Do you long for the feel of polyester suits and tee shirts, paired with chunky heels? Or have you been looking for somewhere to break out your grungey jeans and plaid? The 20th century was filled with so many styles, many of which get rehashed on the runway every day. Let’s take a look at what styles are trending from each decade, and how to wear them in the 21st century.
As the Victorian Era started to fade, the Gibson Girl was in. A period of brief calm before WWI, the 1900s were filled with long skirts, high necklines, and lace appliques. If you’re looking for a modern take on the Gibson Girl, John Galliano’s skirt and jacket is a great representation of the S curve so many women aimed for. Beaufille’s sheer ensemble is quite reminiscent of the early stages of the decade, although a proper young woman of the times would never be caught in such a see-through ensemble. Christopher Kane adds some well-placed jewels for a lovely, 1900’s style blouse, and Maticevski’s lace ensemble would’ve been the envy of every high-society lady. This was the final decade of the corset, and Jonathan Simkhai pays proper tribute with a jumper that features a corset top, perfect for the professional woman.
Go old school with these fabrics:
WWI wreaked havoc on Europe, as hemlines were raised and the West was influenced by the East. The decade ended with the Versailles treaty and post-war optimism that rung in the art deco movement and the roaring twenties. Nili Lotan and Alexandre Vauthier both create rich harem pants, reminiscent of this period and, more importantly, the stylings of Turkey, where this trend was taken from. Harem pants were made popular in the West by Paul Poirot, who also freed women of the corset, and took inspiration from Japan, too. Another popular trend he took from the East was a loose tunic over a narrow skirt, often paired with pants, too! Etro shows the tunic and pants trend with a beautiful floral print, and Jil Sander’s makes this trend modern with a mod style dress over fitted pants. The hobble skirt was one of the trends reminiscent of the early 20th century, with a looser top and narrow skirt that billowed out at the bottom. BY. Bonnie Young shows this expertly, and even pairs it with a high neck and small floral print!
Get inspired with these fabrics:
This iconic decade featured waistlines dropped so low they were barely there, and a loosening of social constructs despite alcohol prohibition. Women were given suffrage in the United States and took on a boyish silhouette in their styles. There’s almost no need to describe the style of this period, as it’s probably one the most iconic in history. With a dropped waist and pleated skirt, BY. Bonnie Young manages to recreate this silhouette in a modern way, the perfect dress for a modern bride or going for a walk through Central Park. The art deco movement began in the late teens but raged on throughout the twenties. This movement was all about luxury, the finer things in life, something Fendi knows well and represents perfectly with an art deco inspired fur coat. Zuhair Murad uses line work and symmetry to make art deco his own, creating a stunning evening gown, ideal for going dancing. Khaite utilizes the dropped waist silhouette with more pleating on the skirt, and a delicate detail in the form of a pleated flounce on the cuff. Valentino pairs pleats and ruffles in another dropped waist ensemble, in a rich red reminiscent of the bright colors the twenties are known for.
Fashion a flapper style garment with these fabrics:
The opulence of the twenties totally disappeared as the Great Depression hit hard around the world. This brought back some social conservatism, and the waistline reappeared. By the end of the decade, the world was back at war. Throughout the thirties, darker colors and simple garments were the easiest to own. Beaufille’s simple skirt suit with a pleated skirt and short sleeves is very reminiscent of this style, and Fendi utilizes this utilitarian style effectively, too. Sara Battaglia’s button up dress features a cinched waist and slender sleeves, ideal for spending an afternoon at the market. Simone Rocha’s full collar and puff sleeves are similar to late thirties styles, as Europe went to war and America pushed through the end of the Great Depression. The pussy bow blouse first appeared on the scene in this era and is recreated beautifully by Dondup with a moon and stars print.
Think up thirties fashion with these fabrics:
The first half of this decade was ravaged by WWII, and fashions reflected that of the thirties. Towards the end, though, Dior introduced the “New Look” and Princess Elizabeth II reigned as the supreme fashion influencer. Although the beginning of the decade started much like the one before, with somber tones and simple silhouettes, post-war optimism and an economic boom brought new life into fashion. Fendi’s skirt suit with a full skirt and fitted blazer is reminiscent of the early forties, ideal for heading to a swing club or the office. Movies were a major form of entertainment at this time and a huge fashion influence. Women emulated the screen sirens in their slinky and sensual garments, similar to Attico’s satin and sequined number in a rich red and pink combination, perfect for lounging in the boudoir or heading to an event. As spirits rose, sleeves got puffier. Beaufille’s lovely dress would be perfect at a beachside bungalow, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s puff sleeves pair beautifully with a vintage style belt and yellow skirt. Khaite pairs puffed sleeves with another popular forties style, cover buttons with button loops, also known as corset buttons!
Feel like a screen siren with these fabrics:
The fifties were influenced heavily by the “New Look,” and the iconic housewife style is etched vividly in all of our minds. Later on, the space age kicked in with looser fitting trapeze dresses. Maticevski shows a stunning dress with the “New Look” silhouette, ideal for dinner parties, while Christian Dior revamped the classic silhouette with a tucked blouse and circle skirt. Undercover’s longer dresses are also reminiscent of the new look, paired with some stunning pearls. The trapeze dress came later in the decade and is indicative of the mod sixties style that followed soon after. BY. Bonnie Young showed a long sleeve, zip-up version that looks perfect for pre- and post-workout activities, and Sara Battaglia’s is an interesting, modern, and extreme version of the traditional trapeze dress.
Fix it up fifties style with these fabrics:
The psychedelic sixties began with the first televised presidential election and go-go dresses. Urban youth culture heavily influenced top designers, and Audrey Hepburn paired with Givenchy to influence the world of fashion. Audrey Hepburn also popularized the cigarette silhouette capris, shown by A.L.C. in a beautiful yellow. Area emulates the mod, go-go styles of the sixties with a lax blazer dress and some knee-high boots, ideal for heading to the city for a night out. Mulberry brings the mod style back beautifully with a stunning scallop edged dress, perfect for protesting the man or heading to a psychedelic party. The Chanel suit was popularized in the sixties, and it’ll never go out of style. Usually in tweed, Chanel shows a more modern version with a hip mini skirt and beautiful pink blazer. The PVC style of the sixties makes for resilient and stylish clothing, like this lovely circle skirt by Martin Grant.
Get that sixties swing with these fabrics:
The hippie styles of the early seventies quickly turned into a disco destination, as Nixon resigned and the Vietnam war ended. The seventies emulated the screen sirens of the forties, with just a little more glitz and glam. With more women in the workforce, fashion designers were pumping out tailored suits that were flattering, feminine, and functional. Anna Sui’s jacquard suit features some well-placed flared legs and a lovely blouse, ideal for the working woman. Diane Von Furstenberg created an innovative new fashion in this era, the wrap dress. Working women needed to be able to get ready in a snap, often while taking care of a child. So, the wrap dress was born. Etro’s modernized style features bell sleeves and a conversational print, perfect for a work party or heading to the movies. The screen siren style of the forties came back, with more lame, deeper v’s, and a lot more skin. Galvan’s discotheque dress features a bold purple and ruching, perfect for heading to a nightclub and blasting David Bowie. Regardless of gender, the most common seventies silhouette featured a tailored top and a billowing bottom, shown expertly by Maryam Nassir Zadeh with a lovely tied crop top and some wide leg pants. The latter half of the decade gave way to baggy athletic wear and tracksuits, which Zimmermann utilized for a leisure suit in hues of blue.
Dance the night away with these fabrics, Queen
The eighties began with the election of President Regan and the AIDs crisis. While styles stayed simple in the beginning, they got wilder as the decade went on. Power dressing and neon were at the forefront of fashion, with big shoulders, big hair, and big attitude. Alexandre Vauthier knows the eighties well and exemplifies this style with a stunning metallic purple dress, perfect for cruising around town in your new car or heading to a Madonna concert. Sarah Battaglia’s power dressing inspired blazer dress features bold lame and big bow belt, perfect for heading out for a drink after work. The release of Working Girls brought about the hay day of power dressing, as shoulder pads and blazers were paired with tight fitting dresses and a lot of ruching. Christopher Kane creates a powerful dress with shoulder pads and a cinched waist, ideal for heading to the office, and Balenciaga’s velvet fuschia coat features strong shoulders and the lively neon the eighties were known for. This neon trend was electrified by the likes of Michael Jackson and George Michaels, displayed beautifully by Jeremy Scott’s neon jacket and lace dress.
Be pretty in these fabrics:
The nineties started grunge and ended prep, with Nirvana and Clueless influencing the haute couture houses. The Big Six took over the modeling world, and stonewashed denim made it big. The nineties were filled with plaid, utilized in two opposite extremes. The early nineties were focused on grungy styles due to Nirvana’s popularity. Jeremy Scott’s plaid duster and matching leggings are an excellent example of this, paired with a torn up, patch-work denim skirt that’s ideal for heading to an underground concert and rebelling against social norms in style. On the other side of the plaid-covered aisle, Clueless was released in 1995, and the preppy school girl style exploded. Adeam’s skirt suit features modern ruffles and a chic plaid, perfect for heading to the mall or a business brunch. This preppy style is blended beautifully with the androgynous, baggy silhouette of the early- to mid-nineties in Re/Done’s cropped blue sweater and baggy jeans. Denim was on the rise in this era, too, especially acid- or stone-washed styles. Dorothee Schumacher’s acid-washed denim suit takes this nineties trend and pairs it perfectly with the current leisure suit style, the ideal ensemble for buying CD’s or using a payphone. The seventies even had a minor revival in the nineties, mixing several seventies styles all into one. R13 uses hippie fringe on a plaid button up, paired with a tie-dye tee and some edgy boots, perfect for watching a movie on Netflix and being thankful you don’t have to go to Blockbuster anymore.
Create your most capable looking outfit:
What decade will you be infusing into your closet this season? I’m all about the forties right now, but I’m in love with the Mod style of the sixties! Let me know in the comments!