A blast from the past: 50 years of fashion

Fashion and style can change in the blink of an eye. What is considered fashionable one month can be out of style the next. With every new year comes new fashion and every decade has a look that makes the fashion memorable. Sometimes the fashion from the decade is what we remember most about the time period, from the tie-dye of the 1960s to the bright neon colours of the 1980s. With retro-style clothing on the rise, more and more people are turning to the past to inspire their current looks. If the retro look continues to be popular, what can we expect to see hitting the catwalk in the near future? Let’s have a peek into the past and see what styles were hitting the streets.1950 2.10.01 PM
Throughout the 1950s, hemlines rose and fell, then rose and fell again, but the hourglass figure remained. During the Second World War, being fashionable had been very difficult. Materials for clothes were rationed, designs were restricted, and women did not have access to the latest Parisian looks. The 1950’s said ‘goodbye’ to rationing and a cheerful ‘hello’ to excessive clothing and accessories.
The 1950s introduced the world to one of the most important things in the fashion world- the ready-made dress. Gone were the times you made your own or had it specially designed. Now, all you had to do was walk into a department store and grab one off the rack! ‘Structural garments’, including girdles, and bullet bras, were designed to highlight the natural appeal of women. Hats, gloves, and flowery dresses were all seen as go-to looks of the 1950s.






The 1960s were a time of change. The decade threw away the fashion of the 1950s and created a completely different style. At the beginning of the decade, the fashion scene was dominated by Parisian designers creating expensive garments. With the rise of British pop music, the ‘Mod’ look became all the rage. Short skirts and big hair made their way down the catwalk. Mini-skirts, knit gowns, and palettes of colour hit the streets and gloves and hats went out the door. Following the end of the 1960s, the ‘hippie look’ made its way from America to the rest of the world. As ethnic influences took over, the most fashionable people wore long layers of loose clothing in vivid, clashing colours. Groovy!


Early 1970’s fashion was a fun era. It mixed together with some of the best elements of the 1960s and exaggerated them. Some of the best clothing produ1970sced in the 1970s perfectly blended the Mods with the hippies. There is one common theme throughout fashion in the 1970s: tight-fitting pants. The 1970s were probably the first full decade in which women could be seen wearing pants in every walk of life.
It’s also hard to miss the fact that bright colour almost disappeared by 1979. Earth tones, greys, whites and blacks were back in full force, as people had apparently tired of the super-bright tones of the early 1970s. Bell-bottoms, leisure suits, and gold medallions were all the rage on the dance-floor (disco, anyone?) and the streets.


The fash1980sion of the 1980s is one of the most memorable things about the decade. Neon colours, big shoes, and even bigger hair. The 1980s started out with the earth tones of the late 70s, but as time went on, brighter colours were all the rage. As with the 1960s, pop music had a dramatic effect in the fashion world. Pop stars like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Michael Jackson all had their own effects on in the fashion world.
Bright-colored accessories like sunglasses, bangles and hoop earrings were a necessity. Teased hair, loud makeup and neon were an important part of this style. This style was obviously more popular with the younger crowd.
Blue blazers were hitting the work scene and cotton cardigans tied over your shoulder became the norm. The fitness boom created another 1980s fashion staple- exercise wear. From tracksuits to neon leggings, headbands to baggy sweatshirts, the 80’s were all about being loud and proud.1990


Following the colourful clothing of the 1980s, the 1990s started out as a colourful time, unless you followed the ‘grunge’ look, in which case, colour was the enemy! T-shirts were big and shorts were long, and anyone who was anyone wore a basketball cap, regardless of gender.
In the mid 1990s, the ‘grunge’ look became popular, especially among teenagers. Suddenly, every thrift store in town couldn’t keep a flannel shirt in stock. Teens were digging through their parents’ boxes of old clothes to get their hands on some authentic hole-ridden jeans, which were then worn over top of their long john stockings. Barbers nearly went out of business because no self-respecting teenager of the 90s was going to chop off their long locks!
Also in the early nineties, clothes worn by hip-hop artists were becoming increasingly mainstream. And because of the growing popularity of hip-hop music among suburban teens, urban styles were seen everywhere and not just in the big city. By the late 1990s hip-hop style was arguably the most popular trend among young people.


The year 2000 brought us into a new century, and also a new wave of fashion. The rapid advance of technology brought people a wide variety of clothing options and influences from all over the world. 2000 was a time for change. New decade, new century, and new looks in the fashion world. Jeans were the most popular pants a person could own. Whether you picked ripped, skinny, boot cut, lace-up, or faded, jeans were the go-to item hanging in your closet. For a time, jeans with no back pockets became stylish, but were soon taken off the fashion scene.
Studded belts, frosted lip-gloss, tattoo choker necklaces, and butterfly hair clips were seen on almost all pre-teen girls thanks to classic children’s shows like Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens.


As Coco Chanel said, “Fashions fade, but only style remains the same.” Although fashions have changed dramatically over time, we remember some looks fondly and wonder what the future of fashion has in store.

About the author  ⁄ Alexandra Sempie

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