Fashion, just like other forms of art, has also gone through many iterations filled with a colorful history. Spanning across different time periods, history has seen some clothing styles surfaced while others vanished. And many of them even revived and reinvented.
Looking back at the past trends can give us insight on the mindset of the people of that era, and how the prevailing culture can impact how women dressed up. It’s not the same as today, as we have much freedom and choices on what we like to wear as women. But seeing the colorful history of women’s fashion can help us further understand how different styles have emerged.
Fashion through the years
Time to brush up on some fashion knowledge about the various styles that were popular to women from different points in the past century.
The early 1900s
This is the period when technology is revolutionizing people’s way of living. But how women dressed during this time was still largely influenced by the 1800s. Structured and restrictive dresses were still prominent, but loose modest outfits also dominated these years. These allowed women more mobility than what they wore years prior. Corsets were also starting to become a thing of the past.
During and after World War I, women wore much simpler clothes compared to the era it precedes. Long dresses were now cut shorter, around the length of the knees, and starting to reveal part of the legs while also highlighting footwear. Shapes were plain, and ladies even cut their hair shorter. One of the main themes of this period is the democratization of fashion, making the look accessible to most women as they can easily attempt those styles with much simpler materials, like knitwear or jersey.
The thirties saw various updates to the trend around this decade because of the Great Depression that arose in this era. Then came the “ready-to-wear'' outfits that were already assembled in factories. These were already pre-made clothes with the introduction of low-maintenance fabrics and easily modified styles. Those shops and designers who opted for this were considered to be aligned with the democratic spirit of America.
1950s - 1960s
In contrast to the preceding era, the 50s is about positivity, having just the second World War ended. Hand-decorated printed patterns evoked a playful style. Cocktail parties were also common among the middle class, with the rise of summer dresses (or cocktail dresses). Alongside this chic look, two-piece wardrobes brought sophistication to the 50s working woman. Suits made of wool paired with skirts of the same materials became popular and topped with a unique hat or beret to add personality.
The ladylike sophistication carried on with this period, but some other trends also came to emerge, like dresses imbued with pop art, and floral print as their forms of expression. The well-recognized hippie style also rose to prominence during this period. Moreover, another popular style in this era is the rise of minicoats and skirts, a continuation of cutting women’s skirts shorter from earlier periods, reaching above the knee. The miniskirt still remains iconic to this day, while also being attributed to this decade. The skirt is part of a mini dress look, with a coat or jacket that shows continuity with the skirt and highlights minimalist look. Sleeveless miniskirts or dresses with simpler lines pave the way for other blings and accessories.
Denim became dominant among women in this time period and even partnered with baggy tops. This is with hip-hop culture gaining traction and influencing styles. Ever heard of punk style? They can also be traced back to the 80s, when the rebellious and edgy persona had reached the masses, easily spotted with leather jackets and spiky ‘do. Of course, not everyone followed punk style; while workout-inspired clothing also gained prominence. As fitness-friendly garments became a thing, this included leg warmers and leotards, with bright, popping colors compared to today’s common hues.
And now the modern period that is nearest to our memories, which showcases individuality and emphasizes personality (just look at the wardrobe choices for the main ladies from the hit series FRIENDS). Various trends were linked to this period, such as low-rise jeans, yoga pants, plain tees, hoodies, modest, knitted cardigans, among lots of others. However, we wanted to highlight the career women with their power outfits. Whether they’re pantsuits or miniskirts or blouses with slacks, women were also further given more recognition for their many accomplishments. This era definitely is about power and personality.
While we wish we could know the styles that will become huge in the coming decades, what we can be confident of is that some of these trends may again resurface or revive. So it’s still best if we have some idea of how fashion has evolved. With this, we can look forward to what more it can bring us as our glam continues to evolve.