100 Years Of Fashion - Women’s Fashion Then And Now
‘Change is constant’ and the world of fashion, more specially women’s fashion proves it well.
It is highly claimed that what we see or read is an outcome of what the world is going through at that moment. From poetry to literature, everything has witnessed the waves of the outer world. Similarly, fashion is the imitation of reality. What we wear today and how we dress up, are all the result of the scenarios. These scenarios can be a risen storm from political, economical and social progessive values. But how they affect the community is always reflected in their style of fashion and choice. Rolling back into the wheel of memory, LA POLO decided to briefly rewind the last 100 years of fashion and look keenly on how the movements of the world maintained the line of fashion.
Fashion nonetheless has always been an integrated part of the human community, and thus always been subject to represent the mood of nature. Fashion has been adversely affected by the causes of the distinctive eras and here we extract the reasons of why fashion was a certain way in a certain year. Let’s begin.
The decade of the 1910s could be easily distinguished in two halves - the pre-war era and the postwar era. When we highlight at these era, we mean to look at the hardships of World War I. Everything during this era saw two completely different sides of the coin, and when we say ‘everything’ we also mean fashion. In our study of 100 years of fashion, we came across, how this era and the most drastic changes within a span of just 10 years. In the pre-war situation, the women fashion was way too different from that of the post-war. The sign of loss of economy, faith, trust and values, all started to reflect in the way women took onto fashion as well. The beginning phase of the era witness women fashion as regal. Women fashion back then had the look done with big hats, full sleeves, empire waists, fluffy gowns, and high necks. The similar kind of fashion passed on to the early two or three years. Soon when 1914 hit the calendar and the world was hit by what they then called the ‘Great War’, the little change in women fashion started to sweep in. By then, the women fashion had shifted to a style where they combined their skirts with long over coats . In the year 1915, these coats remained short and fitted at the waist length. That is, they still maintained the fashion of the empire waist that was dominating the pre-war era of the 1910s. Trend of gowns with collars and empire waist also ruled this year, but as and when the calendar shifted to 1916, the fashion of coats stayed. With the shorter length of coats, longer length also came into the frame, but the empire waise was here to stay for another year. The year 1917 again had the demand of coats but so a little relief from the fitted empire waist fashion. Not that the fashion of the empire waist completely wiped itself away, it remained but in a distinctive manner. By the time, the Great War, which is now known as World War I came to its end, the women fashion had a lot of changes in its style. Women started to wear flared skirts, V-necks and hats. The sleeves of the blouse mostly remained at a full length and the coats were suddenly marganised, but not for a longer time. In the year 1919, that was the beginning of the post-war era, the women fashion witnessed the arrival of scarves and coats combined. But the bigger change was yet to come.
This era had something different and distinctively disturbed about itself. The darkness of the postwar era was here to stay for a while. Looking closely at the literature and fashion of the era has proved of how it has seen a great loss. From the 100 years of fashion that we are talking of, this era has largely had the tone of break down in it. Although, if a layman would look at the women fashion of this decade, he would consider it inspired by the spirit of the Jazz culture, which, nonetheless it was. The era has been largely known as the ‘Jazz Age’, for the era was taken away by the style of it. Jazz culture was everywhere, from music, to clothing, to drinking, to the living style and even to fashion. If studied with a closer look, it can be grabbed of why the decade of the 20s was popularly known as the Jazz Age. The scenario was such that the World War I has just ended and people were devastated, properties were broken down, and the economy was going down the drain. Their were no jobs, and people were lost. The people of this era had closely seen the repercussions of the postwar scenario. They had lost hope in humanity and with it they had also lost hope, with mankind and themselves. People had no belief in religion, education, values, and anything that the Victorian era had. It was like a strong storm had washed down everything from the culture of this era and thus they were all trying to find the meaning of life. Suddenly, the world was witnessing rock culture, loss of humanity and materialism. This era was severely facing the disease of existential crisis and they danger was, they did not even know about it.
In the study of the 100 years of fashion, this was an era where ‘flappers’ were a thing and the women fashion saw things like skirts, bob hair
The age of the 30s was still under the impression of what its previous era imprinted on the culture and minds of the people. The world was still finding a meaning to life and was still covering itself into materialism to stay away from the pain and grief that the Great War or what we call it as the World War I has given them. While they were still fighting this, this era was somewhere preparing for another World War, which the people never saw coming. Thus, this era in the study of 100 years of fashion is the one that was largely claimed as the ‘Great Depression’. The hardships of this era was also reflected into the women fashion that it bore. The initial years of the 30s still had the trend of bob hair and skirts, but gradually it moved and moved with a faster pace. The hairstyle of the era started to change around the year 1935-1936. From the bob hairstyle, it moved to a more civil hairstyle that had all the hair tied at the back in a low bun. This hairstyle was accessorized with a small fascinator on the top of the head. But the women fashion of wearing a hat on the head also remained on and off this entire era, where in 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1936 it remained much in fashion, the hat love decided to take a short break in the rest of the years in the era. But one thing about women fashion that was sure to be noticed in this particular era was that it saw a sudden shift from the dressing style of that of the flapper. From the loud fashion sense, it toned to more of solids and checks. The era was ruled by the love of two fashion styles. Also, hand gloves had a larger demand when it came to women fashion. The skirts from the Jazz Age remained, but their way of wearing completely changed. The skirt in this era were more of A-line and fit. The lost fashion of the empire waist too was establishing itself back in this era. And the one major thing that the era witnessed was that the women fashion industry was obsessed with the love of neck scarves and bows. These bows were used on the waist area as belts or designs.
All of this ruled the women fashion before the aftermath of World War II hit the world.
The first forty years of the study of 100 years of fashion were drowned in a struggle of fighting, evaluating and rising from the War they have witnessed. For some years, they had been witnessing the war, while in the remaining one they have been facing the aftermath of the world war. The era of the 1920s was doing the same, and now, the era of the 40s did the similar. The decade of the 40s can once again be distinguished in two different halves- the pre-war era and the postwar era. From the year 1939 to 1945, the world and its people were in a hustle to face the World War II. But the difference was, the people by now had been prone to calamities these war brought with themselves. Although after the year 1945, the world was still under the aftermath of the war, but the economy of this era was on a ladder of growth. And this economic growth also reflected in the women fashion. The earlier years of the 40s saw a very distinctive style of solid and check dresses with a lot of play done with buttons. It also had a taste of lace and floral added into it during the year of war. This less dramatic and basic dresses shouted out loud of the empty spaces and empty hearts, and also demanded of peace and re-birth. Soon after the war ended and the economic growth due to the participation the countries took in exporting goods and services, the women fashion also saw a sudden change. At first it had buttoned and longer blouses paired with shirts, that slowly moved to lighter fabric with the popular design of the polka dots. The women fashion of gloves and belts too started to make a comeback. And soon, the next big thing was flared skirt and distinctive blouses. Once again, empire waist became a thing of the decade. Also, the hairstyle that rebelled with a bob cut in the aftermath of World War I did not make a come back. Instead, the women fashion industry was ruled with low ponytails and ribbons. The trend was shoulder length hair and nothing shorter like the bob hair.
When we reflected on our study of the 100 years of fashion, we inculcated that the era of the 1950s was the time of the ‘Happy Days’. It is no doubt as to why this era was known as ‘the fabulous 50s’. What’s more fascinating about this era was it was also largely acclaimed as the ‘baby boom era’. It seemed as if the world was finally getting over all the aftermath and depression of that of the world war. With the latter years of the 40s evenly balancing the growth of economy, the era of the 50s had to be one comfortable decade. Nevertheless, the people and the world deserve it so much more than anything. This happiness and air of comfort was started to be seen in the women fashion as well. It was for the first time that a huge amount of experiment was witnessed in the women fashion industry. Starting with the year 1951, the women fashion world witnessed the inaugural of the absence of the sleeves in total. Women started to wear a blouse without sleeves or with an extra blouse worn under the cut-sleeve blouse. It started to give women a more refined as well as edgy look. The fashion of the cut-sleeves was then modified to mini sleeves in the year 1952 where the fashion of buttoned dresses and mini sleeves ruled the women fashion world. As we notified that this era saw the maximum amount of changes, we also witnessed the coming of the pants paired with a tight empire waist and baggy shirts. It was the time when pants were ruling in the year 1953. The trend of pants remained for a long time in the 50s. So much so that, it started to come in different forms and styles. It was in this era, where for the first time, the trend of hot-pants were also introduced. By the end of this era, that is, in the year 1959, the women fashion started to see one another change. Tube dresses and a more modern way of dresses, as well as gowns, stole the show for the rest of the year. This all looked happy, but was it the sign of a storm?
Unlike the era of the 50s, the 60s had a whole new air about itself. This era gave a sure shot start that is not going to be anywhere near the ‘fabulous 50s’ style, or will be the messenger of the ‘happy days’. Soon after the aftermath of world war came to an end, the world and its people needed a much needed break from the colloquial routine of hardship, industrial revolution, materialism, capitalism and the uprising politics. The era of the 50s gave the people that relief, but the 60s came with a whole new demand and perception. Although a lot of things changed in this era, one thing that remained constant was the economic stability and growth. Taking lead from the past ear, the 60s knew how to maintain the graph upwards. A big reason for this maintained growth was the Vietnam War. The world had witnessed a lot of demand and supply that ultimately led towards bringing economic rate to stability. But with also came the age of the unconventional youth. The age of the 60s suddenly started to look as the age of the youth. It was the younger lot that was ruling the world. It seemed as if they were suddenly a lot more aware of their rights and wants. The youth began to involve itself in the popular social aspects, and sipped the bubbles of the rebel. This rebellious attitude in them was so stark that it started to appear in their fashion, after which they were popularly known as ‘Hippies’. The women fashion too took a sharp turn. And for the first time in 100 years of fashion, it looked as the women fashion too spoke of rebellion. Through this distinctive type of women fashion they were rejecting the conventional values. The era saw in 1963 the dominance of the bell-bottoms and the tucked in shirts. The following years saw cropped and sprayed hair accessorized with hair-bands. The fashion of the flapper was also making a comeback. In the year 1965 came the no-sleeves women fashion, but unlike the 20s, it stayed for a longer time. The women fashion changed in bits and pieces for the entire era, but the pants dominated at max.
The 70s saw a similar air of rebel as the 60s did. The involvement of the youth in the popular social aspects was still the same and in fact even more. The voice for human rights and in more general public rights was reaching out and loud to everyone in the world. The era of the 70s was thus, commonly known as the ‘MeDecade’. It was the decade where everyone was coming out to rebel, even the voiceless had a voice now. From men to women everyone was up for more progressive values and world. This era called for the liberty of women, which remained the highlight during our study of 100 years of fashion. Along with the liberty of the women, it was in this era that for the first time people started to speak about gay rights and gay liberty. People were coming to understand the aspects of the world, and they were readily moving away from the traditional conventional values. But all of this was for the good. Along with these rebellion causes, the era of the 70s also had environmental movements gearing up the chart. What was catchy about this era was the clear fact that the people now were aware. And this awareness came with the growth in economy which was a constant result of the Vietnam War. All of this was very prominent in the women fashion as well. The women fashion was inspired by the culture of the era which was closely tied to the pop culture, disco and hard rock. It all reflected in the women fashion, where the wardrobe remained dominated by bell-bottoms, frayed jeans, midi, maxi dresses. It was the start of the period were women through their fashion and wit were coming out loud and clear.
The decade of the 80s remained an amalgamation of several vibes and air. To begin with, the era started off with problematic situations that were passed in by the era before this. Although the 70s was all economically good and settles, but the coming out of the youth to raise the voice for the voiceless and deprived made the biggest of the difference. This ‘conservatism’ had the world off its feet. It was all protests, rebel and parades that absorbed the latter half of the 70s and the early 80s. But statically, the 80s started to come up with new approaches in terms of social values, economic growth, as well as political knowledge. People started to become more aware of their rights and what was more feasible for them in every term and picture. There was a reason why this era was named as the ‘Greed Decade’. People were greedy for their own best lives and it all began with a new approach. Well, these political, social and economical novel approaches with themselves also brought a fashion that matched the ‘Greed Decade’, and this fashion had the women and the men both swept along. For the women fashion, according to our study of 100 years of fashion, we concluded that it was an era where the women fashion witnessed it did not crossed ways with before. The biggest epitome of this was the new approach of bigger hair. The women fashion industry was in a way obsessed with bigger and longer hair. Moving away from the fashion of the 20s of the flapper that had the trend of bob hair, or also the trend of the 60s that had chopped and sprayed hair, the 70s demanded of longer hair. It was all inspired by the culture of the 70s that was all about funk and punk rock. This was the era when cropped tops were introduced for the first time, also the length of the skirts when shorter and also tighter. It was not just the shape and style of the clothes that changed, some novel fabric also made an entry into women fashion
By the time that the decade of the 90s knocked on the calendar, the world had become a lot more simpler and quieter place to live in. It was the decade of the simpler times and so was the women fashion. In fact, when studied carefully, in the 100 years of fashion, 90s was an era where the women fashion was in its best stage. The women fashion too like everything else was a lot more simpler and easy and casual. It did not had the hustle of the 10s or the rebel of the 20s or the 70s. It was just the way it should have been. This is one way of looking at the picture, but the other one could be that since the world saw so much of hustle and change in women fashion, that when it came to the 90s everyone was automatically adopting it with open arms. Well, one more thing that can be closely seen while studying the 100 years of fashion is that what women fashion rested back in the 90s is still constant in today’s scenario. Some of the major trends of women fashion could not have been wiped out till date. In fact, at times, it could be difficult to separate the women fashion from the 90s from that of today’s. And what is more proving this the fact that, no matter what time of the century it is, designers and fashion forwards also took upon the trends of the 90s for their inspiration. The women fashion of ripped jeans, stonewashed designs, flannel skirts, bob hair , crop tops, animals prints, neon colours, chokers, floral dresses, and also the way of wearing coats has all come in from the 90s. The pictures are here to prove it all right.
How popularly it has been acclaimed that if the decade of the 90s would not exist a lot of what we have today would not be true. With the simpler lifestyle of the 90s, the world also got faster. And the result of what all was reeped in the 90s was seen in existence in the 2000s. This era was the time where for the first time the world started to hear terms like ‘Globalization’ which took the world from both hands. It made everything quicker, smarter and better. Although people first dreaded it, but soon understood how convenient it was going to make their lives. It was also the era where ‘internet’ at large was introduced to the people, and with it came faster connectivity among people and even faster communication. With all of this globalization and the coming of the age of the internet also came a threatening change in the fashion industry. The industry suddenly faced something really unusual, and women fashion was no immune to it. In our study of 100 years of fashion, we could conclude that the 2000s witnessed the weirdest and the loudest of fashion. It just crossed the line of being trendy and turned tacky. If reflected on the women fashion today from the 2000s, everyone has only one thing to say, ‘What was everyone thinking?’ And so true, what were the designers and the fashion industry actually thinking. It was only by the end of the era, somewhere near 2007 that the designers and the fashion forwards understood that something was majorly wrong with women fashion, and for that matter the whole of the fashion industry. From the year 2007, they started to revise the whole market and gave to the world something more sensible and wearable.
In the last decade, everything has been set smooth. Thanks to the decade of the 90s and the work of the 2000s that they gave to the world all sorts of social, economical, personal, technical stability. When it comes to women fashion, the current decade is excelling with what all has been granted to it by the experiment of the yesteryears. But more starkly, the current women fashion industry is so much inspired by that of the women fashion trends of the 90s. The trend of frosted tips for hair is back with more louder and clear impression to stay. The women fashion trends that the 90s granted in terms of the ripped jeans, crop tops, animal prints, sneakers, bell-bottoms, blazers, flannel skirts, and almost everything has made a comeback. It almost clear that in 100 years of fashion, the decade of the 90s had the best trends and styles, so much so that, even today, the designers and the fashion forwards look up-to-the style of the 90s and are only bringing it back with a quirky twist. Let’s witness together, what else do we have in store...