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  • Monumental Magazine

Fashion Through the Decades

By Kassidy McDonald

When thinking about the future of fashion, especially in uncertain times like these, one should take a look back at how trends have evolved over time. Going back a century to the 1920s, let's look at how women's fashion has changed decade to decade. I'll also show how to incorporate trends from your favorite decade into your wardrobe in a modern and chic way.

The 1920s

When we think of fashion in the 1920s, we often think of the lavishness seen in The Great Gatsby. This decade saw women's suffrage, the creation of birth control, and the rise of popularity in the iconic flappers. These significant cultural events had a massive influence on the way women dressed. Women began experimenting with bolder colors, lace, fringe, fur, and silk. Notable trends included beaded accents, pearls, and hairpieces. Popular silhouettes included drop-waist dresses and skirts. When incorporating these trends into your closet, think about adding a modern twist to pearls, drop waist silhouettes, and fringe.

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The 1930s

With the '30s came a wave of satin and silk fabric. While the women of the '20s experimented with varying hemline lengths, the women of the '30s favored a longer hemline. Puff sleeves and collars also became very fashionable. Silk, long evening gowns made this decade more elegant and feminine than the '20s. We also see a change in silhouettes as dresses became more form-fitting, with backless and sleeveless cuts. We also saw the rise of high-waisted pants. When adding '30s inspiration to your wardrobe, think feminine silhouettes, silk fabrics, and long hemlines.

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The 1940s

Knee-length trousers and shirtwaist dresses were all the rage during the '40s. Pant silhouettes often included detailing such as buttons, pleats, and collars. The overall aesthetic of the '40s had more of a military feel, which was a full 360 from the feminine aesthetic of the '30s. Women's wardrobes and outfit choices may have been influenced by WW2. Many women started wearing cinch waisted and tighter silhouettes. When trying to channel your inner '40s, think utility-inspired pieces that fit the military aesthetic.

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The 1950s

Some notable trends that emerged at the start of the baby boom emphasized shape and accentuating a woman's figure. Women's suits and tea-length dresses grew in popularity. In this decade, a woman's wardrobe staple was actually an accessory: hats. High waisted pants or trousers with cinched waists, and pencil skirts, highlighting a woman's shape, also became a fashionable style. To incorporate '50s trends, try high waisted bottoms, two-piece suits, or a statement hat.

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The 1960s

In 1965, Mary Quant designed the "mini skirt" in London, and it immediately became a fashion craze around the world. "Groovy" 60s fashion was classified by plaid and patterns. Tweed was also a popular material, with many women rocking tweed skirts and miniskirts. This decade was a turning point in fashion because it seemed to be driven by the younger generations who were continuously experimenting with their style. We often see mini skirts these days but try to really channel the decade by getting it in a classic 60s fabric like tweed.

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The 1970s

The ’70s were classified as the “hippie” decade. Stripes, patterns, and bright colors were popular color schemes. Wide leg pants and bell-bottom jeans, which have recently made a comeback, were trendy. Jumpsuits made their appearance in the 70s. Midi and maxi length dresses with hippie-inspired accents were the norm. A lot of women already have pieces in their wardrobe that are considered 70’s inspired, but if you are looking for some new pieces, try these bell bottoms and a classic jumpsuit.

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The 1980s

This decade saw it all. Shoulder pads, turtlenecks, collars, and pegged pants were all trends that women loved in the '80s. They wore pants with cinched waists, suits, and blazers. The 80s are known for being bold and bright in terms of color- neon became super popular. We also can't forget to mention spandex when talking about this decade; lycra was a material that changed fashion. Women also wore printed t-shirts, baggy harem pants, and jean on jean looks.

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The 1990s

Over the past few years, we have seen '90s fashion making a comeback. Different from the '80s, the '90s had more of a grunge feel when it came to trends in women's fashion. This decade was characterized by slip dresses, animal prints, corsets, and velvet. Leather with fitted shirts or crop tops screamed grunge. Bucket hats, headbands, and chokers were all fashionable accessories. The color palette of the '90s did have a lot of dark colors, but we also saw shades like blush pinks and plums being worn. Celebrities dressed in a lot of sheer styles (think Kate Moss's iconic sheer slip) and lots of sparkles and metallics.

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The 2000s

2000s fashion was mostly driven by the rise of fast fashion and the brands that tried recreating popular celebrity styles. We see the early 2000s having a signature style- lots of pinks and metallics, low rise jeans, tracksuits, rhinestone embellishments, and shine and sparkle. Early 2000s fashion had a big emphasis on leisurewear (think Juicy tracksuits). What gets overlooked is mid-to-late 2000s fashion which included denim, band t-shirts, and a more punk aesthetic.

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The 2010s

When looking at 2010s trends, there are a lot of trends that came and went. Two stuck around and will continue into 2020: festivals fashion and luxe athleisure. The most important part of 2010’s fashion, however, is the way it paved fashion for our current decade. In the 2010s, we saw the Instagram model turn into the new supermodel. Social media has played a huge part in determining what fashion is and how it is constantly evolving. Influencers helped start new fashion trends and keep people in the loop.

Another aspect that defines the 2010s, that I think will carry on into the 2020s and decades beyond, is the way that gender lines are being blurred. allowing for men's and women’s fashion to merge. Major fashion houses are creating garments with not just one gender in mind while they are designing. In the late 2010’s, we saw icons like Harry Styles and Billy Porter rocking dresses and skirts and helping blur these gender lines.

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