Throughout the Decades, Women’s Fashion 50’s – Now

Fashion and styles in America have changed dramatically over time in the past century. Fashion itself is an ever-changing collection of styles that suit different people and different times. Fashion can be viewed as an expressive art, with the human body as its canvas, and as a representation of one’s class, career, imagination, and mood. But all fashion go in and out of style, which is evident in the vast changes seen in American clothing. There are many fads, yet other styles remain classics.

1950’s: Going Retro

This decade’s fashion exploded for many women in terms of fabrics. Following the end of World War II, rations on all items used to make clothing were lifted, so clothing was able to be produced more freely, which sparked a frenzy of newly produced items in a more broad style range. The early 1950’s were devoted to poodle skirts and modest white blouses with black and white Oxford shoes. While the poodle skirts and sock hop dances were for younger females, older women dressed smartly, had good grooming habits and a tailored look. In this decade, acting and looking like a lady was something taught to girls from a very young age, and wearing dresses on a daily basis was a given. Girls grew up to be housewives; once their husbands came home from work, they looked impossibly beautiful, dressed without a wrinkle, all while having a full meal on the table for dinner.

1960’s: A Change

The 1960s in America were a time of change, and the fashion world was not excluded from this. The fashion revolution in the 1960s witnessed an explosion of youth that again changed styles completely. The Western world began to rebel against the runway collections of designers in Paris and create their own trends instead.  The most popular clothing item in the 1960’s was bell-bottom jeans, and the style became somewhat androgynous, as it became perfectly normal and acceptable for women to wear jeans on a daily basis at this time. Available clothing had become very diverse, and women could pick and choose which styles complimented them and their own personal taste, rather than there being just one or two major trends to follow.  

Women wore flat shoes during this time, and often dark eye makeup. The 1860’s did not start out with the psychedelic prints it is known for. Most clothing stores carried items that were somewhat monotonous and marketed toward older women. Then, little shops called boutiques opened, and began seling cheap and colorful clothing to teens and younger women. The stores also sold fun items like leather knee-high boots, mini skirts, and fake eyelashes. The 1960’s were a time of transformation in every way of American life. The move was from conservative Jacqueline Kennedy dress suits to dirty blue jeans. These volatile changes in taste and fashion, of course, mirrored what was happening in society as a whole, as it always seems to do. 

1970’s: A New Wave

Fashion in the 1970s went through an experimental phase after the psychedelic-style clothing from the ‘60s carried over. Much of the hippie style had been integrated into the mainstream American society by the early 1970’s. However, by the mid 1970’s, with the end of the draft and the Vietnam War, the media lostinterest in the hippie culture. Instead, there was a revival of the mod subculture, and the emergence of new youth cultures like skinhead and punk styles gained popularity. 

Straight and flared empire line dresses with belled sleeves were the style for dressy occasions. Another frequently worn dress style was the granny dress; the dress had a high neck which was trimmed with lace. Platform shoes began to grow in inches, starting out at ¼ inch and maxing out at four inches at their peak of popularity

The mood of the 1970s was giddy with happiness for the war being over, and people wanted to celebrate. The fashion scene as disco parties during this era became indelible in 1970’s culture. Disco fashions were trendiest in the late 19870’s, and is the most memorable and popular style of the decade. Platform shoes and tight bell-bottom jeans, shiny polyester outfits, and colorful patterns will always be associated with the disco era as fashion during this time helped revolutionize the disco culture

1980’s: Pushing Fashion

When 1980s fashion is thought of, many different styles come to mind: fashion in the 1880’s was a melting pot of personal styles; multiple trends were combined in different ways to form one’s own look. Big hair,  heavy makeup, pounds of metal jewelry and pearls, and mixed bright colors are trademark styles of 1980’s fashion.

 New York boutiques and Paris runway shows were flooded with American women looking to get their hands on the most sought after fashions straight from designer lines. Money dominated much of the style in the 1980’s, with mass producers replicating high-end clothing for the middle and lower classes. Similarly to prsent time, fashion was centered on top designer clothes and accessories, while everything else seemed to just be a duplicate of that. 

Clothing was a sign of power for many women. Women wore expensive business suits to work to be seen as authoritative and dominant. By night, extravagant gowns portrayed a woman’s femininity and glamour. A trend that was happy to be forgotten for over 10 years but which recently has surfaced again in the fashion world is the iconic 1980’s shoulder pads. Some women wonder why they would ever want their shoulders to appear bigger; but in the 1980’s world of money and power, large shoulders on women asserted that they were powerful as well. 

1990’s-200’s: Fashion of Today

The end of the century’s fashion is as opposite as it gets to the fashion in the beginning of the century, but the concept is the same; fashion is a tool used to individualize, to raise esteem, and to make a statement. These facets exceed time, and apply to all the fashion styles throughout the decades of the 20th century. 

 The decade began to reject the moneyed styles of designers and opt for more casual wear. Workplace attire, while still being professional, relaxed its standards somewhat and had freer policies in dress code, allowing women to break free from the business suits of the 1980’s and have more of a personal style while on the job.  Preppy clothing came into fashion by designer Tommy Hilfiger, whose all-American look dominated department store sales. Sweater vests, turtlenecks, blouses, khakis, and a palette of pink, green, and white filled closets across the country. The preppy look was associated with being an all-American girl, and in school settings, popularity. 

The 2000’s are often described as a mash-up decade. The decade did not have one or two particular styles like prior ones, but a multitude of fashion styles that included recycling fads from past decades, and calling it vintage. The overall styles of the 2000s are best described as polished versions of earlier fashions, honing in on the basics to create new styles that were inspired by the past

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