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Fashion never stays the same. It is a constantly changing, fast-paced industry where what is trendy this season may become a faux pas the next. Over the past 100 years so much has happened in the world, and through it all fashion has certainly come a long way. From corsets and crinolines dating back to the 1800s; to platform heels and the iconic little black dress. There are so many iconic trends that prove to be great inspiration for fashion designers today. Below is a list of trends from the 1900s until today that we found most influential, even though you may not even consider wearing some of these today.
The Corset: 1900s
Corsets have been around for centuries, particularly in Europe where it was considered a necessary piece of clothing for women, and worn as the very first layer. The S-curve corset from the Edwardian Era gave a woman the silhouette of the letter ‘S’, where the front resembled a pigeon’s chest and it was thought to be healthier for the wearer. In reality, this style of corset was even worse for the spine than the Victorian style which provided a more neutral posture. Today, several types of corset styles available. From corset style shirts to shapers, the most popular style of corsets that are found today are the longline and straight-fronted ones. Some of them are intricately decorated with lace and other embellishments, while the shapers are smooth-fitting ones that can be worn under an outfit, with ease.
Flapper Style: 1920s
The flapper style of dressing was popular in the 1920s with relaxed fit dresses, feathered accessories and pearl necklaces. The rebellious attitude of the flapper is what made the style one of controversy, but is what also what made it so fun. She would be donned in a shapeless shift dress with a flat chest, applied makeup in public and smoked cigarettes while dancing the night away. Today, the flapper style can be easily recreated with shift dresses, sequins, fringes, pearl accessories and over-the-top headbands.
The Bias-Cut Gown: 1930s
The silver screen made bias-cut gowns popular in the 30s. Worn by film icons Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. These gowns were made by designer Madeleine Vionnet’s bias cut, which is a technique where the fabric is made to glamorously drape over the body. This causes it to cling and hug curves in a smooth manner, providing long and lean silhouettes. While in the 30s these gowns were made mainly from silk velvet or silk satin fabric; today they can be seen in a wide variety of fabrics and design details, including some knits and microfibers. Among top haute couture designers, John Galliano has been using this technique in almost every collection while at Dior; Paul Surridge, designer at Roberto Cavalli has incorporated the bias cut into racerback dresses; and Alexander McQueen has utilized it to transform sports mesh into flouncy pieces.
Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’: 1950s
This trend revolutionized fashion for women. This signature look was debuted in Christian Dior’s first collection and had some key elements that made it stand out; full skirts, cinched-in waists and soft shoulders. From the more masculine, minimalistic designs that women wore during the war period, this look encouraged women to dress in a feminine manner, showing their curves and dainty figure but with a certain structure to it. The Bar Suit below is one the iconic looks from this collection that definitely encompasses all of the above features of the ‘New Look’. While this trend was popular all throughout the 50s, it continued to be a prominent influence in many runway looks today. Brides in particular, love this style in their bridal gowns and is known as the ‘meringue’.
The Miniskirt: 1960s
During the 60s, hemlines in women’s clothing kept rising and this was when Mary Quant, a British designer popularized the ever-famous miniskirt. It was born out a youth culture movement where they were determined to deviate from the post-war 50s fashion, and Quant felt that this piece of fashion was meant to be designed short or else “…the Chelsea Girls, who had wonderful legs, would get the scissors and shorten the skirts themselves” (George-Parkin, 2018). Twiggy was the popular face for this style as she also donned a pixie cut, doe deer eyes, thick lashes, and a childlike figure, which were quite different from the mature look of the 50s. While the miniskirts were a little controversial at that time due to its association with sexual empowerment, they are still seen today on runways and street styles.
Platform Heels: 1970s
The disco fever was pretty widespread in the 70s, leading to popular styles like flared jeans, platform heels and synthetic fabrics. It was during this decade that this style of footwear was experimented on and made popular through teen magazines and pop culture. Sometimes platform clogs and sandals were worn with tights- an iconic look in the 70s. Today, almost every woman owns at least 1 pair of platform heels; be it in a flatform sneaker or oxford shoe version, or the popular platform pump. It is now a fashion staple in every one of our footwear closet.
By Maria James