As each decade passes by, fashion is more and more revolutionized. Although, especially now, fashion tends to be influenced by the entire evolution of fashion, specific trends and styles are generally associated with its original time period. The following illustrates the evolution of fashion in an era by era review.
The 1920s marks the beginning of modern fashion. This was the decade of which Coco Chanel broke out into the fashion world, and world itself. She created more masculine looks that exhibited modernity and rebellious tendencies. Chanel took advantage of the changing social stigma of women, who were becoming more independent and outspoken about women’s rights, to help launch a fashion revolution. To emphasize a more power-woman look, waistlines went down and fabrics draped down with little structure. Clothes began to be comfortable, leaving behind corsets and flowing on the body. Away from the generally feminine image from fashion, evening wear had the same overall boyish silhouette and short/bob hair was prevalent among most women. Also during this time, shoes became fashion accessories instead of being trivial and solely practical.
In the 1930s, the hemlines that had just gone up went back down, as full length, long dresses were dominating the fashion scene. The bias cut was a popular technique seen used on many of the dresses, creating elegant gowns. The clothes didn’t have many surface embellishments such as beading or sequins, since this was the time of the Great Depression and the beginning of the second World War. However, prints were commonly used to amplify the clothes. Because of these hard times, clothes began to be mass produced in factories, which set the stage for modern ready-to-wear. Madeleine Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli, in addition to Chanel, were major influencers and designers during the 30s. Other new trends included the racer back, halter neck, as well as tighter fitting clothes.
The 1940s brought back the shorter skirts, once again bringing up the hemline of the previous decade. A big characteristic was the focus on the shoulders which became broad with puffed narrow sleeve heads. This era was in which Christian Dior revolutionized with his New Look- billowing skirts, tight waists, excess fabric, full flowing skirts, etc. To achieve his built-in silhouette, he added padding in the shoulders and around the hip, with layers of fabric in other areas as well. Dior was able to create a soft rounded look with details such as ruffles, yet exaggerate the sizes of the round skirts. Chanel, on the other hand, hated Dior’s new look which was more feminine and took away from her efforts in modernizing womenswear with masculinity. Yet, Dior’s new look was accepted widely by many and he was immediately respected as a great visionary and designer.
During the 1950s, Dior’s New Look continued, yet kept modernizing. The skirts were no longer billowing, although still pretty broad, and the fabrics weren’t as thick and fancy. Instead, the 50s were all about bright colors. The hourglass figure was still quite popular and most of the dresses had high waistlines and tight tops with flared out skirts to model this shape. When women weren’t wearing dresses, they were wearing shorts and pants. This was the first time that women in pants were becoming more socially accepted, as more and more women began striving for this comfortable and practical option.
The 1960s had a dynamic style change from the previous decades. This was the era of the Youthquake, a music, culture, and fashion movement that represented youth, vibrancy, and spirit. During this time, Mary Quant invented the mini skirt, so it became very prevalent especially among young people, as well as jumpsuits. Andre Courreges began a new space age aesthetic for fashion, introducing the world with A-line dresses, White PVC boots and hats, vinyl jackets, etc. that all began to flood the market. Additionally, fashion designers were using Velcro, synthetic material, and plastic embellishments- so very modern and fresh for the time.
Fashion in the 70s became an outlet to make statements and express views. An anti-fashion political statement was particularly seen in the 1970s, and women began wearing things according to mood which was led to a more capricious style era. The 70s are also generally associated with hippies, with their bohemian style. Pieces included peasant tops, embellished jeans, vintage patchwork, wide leg/flare pants, platforms, fringe etc. all with an electric color palette. These styles even influenced high designers, such as Halston, who’s designs embodied the trends of draped jersey dresses, lean trouser suits, ultra suede fabric, turtlenecks, and wide-legged jersey trousers.
The 1980s continued the bright color trend, except the colors were even more neon. Over sized and bodycon trends were introduced, as well as new fabrics look-alike silk (satin), and wool with elasticity. Opulent styles were also quite popular, as women used their apparel and accessories to express an image of wealth through gold, diamonds, pearls, sequins, luxurious textiles, etc. Alaia was a popular designer during this era, who followed the current styles, a lot of his designs being bodycon dresses and other more avant-garde cuts.
In the 1990s, logomania was introduced at the development of engineered printing. Logos of different companies began appearing as graphic t-shirts, whether it be the clothing company, such as Calvin Klein, or a brand of pop culture like a band’s logo. Furthermore, the style was very laid back and comfortable with a minimalistic color palette. For example, a casual white t-shirt with boy friend jeans is a classic 90s outfit. Grunge is another big feature of the 90s, because of items with a darker color palette and mood such as flannels, tattoo chokers, Doc Martens, it created an edgier style. The grunge style was greatly influenced by the many rock bands of the time, such as Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, etc.
The 2000s weren’t specifically progressive, as it was a mash-up of fashion. The 00s were shaped by many different eras and influences such as global and ethnic fashions. With the wave of new rap artists and hip hop artists, hip hop and street style were also being developed. Subjectively speaking, the 00s weren’t exactly a good fashion era. A lot of trends are definitely cringe worthy as we look back in retrospect- track suits, bare midriffs, trucker hats, colored skinny jeans, etc.
The 2010s has greatly circulated around fast fashion, with companies such as Forever 21, H & M, etc. Trends seem to come in and out every few months and sometimes even a couple of weeks, due to fast fashion. However, when focusing on high fashion, the 2010s has really progressed and further revolutionized it. We’re seeing a lot of skater/urban fashion brands, such as Supreme, and even Thrasher mag’s shirts are commonly seen. Take Vetements for example, a high end fashion brand who’s quickly climbing the ranks, known for its casual t-shirts and simplistic designs. They have accurately captured the zeitgeist of our era, and through their success, reflects how the consumer market responds to this turning of tide. Because of new technology and the ease at which we use it, more and more designers are incorporating innovations such as 3D printing to create a futuristic and abstract image for fashion.