In the last century, fashion has undergone a serious transition – from structured corsets around slim waists, to floaty, loose dresses around bodies of every shape and size. Fashion was been at the forefront of political and social movements throughout the 1900s; helped cement the free-love movement of the 60s and 70s, and had an iconic part in women’s rise to corporate boardrooms in the 80s, with the structured power suit.
Whether you like classic women’s tops or seasonal trend-led pieces, your clothing has a history that you might not know about it. Fashion is an outlet for us to express our personalities and our views on the current life climate, and it has been so throughout history. Let’s take a look at how fashion has transformed throughout the last 100 years.
In the Edwardian period, the S bent corset was used to alter women’s posture and mould their bodies into the hourglass silhouette. As we reached the 1910s, girdles replaced the corset, and women wore more comfortable clothing – like blazers and long skirts.1920s
The 1920s is an iconic decade for fashion and is well known for the flapper girl style. Women would wear dresses with drop waists and intricately beaded fabrics, paired with feather and fringed accessories. Coco Chanel also introduced the little black dress in this decade, often referred to as the ‘LBD.’ Women gain the right to vote in 1920, and their newfound empowerment was reflected in their statement clothing and shorter cut hair.
In the 1940s, the war brought about a series of rationing laws around food and clothing. The two-piece swimsuit came about in this period too. However, Louis Read, a French designer, was the first to introduce a bikini bottom cut below the belly button. It took a few more decades for this to be considered socially acceptable.1950s
Christian Dior made his statement with the ‘New Look’ shape in the 1950s. The new silhouette featured a fitted waist, structured bust and voluminous layered skirt. Dior played with femininity in this period and moved away from the pre-war styles. They also designed lighter garments with cinched waits, mid-calf skirts and flirty silhouettes. Designers worldwide quickly imitated Dior’s ‘New Look’ and became one of the most iconic fashion releases in the 1900s.
Miniskirts were the piece of the decade. Some designers were reluctant to sell such controversial items – however, girls would cut their hemlines shorter if their seamstress refused. This was also the time of the Space Age as new fabric technology was invented. Optical white and metallic silvers became the colour palette of the decade. Twiggy modelled the babydoll dress – featuring a high empire waistline and super short hem. The babydoll dress represented the second wave of feminism, and many celebrities wore this dress proudly. It was prevalent in bright colours, like pink, orange and blue.
Platform heels were introduced in the 70s, and synthetic fabrics overwhelmed fashion stores. Halter tops, palazzo pants, tattered t-shirts and exposed safety pins were all the rage. The 70s were outrageous, and everything about fashion was unexpected and exciting. The decade of disco was all about high platforms and serious sparkle.1980s
Leggings became popular in the 80s, along with sweatshirts and scrunchies. Jane Fonda’s exercise routines captivated the women of the world. The structured-shoulder power suit came into play as women entered higher roles in the workplace. Neon colours and bold silhouettes were the signature trend of the 80s.
The chunky trainer trend defined the 2010s. Fila, Nike and Balenciaga made their mark and created ‘ugly’ trainers styled with mum jeans or pretty dresses.
Fashion has reflected the changes of the modern world in the last 100 years – who knows where the 2020s will take us, but we’ve already cemented the loungewear trend and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon!
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Images from Downton Abbey, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Why Women Kill. Main Image by Pexels from Pixabay.