going into the late fifties and 1960s, mini-dresses and maxi-length skirt outfits entered the scene. Mod styled dresses with short skirts and bold, colorful patterns became popular. In the late sixties and seventies, hippie fashion took over and loose-fitting, flowing maxi skirts and dresses became dominant. Disco music and dance also influenced dresses with slender lines, flowing skirts and the shimmering fabrics that would look best in a night club.As we entered the 1980s, fashion evolved once more. Skirts and dresses were once again longer and featured straight lines and more serious design. As more and more women joined the professional work force business suits became a trend for women with straight conservative skirts and broad shouldered, boxy blazers topped the look. In the 1990s, skirts and dresses were not as prominent and more casual looks became acceptable with hip-hop and alternative music setting the scene for fashion early in the decade. Skirts and dresses were usually short and even provocative, especially in the latter part of the decade, however loose and flowing dresses as well as long denim skirts were also notable trends.Today, in 2016, all these trends are somewhat visible – trends ranging from loose palazzo pants to knee length dresses and skirts to maxi dresses and skirts and loose shirts. We see a variety of every trend that has ruled over the last century. Like we said…fashion doesn’t die.


In the 1920s, women’s shoes would often feature high and wide heels whether on a pump or loafer style shoe. Many women would even wear heeled shoes with their swimming costumes as a mark of femininity. During the 1930s strapped heels and pumps surged in popularity, while more traditional styles of heels were still worn. For men and women, laced leather leisure shoes were popular for outdoor activities and exercise during the decade. In the forties, shoes became more conservative and practical. Women’s shoes were usually made with flatter heels and had either cork or wooden soles.Flat shoes, sandals, heels and pumps with rounded toes and feminine lines were worn by women in the 1950s. Saddle shoes, white lace up shoes with brown or black leather accents, were also popular for both men and women. Canvas basketball shoes (high-tops) or black leather oxfords were worn by men. Suede shoes also enjoyed moments of popularity during this decade. In the 1960s, black slip-on boots (most likely of leather or faux leather material) were popular for men and women, and heels became thinner on pumps. Vinyl boots, moccasinstyle loafers with wide heels, wedge heels, and slip-on heels with leather cut-out patterns were all popular in the 1970s. Sandals and western style cowboy boots were also popular with both men and women.shoesIn the 1980s, pumps were designed with higher and thinner heels than in decades before and they became more of a hit. For casual wear, tennis shoes (both hightops and standard ankle high shoes) and leather dress shoes were very popular. Flats became popular too, especially with working women.By the 1990s, styles had returned to Earth and the casual look was key. During this decade leather substitutes became more popular due to environmental concerns, and cork-soled sandals like Birkenstocks defined the alternative look early in the decade. Walking shoes had bulkier heels, and gym-type athletic shoes were most people’s every day choice. As with the late 1980s and 1990s, branding became a driving force behind shoe sales. People would show off their Reebok, Nike or Adidas shoes with pride and special editions would sell for hundreds of dollars.Present days, shoes styles have somewhat merged for both men and women. While shoes like sneakers, floaters and loafers share unisex look, fabric like leather and suede and platform heel look do share a common choice for both the genders. Same goes for color and overall look of the shoes.


From the 1920s to the 1990s, accessories have changed tremendously, but some items like jewelry have always remained popular. Fashionable hats were highly popular from the twenties to the fifties and were often an everyday item in a person’s ensemble. For women in the 1920s helmet style, draped hats, cloches, turbans and pokes were all accessoriespopular and usually featured a variety of fabrics, cut-outs, lace accents, feathers or other details. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s other styles of women’s hats were popular as well with berets, homburgs, bumpers, bonnets, and wider brimmed hats all seeing time in the spotlight.For men, bow ties and long ties have alternated their turns in the favor of fashion. From the twenties to the nineties the length, width, fabric, colors and patterns of neck ties have varied according to trends, but they have almost always been a necessity for men’s business dress and formal wear. Men would wear fedoras, golf caps, automobile caps, Panama hats and other nearly timeless styles of hats up until the seventies, after which hats became less popular as casual styles started to dominate the scene. Baseball caps, skull caps, beanies and other types of casual hats remain popular with men and offer a way to display their favorite sports teams to the world.While hats no more remain a necessary accessory item today, however, there are still instances when big hats with ribbons for women and golf caps for men are fancied.Handbags and purses have also always been popular with women, but the styles have changed throughout the decades. In the twenties and thirties, handbags would often be used as vanity bags that featured a built-in mirror and could be used to touch up one’s make-up and hair while out. In the fifties and sixties handbags became more of a fashion statement and would coordinate with the type of occasion one was attending, larger, more practical bags were used for shopping or a day out with family while smaller, fancier bags would be used for parties or fancy evenings out with friends.In the seventies, eighties, and even nineties, handbags and purses became more of a catchall with women narrowing their collection down to just one or two, a more formal bag and an everyday work type bag.Presently, the type of handbags women own have become even more of a status symbol than in the past, with designer bags from Coach, Dooney& Bourke, Fendi, Prada, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and others costing thousands of dollars being the only purses women use, and often the only luxury piece of clothing many women own!


Short boyish haircuts were popular throughout the 1920s to the late 1930s. In the 1940s, hair was often still hid under hats, but usually was longer and tied in a bun or other up-do. Hats and turbans (sometimes even worn together) remained popular until the 1960s. After this time women began to perm and/or dye their hair. Wigs were more popular after this time as well, and the wearing of hats declined dramatically. Men’s hair (just like the short women’s cuts) of the 1920s and 1930s was usually neatly combed and groomed, and usually parted to the side. Hair for men was “greased” back. In the 1950s hair was still greased back, but hairstyles usually consisted of more hair on the top of the head (especially biker styles). For women in the 1950s, hair was waved and fit to frame the face, or to be pulled back.In the 1960s, beehive and flip-style hairdos were more popular for women. For the men, bowl cuts, such as the ones that are similar to what the Beatles wore are very popular as well. These looks continued on to the late 1960s. From the 1970s on, long, straight hair was popular for women, as well as for some men. Hairstyles were usually parted down the middle. During the seventies layered haircuts were also popular and this trend continued into the 1980s. From the mid to late eighties big hairstyles that were teased and curly or wavy with bangs were very popular.In the early 1990s straight hair and long spiral perms became popular, while later in the decade angled bobs and shaggy, mid-length haircuts were made popular by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox on the TV show Friends!From the 1970s to the current time punk hairstyles such as shaved heads, Mohawks, and  painted hair were worn. These were usually the hairdos of those who wanted to make a statement, or just simply to be different from mainstream society. Heavy metal hairstyles for men were quite popular, especially after the 1980s. There are still standards for hairstyles in the present. For the workplace hairdos are very conservative, usually in a straight style, or sometimes waved or slightly permed.Hairstyle has seen a lot of variation, though straight hair for women has made its position firmly. For men, short hair, colored hair and spikes have been popular since a decade or so, and is very much in fashion till today.

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