Tell the truth: Do you have a stockpile of old clothes saved somewhere that you just can’t bare to get rid of despite the fact that you know they’re totally out of fashion? I know I do! And I’m not talking about the vintage gowns I love to collect. Those are worth hanging onto! I’m talking about my washed out old bell bottoms from the 70s and my sweaters with shoulder pads from the 80s (remember my story about those from last week?). I know I’d probably be too embarrassed to step out of the house in any of those outfits (and yes, my kids think my old clothes are just hilarious), but they hold too many memories for me to even consider parting with them. Please tell me I’m not alone here!
Last week, we took a look at how trends evolved from the 1890s to the 1920s, which gave me a chance to use some of the crazy amounts of research I’ve done while writing my books. But this week, we’re looking at trends from the 1930s to today, and let me tell you, writing this post felt way more personal for me. I remember trying out so many of these trends myself and thinking I was the coolest cat in town.
Keep reading to revisit fashions from the 1930s to today and then hop over to my Facebook page and tell me about your best (or most embarrassing) fashion experiments from years past. Bonus points for sharing a picture or two!
Believe it or not, the Great Depression didn’t put a damper on fashion. We can thank the 1930s for giving us synthetic fabrics, costume jewelry like Chanel’s signature faux pearls, and most importantly, zippers, which made their debut at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair! I can’t imagine having to deal every day with those impossible hook-and-eye closures that were popular before the 1930s, can you? Thank goodness we were born in the age of the zipper!
World War II was much harder on fashion than the Great Depression, and even resulted in regulations on how much fabric could be used for civilian clothing. People became very thrifty during this era. Remember Rosie the Riveter? That red headscarf she was wearing was probably a hand-me-down from her mom or her grandmother. So what was the major trend from this decade? One word: pants. As more women joined the workforce (some of them motivated by the image of Rosie!), it became more acceptable for ladies to wear pants instead of skirts and dresses. But Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. When I was a kid in the seventies, I was sent home for wearing pants to school instead of a skirt!
Remember those figure-shaping garments we talked about so much in last week’s post? Well, they came back in a big way in the ‘50s. Girdles, crinolines, waist-cinchers and bullet bras (!) were staples for many women. Once again, I’m saying a little prayer of thanks that I get to be an adult in a day and age where comfort is key!
I was just a little one in the ’60s, so my focus was mostly on the fashions of ladies like Cinderella and good ol’ Barbie. She was quite the clotheshorse back in the day, and I absolutely adored collecting all her outfits. I do remember that Jackie Kennedy was totally the “it girl” of the ’60s, with her pillbox hats and short-jacketed suits. So many women attempted to copy her style, and she’s still an icon today, if you ask me.
There’s no time in our lives where we’re more prone to fashion mistakes than our high school years, and I just so happened to be a high schooler in the later part of the 70s. Talk about a recipe for funny memories! My mom refused to buy me blue jeans. Instead, she helped me sew double-knit, elastic waist pants. Oh, the horror! My first pair of blue jeans was a hand-me-down from one of my best friends in 8th grade. I wasn’t able to dress the way I wanted until I turned 16 and got my own job at, guess where...a clothing store!
Most people see the ‘80s as a total fashion disaster, but I remember loving the stretchy pants and slouchy styles that became staples when I was a young newlywed. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but I think the saying should really be “everything was bigger in the 80s.” Big hair, big shoulder pads and big, oversized sweaters were the trend, and I embraced them full on! There was just one problem. I was 5’2” and 93 pounds, so I always looked like I was drowning in a mountain of clothes!
Oh, the good ’ole 90s. Since I was busy parenting four kids during this decade, I didn’t have much time to think about my wardrobe, but I do remember really disliking the “grunge” styles that were so in at the time. If you ask me, baggy flannel shirts and Doc Martens belong on lumberjacks and bikers, not teenage girls! There was one 90s trend that I did buy into though, and that was the “Rachel Haircut” made famous by Rachel Green on the TV show Friends. Raise your hand if you took her picture to the salon! I know I did!
2000 - Today
I think we’re still too close to this latest decade-and-a-half to really reflect on its fashion trends, don’t you? It’s easier to see the trends for what they really were after a little time has passed. I know that I spend a lot of my time these days in the comfiest outfits possible since I spend hours and hours behind my desk writing (just watch the video on my homepage to see what I mean), but I’m not sure that qualifies as a fashion trend.
So there we have it: a brief history of fashion, Deeanne style! I’m just dying to hear about your favorite styles and fashion faux pas from the past. Head over to my Facebook page to join in on the fun!