Thursday, March 04, 2021

Notable Fashions over from the 1950s to the Present Day

The history of fashion is not a linear one. Certain styles go in and out of fashion, but rarely return in exactly the same form. And yet, over time there have certainly been some very idiosyncratic and dominant fashion trends that in some cases defined their decade. This article looks at some of the most important fashions from the 1950s through to today.
Fashion in the 1950s can be seen in terms of a very prominent gender divide. Men’s fashion shifted to a more casual style, while women’s fashion leaned far more towards formal-wear, elegance and matching accessories. In womenswear the silhouette ruled supreme and designers accentuated the feminine arguably more than in any other decade since. Going out, for women in the ‘50s meant being impeccably turned out, while men’s fashion, influenced enormously by James Dean after his appearance in Rebel Without A Cause, allowed for a rise in popularity of the trademark white t-shirt, jeans and casual jacket, with mandatory slicked back hair.
While the ‘60s undoubtedly signalled the beginning of various shifts in fashion trends for both men and women, with the hippy revolution, psychedelic music and drug culture all beginning an overhaul of more rigid ‘50s trends (to be cemented in the ‘70s). Matching coats and dresses were immensely popular for women and bow collared dresses were big in formal wear for women. Both men’s and women’s fashion were heavily influenced by the mod trend in the ‘60s, helped by the likes of The Who and early The Beatles. This manifested in polka dot or black and white panelled dresses and boots for women and slick tailored suits for men. The latter part of the 60s saw miniskirt mania hit, led by the model Twiggy, eventually leading to the knee high boots and miniskirt combo.
While the latter half of the ‘60s, from Sargent Pepper and the prominence of Marahishi Mahesh Yogi (the founder of transcendental meditation) saw psychedelic music reflected in fashion, with Indian-inspired clothing beginning to appear, this was most reflected in the wider public and overall fashion in the early ‘70s. The way this was reflected was a shift away from an underlying fashion trend towards people dressing in a way that reflected their individuality. This meant many subcultures, niches and countercultures began to evolve. Flared trousers were inarguably the standout in pervasive fashion cultures, while the boundaries between men’s and women’s fashion were blurred.

In wider society, the ‘80s is a decade to forget, with garish colours and combos, oversized ill-fitting suits and shell suits all rearing their ugly heads. But two countercultures that flourished in the ‘80s were heavy metal and punk. Denim, long hair for men, leather and band t-shirts – a trend that has never gone away since – came to the fore in metal and ripped jeans, mohawks and anti-fascist logos dominated the punk scene and still do today.
1990s to present day
Many minor trends have come and gone in this lengthy period, but Dr Martens, the rise in importance of sportswear and trainers, designer brands, polo shirts for men and leggings worn as trousers for women are among the most enduring. In women’s fashion in the period from 2010-2021 perhaps the biggest shifts have been away from uncomfortable high heels to designer trainers and from formal wear or even jeans, to high end yoga wear, while patterned suits paired with less formal trousers and t-shirts have increased in prominence for men. Increasingly from the 1990s onwards, an increasing number of small subcultures linked to the music we listen to have influenced the way we dress, whether hip-hop, heavy metal, extreme metal, reggae, dance music, drum and bass, grime or soul – there is a dress code to match.

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